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Going to the Philippines


Will you be going to the Philippines soon? I just recently returned, from Manila to be exact. I've been there a few times now. There are a few things you should know prior to visiting. I'll discuss them in this article. Hopefully you will feel prepared for your journey afterwards.

Passport or Visa


Americans can visit the Philippines for up to 21 days with a passport only. If you want to stay longer you'll need to apply for a visa. My advice is to have what you need ready prior to purchasing airplane tickets. This is just in case your passport or visa are denied or delayed for some reason.
Cash or debit


Most people in the US are used to swiping cards now. Generally cash is still used for most purchases in the Philippines. You should bring at least $100 in cash with you to convert upon arrival in the Philippines. You should also have a rough idea of how to convert from PHP (Philippine Peso) to your currency. This will help you avoid overspending during your trip.


Finding an ATM in the Philippines can be tricky. China Bank and BPI were the only two banks that would allow me to withdraw pesos through ATMs there. The rest would give errors during the transaction process. There are also very long lines to use ATMs at malls. You may want to try using ATMs at smaller convenience stores like 7 eleven.

Transportation


There are many forms of transportation in the Philippines. Locals most often use Jeepneys (pictured above) as they are cost effective. There are also buses, cabs, and trains. Last but not least you will even see horse and buggy trotting down the street!


If you are not familiar with the area you are traveling to and do not have a tour guide or family member there, a cab (Uber for example) is your safest option. Just make sure the meter in the cab is working properly or prepay the driver before you accept a ride.

Safety


When traveling overseas you should always consider your safety in advance. In the Philippines there are a few precautions you can take to have a safe trip:
Do not use your cell phone often in public
Do not wear jewelry
Buy a Pacsafe bag with locking zippers to store your valuables in
Never leave your valuables unattended at any time
Do not buy anything for strangers or give them money for any reason
Do not go anywhere a stranger may ask you to go
If you are accused of doing something wrong and asked for money in return, you do have a legal right to speak to your lawyer first


Pacsafe bags are very useful. I use mine every day, even in the United States. They are perfectly sized for airplane travel. They have locking zippers as well as an RFID blocker. You should store your wallet and other valuables in a bag like this. Make sure to keep it with you at all times.


I hope you found this article informative and that it will prepare you for your journey. The Philippines has many beautiful places to visit. Traveling there can also be a rewarding experience. You just have to make sure you are adequately prepared.

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