This guest post is by Anna Wickham, who has been staying at Badladz for 3 months. You can read more about her time in the Philippines on her blog, The Worldly Blend.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to solo female travel. There are also a lot of misconceptions when it comes to travel in the Philippines. It’s widely believed that traveling alone is not a safe option for women, and many people think that the Philippines is not a safe destination.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Countless female travelers prove everyday that traveling alone is not only safe, but if you take the proper precautions, it can be even safer than your home country.
As for female solo travelers, many of the misconceptions are by people who do not have experience traveling themselves.
However, I have been living and traveling in the Philippines alone for 3 months, and I have found it to be a wonderful and safe experience that every traveler should try no matter what your gender.
The Philippines is an incredibly safe destination for solo female travelers and male travelers alike. While there are a lot of “crimes of opportunity” here, confrontational or violent crime is very uncommon. You are probably far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime in your home town than you are anywhere in the Philippines.
While safety precautions are necessary just like in any new location, people in the Philippines are extremely hospitable. Which brings me to my next point…
People are incredibly kind.
When I announced to friends and family that I was going to the Philippines, those who had been to the Philippines before couldn’t stop telling me how friendly and hospitable the locals are. I’ve heard this about a lot of different places that I’ve traveled, but I was blown away by how kind and helpful everyone is here in the Philippines.
Whether I’m in another city or bumming around the little town of Puerto Galera, no one hesitates to offer help if I ask for it. And often, I don’t even have to ask!
If you are a woman traveling alone, there are few places as perfect for travel as the Philippines. It is safe, the people are kind and hospitable, it is affordable, and there are tons of things to do.
When you take the proper precautions, the Philippines is a perfectly safe destination. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and come meet us in paradise!
Both our resorts were winners of the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award in 2014.
When you’re planning on learning how to dive, the ideal location has some certain key elements: access to a suitable pool, access to gentle open ocean waters, and high-quality dive gear. By design, BADLADZ has all three elements!
BADLADZ Beach Resort is located in a quiet section of Puerto Galera called Small Tabinay Beach. It’s nicely removed from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas but close enough to get to them quickly. People who want to relax and enjoy the cool ocean breeze and friendly staff have been coming here for years. Now, because of our beachside pool, this place has become a mecca for aspiring divers.
PUERTO GALERA is located on the Verde Island Passage with world-class diving and is an absolute must-see. But when you’re learning to dive, you want to focus on DIVING SKILLS first, not the pretty fish and coral. That comes later. Skills like buoyancy control, equalizing your ears, and hand signals are things that must be mastered, not rushed through before moving to the next level.
Because of our relaxed atmosphere, our divers don’t feel pressured or crowded when they’re concentrating on learning vital skills. Student divers can take their time learning their diving basics in the pool. Then they can take a break and have a delicious lunch prepared in our International Restaurant.
Then swing in a hammock between classes and relax
Next , it is time for the real thing so the next classes will be conducted at BADLADZ Dive Resort, only 5 minutes away. It will take place at our Designated PADI Diving Center located on the tranquil waters of Puerto Galera Bay, winner of The Most Beautiful Bay in the world contest in 2005.
Badladz Dive Resort is also an Aqualung Partner Center, which means new top-end professional Aqualung and Apeks Scuba Diving equipment. With dozens of scuba tanks and a COLTRI air compressor on premises, we have every piece of gear necessary to outfit large groups of students. All the gear is new and from the best quality brands in the industry.
Now that you have had some training and are fully equipped, it is time to go see the awesome coral reef, clouds of fish, and friendly turtles while your PADI dive training is completed.
Another benefit to learning to dive at Badladz Beach Resort is that we have seen students achieve their certification much faster than normal, just because there’s no time wasted traveling between locations. So on a vacation you can learn how to dive in less time, then be out diving at some of the best dive sites in the Philippines sooner!
It’s all right here in one beautiful palm-tree wrapped package. Come join us for a relaxing vacation that can also turn you into a PADI-Certified Open Water Diver!
At the moment we are right in the middle of high season. High season spans from around mid-December until May. During this time, our resorts are packed with guests from all over the world.
But did you know that high season is not a busy travel time here because it is the best time to visit the Philippines? It is high season because that time that most people have time off from work to take a vacation.
