If you’re planning a trip to Siargao in the Philippines, I’ve devised a list of tips and trips to get the most out of your visit to the island.
- Bring cash – The currency here is the Philippine peso and is easily converted from other currencies at the airport, or ideally at your home bank before you leave for better rates. You can also take money out of the ATM at the international airport on arrival into the Philippines. Most places do not take credit cards, and there are very few ATMs on the island, and they are often out of service. Smaller bills are useful as some of the street vendors do not carry much change.
- Don’t drink the tap water – as with a lot of other countries, it’s advised to not drink the tap water – many hotels offer filtered water onsite for you to use and fill up your personal water bottles. I also bring a UV sanitising water bottle with me every time I travel abroad which, with just a touch of a button can help eliminate some microbes, which can make tap water less risky to drink. I use it on filtered water just in case. – link here.
- Leave your heels and fancy jewellery at home – Siargao is not the place you dress up for; most of the time you will find yourself living in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops – it’s very casual here, and besides it’s very hot and humid and you’re better off wearing thin comfortable layers.
- Stay hydrated – with a multitude of exciting activities to participate in during your stay on Siargao, it’s easy to get dehydrated during the day. Be sure to fill up your water bottle often and drink more than you usually would at home!
- Bring lots of sunscreen – the sun here can be brutal, and even in the shade you can get burnt from the sunlight bouncing off the sand and water. I recommend bringing the higher factor sunscreen (reef friendly if you plan on going in the ocean – my fav one from amazon here → ) and applying it often – at least every 90 minutes, more if you are getting wet or doing fast paced activities where you are sweating. Try and avoid the full sun at the hottest part of the day, and consider wearing a rash guard or surf suit if you plan on being out for a long time.
- Go slow! You are on island time, and things typically take longer than they might do back at home. Sit back, relax and enjoy being on a tropical island. Leave your punctuality behind and revel in the laid back vibes of Siargao.
- Pack your sense of adventure! Siargao is an adventure lover’s paradise! There really is an endless list of fun things to do on the island – and all for an incredibly affordable price. From island hopping to kite surfing, to scooter tours and surfing, I can guarantee you won’t be bored. If there’s something you’ve been dying to try, here’s your opportunity – the prices are so reasonable and you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t try it later!
- Come for more than a couple of days – we met a lot of visitors to the island that were island hopping throughout the Philippines and had only booked a couple of nights in Siargao – and they had all regretted not staying longer! There is just so much to do and the island is so incredibly beautiful. I think 4-6 days would be the ideal amount of time to spend on the island. There is also the risk of an excursion being cancelled because of the weather, so you’ll be glad you have more days in case you have to reschedule an activity.
- Book your excursions and outside activities at the beginning of your trip – it is the tropics and it does rain here, and sometimes due to the weather, day trips will be cancelled. In the unlikely event that this happens, you’ll have more days to reschedule the activities so you don’t miss out! This is especially important if you visit during the rainy season.
- Don’t forget the bug spray! You’re in the tropics and it’s humid – there will be mosquitoes and sand flies – there’s no avoiding it so just come prepared! Be sure to apply it throughout the day and especially during dusk and dawn! My favourite brand listed here, or the deet free version here —
- Side note: Celiac disease/ Gluten Free Food on the island – I will not sugar coat this, but as a Celiac I found it incredibly difficult to find things I could eat on the island. Understandably, most of the locals here and staff at restaurants were not aware of gluten, nevermind Celiac disease. Throw in a language barrier and it made it all the more difficult. My best advice would be to order the most bland food you see on the menu – a lot of the Filipino dishes use soy sauce in the dishes which is obviously a big no-no in our books. Something like grilled fish and plain rice is usually a good bet. Be sure to bring a lot of gluten free snacks with you just in case!
A note on Manila International Airport
- If you are arriving on an international flight, you will fly into Manila or Cebu. On my recent trip I flew into Manila, and it was an experience to say the least, and there is not much information out there that I was able to read beforehand.
- You will likely have to change terminals if flying international to domestic, and the terminals are not connected. There is a free shuttle bus for connecting passengers that runs between all terminals provided you show a boarding pass or booking confirmation of onward travel. They state they run every 30 minutes but during my two experiences using the service, I had to wait at least 45 minutes each time. If you have a tight layover consider taking a cab, however even then with the traffic in Manila it may take you 20 minutes.
- Wifi is capped at 3 hours and as foreign passenger there is no way you can extend your access or even pay to do so. I was meeting my friend in Manila and it was less than ideal having to navigate meeting up without any means to communicate – plan ahead – you can’t pause the wifi time limit (and resetting your devices clock or date doesn’t work either), however you can use multiple devices – i.e. use phone to access wifi for 3h then laptop, etc.
- Checking in for our international flight at Terminal 1 was absolute chaos. The check in desks for each airline are not open all the time so the main passenger entryway is just packed with people waiting to drop their bags. And there is no means of organisation. There were no queues or lines, everyone was confused and we ended up taking almost 4 hours to drop out bags. Not a pleasant experience by any means. Most people I spoke to were told to arrive 5 hours early for their flight – and now I understand why.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Siargao, read my review of Soultribe Beach Retreat here
Disclosure: chasetherainbows.com participates in affiliate advertising programs as a way to earn revenue. Some links to products and services are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you click an affiliate link and finalize a purchase. Thank you for your support.
2 thoughts on “Top Tips For Your First Visit to Siargao, Philippines”