Dec 25

Famous Boracay, the whitest beach in the Philippines and in Asia Can you really grasp a whole country by just staying a couple of months there? For sure not. That’s even more the case with the Philippines, guess I never felt the time passing faster than here – or is it maybe that I’m getting older? ;-)

Either way, the Philippines is a beautiful island nation, a bit off the usual tourist trail of the rest of Southeast Asia. That is not necessarily a bad thing, more the opposite is true. You will meet less fellow travelers and have more chances to immerse yourself in a country with all its own values and characteristics. Let’s have a more detailed look at that:

If you are interested to compare with other places of interest for nomadic travelers, you might want to check out these articles, which were written in a similar fashion a while ago:

  • about Bali/Indonesia (after living there 2 years)
  • about Goa/India (after living there for 6 months)

Although I traveled before about a dozen times to the Philippines and wrote some articles about its beautiful beaches, its capital Manila, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol or even publishing a Cost of Living spreadsheet – being in the country for an extended period of time is something completely different.

My rented place 20 meters away from a white sandy beach on Bantayan Island, northwest of Cebu The other difference was, that during 6 months of staying here, I basically moved around the whole country. 4.000 kilometers were traveled on an old Tricycle, which is a very common form of (short distance) transportation here. This journey saw me visiting most of the main islands and regions, like Oriental and Occidental Negros, Panay, Guimaras, Mindoro, Luzon, Bicol, Samar, Leyte and Cebu.

The rest of the time was spent mainly on Bantayan, Bohol and Siquijor, beautiful island paradises near Cebu.

Not enough beaches for you? Try Boracay or Puerto Galera for more.

Okay, but here without any further ado; the Best, the Good, the Ugly of the Philippines:

The Best

Happy Youngster are a common sight in Pinas It’s been written and said by many travel guides and blog authors alike. But it can’t be stressed enough. The Best about the Philippines is truly its People! The Filipinos and Filipinas here are without doubt the country’s biggest asset.

Why is that so?

The people of the Philippines are the friendliest, most hospitable, optimistic and charming people you will run into when traveling Southeast Asia. Period. There are even studies published, which have the Filipinos listed as the happiest people in Asia and rated highly also in the world. And this despite the obvious poverty and disparities between rich and poor in the country.

Children taking part in a religious procession in Dumaguete The people here love life, they know how to enjoy it and they celebrate it in colorful fiestas at any given opportunity. Even absolute strangers are accepted and invited to take part in the countless festivities, festivals and parades. It feels like there is some celebration at any given day.

The happiness and positive mood here is also very infectious, especially if you come from a country with more ‘grumpy’ people, like Germany, Great Britain or even Singapore. Don’t get me wrong – I love Singapore, my second home away from home; but people there complain as much as Germans about life and daily things. Maybe it is the money that corrupts happiness? Who knows? ;-)

Happy people and festivals every other dayBack to Pinas; here you can see a thousand smiles every day, people are helpful and proud to show you their country. They are welcoming to visitors and that’s a genuine emotion, unlike other place like for instance Thailand or Malaysia, where the friendly mask will fall right away, when people turn away from you.

The People in the Philippines are an interesting blend with Asian, Chinese, Spanish and American roots. The beauty of the women here is legendary and the entertainment capabilities of its singers can be experienced by listening to 80% of the Live Bands all around Asia. If you love Karaoke, then this will be heaven for you. Filipinos are natural singers and performers and you will have lots of fun trying to catch up with them.

Friendly and helpful people make you forget every little disaster People here will approach you and want to know more about you, they are naturally curious and love to meet and chat with new people like there is no tomorrow. In no other place in Asia can you make new friends easier. And if you are single, you won’t stay alone for long.

Mixed relationships between foreigners and locals are very common and widely accepted here.

Yes, in the main tourist areas, this can be also a downfall, as the genuine interest maybe has changed a bit towards commercialism, but where else isn’t that the case? A bit of common sense will protect you from the most obvious scams.

Still, nobody is overly intrusive. It’s all up to you, how far you want to let someone get to know you. A simple ‘No, thanks’ would be enough to have your way or to be left in peace with yourself alone.

Most people here speak excellent or good enough English, so you can communicate very easily wherever you may travel in the country.


The Good

Delicious San Miguel Beer of the Philippines Now to the many other good things about the country: first – the Costs of Living here are still surprisingly affordable, especially food/drink prices and housing.

The Beer of the Philippines samples some of the best brews in Asia and is definitely one of the cheapest.

The Internet is available almost everywhere. Besides the usual Hot Spots in public places and Shopping Malls (SM Malls, Ayala Malls), prepaid 3G wireless internet is a good, reliable and fast way to go for the traveler. Check out the detailed article about 3G internet here.

