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Philippines Travel Information - Vital Information for the First-Time Visitor

Visas, Currency, Holidays, Weather, What to Wear

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Flag of the Philippines.

Flag of the Philippines.

From CIA World Factbook. Public domain.

Visa and Other Entry Requirements

Before planning your trip, consult our Philippines Profile page for basic information about the country.

You’ll only be allowed into the Philippines if your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, and must show proof of onward or return passage.

 

No visa is necessary for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union and the United States, for a stay not exceeding 21 days. Should you wish to stay longer, a Visa Extension should be obtained before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embassy, or from the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines.

Holders of Taiwanese Passports and Hong Kong Certificates of Identity must get a special entry permit.

Customs. Visitors are allowed to bring in their personal belongings duty free, as well as two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco, up to one liter of alcohol, and an unlimited amount of foreign currency. Rules may be different for returning citizens (balikbayans) – if in doubt, check with the Embassy or Consulate in your home city.

Any antiques you plan to depart with must must be accompanied by a certificate from the National Museum. You are also forbidden from bringing more than PhP5,000.00 (five thousand Philippine pesos) out of the country.

Health & Immunizations

You’ll only be asked to show health certificates of vaccination against smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever if you’re coming from known infected areas. More information on Philippines-specific health issues are discussed at the CDC page on the Philippines, or at this MDTravelHealth page.

Major cities have more than adequate medical services, though the same might not be said of towns and outlying areas. Immunization against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and Japanese encephalitis may be wise, as well as precautions against malaria and dengue fever.

Safety in the Philippines

The Philippines has certain safety and security issues that should be of paramount concern to any traveler. In big cities like Manila, grinding poverty makes crimes like kidnapping and theft a sadly commonplace occurrence.

Terrorism by extremist groups is also a concern: groups like Abu Sayyaf have a history of kidnapping foreign tourists, and terrorist bombings have taken place in Manila and Mindanao’s most crowded transport hubs and public places.

Money Matters

The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP), divided into 100 Centavos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5, and notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.

All commercial banks, most large hotels, and some malls are authorized to exchange foreign currency.

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are widely accepted across the country. Travelers’ checks (preferably American Express) are accepted at hotels and large department stores.

Tipping. Tipping isn’t mandatory, but it’s encouraged. Restaurants that levy a service charge require no tips, but if you’re feeling generous, you can leave an extra tip for the wait staff; just leave some change behind after you pay up.

Philippines Climate

Climate in the Philippines is generally warm and humid, so dress for the weather.

Men who are traveling in the Philippines on business would be well advised to keep the jackets and ties at home, and buy a barong tagalog instead – a light embroidered shirt that passes for formal dress in the Philippines. These can be bought at any reputable shopping center for PhP1,000 or so.

From the middle of December to the middle of May, the Philippines is free of typhoons – making this the best time to enjoy the country’s many beaches and diving spots. Avoid traveling more than necessary during Christmas and Easter, as many Filipinos travel across the country during these times, and you'll be competing with locals for seating.

January, May and December are the best times to visit if you’re planning to see the colorful provincial fiestas. If you’re planning to visit the rice terraces in North Luzon, do this in March and April, as the weather is pleasantly warm by then.

Transportation in the Philippines

Most visitors fly into the Philippines, arriving via Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Clark Airport into Manila, or through one of the Philippines' other, less-prominent international gateways: Cebu, Kalibo, and Davao.

Once within the Philippines, travelers have an almost confusing selection of transportation options: budget airlines, ships and buses link Philippine cities and provinces, while shorter distances can be traversed using jeepneys, buses, and tricycles.

 

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