  Chapter 

Where to sleep?

  • The Philippines offers accommodation of all kinds. From up-scale, all-inclusive beach resorts and luxury hotels to pensionnes, homestays and cheap and cheerful hostels.
  • There is a big difference between low-budget accommodation geared towards tourists and locals, with those for tourists having more charm and mod-cons and those for locals being more basic.

What to eat and drink?

Food

  • The local cuisine may have a dubious reputation on the world stage, often dubbed bland and unexciting, that doesn’t bother the Filipinos. Food is an important part of Filipino culture and it’s eaten in abundance and with gusto.
  • Filipino food is, especially compared to its spicy neighbours, relatively mild and often sweeter than what you may be used to.
  • Rice is eaten with almost every meal, from breakfast to late night meryenda (snack).

Specialities

  • Adobong pusit: a fragrant dish of squid prepared with soy, vinegar, garlic, onions and tomatoes.
  • Lechon: spit roasted suckling pig covered in a thick pork liver sauce.
  • Siopao: a steamed ball of dough stuffed with different type of fillings made of meat, fish and egg.
  • Batchoy: a traditional noodle soup with a mix of chicken, beef and pork (crackling, meat and offal).
  • Kinilaw: a ceviche style dish consisting of raw fish marinated in coconut vinegar, garlic, ginger and chili peppers.

Remarkable dishes

  • Balut: not for the faint hearted, Balut is a fertilised, developing bird egg (usually duck), boiled and eaten straight from its shell.
  • Durian: the King of Fruits is one of those foodstuffs you either love or hate. It is a large (weighing up to three kilograms) fruit with a spiky rind and is known for its pungent smell and confusing flavour combining sweet and savoury with a fleshy, custardy texture. Can be eaten at various stages of ripeness and is also used to flavour sweet and savoury dishes.
  • Ampalaya: also known as the bitter melon, the ampalaya is a cucumber shaped, wrinkly fruit with a fresh yet bitter flavour.
  • Isaw: a street food made up of chicken or pork intestines, skewered and barbecued.
  • Dinuguan: A thick, black stew made of pig’s blood and chicken or pork intestines.

Drinks

  • Buko Juice is young coconut juice, often served in the shell or with pieces of young coconut floating in the drink.
  • Apart from the southern Muslim parts of the country, alcohol is widely consumed. Beer, San Miguel more specifically, is the alcoholic drink of choice.
  • As imported wine is usually very expensive, stick to the locally made Tuba, a palm wine extracted from coconut flowers (Tuba), Basi, a port like sweet wine made from sugar cane juice or Lambanog, distilled Tuba.
  • Whiskey, rum, brandy and gin are brewed locally and perfectly palatable.

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