Mayon Volcano, one of the most active - soon to erupt with full force in South Luzon Scenic sights are virtually everywhere. Nature lovers rave about its volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, exotic beaches, lakes and mountains, surf and dive spots (very popular: wreck diving in Palawan and Subic Bay), elusive wildlife.

Domestic flights are very cheap, as well is traveling from island to island by ferry, although, like in Indonesia, try to avoid ferries for long distances and in heavy weather.

Striking Natural Sights, here Tamaraw Waterfalls near Puerto Galera on MindoroI can only recommend to using Cebu Pacific Airlines to get from A to B, its one of the best budget carriers in Asia in my view. Travel hubs in the country are Cebu and Manila.

The Visa System is in my view one of the best and simplest in Asia, maybe second only to Singapore’s or Malaysia’s.

You can stay up to 18-24 months in the Philippines (depending on your country of origin); by simply extending your visa on a monthly basis in an immigration office in every major city.

Although a bit expensive (still cheaper than having to leave the country), it’s only a simple 10 minute process.


The Ugly

As usual, where there is light, there is shadow also and we don’t want to forget about that.

The rampant corruption and cronyism in the Philippines brings the best talents to leave and live outside the country; making it one of the people with the highest remittances worldwide, resulting in a significant support of the domestic economy.

Western Union Remittances keep the Philippines afloatUnfortunately that is also a reason what keeps the country down. Relying on relatives to sending money back home every month is a much easier way of life than getting things done yourself. I spoke with many people who simply can’t think of any other productive way of living their lives, then sending their relatives abroad and pushing them to work harder to send back more money every month. Coming from a pretty individualistic Europe, that was somewhat embarrassing for me to hear, but is obviously a normal way of life here. Strange mentality!

Infrastructure below state of the art in Pinas on Panay Island The infrastructure besides the National Highway and Waterway System leaves quite something to be desired. Roads are usually maintained in a very poor manner, electricity brown/blackouts are common and water supply can be sporadic.

Also better don’t discuss Politics openly, as there are deep emotions involved and things can get out of hand easily, as seen recently in Maguindanao on Mindanao. Guns, warlords, clan wars and lawlessness still prevail in certain pockets of the country.

Medical standards are not very good. Especially, one has to highlight the medicine situation or lack thereof. It is pretty much impossible to get anything else than standard medicine for reasonable prices. Most medicine are Americanized brands and the prices are some of the highest in Asia. Don’t try to get any special medicine in a pharmacy like Mercury. They are simply hopeless and limited to a few hundred kinds of basic medicines – especially everywhere else outside of Manila.

Generic Pharmacy Stores in the Philippines are becoming more common recentlyGeneric (non-branded) medicines are only now catching up, a recent law to force pharmaceutical companies into cheaper medicine prices made at least the Top 200 medicines about 30-50% cheaper, but that’s still not nearly enough. If you need any medicine out of the ordinary, you are usually out of luck, especially outside of Manila. Better bring a good stock which should last for your whole trip or stay in the country.

The only exception to that rule would be cheap, counterfeit Viagra or Cialis, which is readily available everywhere for sellout prices in the bigger cities. ;-)

Other annoyances can be the constant display of poverty, especially in cities, which can be hard to stomach for some. That every white foreigner is called ‘Hey Joe’ (and you will hear that a dozen times every day, if you are) is almost too funny, but can be a bit annoying after a while.

Here also, as in other parts of Asia, over-fishing is causing the rapid destruction of reefs and marine life, rising prices of seafood are another sign for that, as are the fast disappearing flora and fauna around the islands, when you snorkel or taking a dive.

Philippines - A Tropical Island Paradise in Asia That’s basically my conclusion regarding the Philippines as a country. All in all it’s a tropical island paradise – a very comfortable country to live in for Nomads, very affordable and with the friendliest people you can imagine. I can only highly recommend to anyone to give the Philippines a try and visit!

But you don’t have to take only my word for it only. Check out the site Live in the Philippines by Bob Martin, who is an American, living already more than a decade in the county. He loves the Philippines, is married to a Filipina and writes a daily blog about his experiences and adventures in the country. A truly interesting and positive read for anyone interested only a bit in the Philippines, which will make you come back for your daily dose of Pinas.

Please also make use of the comment form below to share your own experiences about the Philippines!

