Before we begin Vietnam, let’s do one last review of The Philippines. The future doctor in me will review Health, the backpacker in me will review Money, and the Lodging is just good information for you to have.



Except for a few bug bites here and there that has caused a few minor skin rashes (the most being on my left leg whenever I was in the internet cafes in Manila), no serious health risks have been reported. Food has had no problems on the diet, and no Immodium has been used.

Health Rating of the Philippines after 7 days…

  • # of bug bites:  5
  • # of Immodium used: 0
  • # of Pepto used: 0
  • # of Advil used: 0
  • # of prescription meds used: 0
  • # of total medication used: 0
  • Creams used: A lot of DEET, sunscreen, and 1% Hydracortisol Cream

Quality of healthcare: At least in Manila, Filipino health care is quite good with numerous large hospitals and reports of physicians with great bedside attention. For example, we’ve talked to people who told us that they would fall ill with sicknesses like Dengue Fever, and that they would be admitted to very large, clean rooms while looked after carefully by an attentive staff. They would then be discharged well over a few days after recovery. There are also quite a few hospitals in Manila: Museo Pambata children’s hospital, Manila Doctors’ Hospital, Philippine General Hospital, Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, Dr. José R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital Ospital ng Maynila Medical Cente, Makati Medical Center, and St. Luke’s Medical Center just to name a few.  Therefore, if anything should happen to you in Manila, you shouldn’t worry about finding a place to take care of you.

Sanitary Conditions: If you’re well-off, it’s sanitary as any other big city…but the majority of Manila residents aren’t. There are quite a few slums to be found, not to mention the homeless who sleep every night on the streets by the hundreds. Although they look quite hardened to the dirtiness of urban life, I noticed a lot of funny looking pools of standing water that kids would run around in with their bare feet. Furthermore, a trash can is hard to come by, so people litter everywhere. Compared to an average Western city in Europe or the U.S. of a similar size, Manila is on the slightly dirtier side.



Including lodging, food, transportation, nightlife, admission fees, and all other costs in Manila, I spent approximately 10,120 Philippine Pesos in 7 days, which approximates to $30 USD/day. The goal was to spend no more than $20 USD/day.

Goal: $20 USD/day

Spent: $30 USD/day for 7 days

Result: FAIL


Malate PensionneMalate; Adriatico Street behind the Starbucks, near Remedios Circle

This one was the “top pick” recommendation by Lonely Planet, so we decided to give it a try. Although it is quite charming, it wasn’t worth the brouhaha. It’s in a great location for nightlife and it has a reliable airport pick up service (that costs an extra 500 pesos or ~$10 USD), but the rooms are a little small and of  tolerable/average quality. The wireless is also WAY overpriced for 90 pesos an hour (across the street you get top-end computers and hi-speed ethernet for 60 pesos an hour or 150 pesos for 4 hours). For the above average price, I had expected much more than what I got after what Lonely Planet wrote about it. C’mon LP! I trusted you!

Price: $13 USD/night per person

Internet: $2 USD/hr. for unreliable and slow service

Other Amenities: A lobby restaurant and connected to a Starbucks.

Friendly’s Guesthouse – Malate; On the corner of Adriatico Street and Julio Napkil Street

This is indeed “backpacker’s HQ.” Where I didn’t really get to talk to anyone while staying at Malate Pensionne, Friendly’s is set up so that within the first hour there, I made a new friend from Canada whom I shared a mutual friend with at Columbia. The people running the hostel are indeed quite friendly, offering an “honor code” internet service where you tell them how much you used the internet for at 30 pesos/hr, as well as free drinks upon closing. They also have a balcony lounge on the 5th floor where all the backpackers staying at the hostel can meet and exchange travel advice. However, the rooms are pretty much bare bones: blocks of wood with overslept mattresses thrown on top of them. That’s it. Some of the electrical plugs also didn’t work, and the bathrooms are communal (the toilet next to us was out of order). But you get what you pay for!

Price: $9-$10/night per person

Internet: ~$0.60 USD/hr. for unreliable and slow service (unless you’re surfing at 3am in the morning); FREE WIRELESS

Other Amenities: Balcony Lounge to meet other backpackers


Rita’s – Batad, Philippines

Charming, rustic, and totally simple homestay with the most amazing views of the Batad Rice Terraces. What sets this one apart is that Rita herself is a doll, and her family goes out of their way to make you feel at home including cooking whatever you want and getting you a trained local masseuse from the village for a legit Filipino-style massage. The food is also cheap and delicious, not to mention we got to eat a chicken that was alive only a few hours ago. This is our pick for Batad; we absolutely adore Rita, and so should you.

Price: 200 pesos/night per person or ~$5 USD/night per person

Internet: There is no internet in Batad

Other Amenities: Want to eat animals that you saw running about and enjoying the simple pleasures of life only a few moments before? This is it.

Hope this info helps some of you out there. We just settled into Ha Noi, Vietnam and are ready to go to bed. Time is not our friend.



- At time of posting in Ha Noi, it was 25 °C - Humidity: 94% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds


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June 2010