Friday, December 15

Backpacking in The Philippines: A Very One of a Kind Experience

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Vacations are often defined by a good amount of rest and relaxation, which is also delineated by the amount of money inside the vacationer’s pocket. There is, however, a cheaper way to have a unique trip that does not require a large budget yet guarantees real excitement that you cannot feel by merely laying your back flat on a sandy beach within your country.

Known for being part of the hippie culture in the 60’s and 70’s, backpacking is an affordable way to enjoy your holiday that traditionally differentiates itself from the other forms of traveling. It’s all about the limited usage of public transport, choosing low-cost hostels over high-priced hotels, length of the trip versus the typical vacation, eagerness in meeting the locals as well as seeing the sights, and of course, the use of backpacks.

This cool way of traveling brings more adventure in your next get-away especially if your vacation destination is somewhere in Asia. Asian countries offer travelers a variety of culture, color, and exuberance that is incomparable with the rest of the continents in the world.

Backpacking is truly an enjoyable adventure filled with fun and learning as well as many sudden twists, turns and trials especially when you’re headed for the Philippines. And this is why you should try to keep in mind these couple of pointers before you pack your bags and head over to the highway.

 Dressing Filipino- style – The Philippines is notoriously known for having a very humid climate. Thus, dressing down is a must for this country, even if you’re not going backpacking. To give you an idea, an average Filipino would rather wear shorts pants and a basic tee for the entire day than button-up shirts and long pants, though wearing such is not actually a crime in the country. The best thing to do though is pack a couple of interchangeable clothes that are light and comfortable yet can protect you against weather hazards. When you pack, it’s also advisable to bring lots of sanitizing agents and insect repellants. This is because while the Philippines and its people are mainly hygienic, there are instances in your travel when you’ll need these stuff. It’s no crime to be prepared when situations like these arise.

Communication is the key – Filipinos are famous for being impeccably hospitable people. And while the same is true for most Asian countries, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to talk to Filipinos and approach them since a majority of them can speak, understand and write English. Also, Filipinos are very helpful and down to earth, so never hesitate to ask them for help if you’re needing. You’ll find that they’re always more than happy to be of any help to anyone, especially foreigners.

Dish on Filipino flavors and more – Since we’re talking about backpacking and the act requires backpackers to as much as possible, save up on spending. I seriously advice you take the time to explore the many Filipino flavors. Every region of the country has a special style of cooking and has its own specialties. You’ll find that though some food are called the same throughout the country, the way they are cooked differs as you travel from one province to the other. Food in the Philippines is not only tasty and comparatively healthier than most other countries, it is also very cheap. The same also applies for lodging. Most rural towns in the Philippines have families that are willing to take in travelers into their house for a small fraction of what it would cause you to stay in a hotel. For under $10 a night, you’ll get to have a Filipino room of your own, warm home-cooked meal, and a family to exchange stories and learn a lot from.

Tip is a common tip – It is a common courtesy in the Philippines to leave some cash behind after paying the bill, since most of the restaurants and bars in the country do not include tips for the servers in the final charges. This also goes to giving an extra payment to the cab drivers, like leaving them the small amount of change from the money you paid based on the meter.

VISIT THE WONDERS OF THE LAND: If you plan to visit some islands in the Philippines, it’s better to ask assistance from local boat folks than investing your money over expensive travel packages from hotels. For a beautiful and rich country like the Philippines, ecotourism is widely backed by the local and sustains the lifestyle of indigenous groups in the said areas. Respecting elders is highly supported by many in this country so I suggest you follow locals’ common courtesy. Don’t act like a total stranger and mix in with the crowd, in this manner you can enjoy your stay and gain friends.

Although going on a backpack trip in the Philippines might be cheaper than other Asian countries, carrying extra pocket money is still advisable. Always be mindful of your whereabouts and actions while in beautiful paradise.

This kind of trip will never fail to give you a sense of authenticity because it’s more than a vacation – it’s actually an education wherein you get to learn the environment first hand. Bear in mind that sheer gratification doesn’t just come from the magnificence of the place but also from the journey you take.

“We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven.” – Henry David Thoreau

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