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written by Chris

68 Responses to “6 Months Philippines – the Best, the Good, the Ugly”

  1. Mindanao BobNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi Chris – Glad to see this post! I agree with almost everything you had to say. Only two things that I disagree with a bit:

    1. You need to get to Mindanao to cover the whole country! :)) I hope to see you next time you are in the country!

    2. My experience with Medical care here has been excellent, and cheap. Some of what you say about specialty medicines is true, but it is getting better.

    Overall, I am happy that you enjoyed your time in the Philippines!

    Thanks for the link too!

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Bob, you are right, I have to and I will come to Davao soon! It’s about time. I saw a bit of the North of Mindanao a few years back already, Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin and I liked it. But Davao (besides El Nido) is long already on my list of things to do. So please leave some San Miguels in your fridge for us to kill together sometime in Q1/Q2 2010. ;-)

    Yup, the medical care might look good compared to the US – but compared to other countries in Asia, especially Thailand, India, Indonesia or even Malaysia and Singapore – the Philippines have a lot to catch up. The quality and value for money is simply not there yet. But like you said, things are getting better and that’s a very good development!

  3. MikeNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    One thing you didn’t mention was the food. I enjoyed my short stay in the Philippines but wasn’t too impressed with the food. Admittedly, I only stayed in the usual tourist areas, which are dominated by fast food type restaurants and didn’t get a chance to try real local food.

    I was also surprised by the number of heavily armed guards everywhere. I never had any problems, but I had the impression that the guards were needed for a reason :)

  4. TolitsNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi Chris! Thanks for sharing your experience. It is nice to hear comments from a foreigner like you who visited the Philippines. I hope you will visit Davao soon. :)

  5. MJ ChanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Wow! You have already been here for 6 months! haha I loved this post and I agree with you, the best asset of the Philippines is its people. Being Filipino, I am happy to hear you say that. I am also happy you enjoyed the nature here in the Philippines. I love nature especially beaches. I highly recommend El Nido and Caramoan in Bicol for your next beach trip. They are the best I have seen so far :D

  6. BisDakNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Thanks a lot for writing about your 6 months experience in the Pinas. One thing I’d like to comment is about brownout/blackout. That is very common to smaller islands because of power generation source. But in Northern Mindanao , brownout/blackout doesn’t happen as much as smaller islands.
    I agree with Mindanao Bob. You should write about Mindanao on your return.

  7. AnnNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Ang galing ng Article mo Chris!!! Glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay in Pinas. :)

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Mike, I must admit, that I also have more problems to find food I really love in Pinas, compared to Indonesia or India. Mainly because I’m not a big meat eater. It seems that meat in the Philippines is cheaper or cooked more often than vegetables, which are mainly only a small side dish. Also tofu, fruits and other healthy food/drinks are pretty hard to come by. In Indonesia it’s the other way around, meat is only a side dish. Hehe! ;-)

    One tip I can give, is to stay close to or in bigger cities (with the many food options there), or close to the ocean and feed yourself on fresh seafood, if that is your cup of tea.

    Tolits, MJ Chan, BisDak and Ann, thanks for the tips and the heads-up! :D

  9. AlinNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    Thank you because you share your experience(s) with us.
    I hope also will visit Philippines sometime and all Asia area.

    Happy new year! :)

  10. ShamsNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Hello Chris,

    or ‘Mr. Nomad’, it’s very nicely written. But rather than ‘Ugly’ you could better use ‘Worst’ or the ‘the Dark Side of the Island’. Nice photos as well.

    Have a nice, happy and successful New Year 2010.

    Yours Shams.

  11. LorraineNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    ‘Twas fun following your adventure in the Philippines Chris. Looking forward to where your feet takes you next. Safe travels!

  12. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Alin, all the best for your trip! ;-)

    Shams, true also. The title is actually a wordplay and reference to that old Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood movie ‘The Good, the Bad, The Ugly’. I only changed it a bit, but used it already in 2 other articles (see the links above). To change it now again, would destroy the whole consistency…not that I’m overly consistent anyway with my articles…hahaha! But anyway – thanks for the suggestion and your friendly wishes! :D

    Lorraine, currently again in Bali, but not finished yet with the Philippines. So a return is planned for Q1/Q2 2010, or maybe somewhere mainland SE Asia first? Don’t know yet for sure…let’s see how I feel a few months down the road….have a good start into the New Year and thanks for your support and coming back! ;-)

  13. theCATALYSTNo Gravatar VIET NAM Says:

    Hi Cris, thabks for posting in Lonely Planet. I just commented on your post. I was telling you missed the Far North Luzon, a land of industrious people, abundant valleys, streams, rivers and deep blue sea. You should go there next time.

