The best way to fully experience any new place you travel to is by living the way the locals do. By doing this, you may discover some pleasant quirks about the people that you may not have seen if you constrict yourself to conducted tours.
In the Philippines, touring without a guide is somewhat easier since a large percentage of the people are able to understand and speak English. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask someone. There is nothing to fear since Filipinos are known to be very hospitable, especially to foreigners.
The first place to find a reliable local guide is in your very own hotel. Don’t go the normal route by asking the concierge about tour packages, live a little by asking your bellboy where the best sisig (popular Filipino bar chow) in town is and he’ll be happy to point the way.
For the adventure-seeking traveler, public transportation is the safest way to get around the city and see some sights along the way. Even getting onto a jeepney is a unique experience all by itself! Also, there are no definite stops in a trip so you can feel free to ask the driver to stop if ever you see anything that catches your fancy.
Some helpful tips on Philippine travel:
1. Always have some change with you. For public transportation, you’ll be amazed at how far a dollar can take you.
2. Don’t bring too much cash, if you run out, you can always find an ATM.
3. Always ask for your hotel’s address card. In Manila, most cab drivers are familiar with the major hotels.
4. Bring an extra shirt or a towel; it’s a tropical country, after all.
5. Don’t be afraid to get lost. You don’t know what you just might find.
6. Smile! Filipinos are very friendly; a lot of people might just smile back!
It won’t be difficult to get around at all since most of the street signs are written in English and are easy to understand. There are also city maps sold in gas stations around the metro. These can serve as an easy guide on how to get to the sights that might not be in your itinerary.
Ultimately, the best way to experience a new culture is by allowing yourself to be swallowed by it. Let your inhibitions go, be open to seeing strange sights, tasting strange food, and receiving the warm welcome of the Filipino people.