Expats explain what life is like in ‘most beautiful country’ but ‘nothing built to last’

Simon Calder says travelling to Florida was easier the Europe

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Around 10,000 British expats are estimated to live in the beautiful Philippines with many settling near the beach. The archipelago of more than 7,000 islands is extremely beautiful and a popular holiday destination.

The Philippines has a tropical climate and expats can expect to experience a rainy and a dry season.

As part of the HSBC Expat Insider survey, expats shared their views on what life in the Philippines is like.

One said: The Philippines is a great place to stay. Transport of your own is a must. Always keep some cash at home.”

Public transport can be difficult to use on the beautiful island nation so expats are advised to have their own.

On the Expat Exchange forum, one expat said: “The Philippines is not for the faint of heart, or anyone with no patience.

“The simplest task is monumental here. A most beautiful country. There is a lot of poverty here.”

Over 15 percent of Filipinos live below the poverty line and many expats choose to volunteer or give to charity while living there.

The expat said: “Construction on a scale of one to 10 is a two. I was a builder for over 40 years.

“Nothing is built to last. Looks pretty and that is it. If you are in Manila area, condos are certainly better if you are ok living in a small show box. Definitely buy a car.”

Expats should seek advice from an expert if they are worried about the state of their property in the Philippines.

Another expat said: “Expect some good natured gossip on any aspect of anything, with some amusing misunderstandings and misconceptions.

“While this can feel personal, it’s just people trying to make connections and fill the day with chatter.

“As a foreigner you’ll be interesting. Folks talk about interesting things. It is what it is.”

While there are a few downsides to life in the Philippines as with anywhere, the country’s beauty continues to draw expats.

One of the country’s top attractions is the Ifugao rice terraces, an UNESCO world heritage site.

Tourists can hike around the terraces and go for a swim in the stunning Tappiya waterfalls nearby.

Where should you go on your next holiday?

Now that the world has opened up again it’s time to pack those suitcases and head off on a well-deserved adventure. Where should you be jetting off to? Take our quiz and find out.


With endless culture, gorgeous beaches and weather to die for, Greece is a great choice both for romantic getaways and family trips. Wander the historical streets of Athens and Thessaloniki or head to an island to soak up the sun – the choice is yours.


It may be far away but it’s definitely worth the trip. Japan has sprawling metropolises, stunning scenery, and a rich history and culture to boot. Check out the cities of Kyoto and Tokyo and make sure to get your fill of their world-famous cuisine while you’re in town


Hop across the pond and experience an array of cultures, climates, cuisines and more. You can leave the phrasebook at home and get truly immersed in everything that this sprawling nation has to offer, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty


With some of the best food around and boasting the world’s most romantic city, France is a great choice if you’re in a hurry. Be in its glorious capital in just hours, grab a pain au chocolat and practice your language skills while wandering along the banks of the Seine


La dolce vita is calling! With its stunning views, fascinating history and world-famous Neapolitan pizza, Italy is a great choice, whether you’re after an adventure or want to dive into a big bowl of spaghetti


A little off the beaten track, Morocco boasts stunning architecture, winding street markets to get lost in, and beautiful landscapes. Soak up the sun in Marrakech or head to Chefchaouen for one of the most unique experiences a holiday-maker can have

The Caribbean

Sun, sea and sand – what’s not to love? Head to the Caribbean if you really want to unwind. With plenty of picturesque locations to choose from, from the streets of Havana to the beaches of Grenada, you’re sure to find something that fits your holiday dreams.


When most people think ‘holiday’, sunshine and relaxation comes to mind – but a different kind of trip can be just as rewarding. Splash around in the Blue Lagoon and try your luck at catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This is definitely one for the bucket list.


India is well worth a visit if you have some time to spare. With an array of different cultures coexisting in this vast and vibrant nation, as well as gorgeous food to be enjoyed at every turn, you’ll find yourself immersed in the experience. Take a trip to the Taj Mahal for that jaw drop moment

Swiss Alps

If snow sports are your thing, then this mountainous region is perfect for you. Venture down the powdered slopes and warm your hands at the après-ski afterward. Perfect for a group of friends, a romantic trip, or even some time with the kids – if they can stand the cold!

What kind of holiday do you like best?

What’s your budget?

How long do you have for your trip?

Who’s going on the trip?

How are your languages skills?

What’s your ideal climate?

Which is top of your bucket list?

Beach lovers will be spoilt for choice in the Philippines with many tourists opting to visit Cebu or Boracay.

Expats who make the trip to gorgeous Palawan should visit one of the region’s underground rivers on a paddleboat tour.

Popular Filipino dishes include longganisa, a type of sausage and abodo, chicken or beef braised in garlic, oil, soy sauce and vinegar.

Over 90 percent of residents identify as Christian with the majority following Catholicism.

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