  14. Ed VallanceNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Chris, great page! Interesting, objective and accurate in my view. I also spent 6 months traveling the Philippines, going to the most off-the-beaten-track and least visited parts of the country. In some places I was the first white person the people had ever seen! I wrote 18 blog entries (almost 50,000 words!!) about my travels there, if you like you can check them out at Keep traveling and keep writing!

  15. flipNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi Chris,

    It was fun reading your observation about my country.

    I do agree on your observations especially on this one:

    “Relying on relatives to sending money back home every month is a much easier way of life than getting things done yourself.”

    Dependency has been a culture everywhere in the Philippines and it fosters laziness among family members. I remember talking to my mom about it not to raise an argument but rather to seek understanding.

    It seems that in my generation, the siblings are the one raising the family (at least on the financial side) instead of the parents.


  16. NoelNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Hi Chris,

    my impressions after a brief stay in Cebu and Dumaguete are –

    the people are largely friendly and easy going

    lovely beaches and scenery

    cheap cost of daily living

    the food unfortunately is not up to standard compared to the cuisines of other south east asian countries

    there seems to be an american gun culture, with armed guards everywhere and one constantly reading of people being shot, many of them expats. The culprits are often hired help (maids) merely out to rob their their employers.

  17. IshraqNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Knowing a country is like knowing a woman. It depends on hoqw you feel then.
    I enjoy your thoughts. Thanks foe the inspiration

  18. ItDontMeanAThingNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Nice articles. I’ve been in country for 14 months and have a few different viewpoints. That may be because I’m traveling with an eye to living here, not just traveling. I’ve been writing about it at

    The food is not only substandard, it’s unsafe. Once one gets away from business catering to foreigners and the affluent and wants to buy prepared meals they only choice is bacteria farms. That’s what I call the almost universal practice of cooking the food in mid morning then letting it sit and assume ambient temperature. Perfect conditions for bacteria growth.

    The food is also too sweet, salty or both for my taste. The good news is that I’ve gotten used to all the MSG.

    Yes, visa extension is simple. The fastest I ever got through in Cebu was 1h 45m. In Dumaguete the fastest was 20m (but the slowest was 25!). I hear that Manila is to be avoided at all costs. Most towns with a substantial expat population will have at least one guy who will pick up your passport and return it with a visa extension for about P 800 above the cost of the visa. I’ve never done it, I find the Bureau of Immigration offices are a good place to people watch.

  19. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    All, sorry for my late reply, but I just came back yesterday from a short-notice-4- day trip to Gili Trawangan. Now to your questions:

    theCatalyst: yup, I know, we missed out on Northern Luzon. The only 2 problems were the typhoon/cyclone warnings for the same month (July), when traveling Luzon and the problem of the Tricycle in hilly areas. With 3 clutches already destroyed by then, I decided against North Luzon for this time. Will probably return one day to see the rest of the island.

    Ed Vallance: nice collection of trip reports – thanks for sharing! So much information! Will try to read through a bit more in the next couple of days.

    flip: don’t worry too much about it. You have the same attitude in other countries also, just sometimes I feel that your government is even supporting it, instead of bolstering education and a better future for the domestic population. But hey, no place is perfect! ;-)

    Noel, interesting observations and most of your points are agreed on by many Expats living here. Luckily that doesn’t hinder most of them to settle/live here permanently and it really pays off after a while. Some of the more negative aspects are also overrated. Sure, there are many armed guards and people, but in reality, their guns are empty and you will probably never experience any shooting anyway. It’s merely a form of deterrence and job creation for the poor.

    Ishraq: nice comparison, I made a similar claim a while back. Would you agree with those observations per country? :D

    ItDontMeanAThing: yes, ones own perceptions may vary. After a while I also got used to the food, so one can survive in the end. Hehe! The fastest Visa extension happened to me in Legazpi and Bicol, it was really only 10 minutes for payment and the stamp. I was out again in a blink of an eye – gosh, was I happy! Wish they had that fast process here in Bali….

  20. Monthy Travel Inspiration, Tips, and Ideas - New Year Edition | Sharing Travel Experiences: Travel More | Travel Concierge Services, Experiences, Recommendations, and Inspirational Stories CANADA Says:

    […] has this fascinating piece of reflection about the Good, bad, and Ugly of the Philippines.  We did mention a few of the social aspects in our recent piece about things to do in Dumaguete, […]

  21. AnnNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Hey liked the post, good work!

  22. CathyNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Nice article Chris!
    Well, I think the best things about the Philippines are the reasons why the ugly happens. If the people are vigilant, serious, and more concerned then there will be no corruption, environmental destruction or poverty. In Germany, “ordnung” (order) is the most important thing. In the Philippines it is “pakikisama” (getting along with other people). Hence, Germany is a orderly country with people who are not the most famous for being happy or funny. Since Filipinos are more concerned with getting along with each other than getting our country on track, we have a lot of corruption and people just waiting for remittances to fall from the sky. I still cannot decide on which system I prefer, having lived in both extremes.