December is vacation time in many places in the world. Then in February comes Chinese New Year, celebrated all over the world. Finally, Filipinos and other Catholic countries celebrate Holy Week in March or April and enjoy spending it here in Puerto Galera.
But if your vacation time is flexible, there are so many great reasons to consider traveling in the off season instead of during high season.
1. Beautiful Weather
Believe it or not, the weather is much better during the off season here in Puerto Galera. It’s nothing but sunny skies. The high season is actually during the rainy season! Our guests during high season still thoroughly enjoy their time here, but if you’re looking for a vacation in the tropical sun, you’re better off coming here after the month of May.
2. Cheaper Rooms and Plane Tickets
You can get cheaper accommodation and plane tickets in the off season. If you intend to stay for awhile, say a week or more, or you’re traveling on a budget, choosing to travel during the off season instead of during high season could potentially save you lots of money.
3. Warmer Water
With warmer weather comes warmer water, much more comfortable for diving. If you truly want to experience the best of diving in the Philippines, we highly recommend traveling during the off season.
4. Better Visibility
Speaking of diving, the best visibility is during the off season. Visibility is affected by runoff from the shore, as well as wind and rain. This is especially true for our dive sites around Puerto Galera, because many of them are close to the shore. If you want the best visibility for diving, it’s best to come during the off season.
5. Fewer Crowds
Fewer crowds during the off season means your choice of the best rooms, easier access to open water courses and dives, and more room to yourself at our dive sites. During the high season, you may sometimes need to start your scuba dive course later than you’d planned, or not be able to do your course at all. Additionally, if you want to get to know our instructors, dive masters, and staff, it’s easy to do during the off season. Come experience the Philippines much closer to living like a true local when you travel here during the off season.
The Philippines has so much to offer visitors year round. Visiting in the off season may sound counterintuitive, but in the Philippines, the off season is one of the best times to enjoy the sand and the sun!
It’s official: huge, traditional weddings in many Western countries are on the decline, and destination weddings are all the rage. It’s easy to see why this might be the case: the average wedding for Americans costs a whopping $30,000. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on your wedding, you might as well get a vacation out of the deal.
Additionally, destination weddings provide an intimate, simple ceremony that a lot of busy modern brides find appealing. Most newlyweds work full time, and planning an elaborate ceremony and reception for two hundred people is a lot of work and stress. Many find it refreshing to plan a smaller ceremony just for family and close friends.
Puerto Galera: Your Destination Wedding Spot
Here at Badladz, we always say that we live in paradise. With perfect temperatures year round, plenty of space for entertaining, and a view of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Badladz is the perfect spot for your destination wedding.
Can you imagine wedding photos this gorgeous?
Here are just a few of the reasons to book Badladz for the wedding of your dreams.
1. Your Dream Wedding on a Budget
These days, fewer people are having exorbitant weddings because they simply cannot afford it. Instead, couples are opting for smaller wedding parties with bigger plans, such as destination weddings in far off, tropical destinations.
But with the Philippines, you can have both: all of the advantages of your dream wedding in a gorgeous location and on a budget! The Philippines offers the beauty and ambiance of places such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Thailand without the hefty price tags. Here are a few examples:
- Affordable, beautiful accommodations. In the Philippines, you don’t have to choose between staying in a high-quality resort and budget prices. At around $30 USD per night, living in luxury is actually affordable!
- Luxury items and activities. Want to get everyone in your bridal party a full-body massage? No problem: it’ll set you back about $10 USD per person. Wanna take the group scuba diving? Perfect: that’ll cost a meager $30 per person. Can you imagine incorporating these luxurious extras into a traditional wedding ceremony?
2. The View is Perfection
Can you imagine every wedding photo having the perfect view?
At Badladz, you can have your wedding literally steps from the beach so that every wedding photo is perfect. You’re not likely to find a wedding venue with a nicer view anywhere in the world. In other places, having your wedding directly in front of a view this perfect might cost tens of thousands of dollars, but not here in the Philippines! At Badladz, that view is right outside your door.
3. Plenty of Space for Everyone
With 15 rooms at the Beach Resort alone, we have plenty of space for your entire wedding party, guests, and then some! Feel free to invite as many people as you wish. If you need even more space for accommodation, the Badladz Dive Resort is just a 5-minute ride away and provides plenty of space for all your guests.
Each room comes with aircon, fans, cable tv, and comfortable beds, so you can ensure that your guests will be comfortable no matter which resort they’re staying in!
4. Delicious Food
We have phenomenal food, but don’t take our word for it: Check out what our guests have said about it on Trip Advisor. We have killer Mexican, American, European, and Filipino cuisine. With full-time cooks on staff, we can provide any kind of food that you need, and plenty of it to accommodate your guests!
The average cost for food per person in the US in 2013 was an astounding $66 USD per plate. You can easily pay only a fraction of that price here at Badladz.
Plus, Badladz knows how to party: we have a full bar and we never run out of beer!
5. Lots to Do in the Area
If you’re coming all the way to the Philippines for your wedding, you will want to do something…other than your wedding! There is a ton to do in Puerto Galera. Take the whole wedding party out on a boat for an afternoon of scuba diving. Or, spend the day exploring the nearby waterfalls or island hopping.
In Puerto Galera, it’s easy to combine your wedding with heaps of adventure.
At Badladz, our priority is fun. So what more do you need? Contact us today to get started planning your dream destination wedding right here on the sunny beaches of tropical paradise.
The religious infrastructure is not as well developed here in comparison to other areas of the Philippines. The top picture is of the Sto. Nino Chapel in comparison to some other more developed chapels in the Philippines.
As you can see, it is not as grandiose as some others. The lack of development, however, is the basis of this islands charm.
The gateway to Samal Island is the southern Philippine city of Davao, Mindanao and Samal Island is the gateway to a whole lot of fun. I know everyone tells you not to go to Mindanao but trust me and try this. First, pack light. Fly into Davao City, take a taxi to Sasa Ferry Warf, then a ridiculously short ferry ride to this hidden paradise.
When you touch ground on the other side walk up the dusty street asking the price of rental motorcycles as you go. You’ll find they get cheaper the farther you walk into town. Make a deal to keep one for a few days, they’re very accommodating. Coming out of the port on your hire bike, you can turn left or right. It really doesn’t matter because the road goes all the way around the island and brings you right back to the same spot. So whether to walk clockwise or counterclockwise is the only choice that you have to make. My preference is to explore at random, keeping as close to the changing seashore as possible.
You will find resorts tucked away everywhere. Some with beautiful white sand beaches and some along rocky and forbidden-looking stretches, but guaranteed whatever you’re looking for, you will find it. There is always another one just around the next bend.
I have come across 5-star resorts with names you cannot even pronounce and little scraps of places that remind you of those end-of-the-world movies where everything looks abandoned.
Granted, there is no “city stuff” to do here but also no jeeps, no trikes, and you’ll find no nightclubs here to distract you: just peace, quiet, and the surf coming in to ease your mind.
This is a truly an awesome place to go and explore! Ride around and look for those hidden spots the tourists have not found, that only the locals know. Be an adventurer! Or, just relax, kick back, and clear your head.
Be forewarned though, progress IS coming to paradise so you might want to go now!
This is both good and bad, of course. It seems shameful to tear up this beautiful landscape BUT…..
If you are looking to set up a business in the Philippines and want to be on the proverbial “ground floor,” then this is a good spot. Davao City is proactively promoting tourism, and that includes Samal Island. There are lots opportunities there for everything from agriculture and amusement to rooms or retail and just about anything else you can think of.
Either way it is worth a visit. It is cheap and it is safe and you can tell your friends you have been to deepest darkest Mindanao where the Boogey Man lives and survived to tell the tale.
A friend of mine once asked if I was interested in investing in a new resort development. A profitable business venture is always attractive and my friend is a very financially savvy business guy, so we got talking specifics and he told me where it was.
Tagaytay is one of the biggest vacation destinations for Manila residents. Only 50 km south of Manila, it sits at an elevation of about 600 meters making it very accessible and much cooler than the evil, sweltering melting pot that is Manila. Wonderful during a 40-degree summer day!
Beautiful, picturesque surroundings and a lovely little town so you’d think this would be an ideal asset, right? A resort in a lovely cool spot close to town.
So what’s the catch?
It sits on the edge of an active volcano. Yes, ACTIVE.
See the volcano in this picture? It looks pretty small and harmless, doesn’t it? Little wee volcano in a big lake, right? Well, like I said, this prospective resort will sit on the EDGE of an active volcano. That is where this picture was taken from, the edge. What you are seeing is a little volcano inside a HUGE volcano!
