Take away lesson: make sure you find a reputable ABCD tour guide
This itself was a problem: most of the banks wouldn't take our international cards, and then my card got blocked because even though I'd told the bank I was abroad, apparently no one in their right mind would go to Puerto Princessa so it still blocked me.
When we finally found a bank that would work for us we found a crazy limit on our card (about £100 per day). We'd planned to spend two weeks in El Nido, but £100 wasn't going to be enough for two people.
Compared to other South East Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and even Thailand, we found the Philippines to be expensive.
This put a downer on our trip, we wanted to have massages by the beach, eat delicious meals, have cocktails whilst the sun went down, but because we didn't have enough money, we couldn't do these things. Okay, this wasn't the end of the world, but we'd got used to this lifestyle in Asia.
Take away lesson: Get your PHP before you come to the Philippines
and then found out that the air-con wasn't allowed to be on between 10am and 4pm.
Most days this wasn't a problem, as we were out enjoying El Nido during these hours. But when we had food poisoning it was a nightmare, we couldn't move from the room (apart from running to the toilet) and it was so hot and horrible.
Take away lesson: pre-book the first couple of nights so you're not stressed when you get there, but then go and look round the hostels and pick one you like for your next few nights. And don't even bother with Novies!!
In Manila the internet is actually pretty good, and even in Puerto Princessa it was reasonable. In El Nido it was practically non-existent.
So yeah, either we shouldn't be so dependent on the internet and/or we should have taken a break from work and enjoyed our trip in El Nido properly.
Take away lesson: go there for its beauty and to get away from using the internet, not to be a digital nomad.
When we first got to South East Asia we were really diligent about following our 'don't get food poisoning rules': we didn't have drinks with ice, we didn't eat meat or rice where we couldn't see it being cooked (and thus thoroughly heated) etc.
By the time we got to the Philippines we'd become really blase about these kind of rules and hadn't really thought about it. At Merimegmeg beach we ate rice and chicken where we hadn't seen it being cooked and then finished it off with a cool iced drink.
6 hours later, we had the worst food poisoning of our lives: both ends. It was awful. But our own fault.
Take away lesson: learn a few rules about how to avoid food poisoning and stick to them.
If we got the chance to go back to the Philippines we would take it in a heart beat. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world and most of the Filipinos we met were absolutely lovely: kind, friendly and just so happy!! All the mistakes we made in El Nido were our own fault - either we were being stupid or we were being entitled which isn't cool and is something we are working on.
We just hope that you can take something away from these lessons and have the perfect time in El Nido!!
What are the worst mistakes you've made on holiday?
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.