For many Westerners, there is a great deal of confusion as to whether or not the Philippines is a U.S. territory or a sovereign nation. Actually, at one time the Philippines was a U.S. territory until, oddly enough, July 4, 1946, when the United States granted them independence. Having previously been ceded to the U.S. by Spain back in1898, at that time English became a commonly spoken language. So then, if you are looking to visit a Southeast Asian nation where you can easily communicate with a majority of the people, the Philippines would be an ideal choice.
Having said that, many people are still of Spanish descent, so they are tri-lingual but as for official languages, the Philippine Constitution has adopted two official languages, Filipino and English. Wasn’t that a long-winded way to say that if you speak English you should have no problem enjoying a holiday in Manila? Here are a few tips on how to make the most of that holiday.
Steer Clear of Those Trendy High-Priced Hotels
Why would you want to visit a foreign nation only to spend your days and nights in a highly Westernised hotel? Instead, many tour guides recommend that you either stay in smaller ‘off-the-beaten-path’ hotels or get a real taste of the nation’s capital at a hostel in Makati area.Now then, here is where anotherproblem surfaces. Makati is a ‘city’ within the city of Manila! In fact, there are 16 of them independent of Manila with their own mayors but all part of Manila.
So, if you want to ‘taste’ a bit of local politics, this is where you might want to start. The point is since Manila is the capital of the Philippines and since it caters to a great number of international guests, you’d want to avoid the big hotels, such as those you’d see back home. Why go to a foreign country if you aren’t going to see anything new or exotic?
If you do nothing else prior to your trip to the Philippines, the one thing you will certainly want to do is research those areas where it is recommended that foreign nationals not visit. Like many other countries in Asia, there ‘could’ be a high military presence and those are typically in outlying regions. Makati is not one of them so it is really a wonderful place to see and do things you might be apprehensive about experiencing in other regions.
When in Doubt – Ask the Locals
The bottom line is that whenever you go to a new country or a new place, who knows the area better than the locals? If you are looking to make the most out of your trip to the Philippines, a stay in a hostel would undoubtedly be your best choice. Not only will you be sharing stories with fellow travellers but you will have hosts and hostesses who aren’t pushing major attractions that bring in the money like they do at the bigger hotels. The best way to experience the Philippines is to keep close to major tourist areas without being bound by the hotels that cater to them. When in doubt, ask the locals. They’ll give you the best local travel tips of all.