Philippines Impressions? Not what we expected 🤔

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Philippines Impressions? Not what we expected 🤔

While many travelers find themselves captivated by the allure of the Philippines, we offer a different perspective. Instead, we share our candid experiences and insights to shed light on why the Philippines didn’t leave us as impressed as we had hoped.

From bustling cities to serene beaches, this is an honest exploration of the country’s landscapes, cultural encounters, and tourist hotspots, allowing you to gain an alternative understanding of this diverse destination. Whether you’re seeking a contrary viewpoint or looking to set realistic expectations, join us on an insightful journey through the Philippines.

We also discuss our budget for this venture. Discover how to make the most of your hard-earned money while exploring the landscapes, cities, and cultural gems of this tropical destination. From affordable accommodations to budget-friendly transportation options, we provide essential tips and tricks to help you experience the best of the Philippines without breaking the bank.

If you are planning a trip through the Philippines, be sure to check out our 24 articles for practical tips on costs and locations.

Philippines impressions

Philippines impressions – Pangangan

Modest Expectations

Our Philippines impressions were formed gradually over the 3 weeks we spent there. We arrived in the Philippines with open minds, though it’s difficult to erase all the preconceptions you have about a place before you visit it.

In our case, we were anticipating white sand beaches, relaxed swimming, fresh fruit & fish and tasty local food. We chose to visit some out-of-the-way places, so hopefully we would find some secluded places to spend our time.

For such a short trip – just 19 days in the Philippines – we had to be extremely selective about the places we would visit. We narrowed our choices to a shortlist of 2 islands (Cebu and Bohol) and 5 destinations that could be combined into a viable route (see The Philippines – Planning the Trip).

Hotel options in Manila

Philippines Beaches

For anyone who enjoys hassle-free swimming, the beaches in some of the more remote locations where we stayed were not ideal.

Access to the sea was sometimes difficult over shallow and rocky areas. Fine for snorkeling or diving, but that was about it. There were good sandy beaches in the more touristy areas in Bohol, but we were mainly trying to stay away from the crowds.

Apart from Alona Beach, the public beaches we visited were sometimes heavily littered and not always that clean.


Philippines impressions

Philippines impressions – Beaches

Hotel options in Cebu

Local Philippine Food

The biggest disappointment of the Philippines for us was the local food.

If you really want to pile on the calories, this is the place to come. Sugary, sticky marinades are the order of the day. Whether we chose fish, pork or chicken, it all came out tasting the same: Sweet, bland and filling.

We ate as much fruit as possible, but you can’t live off just that. There was a super-abundance of Western junk food outlets everywhere we went, and many of the locals obviously have a taste for them.

Bland Philippine Food

Our Philippines impressions – Bland Food

By far, the best food we had was prepared by Julian (a British expatriate) at the Seaside Boutique Hotel in Panglao. Using locally-sourced ingredients, he produced some delicious 3-course meals for us during our short stay there.

Phone Cards in the Philippines

I picked up a local Globe sim card for 40 pesos, and paid another 50 pesos to add credit. This is the minimum amount, but was plenty for a 2-3 week stay. The only problem was that we couldn’t send SMS text messages back to Europe. They appeared to be sent, but no-one received them.

Jeepneys in Manila

Jeepneys in Manila

Final Budget & Actual Costs

Planning our trip 2 months earlier, we allowed ourselves a budget of €35 per person per day. This was to cover the 18 nights we would spend in the Philippines.

Since we were flying to the Philippines from Rome, we also needed to allow for 2 nights in Rome – one night before our flight out and another after our return flight.

For these extra nights in Rome, we budgeted €50 (per person per day).

The combined cost of all of our flights was €1,434.

This included return flights for 2 from Malta to Rome (Air Malta), return flights from Rome to Manila with Emirates, and internal flights in the Philippines from Manila to Cebu, and Bohol back to Manila (Philippines Airlines).

All for 2 people.

Our Philippines impressions - Costs

Our Philippines impressions – Costs

The total trip duration was 24 days. This included flying and stopover time. We also took out travel insurance for €47 per person.

Our accommodation in both Italy and the Philippines came to €633 for 2 people for 20 nights (including breakfast on 7 days). Apart from accommodation and flights, we took a total of €973 from cash machines during the trip.

The final combined cost for the trip was €1,620 per person (€3,241 for 2). This averages at around €67 per person per day, including flights, accommodation, food… and all other costs.

This wasn’t too far off from our planned budget of €3,200.

Philippines impressions

There is so much to see in the Philippines that you can’t do it justice by visiting one or two of the islands. But you have to start somewhere, right?

Hopefully, our short visit was a precursor to other trips to different parts of the country. In the south Mindanao, with its sizeable Muslim population, could offer quite a different experience. Palawan would also be on our shortlist of islands to visit.

…on our next trip.

Hotel options in Bohol

If you enjoyed our Philippines impressions, check out Central Philippines – Cebu & Bohol. You may also like:


Rob berBaron

October 27, 2020at 5:54 pm

Come for the beaches but stay for the political kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf and the Sharia Law!



May 29, 2020at 10:03 pm

I have been going to the Philippines for many years. A beautiful country with beautiful people. Look to the government.


August 22, 2018at 5:26 am

Thank you for sharing your review! It may come in useful for me 🙂

Gr8 Travel Tips

Gr8 Travel Tips

April 21, 2018at 5:14 pm

A Good & Honest Review On Your Stay In The Philippines. 🙂

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Search Our Destinations

Getting to the Philippines

Cebu Island

Catch Our Buzz!

Pangangan Bohol

South Panglao

What you need in the Tropics

Loboc Bohol

North Panglao

Manila & Final Impressions