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Philippines packlist

I realized my backpack size was exactly the same for exploring SE Asia for 2 months & the Philippines for 2 weeks.

What are the essentials for a trip to the tropics? Here's a full on novel of my lessons learned on what to pack for the Philippines.

Highlights: Packlist for visiting the mountains & the beaches of the Philippines. This will let you fit everything in a 25L Jansport school bag. Yes, this is what I used for my 2 month trip around SE Asia/ 2 week trip around the Philippines. Everybody was shocked that this was all I had. Even more shocked when I pull out my netbook.
Cast of Characters: n/a
Logistics/ Links: n/a
When: My trip was around Nov-Dec. It was still raining! I went to Donsol in summer (March)- it was also raining. Bad weather follows me everywhere.
Location: Some things to bring with you when visiting Cordillera, Palawan & when you're passing through Manila or Cebu.
Cost: n/a
Trip Report:  You don't need malaria pills. I was trying to sort out my pack & was agonizing over what to bring (or leave behind). My back has a hard time with loads larger than 7kgs/15lbs (this is max weight limit for most domestic flight hand carry). Works out ok because I can just hand carry everything. The luggage check-in fees do add up, and you have to take flights everywhere in the Philippines.

I have a Kelty Redwing pack which I realized already weighs at least 3lbs by itself. So that was out. I ended up buying a Jansport 25L school bag. It weighs nothing. Has 1 compartment which allows for more flexibility & room. I was set to go. Some travelers say- "but that's a school bag not built for that tough use" or "It doesn't have enough support for your shoulders/ back". It has lifetime guarantee so if it breaks I'll get a new one for free. If it's light enough, my back won't need all that heavy (internal frame)support. Its still alive & ready for more adventures.

 Cordillera (Mountains)
Of course it was raining when I was there. Here's some lessons I learned on packing essentials.

- 1 (min)mid-weight fleece with hood. I wore about 3-4 layers of all the clean t-shirts I had left plus my light fleece jacket. That was not enough for northern Philippine winter. I get cold easily. Also the overnight bus ride to Banaue is freakin freezing! I don't like buying things as I need them like what other travelers recommend. Your choices are gonna suck, you're gonna get overcharged & you're gonna end up with something you already have (my 10th jacket- yey). I also don't like throwing away things just to lighten my load, just pack light to begin with.
 - 1 rain + wind shell. This would really have been nice. Despite what weather averages say, climate change has made weather completely unpredictable in the recent years. It actually rains in summer now. That never happens before. Umbrellas are not allowed to be hand carried. Ponchos would also work, but they're not too good against wind. *Update: They sell inexpensive rain jacket & pants at SM department stores or other big groceries. These are cheap, like less than $5. Works well enough for the rainy season.
- 6 t-shirts. Helps with emergency layering & you won't feel like you're doing nothing but laundry. Make sure these are all your comfiest & favoritest shirts. I found I did not need quick dry shirts, but those might be nice to have. Make sure you bring either all light or all dark colors, so if you use a machine (unlikely) or handwash, you can just throw it all in 1 basin. SE Asia is conservative. Ladies traveling solo- its better to wear t-shirts than tank tops. If you wear tank tops, do not complain about machismo behavior.
- 1-2 pairs of pants. Lightweight ones are good, like workout pants or something. Yeah those zip-off pants are gonna be (ugly but) good. Do not bring jeans. Quick-dry stuff is better.
- 2 pairs of shorts. Make sure these double as swim shorts. Make sure they are comfy, not just cute- comfy. Oh, if you're a girl traveling solo- min knee length is better for less attention. It may sound horrendous- but its not a bad idea to dress like a boy.
- 1 hat. Sun protection
- 6 panties, 2 bras. No more, no less
- 1 pair of socks. Keep your toes warm for the mountains & the bus rides
- 1 sarong. Make sure its big enough so you can use it to lie down on at airports, at the beach or wherever. This also doubles as a neck scarf or an extra layer if you get cold. This triples as a face cover for nasty Manila (or Baguio) pollution.
- 1 Sports sandals. You don't need hiking shoes. Trails can be muddy & wet, its not very pleasant hiking with cold, soggy wet shoes. Also with shoes you'll need to bring more socks. Not necessary.
- 1 pair of flip-flops. For walking around in your hotel room, strolling down the beach...
- Sunglasses
- Travel docs. passports, guidebook, insurance stuff
- Toiletries.  Keep in mind airport regulations. 3oz max.They sell shampoo/ conditioner sachets in the Philippines. So unless you're particular with your toiletries, its better to buy stuff in the Philippines.
- Toilet paper. Trust me on this one.
- Hand sanitizer. 
Paper soap. These are great! Needless to say, most restrooms in the Philippines do not have tp or soap.
- Ipod/ Kindle/ Netbook. I love books but the weight they add is killing my back! You don't really need a netbook.
- Cameras, memory cards, rechargeable batteries, battery charger, outlet adapter
- Mints. Deodorant. Yes mints. If you want to make friends with the locals on a long bus ride, fresh breath is essential. Its hot & humid in the country. A lot of Filipinos secretly think foreigners don't shower. Do wear deodorant.
- Ear plugs. Philippine karaoke officially starts at 10am till maybe about 3am. Roosters (or goats...or cows) start at about 4am
- Nail clipper. I was starting to grow freakin' talons towards the end of my trip. Don't forget these!
- Mosquito repellant.
- Flashlight. Electricity is not so reliable especially if with my luck

