9 surprising things about The Philippines

The Philippines

My trip to The Philippines was one of my first trips to Asia. During my trip, I was surprised by certain things and habits in this beautiful country. In this article, I’ll share the 9 things that surprised me the most in The Philippines.

This article is also available in Dutch

Rice, rice and rice

Philippines - rice
This is probably something you see everywhere in Asia: rice with every meal. At breakfast, you eat the leftover rice from last night (with a lot of garlic, good morning!), and at lunch and dinner, you’ll eat rice with (fried) fish or chicken. I didn’t mind, because I love rice. And at most places, you could choose to eat pancakes or eggs for breakfast.

You can do karaoke everywhere

Pretty much every town or village or remote island has a karaoke machine and a book with thousands of songs to choose from. The Filipino’s love it, and so do the tourists! When I was on an island tour with Buhay Isla, we spent our last night on a very secluded island with only 2 houses. And even there, there was a karaoke machine! Our group was mostly singing Britpop and the crew went all out with Filipino ballads. So much fun!

Eat the whole chicken

Philippines - chicken
In the Netherlands, we only eat chicken breast or chicken legs. But in The Philippines, it looks like they smashed the whole chicken and put it in a bowl. And it still tastes delicious!

How do I cut my food?

Another fun thing when you go out for dinner (or breakfast or lunch): you get a spoon and a fork, but you rarely get a knife. Usually it’s fine, because you don’t really need to cut rice, but it can be annoying sometimes. In more expensive restaurants and hotels you will get a knife with your food, but don’t expect it when you’re staying at remote islands.

Roosters all day, everyday

Philippines - rooster
When I was in The Philippines, I ate a lot of chicken, but I have never seen any of them walking around. Roosters however, are pretty much everywhere you look. And they make so much noise! Please bring ear plugs when you’re a light sleeper.

Dairy products are a luxury

On the islands there was not a lot of diversity in food. You could eat rice, chicken, (fresh) fish or fruit. Sometimes vegetables, but I never saw cheese or milk. Only at breakfast you could get a small piece of butter.

Mopeds & tricycles

Philippines - tricycle
This is probably one of the first things you will notice in The Philippines: there are a lot of mopeds and tricycle. This is the main way of transportation, so get used to it. You can use tricycles like a taxi, and it’s pretty cheap.

The only music they know: ballads from the 80s and 90s

Everywhere you go (hotels, airports, karaoke bars), you will hear ballad songs from the 80s or 90s. Or a ballad version of a famous pop song. If you don’t like them, skip the karaoke bars en make sure to bring your own music.

The locals are extremely kind

Philippines - children
I found the people in The Philippines very friendly. They will help you with everything. Even if you don’t show up in time for the bus, they will pick you up from the hotel you’re staying at. During my multi-day island tour, we stopped for a few hours at a small village, where tourists rarely come for a visit. The kids wanted to play soccer and basketball with us and the parent wanted to play some kind of snooker. It was so much fun and we felt very welcome! Definitely one of my best experiences ever.

Would you like to read more about The Philippines?

Check out these articles:
Travel tips for The Philippines
Perfect 2-week itinerary for The Philippines

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