Philippines forum

Why no Philippines on the site?

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    I'm an avid reader and fan of travelfish and rely on it heavily for travel advice and just overall reading. However I'm always wondering why there is almost no action on this site on The Philippines.

    My answer on Twitter as to "why"? Simply said "We've never been there! One day"
    Which makes sense because how can they write about somewhere they've never been.

    But I noticed on this forum for example there are thousands of posts about other SE Asian countries while The Philippines has just a few hundred with very little insight or response. To mean it means not many people who frequent this site go there compared to it's SE Asia neighbors.

    And this was proven to me when I recently did the multi-country SE Asian trip. Speaking with other tourists most of the countries were on their itinerary and I met more people going to Burma than I did The Philippines.

    So I guess this posts is just some encouragement to go!!!

    It does have it's cons
    Yes....it is a bit more expensive than it's neighbors when it comes to hotels. And (personally) I don't think the food as is as good.
    Manila is no Bangkok....there are some nice areas but there's not much to see as a tourist.
    And it's full of crime, traffic and pollution. And it along with other cities such as Angeles attracts a lot of so called sexpats and a lot of lowlifes.
    The tourist infrastructure isn't so good.

    But the pros seriously can outweigh the cons.
    You're unlikely to ever have any problems in Manila except maybe a taxi cab driver who doesn't want to give you your change
    You can avoid the sex tourism spots just like you would in Thailand. And if that's your thing then that's fine to. They're not as developed and disneylandesque as Patpong, Pattaya and Phuket.

    It has so many unspoiled white sand picture perfect beaches. Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, the list goes on.
    Sure....some will reply Boracay is too busy and over run by tourists, but you can't compare that with places like Bali or Koh Samui. Even in busy season if you want a large chunk of pristine beach to yourself in Boracay you can get it. I know I lived there for over a year.
    Boracay is the type of place where you can go and have drinks at the bar and meet locals and then if you go back next year they will remember you. I can't imagine my Nha Trang or Kuta Bali, Krabi Thailand people remembering me. They see too many people!

    Other places get 20% the tourism as Boracay. So really you're seeing how the neighboring countries were like before they got too overrun with tourism, that's my perspective anyway.

    But most of all, the people are the main reason to go to The Phils. I find them the friendliest in the world. I actually find most if not all SE Asia very friendly, however their is a language barrier. In The Philippines most know English and therefore they're willing to befriend you and will be genuine about it.
    They haven't quite figured out yet that every sentence should be to sell something if their talking to a foreigner.

    So I say go to The Philippines with an open mind, and you will be rewarded.
    And if you had a bad experience before, just remember that happens in Cambodia and elsewhere also. Use cebupacificair.com for cheap flights to get around

    Happy trip everyone!

    #1 Posted: 30/11/2011 - 01:38

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  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro,
    The Philippines is a challenge. Just getting there is the first problem,When KLM pull out next year,there will be no direct flights from EuropeAir France,Lufthansa,BA and others have pulled out.The airport is in a timewarp,recently voted the worlds worst.The country is corrupt,over populated,polluted and filthy compared to other SEA nations.The quality of accomodation is poor and expensive in comparison and the cuisine leaves much to be desired.Armed security guards abound everywhere.Travelling a very short distance may take hours and many in the hospitality industry would rather milk you for your last penny than promote the country as an ambassador.No major tour operator will offer Philippines as the hassle and complaints they will receive simply out weigh any benefit.Whereas infrastructure in neighbouring countries has advanced,there it has stagnated.The previous president is in jail,another ex president was sentenced to life imprisonment then pardoned,Imelda Marcos and her son and daughter hold powerful positions in government despite the atrocities perpetrated by the late dictator.
    These are some of the reasons that the country is not a popular destination,thats the reality.

    #2 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 10:23

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    Thanks for the reply...

    Here's my response to that.....
    1. Sure Bangkok is a major hub, it's easy to get there from Europe and the like. However The Philippines is just as easy to get to from Bangkok as Jakarta, Hanoi and so on. The international airport is pretty ugly but there's nothing too much wrong with it. But I don't really base my vacation on the beauty of the airport (although I admit BKK is pretty cool!)

    2. The Philippines hotels are more expensive when you're on a back packing budget. No doubt about it, you can't get a nice room for $10 like you can in Vietnam. However at $25 you can get a very respectable place. You will find the same pricing structure in Malaysia where the cheapest places aren't so great but the 4 star hotels are cheaper than 4 star hotels in other countries and just as nice.

    3. There are armed guards everywhere however after living there for a long time and owning a business with my own armed guard I realized it's a cultural thing. It comes with any Spanish colonial territory. You'll find the same thing in Costa Rica, Argentina and so on. it really doesn't have much to do as far as danger goes. In fact you'll always get a huge smile and a casual conversation with any armed guard.

    3. Traffic is terrible in Manila you're right. It's also terrible in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok. There are 12 million people there afterall. So yeah it can take you a long time to get from point A to point B. But like BKK they do have a MRT.

    You mention the country is corrupt, but it's not as corrupt as Cambodia. And it's over-populated but not as much as Indonesia. And I think Cambodia and Indonesia are amazing places.

    4. Yes they've had bad corrupt presidents but I don't see how that affects my vacation plans.
    You could say the same thing about Thaksin's sister being in power. In fact politics has caused a lot more problems for tourists in Thailand than it ever has in The Philippines. So I'm not sure why that should make people think twice about going.

    I'm just wondering why travelfish has decided to leave a HUGE part of SE Asia off the site. As if it's as dangerous as Somalia or something. You go to the front page and it's been left out as if it's this far out hard to reach place that nobody wants to go to. When in reality it really has a whole lot to offer. Currently it's one of Asia's best kept secrets. If you type in google the top 10 beaches in the world The Philippines will come up often yet Thailand rarely comes up. They're just too crowded and polluted.

    #3 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 16:29

  • KevandJho

    Joined Travelfish
    15th September, 2011
    Posts: 65

    Great and insightful article Argo!

    When I toured the Philippinnes and especially Palawan and around Coron, it was an experience I will never forget.

    The snorkelling around Palawan was amazing!!!! The white sand beaches,lagoons and islands fantastic!!! I've been only to 5 other SE Asian countries and none of them have matched the Philippines beaches, white sand and corals for snorkeling.

    My neighbour has been to the beaches of Bohol and was equally impressed.

    Manila on the other hand is big, busy and dirty, however, there are some nice areas.

    We are going to Vietnam and Cambodia very soon and I know we will have a blast, but I', not expecting the beaches there either, to come close to matching the Phils.

    I love certain aspects of the Phils and we are not done exploring there yet.Wish more people can discover it, because IF you go to the right locations it has a lot to offer.

    #4 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 19:02

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    Thanks Agro. You made some great points for a visit to the Phillipines and replied greatly to the criticism posted by others.

    Having traveled extensively in SEA but not phillipines I will give you my main reasons why I haven't visited yet. It's not really a conscious decision but rather based on feeling.

    I always have the feeling that besides beaches there isn't much to do or see there and I'm not a beach person.
    The other reason is that, to me, it doesn't feel like the core of SEA with its christianity and widely spoken english. To me, and probably most others, SEA is about budism, great food and non-western things. From what I heard those things do not really apply to the Phillipines.

    I will have to give it a try though before I say more about the subject

    #5 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 21:43

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    I read your comments with interest and would like to respond.
    1. You state that there is nothing much wrong with the International airport.I can only conclude that you have either never been through the terminal or had your white stick and guide dog with you. The airport is a national disgrace and has been for many years.It recently took the personal intervention of the President to ensure that the washrooms had running water and soap and the terminal has enough chairs for passengers.
    The 4 terminals are not linked. At peak times the travel time by taxi from TI to T3 is 30 to 40 minutes.Terminal 3 is where the ceiling collapsed a few years ago due to the poor materials used in construction.It lay mothballed for 5 years while litigation(still ongoing) was going through international court between government and contractors. The old domestic terminal used by Zest air is like a barn. Criminal syndicates operate in the vicinity to prey on arriving travellers.To state that the building is ugly is a gross understatement.It is an example of the worst type of 70s concrete construction and has major structural faults.The staff are not allowed to greet passengers "Merry Christmas' during the festive season now as this is seen as a solicitation for tips
    You are entitled to your opinion but millions do not concur.
    Just google around to check what i say,you will find it

    #6 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:04

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    You're right EastWest...

    When I first got there after 6 months in Asia it was rather odd for me. It wasn't Buddhist or Muslim, and they seemed to ditch their traditional Asia garb for the basketball jersey. I really didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for them when I first got there.

    Actually I didn't like the place very much. My first taxi cab driver was employed by Satan. There were no temples everywhere but instead massive billboards with massive American like adverts and McDonalds.

    What first got me to fall in love with the place, was actually getting out of Manila! But it was also the people. I think it helps that everyone knows English. There are far less tourists there so people are genuinely curious and are extremely welcoming. I found the people extremely pleasant to the point that even Starbucks would be a great experience.

    I'm not a beach person either. I mention the beaches a lot here because most people absolutely need that on their tropical vacation. I'm the first to admit a lot of cities here aren't so charming either. Cebu City is no Chiang Mai that's for sure. However I found that Baguio was very pleasant.

    So what's in store for a person who's not into beaches?
    I guess adventure and if you'd like nature. It's easy to find jungles, swimming with massive whale sharks, and natural wonder oddities like the chocolate hills of Bohol.
    I even getting from point A to point B can be an adventure.

    And even the beach towns it can be more about the vibe than it is the beaches. It is for me anyway. It's like when I'd go to Bali, or Nha Trang Vietnam, or Koh Samui, Thailand. I didn't spend so much time in the beach but rather the surroundings.

    Bottom line is the country is oddly misplaced in SE Asia but it really does grow on you.
    You start to think...Are these people American or Spanish or Chinese or Malay or ....and then you realize they're in a category of their own.

    Here's some links I found on youtube.

    Travel Manila
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HfR7iiyNs8

    Manila (makes it look way too nice!) Makati, Manila can be as nice as Singapore, but it's a bit of a bubble. This vid gives a good idea of the sheer size of Manila though
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2vH-mResGk&feature=related

    My advice is still get out of Manila asap!

    Here's Boracay. The most touristed island. Have a look at all the tourists you barely see a white person. Everyone knows English but you really feel like you are a foreigner in a foreign country rather than stuck in a tourist ghetto full of 1000's of Europeans.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D__o7WT328

    There are plenty more of Boracay vids also

    You can be so lucky to be there during a festival
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7hn_ETiUig

    Chocolate Hills, Bohol
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHsRMY7080k

    The 7107 islands Natural Beauty
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Hu46AEELVY&feature=related

    There really is so much more such as the Banaue Rice Teraaces Ancient city of Vigan and so on.

    haha but ok I'll stop now as I feel like a tour guide.....but as I said I think this SE Asia Travel site is missing a big part of SE Asia. And by having more information about the wonders of the country can only be a good thing. If anyone agrees with me they should help me speak up to the site and get a Philippines section!

    #7 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:07

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    2. The "decent" hotel in Philippines costing $25 will be worse than the $10 hotel in Vietnam.
    A meal in a quality restaurant in Vietnam and Cambodia will be half the price of a mediocre meal in Philippines where they will automatically add a 10% s.c regardless

    Paradise is real life

    #8 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:11

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    gwapo....I've been to the airports in Manila dozens of times.

    Sure, they're not beautiful, but I've never had any problems except a delayed flight here and there. I usually land, go through customs, get my luggage and leave.
    I'm not really there long enough to care about any crumbling airport infrastructure.

    The Cebu Pacific Domestic is much nicer than the international, a lot more modern, but once again I never had any problems at either place. One trick is to always go upstairs to departures to catch the cheaper taxis.....airport arrival taxis are more expensive. Same thing in Jakarta, Hanoi and others.

    I'm not really sticking up for it, I'm just saying I don't see how that should make people not want to go to the country, it's really just a small piece of the puzzle

    #9 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:15

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    Regarding hotels....$25 in Manila won't get you the nicest place. $25 in the rest of the country you'll have a fine place. I do wish it was cheaper though.

    But spend $40 anywhere in the country and you get a beautiful place. In fact it will be just as nice as a $40 hotel elsewhere in SE Asia.

    800 pesos to 1000 pesos which is about $20ish will get you a place similar to a 250 bhat hotel in Thailand. In Manila it's most expensive, here's Gran Prix for 1500
    http://www.granprixhotels.com/Manila/index.php
    Nothing wrong with this place at all.


    Yes.....it's true it's more expensive, just like Malaysia is more expensive. But hey....it's not that bad for a couple weeks, especially if you're splitting it with someone.

    #10 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:22

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  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    3. Armed guards as a cultural relic from Spanish times??? I think it is more of an attempted deterrent against the armed gangs of marauding criminals preying on commercial establishments.
    Recently there was a shoot out on a Sunday morning in an upmarket mall crowded with tourists, families and children
    .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AeeEIjfWWI
    8 Chinese tourists were killed last year in a shootout in Manila.
    Many of the injured were refused vital treatment at hospitals as they were full
    There are regular unsolved murders of foreigners most in the tourist area around Angeles.
    Kidnap for ransom syndicates operate with impunity.

    I like the Philippines and have travelled extensively around the islands as well as the rest of SEA.I have had more hassles in Philippines than anywhere else,theft,robbery at gunpoint and constant petty scams but weighing up the pros and cons the country is still a great place to visit but do not expect the same standards,conditions or bang for your buck that you will find in neighbouring countries

    #11 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:33

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro,
    I would agree that the decrepit state of Manila's international airport will probably be of no concern to the majority of visitors. That is unless they are delayed during one of the regular power black outs when the computers go down and the generators cant cope with the aircon in the 35c
    The international airport is the first indication any traveller will get to observe on arrival. The run down state of an airport in the country is synonymous with the rest of the infrastructure that the government has failed to address over 20 years.
    This is why there are so few tourist arrivals and consequently less information on sites like this.The real test is getting tourist to come back
    The new tourism secretary of Philippines seems to think he can increase arrivals from 3.5 million in 2010 to 16million in 2016 and believes that will be an easy sell. The previous secretary resigned after only a year
    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/11101/philippines-%E2%80%98easy-to-sell-as-chickenjoy%E2%80%99-says-new-tourism-chief
    I think this guy has his work cut out but I hope he succeeds. I will go back to Cambodia and Vietnam next May

    #12 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:51

  • AGRO

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 31

    oh come on.....We could say the same in Thailand such as pictures here of tourists getting caught up int he red shirt protests in Thailand. Is that a tank at the democracy monument in the tourist heart of the city?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1265025/Thailand-riots-Ten-die-troops-clash-protesters-Bangkok.html

    But hey....is Thailand safe? YES!!!!
    Philippines has it's problems but for you to get caught up with a serial killer that murdered some tourists in Angeles or caught on a bus with a madman you would have to be extremely unlucky. Those very things can and do happen everyday in the USA,

    In general we can agree that the vast majority of people who visit The Philippines have an amazing time and have no problems. it does matter where you hang out though. If someone is mostly in Angeles, Malate & Burgos, Cebu and the beach is Puerto Galera then I can see how they can think the place is a shithole.

    #13 Posted: 2/12/2011 - 23:57

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    In your first post you mentioned Cebu Pacific. My last experience with this airline was in September.I booked and paid for 3 seats to Caticlan(Boracay)in April approx 5 months earlier. At 9pm on the evening before the flight I received a text from the airline advising that the10am flight was cancelled and we were rebooked on 4pm. As the airline have 6 flights per day we arrived early in an attempt to get on an earlier 12.10 flight.Even though there was availability the airline refused our request as we had paid a promo rate not available on the midday flight. The 4pm flight was delayed and we arrived in Caticlan just before dark,got the last available boat to the island but instead of enjoying a late lunch near the beach we spent the rest of the evening in the room recovering from the ordeal including hours of sitting on the terminal floor(T3)
    Cebu Pacific response... no reply to my email.
    The staff had no concern,we were just another bunch of complaining foreigners and after all whats the problem anyway...you will get there.I was given 3 different reasons for the cancellation.1)it is not a cancellation just a re-scheduling2)Technical problems with the aircraft 3)Late arrival of the aircraft
    If a major carrier treats tourists like this what can you say about the rest of the industry..
    I will post my Zest air experience next time!!! There are pages and pages of complaints online about these companies...chaos and cockroaches on board

    #14 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 00:17

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    I am in favour of a section on Philippines. But lets not "blue sky"only about the wonderful beaches.Not everybody wants to spend their time lazing on the sand.I agree that it is a great place to visit at least once even if its not everybodys cup of tea
    Like Thailand Philippines experiences floods but also volcanos,typhoons,extreme poverty and landslides and is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The odd attempted political coup is not unknown also.
    Any advice should include the places to avoid,there are quite a few

    #15 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 00:45

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Agro
    How many tourists were killed in the Red Shirt protest? The references that I gave related to incidents in which a number of tourists were killed.
    As for the Grand Prix hotel in Malate,I am familiar with the place.It used to be the Tesoros handicraft store.The top two floors were converted into rooms,most do not have a window.A friend stayed there on a visa run from Thailand.It was ok but he reckoned it was not really good value,again in comparison to Thailand he was used to a much better hotel near the Monument in Bangkok for about the same money. He had his mobile phone snatched in broad daylight walking to Luneta park. He wont be a statistic on the tourism secretary's arrivals anytime soon. Does the visa run to Cambodia now
    I just do not agree with you that $40 will buy a hotel room in Philippines even outside Manila that can be considered as good as anywhere in SEA

    #16 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 00:49

  • KevandJho

    Joined Travelfish
    15th September, 2011
    Posts: 65

    I have to agree that Manila's airport is the worst I've ever been in,however, it's only something that has to be endured for about 1-1 1/2 hours per trip so, it doesn't diminish going to the Phils for me.

    I wish they would have connected the terminals by underground walkways, because when we fly(very soon) domestically from Cagayan de Oro to Manila, we have to transfer terminals to fly from Manila to Ho Chi Minh internationally.

    For what could be a 15 minute walk, will now turn into at 45 minute or more taxi shuttle, as we need to transfer near the end of rush hour.

    For me the beaches are the main attraction in the Phils, as they are amongst the best anywhere in SEA. I went a little easy on Manila in my first post, because it is really one of my least favorite cities ever visited, if not the absolute worst. The white sand tropical beaches, lagoons,marine life and coral is what I'll never forget about the Phils, but you have to get out to the more secluded areas to enjoy them.

    Anyways.....

    Good back and forth discusion between you guys, with some good points brought up by both. Can't wait to see how Cambodia and Vietnam compare to the Phils....11 more days to go!!!!

    #17 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 18:49

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    KevandJho
    I went to Vietnam in 1993. Mass tourism had not yet arrived but preparations were being made everywhere to develop the country.The Philippine president at the time FVR was there with his entourage touting for business with filipino contractors for infrastructure projects.
    My trip last month was an indication of the success of Vietnam"s development in 18 years. The population of the country is similar to Philippines and HCMC is a city of approx 10 million but unlike Manila there was little sign of in your face poverty,beggars etc. There are building projects everywhere and the 68 floor lotus building dominates the skyline.Hotels and restaurants are considerably cheaper than Phils and much better quality.I plan to go back in May for a "walkabout"
    I am not a beach person so cant really comment but hope that sandy parts dont end up like Boracay.
    The Vietnamese President was in Philippines last month to discuss ways in which Vietnamese companies can assist the development of Philippines.A positive outcome was the agreement that Cebu Pacific can operate the Manila Hanoi route starting March
    Enjoyed Cambodia,reminds me of Thailand 20 years ago.
    Agree with you whole heartedly about the Manila international airport. The new bus station in KL is better and puts NAIA to shame.
    Pearl of the Orient was how Philippines was known in the late 30s,better developed and more advanced than any other SEA nation apart from Singapore.Such a shame things went so terribly wrong

    #18 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 21:25

  • KevandJho

    Joined Travelfish
    15th September, 2011
    Posts: 65

    gwapo....

    Intresting historical post above.

    Never been to Boracay,however, it sounds like commercialism may have destroyed things a bit. The El Nido area in Palawan was really beautiful, however, the destruction process of commercialism was starting to sprout some seeds. It should still be OK for several years yet, but after that.....

    Really happy to hear that Cambodia hasn't yet been over run with commercialism. Nha Trang in Vietnam apparently has and that was one place I deleted off my itinerary for that reason.I'm hoping Phu Quoc will be a little tamer.

    I had a friend who was in Ko Samui 20 years ago when it was primarily all gravel roads and a tenth of the population. I was there 2 years ago and its now pretty much commercialized and a way too busy for my tastes. Kophangan was much better.

    The Philippines still has some great spots, however, the problem there is for sure a corrupt government that caters exclusivley to the rich. It's too bad because it has wonderful potential as a tourist destination.

    Having said all of this.....so far... I love South East Asia and we are hoping to have a great time in Vietnam and cambodia about 12 days from now!!! Can't wait!

    #19 Posted: 3/12/2011 - 23:14

  • somtam2000

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    Just to expand a little on my explanation on Twitter:

    There are a bunch of reasons why we don't cover it in the destination section of the website, but just regarding the forum, one of the reasons why there are fare less threads about it is because we added the Philippines section only a year or so ago, while others, like Thailand, have been there for a lot longer.

    As I said on Twitter, I've never been there and Sam has only been there once (for about ten hours enroute to the Marshall Islands!) while everywhere else that is covered we've spent some time in.

    That's of course not to say we couldn't cover it by sending 3-4 writers there, but at least for now, we're concentrating on trying to add depth to what we already cover and dealing with our existing weak spots (especially Malaysia) rather than getting into covering another country.

    At end of the day, while we now have a team of 13 writers contributing twice a week into the site, all that content needs to be edited and got online by two people -- Sam and myself -- and at the moment we're a major choke point -- we're going to try and address that next year, but for now, things are just well, rather busy at Casa Travelfish!!

    So I hope that helps clarify things a bit -- my response on Twitter was a bit off the cuff -- we'd love to cover more of SEA, but, as I'm sure you understand, there's significant outlays (both financial and time-wise) that such an undertaking would require -- and at the moment we're not quite in the position to do so.

    #20 Posted: 4/12/2011 - 02:59

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    KevandJho
    I have been to Boracay three times in the last 12 years. It was bliss in 1999,quality hotels and restaurants and sympathetic development. I was there last year and again for a few days last September.Apart from the beach,there does not seem to be a square inch that has not been concreted over or have a construction project ongoing. The beach is still nice and there are some good night spots with live music and entertainment but I dont plan to go back anytime soon.

    I visited Bohol a few years ago and spent a few days at Panglao beach. The local council were demolishing the illegal structures on the beach which included the restaurant in which we were having breakfast and while we were eating!By the time we were finished the bar counter and floor had been removed.

    I went to Pagudpud to investigate the claims of white sands to rival Boracay but the weather turned bad so decided not to stay over. Plan to try again next time

    Loved Honda bay and the unspoilt beauty of Palawan,the last frontier.Did not get to El Nido but its on the list

    I remember the days of dirt roads in Samui.Chaweng and Lanai were small towns with some native style bungalows and there was no airport.The only decent road was the one that circled the island. I heard that there is now a McDonalds in Chaweng

    You will have a great time in Cambodia and Vietnam. Forbes magazine recently rated 3 of the beaches in Sihanoukville in Worlds top 22.
    I am planning a trip back in May...Have a great trip

    #21 Posted: 6/12/2011 - 00:55

  • FilTourist

    Joined Travelfish
    21st September, 2011
    Location Philippines
    Posts: 2

    Thank you AGRO on your insights. I appreciate your honesty on it and in fact ,agree on most of it.

    We do have different opinions on how visitors see The Philippines so let's just leave it that way. Let them discover the country. This is a great country and if given the chance, I would like to have less tourists knowing it will not be the same if it's tourist arrival will reach Thailand.