    As for the food, I guess, you have to be local to know where the good restaurants are. The best stuff (and the real stuff) can only be found at home.


  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hehe Cathy, that is a nice thought you bring into the discussion! I especially like the comparison with Germany out of obvious reasons. And yup, it’s really 2 extremes, although even in Germany there are many people who wait for the money to fall from the sky, there sometimes the government is even fulfilling this task with all the subsidies and welfare programs; people get more complacent and scared of the the world out there, because it’s been taken care of them.

    And yeah, the good food (for foreign taste buds) in the Philippines might not be so readily available and presented like in Thailand or Indonesia, but it’s definitely there and one just has to go out and find it. ;-)

  24. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    San miguel is good good beer

  25. dutchpickleNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Fantastic adventure mate!

    I really enjoyed your article – that is a novel way to get around the country – on a trike!

    …but with 4,000k you only scratched the surface : )

    the Philippines goes on and on …..

    thanks for the great read.



  26. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    dutchpickle, true. 4.000 kilometers is not that much in a country like the Philippines. It’s merely staying on the coastal roads of the National Highway System, due to abysmal road conditions in the provinces. Everything else was too tricky to go with a fully loaded tricycle doing only around 40 km/h. But it was a good start. :D

  27. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    100% agree with article.

    The only two things to add are
    1) Weather is unpredictable. (which is not fun sometimes).
    2) I am getting fat here. No really – it is not easy to find fresh salad or Chicken-top-rice i loved in Thailand. Most of cheap\good food means a lot of chicken and pork and much less vegs and rice then everywhere else.

    Comparing to most countries i visited in Asia (the same list a Cris) Phils are second on my list after Thailand. And Thailand wins only because of much healthier\tastier food there.

  28. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    BTW Cris – if you missed Luzon you missed 50% of fun. Get back! For example i can recomend you 6 hors track in sagada caves – that you wil not forgot for all youк live =)

  29. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sergey, hehe, how strange – I even lost weight in the Philippines. Mainly because I ate less. I just can’t eat all the meat all the time. So I drank more beer, which makes you full also, but didn’t make me fat. Lucky me, hm? In Indonesia I gained 3 kilo in 3 months, just because I eat more and often, even though the food is healthier, but the choices are more also and I can’t stop trying everything.

    And yeah, I didn’t miss out on Luzon completely, after all saw Taal, Batangas, Lucena, Naga, Bicol – just everything North of Manila was out of reach at that time, due to Typhoons and hilly area. Will return to Pinas on 9th of February to sample some more locations I haven’t seen yet. Maybe see you there, where are you at the moment?

  30. SunnyNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    I think it’s a good idea for nomads who spend long time in the developing countries to do an annual health screening. As Chris said, medicine supply may not be good in many parts of this region. So, it’s best to ensure you don’t get into an emergency situation where you need medication but can’t get it. Get yourself treated in a JCI accredited hospital in Manila, Bangkok, Penang or Singapore if you detect any condition in your screening.

  31. BryanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Good info, and good photos, too. This really brings back some memories of my trip. I’m quite jealous.

  32. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I think when it comes to food, you have to ask a local to direct you to a good eating place. That’s what i did traveling to most places in the country. As anywhere in Asia, meat is definitely king. One thing that a lot of foreigners doesn’t understand is that the food in the Philippines is as diverse as the culture – every region has its own distinct culinary traditions – which is much more diverse than Thailand. In fact, a lot of dishes in Thai cuisine are equally represented by similar dishes in the Philippines.

    But good job mate, might bump into you when I fly to Legazpi and then off to Donsol next month.

  33. A side-trip to the Philippines, worth it. - Asian Travel Forum UNITED STATES Says:

    […] up an excellent report about the Good, Bad and Ugly of the place in his opinion – you can read it here. He's an experienced traveller who has lived in many South East Asian countries long term, so you […]

  34. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:


    We are now at legazpi and will move to Palawan at end of the week.
    Spend there week or so – i am thinking about getting to south of Palowan to see tribes.

    After we will move to Busuanga (4-5 days) and will fly to manila.

    So 15-20 Mar we will be at manila.

    Then may be will stay these days in Sagada\Mountain region. At least i will get to bagio and will try to find there accommodation there for 2 weeks.

    Later we plan to go to Thailand and see Birma (2-3 weeks), and after that i don’t have plan.

