Travel essentials in the Philippines may differ from one traveler to another depending on your preference and objective. From swimming, diving, shopping, sight-seeing or exploring, Philippines has all the essential things to offer. Travel in the Philippines must be a fun-filled, extra-special traveling experience so I intend to acquaint you with what you need to know about the Philippines, which places you may want to visit, how is air, sea and land travel in the Philippines and more. No matter how long you intend to stay here, whether it be for 4 days, 4 weeks or even more, you can explore, learn and experience why it is essentially, more fun in the Philippines!
People: Filipinos are very well-known for being hospitable since time immemorial. When you are in a foreign land, it makes you feel better when you are at ease and when you feel that you are very much welcome. And what can make you feel more welcome than receiving gracious greetings and sweet smiles even from those you may consider strangers in a foreign land? It is the overwhelming warmth of the Filipinos in general, the friendliness and the sincere desire to help that will surely make your stay in the Philippines, extra special.
Language: Filipino and English are the official languages in the Philippines. While Filipino is the national language, English is also widely used. Communicating your thoughts with the locals will never be a hard task.
Weather: It is best to travel in the Philippines between the months of November and May. The average temperature in the Philippines (except Baguio) is 26.6 deg. C (79.9 deg. F). November to February is cool while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines, with an elevation of 1,500 m (5,000 ft.) above sea level has an average temperature of 18.3 deg. C (64.9 deg. F).
Currency: The currency in the Philippines is peso or PHP. Coin denominations are 5, 10, 25 centavos and 1& 5 pesos. Bill denominations are 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visas and MasterCard. Traveller’s checks, preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.
Religion: Filipinos are predominantly Christians – 82.9% Catholics, 5.4% Protestants, 4.6% Islam, 2.6% Philippine Independent Church, 2.3% Iglesia ni Cristo
Water:The supply of water in Metro Manila and in all other major cities are considered drinkable. But if you are looking for bottled purified water, mineral water or spring water, you can easily find these available in all grocery stores and are often supplied in hotels and resorts nationwide.
Electricity: 220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.
Clothing: Casual clothing, which consists of a shirt and shorts or pants is very common among Filipinos.
The most common business casual attire combination (which is more like a business attire) for both men and women are as follows:
For women, a business casual attire consists of a skirt or a slacks. Jeans is a definite no-no. For the top, a dress shirt or polo would do.
For men, a collared shirt top and cotton trousers (preferably colored blue, gray, brown, or black) with a belt and modest shoes with socks is generally acceptable.
Filipino Food: Rice is a staple food in the Philippines. Try our sinangag or fried rice with your favorite dish. Adobo, kaldereta, lechon, kare-kare, sinigang, lumpia and bistek (beef steak) are very popular ‘national dishes’. You might also want to try bibingka, puto, palitaw and kuchinta for merienda or snacks. Street foods are common such as fish ball, kikiam, kwek-kwek and barbeques like isaw, chicken head and chicken feet.
Tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
Business Hours: Normally, business hours starts between 8:00 am – 8:30 am and ends between 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm from Monday to Friday. Most private offices are also open on a Saturday when operating hours starts between 8:00 am – 8:30 am and ends at 12:00 noon.
Banks are open from 9am to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours. Banks found inside the malls are open everyday, except holidays, from 10am to 7pm.
Telephone and Mobile Phone: Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are available and are plentiful. These public phones only require one five peso coin for a three minute local call. If your friends or relatives, living outside the country wishes to call you here, the international dialing code is +63.
Time Zone: Standard time zone in the Philippines is UTC/GMT + 8 hours. Time zone abbreviation is PHT for Philippine Time. There is no daylight saving time in the Philippines.
Anti-Smoking Law: Section five of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9211) prohibits the carrying of any lighted tobacco product in public vehicles, schools, health centers, elevators, cinemas, malls and in places where fire hazards are present. Smoking is also banned in recreational facilities for minors. Fines imposed on violators of this section range from P500 to P10,000.