    Manila just needs a lot of clean-up whether with it's trash or it's government officials. I hope their plans to revive and move squatters in INTRAMUROS will come because that place is history.

    #22 Posted: 20/12/2011 - 08:15

  • Timetotravel

    Joined Travelfish
    25th December, 2011
    Posts: 3

    TO GWAPO:
    Are you are Filipino? Seems like you know so much about the negative things in the Philippines and you're so unhappy with it.


    TO AGRO:
    I don't know what your nationality is, but I'm happy on how you see things and how you perceive the beauty of the world and their different cultures. Merry Christmas.


    BTW, to any country if they know you are a tourist, they can take advantage of you, so just be vigilant... e.g. I went to Singapore (considering that is Singapore already, one of the World most safest place) and one store in SIM LIM fooled me "400 sgd" goes bye bye and I can't do anything, and one of their policeman just laugh at me and didn't do anything. So whether your in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore or any Western Countries, as long as you're a tourist, you have to be careful.....

    When you travel, just enjoy what you're doing wherever you are... and definitely you'll have a great adventure! :D

    Happy Travelling! :D

    #23 Posted: 25/12/2011 - 11:31

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Timetotravel
    Thank you for your contribution.
    The topic heading is Why no Philippines on site?
    The OP posted the question and remarked that he meets more travellers who go to Burma than the Philippines. My response is in answer to the question and is based on fact as well as my experience of travelling extensively in Philippines and throughout SEA
    For instance I commented about the state of NAIA airport in Manila. The OP does not agree that this is an issue that affects tourism to the country. I disagree and so do the thousands of travellers who voted the airport as the world's worst.That is a fact and is easily confirmed by a simple online search.The OP states that he has lived in Philippines "for a long time" and visited "Manila"s airports dozens of times" On a previous post he states that he lived in Philippines for 9 months.
    You consider my comments to be negative. I consider that what I write is a correct assessment. That is what this entire forum is about.The good,the bad and the ugly. Lets not pretend that something or some place is good when it is not.
    You post that you have visited Singapore. How do you compare Changi airport with NAIA? I urge you to try to visit the other countries about which this forum evolves and then you may be more qualified to form an opinion as to comparisons that you can share.
    If you disagree with me or anybody else feel free to post your comments,just back up your post with fact

    #24 Posted: 26/12/2011 - 10:27

  • Timetotravel

    Joined Travelfish
    25th December, 2011
    Posts: 3

    To Gwapo, now I know why you answered most of the questions negatively. :D
    Yeah, but I don't think we can really compare Singapore to the Philippines since Singapore is a 1st world country and Philippines is a 3rd world country. Singapore has way more money than the Philippines... and it shows in their infrastructures such as their airports and etc... but ofourse, most of the stuffs would be expensive there because of their big investment. E.g. in the philippines, i bought an item worth P20 and I saw the exact item in Sg, with the equivalent of P105.

    I also went to Malaysia, HK, Macau, Beijing, Indonesia... and I'm planning to travel this year to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and Seoul :D

    Though the Philippines is trying to renovate the NAIA 1, I think they should change terminals for the International flights to NAIA 2 or 3, which are way better terminals than NAIA 1 and more tourist friendly.

    Overall, I think the best person to answer this question, would be the moderators who created this website. They would really know why they didn't include the Philippines on this site? Maybe they have other reasons or they never have visited Philippines yet, so they can't give first hand information.

    #25 Posted: 27/12/2011 - 03:14

  • millionario

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd June, 2004
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 15

    Philippines resident here. As much as I agree with OP on the interest of Philippines as a tourist destination, I must side with gwapo regarding the infrastructures.

    Most of NAIA terminals (except Terminal 3 which is good) have horrible standards and the security procedures are stupid. Immigration is OK but I've been hassled two or three times by airport staff. I've heard of a few scams also. NAIA is really a shame to the country.

    The Department of Tourism has a lot of cleanup to do. Also they want to promote Clark (DMIA Airport, Pampanga) as the new aerial entry point of the Philippines. Good luck with an airport which is served by a single bus company (Philtranco) with two hours trip to Manila. In KL the airport is far, but at least they have an express train.

    Philippines is quite secure though; most people think badly of Manila but it's because they hang out to Malate or Ermita, which might look like hellholes to the non-jaded traveller type. If you come to Manila, take a taxi directly to Makati, you will find a busy city with not so much traffic but with decent pavements, nice people and fine places to eat, drink or sleep.
    For the record, there are three times more deaths by firearms in Thailand than in Philippines.
    The cliche that Thais are a peaceful people and Philippines is an extremely dangerous country has not stopped propagating despite the numbers proving the contrary.

    Most people here in the Philippines have been respectful and friendly to me. I have never been threatened nor victim of a scam.

    Regards,
    M

    #26 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 02:52

  • mindanao

    Joined Travelfish
    12th September, 2011
    Posts: 19

    @timetotravel -if you manged to read the other replies - u would see that admin posted on 4/12 the reasons .

    #27 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 14:17

  • Timetotravel

    Joined Travelfish
    25th December, 2011
    Posts: 3

    @Mindanao, thanks for your reply... Actually, I have an idea of the answer before reading the Post: Why no Phils in this site.... because before I went to this forum, I've read the About Us corner of this site, wherein the admin discuss how this site started and what they have in mind. I was just appalled by gwapo's comment regarding for his reasons why probably the site didn't post anything about the Philippines and for me, that is his reasons and not the admin's reasons. If he sees it that way, other may see it differently. He was attacking the country as if it has done so much harm in his life compare to any other SEA country.

    The admin is not against anything about the Philippines.

    And I do agree with the new Slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines!!!" Travelfish... if you need infos about the Philippines, maybe I can help :D

    #28 Posted: 13/1/2012 - 08:10

  • KweKwek

    Joined Travelfish
    16th January, 2012
    Posts: 2

    Not to be paranoid but still keeping notice of these observations:

    The Philippines is a Cinderella of Asia, the negative half part of her story still without the prince charming, always left out, the cellar dweller, the wallflower, always misconstrued.

    In Frommer's travel guide latest edition of Southeast Asian destinations, it is only the Philippines and East Timor that were missing.

    Same thing is reflected in this website, of Southeast Asian destinations, there is no tab for Brunei and East Timor, and surprisingly a giant compared to these countries - the Philippines.

    When you enumerate countries you usually do it alphabetically or the importance of a country, say in Southeast Asia, Thailand or Indonesia always pop first and the last to be mentioned is ...and the Philippines. But when it comes to calamaties and anything negative, the Philippines take precedence.

    In Lonely Planet, they describe about Roman Catholicism in Southeast Asia and the country first mentioned is Vietnam then the Philippines in that order, as if by importance, it is not.

    This reminds me of when I was grocery shopping at Trader Joe's in the United States. My eyes caught a boxed item in the freezer section showing a picture of a mango and sticky rice. This reminded me of suman na kaning malagkit (tamales style leaf-wrapped sticky sweet rice) and the ambrosiac mango - the Philippine mango. But the label says Thai and this reminded me further of a party we went to months ago the venue of which is Thai restaurant. They had for dessert - sticky sweet rice and mango.

    If I would put up a restaurant, I will serve Philippine meals but I will put the magic word "Thai" on my advertising sign. It once again reminds me of another observation, Filipinos in the US say if you bring something to a potluck, same dish in two trays. Label one as "Thai Cuisine" and the other "Filipino Cuisine", colleagues will be drawn to the tray labeled "Thai Cuisine" and no takers on the Filipino tray. People say, Filipino dish is nothing different from the Thai, the Chinese, the Spanish - greasy and all sorts of body parts are there. But they always highlight that Filipino is so greasy and so gross-looking. I guess if only they present it well, it will change for the better, but very very slightly because it has been ingrained globally that bad impression about the Philippines.

    #29 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 03:21

  • millionario

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd June, 2004
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 15

    Interesting post.

    KweKwek, you cannot compare Filipino cuisine to Thai cuisine though. It is like comparing English cuisine to French. That's also the reason why we have many choices of food here in the Philippines.
    It's true that most Filipinos don't give an eye to details which give an edge to other countries. As for food which is often served lukewarm for example. In thailand it is always cooked in front of you. The same goes for hotels or guesthouses; most of the time the proprietors don't care to put any deco. Because they don't care.

    #30 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 04:21

  • goonistik

    Joined Travelfish
    7th January, 2010
    Location Philippines
    Posts: 541
    Places visited:
    At least 9

    Dear Millionario,

    My sister told me she saw an article in "Food and Wine" magazine about Philippine cooking and my sister was amazed that the writer had figured out that the best Philippine cooking isn't found in the restaurants but in the home. Unfortunately, you have not sampled the best.

    I can understand why you have such a low opinion of Philippine food and I agree that much needs to be done to improve things.

    But to show you what the best is like,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlk3Znx0_d4

    Pampanga is the culinary capital of the country. And it is no accident Bourdain was sent to Pampanga.

    It is because Philippine cooking is so misunderstood that I am sorely tempted to take the "puerta cerrada" concept of Buenos Aires and open my own puerta cerrada so I can showcase the cooking of my grandmother from Pampanga.

    #31 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 06:02

  • millionario

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd June, 2004
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 15

    Goonistik,

    I haven't said that I did not taste the finest Philippine cuisine. I have eaten Dinuguan in Pangasinan, Talo ng Manok in Romblon, Longganisa in Vigan, Kinilaw in Cebu,... complete the list yourself :)

    My point is that, from the ingredients and techniques used, Philippine cooking cannot compare to Thai cuisine. No offense, but imagine that most of Filipino recipes only use soy sauce, garlic or vinegar (sometimes ginger if you're lucky). A simple Pad Thai, that epitomizes the street food concept, demonstrates easily the five flavors of Thai food: sweet, sour, salty, bitter & hot - in that case there is palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce, lime and chili. In comparison, I have never eaten a decent pancit here... most Filipino food tastes like pork fat to be honest. The rarity of spices or condiments - that do grows in Filipino gardens because you can see them sold at the market: wansoy, langkawas, tanglad, sili...