The Taal Volcano was active as recently as 2011 with 115 tremors recorded in one day and is considered the second most active volcano in the Philippines. The meaning of this statistic is not very clear, until you understand this is a country where 25 volcanoes are considered active. I think this would rate it as a great place NOT to go, but people flock there. It’s a tourist attraction. They build resorts, condos, shopping malls, bars and schools. It’s all there. People live there.
Mount Pinatubo, which violently exploded and decimated Angeles City & Clark Air Base in 1991, was dormant since about 1500 AD and was not considered active.
Do these people not get it? These are volcanoes and about as predictable as a Chinese firecracker.
Will they be surprised when it explodes?
But hey, maybe you do want to go there and climb the wee volcano. Easy enough to do on a day trip and you get a little boat ride in the process!
It’s not really uncommon for foreigners to want to stay in the Philippines. This is especially true for Americans and Europeans. The climate is tropical and even in the “cold months” you won’t see any trace of snow anywhere. The cost of living is laughably low, as the prices of everything including food and rent are very affordable. Crime is low in comparison to Western standards, and there’s no political instability in most areas. Locals even think foreigners are very attractive.
Of course, you can’t just jump right in. Here are some things you may want to know about the country before you make a decision to come here:
Guns and Americans
This is often a question posed by Americans, since they have gun rights that many don’t want to give up. It also seems to make sense in the Philippines, since the police here are comparatively inept and corrupt compared to their western counterparts.
And the answer to this question is simple. If you’re a foreigner, you can’t legally own a firearm of any sort here. You’ll go to jail and risk being deported. Even if you’re married to a Filipino, you can’t have a gun in her name—police officials will just assume the gun is yours.
Of course, it’s different if you are rich and well-connected. Even some Filipinos who don’t have gun permits can buy a gun for their home in the belief that dying from a criminal is worse than facing jail time. You can buy off the cops later. Or you can say that you took the gun from the intruder. That will work too.
But if you are rich, just hire a security firm to protect you, your loved ones and your home. When there’s trouble, the firm will be responsible for their guard’s action.
If you’re going to stay longer in the Philippines, or you have something to do (such as go to college or work here), you’re going to need a visa. The Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines is a typical bureaucracy, so there’s some red tape involved. You can find the information you need here: www.immigration.gov.ph.
What you need to understand though, is that the Philippine government likes that you’re there in their country, especially if you’re American or European. So the process isn’t really all that bad and the fees aren’t really expensive by our standards.
What about owning a property? In general, you can’t. But there are exceptions. You can own a condominium unit, as long as you don’t own more than 40% of the units in one building. You can get the property through a corporation, but the corporation’s ownership should be at least 60%.
One particularly clever way of getting around the rules is to have someone you trust “own” the property in their name. You can then have the property mortgaged to you, for an amount that’s much greater than the worth of the property. When the contract is signed, you need to have it notarized, and to be extra cautious, you should record the signing of the documents on video.
Living in the Philippines is a great idea for some people, but you need to jump in with your eyes open. Here’s hoping these answers helped.
I’ve written an ebook, and I’m giving it away for free!
In my 15 years of living, traveling, and building businesses in the Philippines, I’ve learned a lot. I share what I’ve learned on my YouTube channel and in this blog. But I decided it was time for me to compile all of that information in one place and create a guide for living and traveling in the Philippines.
In my ebook, you’ll learn:
- How to deal with police corruption
- Cost of living
- Safety when traveling
- Starting a business here
- Getting a visa
- Places to visit
- And of course…Fun and adventure!
If you’ve been searching for a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Philippines, you’ve found it here, and it’s completely free!
To get your free ebook, simply enter your email address below.
For many foreign tourists, the prices charged by some hotels and commercial establishments in the Philippines may seem normal by Western standards. But that’s because these are “Western only” establishments. Regular Filipinos can’t afford them at all.
But when you look around and stay in regular hotels, eat in regular restaurants, and shop in malls like Ayala or SM, you will notice that the prices are actually low. In fact, in most cases they’re ridiculously low.
So if you are staying for a long while in the Philippines, here are the relevant facts you need to know:
In the Philippines, just about everything can be bought cheaply. Just take a look at the low wages in the country and it’s easy to understand why. Consider the fact that the minimum wage in Metro Manila (the most expensive part of the country) is PhP 466 a day. Divide that by the exchange rate of PhP 43.72 to a US dollar, and that’s less than $10.66 a day.