Me at Donsol on a whale shark trip. We did not see one. *sob

Palawan (Beaches/ Island hopping)
You pretty much will need all the items listed to bring above, plus these below. This is from my experience going to Puerto Princesa, El Nido & Coron. These are great for island hopping activities (you don't need swimwear, drybag for the underground river). Also, the El Nido-Coron boat ride can get really windy & cold.

- 2-3 outfits of swimwear. Make sure these can double as underwear/ regular casual wear.
- Drybag (maybe at least 13L). If you're gonna buy one, make sure they're of really good quality. Some of these tear easily or don't resist water at all.
- Mask & snorkel. You can rent these, but the fees add up quickly. I got leg cramps from swimming with fins too much. Towards the end of my trip, I just hung onto a life vest & did not even use my fins. At El Nido, there's some parts of the tours where you'll be swimming some distance. So fins are nice to have but you can live without them.
- 1-2 lightweight dresses. El Nido actually has good night life. They sell nice beach dresses there for around $10. In the picture, I'm wearing the traditional Philippine daster or muumuu. Filipinos use it for lounging around at home. I brought it for sleepwear. My tourist roommate commented that it was a nice dress. Oooh! Sleepwear that doubles as party dress! Nice! (Only works for beach clubbing, not for urban clubbing).
- Sports sandals. See Cordillera portion. At El Nido & Coron, you will need sports sandals (not flip-flops) for stepping on corals (sad, I know), exploring the islands...
- Sunblock
- Underwater camera

What I brought & did not need:
- Night dress/ pj's. I just go to bed stinky or shower before bed & wear the same fresh clothes I'll be wearing tomorrow.
- Denim jeans (pants or shorts)
- Nicer, dressier clothes. There's no nightlife up at the mountains. I don't really party much.
- Nice, cute shoes. For those of you who think I'm some kind of dirty hippie, nature girl- I did give 'looking cute while backpacking' a shot. It is hard.
- Inflatable travel pillow. Just drool on your seatmate, who cares. lol!
- Waterproof, leather hiking shoes. Yes I ended up not even using these.

Yup, you too can have a lightweight backpack while exploring SE Asia! If you think I missed or should delete something- post it below!

1 comment:

  1. allen20:41

    thanks for the list, para hindi na ako mahirapan mag isip while packing my things.

    for me suggest ko yung bag na water resistance para mas safe yung gamit natin inside(specially pag sa beach area) ako ang gamit ko na bag is Thule


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