    I have to try Kapampangan food though, I'm bit pushed off by the fact that everything I've tried from Pampanga was spiced with sugar.

    #32 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 06:25

  • KweKwek

    Joined Travelfish
    16th January, 2012
    Posts: 2

    "...palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce, lime, and chili..."
    Palm sugar? we have the local panocha, tamarind? we even have mango, kamias - how sour can you get, fish suace? we have patis and even alamang and bagoong, lime? we have calamansi, and chili? we have the green long ones as well as the short fiery ones.

    Just as what I have send, cook a Filipino dish, add more chili and sugar, and rebrand it as Thai and people won't notice.

    #33 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 07:03

  • millionario

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd June, 2004
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 15

    Sure, if you pretend that Americans are stupid people. Someone who knows Asian food would not be fooled by just "adding some chili".

    And second you didn't read my post. I pointed out the fact that most spices exist and grow in Philippines but are not used in local cooking.

    #34 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 08:08

  • gwapo

    Joined Travelfish
    4th June, 2011
    Posts: 49

    Timetotravel,
    The moderator has explained that due to time and financials constraints there is no plan as of now to include a Philippine section on the site. There is however a section on the forum and it was to this that I replied.The OP asked why no Philippines on the site and lamented that there was "almost no action on the site" relating to the country.
    You state that you are appalled by my comments regarding why probably the site did not post about Philippines.
    My comments are in answer to the OPs comments about why so few travellers visit the country.They are my opinions based on fact. You state that I am attacking the country as if it had done so much harm in my life compare to other SEA countries..Please explain
    You asked if I am Filipino, Why? Does it make a difference to the validity of the post?
    As you have travelled in the region and plan to visit Thailand,Cambodia,Vietnam,Japan and Seoul this year why dont you offer some worthwhile insight to the OPs question
    I will be sure to respect your opinion more than you have mine,even if I disagree

    #35 Posted: 16/1/2012 - 21:46

  • PioloPPacqu-
    iao

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd January, 2012
    Posts: 1

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I am speaking as a traveller for more than 10 years and I can say that the airport is the first place that delivers the first and lasting impact of impression on a stranger - including the sights, the sounds, the smell.

    NAIA is just a manifestation of what the country is, the showcase to the world, a glimpse or a sampling of what's to come - it's country's mindset, it's priorities, it's culture - like any other airport. Right now it is a notch higher than those in Cambodia or Laos. Vietnam's and Burma's - those low in the ranking of GDPs and GNPs make the Philippines' NAIA more as provincial looking.

    It does not reflect what our achievements (when we used to host foreign students to study in our universities and transfer technological know how) we have done as a nation, how culturally and organizationally superior we were, and what we used to be - next to Japan 60 years ago, better than Singapore 40 years ago, better than South Korea 30 years ago, better than Thailand and Malaysia 20 years ago, and better than Vietnam 10 years ago. Pretty soon, we are now in competition with Bangladesh and we will be apropriately called the Bangladesh of the East 10 years from now.

    Singapore, a highly developed country passes down its progress, it's technological advancement, its cleanliness, its efficiency and sensitivity to the feelings of visitors and guests to any aspect be it airport, etc.. as shown in Changi Airport - the best airport in the world. And it enviously wants to have that spot maintained even to the point of recruiting youthful, vibrant, personable, and most of all, good looking Filipinos (with their better English accent) as Customer Assistance Agents.

    #36 Posted: 22/1/2012 - 18:34

  • klausius

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd February, 2012
    Location Germany
    Posts: 2

    There are still direct flights to the Philippines available. Since the Saudis have entered the market of international flights the prices actually are dropping. I recently booked a flight Venice/ Manila for just 336 Euro. Simply google for the cheapest offers and you'll see Philippines is actually easy to get here.

    #37 Posted: 3/2/2012 - 19:00

  • millionario

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd June, 2004
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 15

    Nobody said the opposite, Philippines have had international flights for years, especially from the Gulf countries where flights are very affordable. Airport infrastructures in the Philippines, on the other hand, are a bit sub-par.

    #38 Posted: 3/2/2012 - 22:36

  • rawaet3w

    Joined Travelfish
    17th February, 2012
    Posts: 2

    There are no Philippines on these site because i suspect the owner of travelfish owns resorts, bars, clubs etc in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.
    Promotion on those country is there priority more travellers going there means more profit for them.
    Philippines Travel Pictures
    http://philippines.forumsland.com/philippines-about2-0-asc-0.html
    Peace

    #39 Posted: 17/2/2012 - 01:52

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