Anti-Jaywalking Ordinance: Jaywalking used to be rampant in Metro Manila, causing traffic or even accidents. To avoid this, the Anti-Jaywalking Ordinance, under MMDA Ordinance No.1 Series of 1995, was made. Those who will be caught crossing the streets outside the pedestrian crosswalk or footbridges in Metro Manila will be issued a pedestrian violation receipt (PVR), will be made to pay a P200-fine and will also be made to attend a 30-minute seminar on disaster response and assistance to be given by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Driving: Motor vehicles are driven on the right side of the road.
Air Travel in the Philippines: By air, Philippine Airlines, Airphil Express, Cebu Pacific, ZestAir, Seair, Tiger Airways, and Air Asia provide air travel services to major cities and towns in the Philippines. These airlines offer promotions and big discounts on flights several times a year making air travel in the Philippines more affordable. There are also scheduled chartered flights to major domestic destinations serviced by smaller commuter planes.
Sea Travel in the Philippines: Commercial ships and ferries are the most affordable way to travel from one region to another. 2Go Travel, Super Cat, Ocean Jet, Cebu Ferries, Cokaliong, Trans-Asia, Lite Shipping and Montenegro Lines provide ferry services within the Philippines.
Land Travel in the Philippines: Public Transportation by land consists of buses, jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs, taxis, and MRT/LRT/PNR. If possible, try to avoid these public transports especially buses, jeepneys and MRT/LRT in Metro Manila during rush hours (6:30-8:30 AM/PM), when you can expect these transport vehicles to be overcrowded.
Entry Regulations: A passport valid for at least 6 months. Except for stateless persons and those from countries that do not have diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for an onward journey.
Health requirements: A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers coming in from an infected area.
How to get there: The international gateways in the Philippines are Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark and Laoag. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA; IATA: MLA), which is located about 7-12 kilometers south of Manila and southwest of Makati, is the main international gateway for travelers to the Philippines.
Customs: Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. The following are allowed inside the duty-free: reasonable quantity of clothes, jewelry and toiletries: 400 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco, two bottles of wine or spirits of not more than one liter each.
Porterage: Baggage carts are available for free. Porter services are also free. Tipping is traditional.
Airport Transfers: Visitors are advised to avail of accredited fixed rate or metered taxis at the airport’s arrival area. All airports have counters for hotel transport and car rental service.
Accommodations in the Philippines: In Metro Manila and in key cities and towns throughout the country, a wide selection of deluxe, standard, economy and pension-type accommodations are available.
Shopping in the Philippines: Shopping in the Philippines is truly amazing and delightful – whatever it is you are looking for.Major shopping malls like SM Super Malls, Robinsons, Ayala Malls, Araneta Malls, Gaisano and others are available throughout the country. For the budget-conscious traveler, Divisoria in Manila and Baclaran in Paranaque offer wholesale prices and the lowest prices in retail sales.
Entertainment and Culture: Manila’s nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia, reflecting the Filipino’s love for music. The hubs of nightlife activities are at the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center, The Fort at Bonifacio Global City, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong and Pasig Cities and Eastwood in Libis. Clubs, music lounges, pubs, and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers known for their exceptional talent in music. Deluxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form a part of the country’s entertainment scene.
Top Beaches and Travel Destinations:
Boracay Island in Aklan
El Nido in Palawan
Honda Bay in Palawan
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro
Panglao Island, Bohol
Mactan Island in Cebu
Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte
Pearl Farm in Davao
Major Cities in the Philippines:
Cagayan de Oro
Top Diving Destinations:
Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro
Anilao in Batangas
Coron Island in Palawan
Monad Shoal in Malapascua Island (Cebu)
Yapak in Boracay Island
Tubbataha Reef National Park in Palawan
Crocodile Island in Boracay (Aklan)
Balicasag Island in Bohol
Cabilao Island, Bohol
Top World Heritage Sites:
Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, South Sulu Sea, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan
Ifugao or Banawe Rice Terraces in Ifugao
Historic City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur
Church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur
San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila
Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo