Travel Tips from Shenzhen China to the Philippines
After a few months of Teaching English in Shenzhen, or other places in China, it’s a long Chinese holiday and it’s time to enjoy the best part of teaching English abroad- travel! From Shenzhen China, it’s very easy to travel to the Southeast Asian countries, like Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Guess where my favorite destination is? It’s the Philippines.
Here, I’ll discuss why I really love traveling to the Philippines, travel tips, and some amazing destinations.
First- what is the best way to get to the Philippines?
If you are in Shenzhen, the easiest way to fly to the Philippines is through the HK International Airport. There are many flights from HK International to all the major international airports in the Philippines- Manila, Cebu, and Clark. A round-trip ticket from HK International to any airport in the Philippines will generally cost between 1200 RMB to as high as 3000 RMB. If you fly during the off-peak season, you can probably purchase a round trip ticket for as low as 1200 RMB even if you made the reservation within a few days of the flight. However, if you are planning your vacation during the holidays period, I would highly recommend booking your ticket at least 2 months in advance, otherwise, you can pay a hefty price.
Second- how do I go about planning my trip to the airport?
Since you are going to go through two immigration process, you should give yourself plenty time to get to the HK international airport. Generally, I would advise getting to the airport 3 hours prior to flying time, even during the off-peak season. You do not want to miss a flight and ruin your vacation over 1-2 hours. Also, the flights to the Philippines will usually be assigned an airport gate that’s really far from the central part of the airport. So once you finish your duty-free shopping, airport dining, and picking up last minute things, you will need to allow yourself a 30-minute walk from the security counter to your flight gate. For most of you, you will probably be traveling during the peak holiday season. I would highly advise giving yourself a 3 hour transit time from your home to the airport and it’s better to get there really early than get there too late. Besides, Hong Kong Airport is really amazing with lots of things to do to keep you occupied.
Third- what is the best way to exchange currency from Chinese RMB to Philippines Peso?
The best way to get the most value for your money is to purchase US Dollars with your Chinese RMB in China before you leave. Then, when you arrive in the Philippines, you can exchange your US Dollars to Philipines Pesos. Yes, you are changing your currency twice, but even so, this is the best way to get the most value for your money. If you change Chinese RMB direct to Philippines Pesos in the Philippines, you will lose about 10% as Philippines do not give good rates against the Chinese RMB. Are you worried about running out of money when you are in the Philippines? Just buy more than enough US Dollars, and when you return to China, you can exchange that back to RMB without losing much. Lastly- some of you may be curious about whether your Chinese Union Pay debit card would work in the Philippines? Most likely not, because many of the newer debit cards that Chinese banks have been issuing uses the IC rather than the magnetic strip.
Fourth- is WiFi in the Philippines readily available?
The answer to this is yes and no. At the hotels, resorts, and malls there is fairly good WiFi available to use. If you are on holidays and don’t want to be bothered, this can actually be good for you. No need to be bothered from the outside world when you are on vacation. If you are really addicted to connectivity and can’t disengage from the outside world like me, you can easily purchase a prepaid SIM card upon arrival at the airport. The two main carriers in the Philippines are Globe and Smart. I prefer Smart but local friends told me Globe is just as good.
Fifth- what is the best method of transportation in the Philippines?
I would highly recommend downloading an App called Grab. Grab is the Uber of the Philippines and very convenient to use. Unlike China and other countries, because the Philippines is a cash-based economy, you can pay for your Grab rides using cash. For Grab, you do need to get a SIM card with data so that you can hail a ride even if you are not in WiFI zone. No WiFi and no SIM? Your next best choice is the taxis. There are the Yellow Cabs and the White Taxis. Both are rather safe, but the Yellow Cabs are accredited by the Tourist Association and the drivers are better vetted for your safety. Are you going to go Island Hopping or travel to some small resort town? Then I would rent a 150 CC scooter if you know how to ride a motor-bike. If not, Trikes are a very popular way to get around and each ride will cost about 100 pesos for trips within 3 KM. For those who haven’t traveled to the Philippines yet, Trikes are Motorbikes connected to a passenger seating component.
Sixth- Can you recommend me some popular places to go in the Philippines?
One of my favorite destinations in the Philippines is Panglao Island. Panglao Island is a small island connected by a bridge to Bohol Island not far from Cebu. To get to Cebu, you can fly to Manila and take a connecting flight to TAG(Tagbilaran Airport). From Tagbilaran Airport, you can take a taxi to your final destination in Panglao. Also, you can fly to Cebu International Airport and from Cebu, you can take a cruise ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran. For more amazing destinations in the Philippines, click this link to read more about different travel destinations.
Seventh- What do you recommend for accommodations?
If you are looking for a place to stay in the city area, we would recommend Airbnb as you can rent clean and spacious apartments for around $50US/300 RMB per night. Also, you can find a decent hostel if you are looking for a budget way to travel for around $10-$20US/ per night per bed. If you are traveling during peak season to the resort areas, we highly suggest you reserve your accommodation as early as possible. For hostels in the Philippines, here is a link to search for many hostels choices.
Eighth- Safety Travelling Tips
When traveling to the Philippines, we highly suggest you be safe. Although Filipinos are nice and hospitable people, it is always wise to practice safety precautions.
Some things not to do while you are in the Philippines:
- Give money to beggars- even kids- as many of the minor aged beggars are masterminded by others, and what you donate to them will probably not benefit them.
- Use cell phones on the busy street.
- Carry too much cash. There are lots of pickpockets in the city area.
- Use illegal drugs- the Philippines is trying to clean up drug users and you can get into A LOT of trouble if caught.
- Give in to solicitors- Of course, it’s common sense not to engage in prostitution, but in the Philippines, there are people who work as a team with a minor female to solicit you, and then blackmail you for a huge sum of money.
Ninth- Study the weather before you plan your vacation
Assuming the weather is going to be nice all year round is a common mistake made by many travelers. Make sure that you do some research on what the weather will be like because you don’t want to plan a ten day holiday just to find out that it’s raining for the entirety of your vacation. Also, look out for Typhoons as you don’t want to travel to an island where a strong typhoon is bound to hit.
Tenth- Don’t let the small things bother you.
You may be taking a taxi within Manila and the taxi meter came out to be 170 pesos. It’s common for taxi drivers to ask you for 200 pesos, or refuse to give you change when you gave him 200 pesos. These Filipino taxi drivers earn very little income and will try to hustle you for small change. Don’t let this bother you as 30 pesos is only $1.25 US. It will save you a lot of trouble. Instead, look towards the benefits you get in the Philippines, like inexpensive cuisine, beautiful beaches, cheap mango juices, or whatever satisfy you. You are here to enjoy your holidays, not fight over some measly change.
Any Other Tips for when Traveling in the Philippines?
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