    Any advices on Birma?

  35. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    How is Legazpi, Sergey? Is the Mayon Volcano still breaking out? Can any Lava flows be seen at night? And how are the Whalesharks near Donsol? Am currently in Palawan, Puerto Princesa, going to El Nido tomorrow and will stay there about 1 week or so, before going back to the Visayas or further on towards Davao. Maybe we can catch up in El Nido for a few drinks? Would be nice, have a safe trip! :D

    About Birma/Myanmar I can’t say much, only did Visa Runs from Thailand to Myanmar so far. But all a few years back only.

  36. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:


    Legazpi is ok , but Mayon is not erapting any more. (We have seen it in Dec – everyday there were a big lava flow easily visible at night and day)

    Sharks was good but water is still not so transparent as i wish – sometimes you can see the tail but cant see the whole body.

    YES we can meet in el nido – our flight is friday. So on friday i should be in Princessa. Next day i will go to und.river and on Sunday will move to El Nido.

  37. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    @Sergey, thanks for the update on Legazpi and Sorsogon, will fly there this weekend from Manila. Hopefully we get better views of the sharks. So there are no more lava flows on Mayon right?

  38. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:


    No lava anymore. Just a bit of dust/smoke going from vulcano. Few days ago i have seen fire in forest on one side of vulcano, but next day no fire at all.

  39. NimfaNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi Chris,

    How’s El Nido? I was in Puerto Princesa 6 months ago, didnt make it to El Nido as we only had less than a week in palawan. Hope to see the place one day.

  40. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Nimfa, El Nido was really great – a definite highlight here in the Philippines! I uploaded some pictures already here (the better ones are on the 2nd page) and I’m currently writing an article about El Nido, which is probably ready for publishing here within the next 8 days (if I’m not too lazy). All in all, I can only recommend El Nido, it’s true beauty, gorgeous scenery and laid-back lifestyle.

    Sergey, it was nice meeting you guys in Puerto Princesa. It’s always pleasure to talk with like-minded people. Hope to see you around soon again sometime, somewhere… :D

  41. SergeyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:


    El Nido is must see in Philipines. Plan at least 5 days for it, becouse all tours (ABC) is must to see – and they are all very different.

    Be aware – there is only one expensive hotel which offers hot shower and electricity all the day. And if you are like good food – i will defeitly recomend you restaurant at Coron-Coron (2 kms from El nido) named Vistas Bungalos. It is not cheap – like 120 – 150 peso for dish, but food is perfect and sunsets at Coron Coron are fantastic.


    We will be in Bali in end of May =) Defenetly will buy pack of Bintang =)

  42. nightblastzNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    Thanks for adding me as a friend in mybloglog. Love reading your blog (what a rhyme lol). Anyhow, cool pics you have here.

  43. elayNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    glad you liked my country =)
    i love it too. its true, the people are beautiful. we’re generally a happy bunch. and the places – especially the beaches are just amazing.
    of course, we do have our ugly side. there are a handful of rotten tomatoes in the basket. but then you’ll find that kind everywhere too, so up to you to be careful and be smart enough. and oh, the government sucks – hence most of the items in your ‘ugly’ list. =)

  44. oliverNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi Chris!

    Your site is fun! You made me proud being a Filipino.

    Keep it up man!

  45. Trip to CancunNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Thanks for the great read Chris. The Philippines looks like a fantastic place to travel for the more adventurous tourist or nomad.

    Although I have never been to the Philippines I recently visited Hong Kong, and there is a large percentage of the population there working and making money to send back home. Every Sunday they gather socially with huge groups congregating in different locations across the city. Like you said, there are a lot of smiling faces and friendly people to meet.

  46. LylaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m going to the Philippines in a few months, but intimidated by the horror stories regarding foreigners. Do you have any safety tips? And is it really as dangerous as people say? I enjoyed your article and hope I can experience most of the things you recommend.

  47. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Lyla, the Philippines are not more dangerous than any other country on this planet, if you roam around with common knowledge. Foreigners are rarely targeted here and most of the stories date many years back. In a single evening in Chicago or New York more Americans are killed than in the Philippines in the last decade. So, don’t anyone scare you away from visiting this beautiful country! :D

  48. yasiNo Gravatar JORDAN Says:

    reading your articles I feel i ashamed that I dont know a lot about the south &I am surprised about those stories of yours about your stay there!as for the food well every region has own variety of menu or we call speciality! just like our language in every region we speak different dialects!you should visit the north specially baguio!anyway i came from th north
    but i hate manila!

