Taking a motorbike trip in the Philippines is a fantastic way to see the country. You get to ride through busy cities, quiet villages, and along beautiful coastlines. It’s a fun and exciting way to experience local life and find hidden spots that most tourists don’t get to see.

While many tourists head to popular spots like Palawan or Boracay, exploring the Philippines offers much more, especially when you take the road less traveled. The “Philippines Loop” lets you drive across various islands, discovering hidden gems along the way. This route truly gives you the chance to find secluded spots, immerse yourself in local cultures, and see the untouched beauty that many miss. On your journey, you might even stumble upon traditional festivals—where colorful parades, lively music, and vibrant dances celebrate centuries-old customs.

The Philippines offers stunning landscapes and a rich cultural heritage that captures the heart of every traveler. But what truly makes the Philippines special is the genuine warmth of Filipino hospitality.

But before you pack your bags and book your flight, there are a few things you should know to make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. This guide will cover a brief history of the Philippines and essential things to prepare for your unforgettable adventure.

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A Glimpse into the Philippines’ Past

The Philippines has a rich history shaped by more than 300 years of Spanish rule, which brought Catholic and Hispanic influences to its culture. After that, it was a territory of the United States before it became independent in 1946. These influences from Spain and America have deeply affected the country’s social, cultural, and political life. Besides its interesting history, the Philippines is also known for its beautiful natural scenery, including lush rainforests, mountains, pristine beaches, and coral reefs. This mix of fascinating history and stunning nature makes the Philippines a great place to explore.

What to Pack and Prepare

Now that you have a taste of the Philippines’ fascinating background, let’s get you ready for your trip! Here’s a list of essentials:

#1 Motorbike Rental

Our adventure begins in Manila, where motorbike rentals offer an exciting way to explore the city. Rent2Ride Manila is a great choice. Their quick rental process allows you to hit the road swiftly, and the best part? You can take the motorbike to other islands! Plus, they offer insurance for added peace of mind. Rent2Ride provided us with a copied motorbike document instead of the originals. Surprisingly, this copy was sufficient for registration when crossing between islands.

In the Philippines, vehicles drive on the right side of the road, which is standard for most travelers. You’ll find petrol stations readily available across the country, in every city, ensuring that fueling up is convenient wherever you are. When it comes to fuel types, 91 Premium is commonly used, which is accessible at virtually all filling stations.

A valid driving license is needed, and it’s advisable to obtain an international driving permit.

#2 Internet

In the Philippines, Smart and Globe are the primary network providers. While it’s not common for all convenience stores to carry SIM cards, we lucked out and found one at a small local shop (sari-sari store). For a wider selection, you can visit a nearby mall or head directly to network provider stores. Registering a SIM card can be a bit tricky as you’ll need to provide details such as your departure ticket and where you’re staying. I gave them a copy of my previous boarding pass and a photo of my hotel room corner (which surprisingly worked).

Globe SIM cards are quite affordable, starting at 59 pesos, with various data packages ranging from 20 to 250 pesos to suit different needs. While the internet connection in cities is generally reliable, it tends to slow down significantly in smaller villages. On Mindoro Island, for instance, internet access is available through WIFI boxes where you insert coins to get online. This can be a handy option, though less common in more remote areas.

#3 Documents

Before planning your trip to the Philippines, it’s crucial to ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended travel dates. Depending on your nationality, you may also need a visa to enter the country. It’s best to consult the Philippine embassy or consulate in your country to get the specific visa requirements. Additionally, all travelers are required to register for eTravel, the Philippines’ travel authorization system, before their visit. This helps streamline your entry process and ensures you meet all travel regulations set by the Philippine government.

#4 Clothing

When visiting the Philippines and planning to explore by motorbike, it’s important to pack appropriately for the warm, tropical climate. Choose lightweight and breathable clothing to stay comfortable in the heat. Loose-fitting garments are also advisable as they respect cultural norms, especially in more conservative or rural areas. Essentials for your packing list should include a swimsuit for the beautiful beaches, a hat and sunglasses to protect against the sun, and comfortable walking shoes for exploring.

If your itinerary includes visits to religious sites, be sure to bring clothes that cover your shoulders and knees to adhere to local customs. This thoughtful preparation will ensure you can enjoy your motorbike journey across the Philippines comfortably and respectfully.

#5 Essentials

When traveling to the Philippines, be sure to bring sunscreen to shield your skin from the strong tropical sun, and insect repellent to keep mosquitoes at bay, particularly in rural or forested regions. For convenience, 7-Eleven stores are widespread across the country; taking a one or two-hour drive to rest at a 7-Eleven is a great way to recharge and stock up on water or snacks.

Also, since the Philippines uses a mix of plug types A, B, and C, and operates on a standard voltage of 220V at 60Hz, carrying a universal adapter is essential for hassle-free charging of your electronic devices. By packing these key items, you’ll be well-prepared and comfortable throughout your journey.

#6 Currency Exchange

The Philippine Peso (PHP) is the local currency. To avoid ATM fees of 250 pesos per withdrawal, consider exchanging some cash for PHP before your trip or withdrawing a larger amount upon arrival to minimize the number of transactions.

#7 Learning a Few Tagalog Phrases

Tagalog, the national language, is widely spoken. Learning a few basic phrases like “Magandang araw po” (Good day) and “Salamat po” (Thank you) goes a long way in showing respect and appreciation to the locals.

Ready, Set, Explore!

With a little historical background and some preparation, you’re well on your way to an incredible adventure in the Philippines. From diving in crystal-clear waters to exploring ancient rice terraces, get ready to be amazed by the beauty and warmth of this island paradise.

Here are some essential Filipino phrases for travelers
  • Magandang araw (Mah-rahn-dahng ah-raw): Hello (Good day)
  • Salamat (Sah-lah-mat): Thank you
  • Paalam (Pah-ah-lam): Goodbye
  • Oo (Oh): Yes
  • Hindi (Hin-dee): No
  • Masarap (Mah-sah-rap): Delicious
  • Magkano? (Mag-kah-no?): How much?
  • Saan (Saan): Where?
  • Tulungan mo ako (Too-loo-ngahn moh ah-koh): Can you help me?
  • Po (Po): This is a politeness marker used at the end of sentences, especially when speaking to elders or people of authority. (e.g. Magkano po? - How much po?)
  • Mabuhay (Mah-boo-hi): Welcome (literally means "to live")