This is also the reason why so many educated Filipinos are leaving the country for “greener pastures.” Medical doctors go to the US or Europe to find work. Some of them would even work as nurses abroad and they would still be earning more than the doctors working in the Philippines. Certified teachers work as nannies abroad, and when they come back home they can afford to buy a new house and even a nice car.
If you want to work in the Philippines, you will probably not make as much as what you’re earning now but with the low costs of living here, it really won’t be a problem.
In general, you can get a nice 1-2 bedroom house or apartment in a safe neighborhood for about $350 – $450 a month. Some apartments even cost less than that. Of course, when you get to the high rise apartments (condos) near the business centers, the rental cost skyrockets—the rent can only be afforded by rich Filipinos or by foreigners who are willing to pay high rent that’s almost as expensive as their mortgage payment in the US/Europe.
But not many foreigners want to live in Metro Manila. That’s not where the beaches are, after all. However, employment opportunities in the provinces are fewer, but if you have your own business, then this is a better option for you.
The prices of food are also unbelievably low. To really save up, you may want to go to the “wet markets” where most Filipinos buy food ingredients. This is where the prices are lowest, although admittedly the sanitary conditions may not be at par with Western standards. But if you live here long enough, you get used to it.
You may also want to buy from grocery stores, which tend to be a bit pricier. But many Filipinos can afford it, especially those belonging to the middle class.
Finally, if you want, you can just eat out. This isn’t practical for most Filipinos, but for an American it should still come out cheap. A daily visit to McDonald’s isn’t in the budget for most Filipinos, because it costs $3 for each meal. If you can afford to spend $10 per day on food, then you can afford to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Restaurants also aren’t pricey. You can order an appetizer for $3, main course for $5 and a cold bottle of beer for less than $2.
There’s just one rule you need to remember. If your salary is good enough for you to live in the US/UK comfortably, then in the Philippines you can live like a king.
In 2011, Malta became the latest to join the rest of the world in legalizing divorce. Now there are only two holdouts left. There’s Vatican City (do they even have marriages there?) And then there’s the Philippines. That’s right—this is one country where if you get married, there’s no way out!
Modern Philippines and Liberal Views
It’s a rather strange concept when you think about it, since in many ways the Philippines is a very modern country. Everyone has a cellphone, for example, and despite what you may have heard about the poverty situation here, everyone owns a TV. A lot of people have cable TV, and they have DVD players as well. Teens listen to American pop and hip-hop, while their elders are stuck on the 80s new wave and 90s alternative rock. Women wear skimpy shorts out in the streets.
Filipinos actually have modern views about sex too. Now it’s no longer a scandal when people engage in sex before they get married, and adultery among men is actually “normal”.
But you may notice that most Filipinos are still conservative. For women, it’s very rare to find one not wearing a bra out in public. Then you’ll also notice that people behave courteously towards their elders and strangers.
There’s also a difference about what’s tolerated and what’s approved of. People living together outside marriage is tolerated, but openly sanctioning it is a different matter. And that’s what the divorce bill is all about.
The Roman Catholic Church is against the very idea of divorce because the priests and bishops feel that it’s an attack on the very idea of family. The Church is so conservative here that the idea of condoms is tantamount to abortion, which is also very illegal here.
Right now, married couples can and do separate and find new partners. It’s just that they can’t get remarried. A Filipino can get the marriage annulled and the Church agrees to this all the time, but this is a privilege granted only to the rich (because it’s expensive!).
So if you have your heart set on getting married here, you may want to get some legal advice first. And you should also try to get the blessing of a priest. Most people think of weddings as events that happen inside a church. If it’s on the beach, then it’s just a legal procedure. It may be fun and exciting to have the wedding on the beach, but it sure is different than what they’re used to.
But if you’re a foreigner, then it’s probably all right. Most people here accept that foreigners do things differently, and they don’t assume that they’ll take to all the local customs. Besides, the scenery can be a great come-on, and Filipinos always love a good reason to get together and celebrate.
When it comes to weddings, it’s always a big celebration for Filipinos. Maybe that’s because they expect the marriage to be (officially) forever. And perhaps they’re right. After all, there’s no divorce in the Philippines.