  49. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    yasi, yup the food is a very subjective topic. Once I found a nice string of good and cheap restaurants in Bohol, Cebu, Palawan or Manila, it was pretty easy to feed myself in a good way. In some more remote areas, still this can be more difficult than in countries like Thailand or Indonesia. But then, every country has its pros and cons, so there is really nothing much wrong with it. ;-)

  50. pinoy boyNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I love the Philippines so much i wrote 100 things you didn’t know about the Philippines, hopefully to increase tourism here. Its about time, Philippines truly makes its mark in Great Asian Travels.

  51. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Nice tips, pinoy boy! ;-)

  52. AB in BerawaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Safety: As one from Los Angeles who travels a lot of deep third world: No where in the world is more dangerous than the 405. (16 lane commuter freeway from West LA to South Orange County, sees more traffic than almost any other road in the world.)

  53. LaurenNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Some of my good friends are Filipinos and they are very good. I really wish to visit Philippine this year as I want to know more about them.

    I don’t care about the Ugly part, every country has some ugly things even developed countries.

  54. Mal WrightNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    Hi, mostly I agree with you, especially about the people.

    Despite the infrastructure problems ( and mostly Westerners just have to get over themselves and open their minds a little ) it’s a beautiful place with beautiful inhabitants. And the San Miguel Pilsen is among the best beer in the world!

    I spent 6 months in Kidapawan, near Davao, last year, and I’m just about to head back there for another 5 months this year. I love it! You have to get to Mindanao, it’s paradise. Manila is hell on earth.

    By the way, if you’re married to a Pinoy, and travel there together, it’s visa free for 12 months stay. It’s called the balikbayan system.

    My observation: The wonderful family values and the corruption are branches of the same tree. If you put family first, and you have a position of influence, you make sure your family is taken care of. That’s corruption and cronyism. Eliminating corruption and preserving family values is a difficult balancing act.

    I’d be happy to host you in Kidapawan anytime, call or text +64 21 214 8950. It’s a NZ phone on roaming. Cheers, Mal.

  55. Lisa from LondonNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    thank you for this very interesting post! I especially loved your post on Siquijor. wonderful photos! I spent some years in Dumaguete and always spent my school summer holidays in Siquijor. It has a very special place in my heart. I hope things won’t change much on that lovely island where life is simple and the wheels of time grind ever so slowly. Don’t get me wrong, I do want progress but I don’t ever want it to be the next Boracay where it’s like having Glorietta in front of the beach. I miss the balmy breezes of the Philippines more so during these winter months here in Europe.

  56. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Lisa, yeah – sometimes it’s not easy to find the right balance between tranquility and progress. A nice beach location can be paradise, but some modern amenities or electricity can go a long way to make you feel more comfortable also. But where to draw the line? Of course, it will be nice to have internet, good roads, cheap shops and supplies from afar, but when will it start to spoil the original and relaxing atmosphere you loved about a location in the first place? Hmmm! ;;)

  57. Lisa from LondonNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Exactly, Chris! Where do you draw the line. I have experienced living in the tropics without electricity and running water. I can live without the former but definitely without the latter, lol! But it would be nice to have that constant internet connection thrown in as well. Sigh… life is all about the trade offs I guess. The biggest conundrum there is.

  58. AB in BerawaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hey Chris
    As we are debating between another year in Bali or a new year in Philippines (guessing Cebu but open to anywhere) curious to hear your Bali vs Philippines with regard to:

    1. internet (both speed and reliability, as Bali’s 512kbps if you’re lucky is killing me right now)

    2.housing costs (a 2Bed house on or walkable to the beach say in Santa Fe vs Seminyak)

    3 road trips around the country (regard road chaos etc, example, the drive from Kuta to Seminyak to Canggu to another 20K further/Balian)

    and 4. visa renewal

    Any insights are huggggggely appreciated. – Andrew and Martini and Dragon

  59. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Lisa, let’s make the best out of it! :D

    AB in Berawa: good questions, I’m pondering similar ventures, still in the early stages, with Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar thrown in as well. In regards to Bali and the Philippines (around Cebu) I would rate the following:

    1. Internet – Philippines wins hands down in regards to cost, speed, reliability. If you rent a house, you even have more (and faster fixed line) options, than just 3G, which is pretty good already. Bali is definitely 5 years behind here.

    2. Housing – comparable, Philippines is maybe a bit cheaper than Bali in that regards, especially after the explosive price hikes in Bali in the last 24 months. But housing amenities (also electricity) are still cheaper and more comfortable in Bali.

    3. Transportation – even. Public transport is cheap in both countries, traffic is definitely less in Pinas, even in Cebu. Cebu is a village compared to Bali’s traffic. If you rent bike or car, definitely Indonesia is way ahead and much cheaper. Motorbikes are at least 1, maybe even 2 generations behind in the Philippines, quality/cost/reliability sucks, as mainly it’s all cheap-chinese-sh*t assembled in the Philippines, while I would rate Indonesia much higher and more modern in that regard…….gasoline prices of course better in Indo, as they are still subsidized, hard to find any country that’s cheaper than Indo in that regard.

    4. Visa – easier in Philippines, but costs are comparable. In Philippines you can easily extend in every major city for up to 18 months (first 3 weeks are free), no special forms or agents needed, easy as pie. Indonesia – let’s not start about that topic! Lol!

    Good luck and see you around! ;-)

  60. AB in BerawaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hey Chris

    Monster thanks for the perspective. I am in Los Angeles, California right now, on the magic carpet ride back to Bali 1 December. Let’s connect for a beverage soon after if you’re in Bali. – AB

  61. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sure, drop me a note, once you reach here….I will be definitely here until end of the year. ;-)

  62. AndreeaNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    HI Chris,

    We just got back from a month in thailand and loved the experience and now we’re looking into finding our next destination in asia. The plan is to spend 3 months (mid july-mid october) in indonesia, philippines and maybe other south-east asian countries.
    What is your advice?
    Considering we are not looking to spend very much and also we will need some good internet options to be able to work.


  63. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Andreea, as your question is not very specific, my advice is: Just do it! You won’t regret it! Asia is still cheap and internet is everywhere, hence the name. Sounds like a cool plan for sure. ;;)

  64. ItDontMeanAThingNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    Andreea: The infrastructure sucks so the power goes out. Research expat forums for towns you’re interested in to see how often it happens. Also see how often the net goes down as they may be unrelated.

  65. lionelNo Gravatar NEW CALEDONIA Says:

    Now Chris, you “must” complete your excellent blog with chapters about “chances to achieve creation and running of your business’ in Goa/Vietnam/Phils/Bali/Thaïland…tis is THE question I ask to myself, reading tons of webpages, interrogating people who know the countries (fortunately, I can find some, here, in Nouméa), and I visit them (the countries). I know Java, Bali, Malaysia, Thaïland in Asia, but still cannot decide.
    My bro, retired in Jomtien; says me “DON’T do ANY business in Thaïland ! ”
    Experts say that Phils are the most stable, sure, country of all in the area for safe long-term investments, regarding to many criterias, especially the catholic colonisation in deep. But f*** !! Many months of rain ..
    Bali is nice and clement, but Java is becoming more muslim day after day and they will put pression on Bali at a moment, if there’s not another attack by an isolated crazy fanatic, I fear. And transmitting a business or immo. to his kids later doesn’t look so evident there to me. Maybe condos ?..
    Vietnam… I know as many opinions about vietnam by viet-kieus who live outside of Vietnam for tens of years then began to return to it more and more often for about 20 years. This morning, one of them, a witty 60y old viet woman, born here, was saying me: ” You must go and visit vietnam!!! Some landscapes are wonderful, the food is fabulous and incredibly cheap, there are many spots to appreciate!”. But another one, a friend, succesfull “PHO” restaurant tenant here, says me ” I will never make some business in Vietnam: they are bandits, ALL! ”
    Recently, a friend explained me that one of his old mate was screaming after “these f*** viets, who are liars, robbers, racists+++ who have only ONE thing in mind and could easily kill father and mother for it: money. Even his viet wife
    was same, for his eyes and he wanted to leave the Vietnam soon!

    Everybody knows now that the best way to loose money is to buy a bar in Thaïland. Have you, from your huuge experience of travelling in these countries, several ideas to share about the chapter “where to make small business” ?

  66. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Good point, lionel! It would definitely would make for a interesting article I guess. My advice for a Westerner doing business in Asia is simple. Don’t!

    Except if you want to start a business in Singapore or freelance as your own boss without employees or doing online businesses.

    But that’s just me, based on what I hear from friends and friends of friends. The reasons are too many to list here, with corruption, different work cultures, unfavorable laws for foreigners being the least annoyances. Let me think about it and it might turn into a larger article within the next couple of weeks. ;;)

  67. MigsNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi, Chris!

    Thank you for the good words about the PH. We love this country so much and we feel proud and happy when a visitor like you is also happy with our country and people.

    Mabuhay ka and we wish to see more of you here in PH.

  68. SkinsNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Good read. My next stop is the Philippines! Can’t wait. 😀

    Everyone comments on the food. Could it be that bad??? As long as I can get some basic things at the market and cook my own food I’ll be fine. Keep up the good work!

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