The Philippines is an incredible destination full of culture, adventure, beautiful landscapes, endless activities, and friendly people. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an action-packed adventure, there’s something here for everyone. From stunning beaches to delicious food and rich history – it has it all! But before packing your bags for that dream Philippine vacation, here are some essential tips on what to do, where to go, and what to expect.
BEFORE YOU GO
Visa and Vaccines
Tourists from most countries can enter the Philippines without a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. However, if you plan to stay longer, you need to obtain a visa from the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country. You also need a return or onward ticket and a passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay
Before you travel to the Philippines, make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. The World Health Organization suggests taking the necessary precautions with vaccinations for traveling to the islands. These include hepatitis A, B, and E; typhoid, cholera, and yellow fever; Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and meningitis; polio, MMR (measles mumps rubella), T-DAP (tetanus diphtheria pertussis); chickenpox, shingles pneumonia as well as influenza for complete safety. Consult a doctor for advice regarding what kind of vaccinations and medications you should take with you.
Prior to your arrival in the Philippines, make sure to fill out the online health declaration form at https://etravel.gov.ph/
As per IATF Resolution No. 2 (s. 2022) on the ENTRY, QUARANTINE and TESTING Requirements of inbound travelers to the Philippines
A. FULLY VACCINATED (Filipino and Foreign Travelers)
– No pre-departure COVID-19 Test requirement
– Must have received the 2nd dose in a 2-dose series or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine more than fourteen (14) days prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin/port of embarkation.
B. UNVACCINATED or PARTIALLY VACCINATED (Filipino and Foreign Travelers)
1. Travelers 15 years and older shall present a remotely supervised/laboratory-based Rapid Antigen Test administered and certified by a healthcare professional in a healthcare facility, laboratory, clinic, or other similar establishment taken 24 hours prior to the date and time of departure from country of origin/first port of embarkation in a continuous travel to the Philippines, excluding lay-overs; provided that, he/she has not left the airport premises or has not been admitted into another country during such lay-over.
2. Travelers 15 years and older who fail to present a negative pre-departure testing shall be required to undergo a laboratory-based Antigen Test UPON ARRIVAL at the airport.
3. ACCOMPANIED minors below 15 years of age who are NOT VACCINATED for any reason whatsoever shall follow the quarantine protocols of their parent/s or an accompanying adult/guardian traveling with them.
4. UNACCOMPANIED minors below 15 years of age who are NOT VACCINATED for any reason whatsoever shall follow the protocols set forth in Section B (1) and (2) above.
NOTE: Any inbound traveler, whether Filipino or Foreign national, who shall test positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen test shall be subjected to the latest prevailing quarantine and isolation protocols of the DOH.
The climate in the Philippines is tropical with temperatures ranging from 19-38°C (66-100°F) throughout the year, so be prepared for hot weather no matter when you visit!
What to Pack
Depending on where you’re going and when, pack accordingly – shorts and t-shirts are ideal for most regions, while the mountainous areas tend to be cooler and rainier. Make sure to bring clothing that is both lightweight and comfortable; you don’t need to get too dressed up! To make the most of your beach and boat trips, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit! Don’t forget your sunglasses and rain gear, as well as comfy shoes like sneakers or sandals. Finally, save yourself an annoyance by bringing along a waterproof bag for any electronics such as phones and cameras. When visiting a tropical paradise, sunscreen, and mosquito repellents are must-haves. However, when engaging in activities like swimming with whale sharks or exploring coral reefs, keep in mind that sunscreens can be harmful to the delicate aquatic ecosystem – so refrain from using them during these excursions!
Also, to minimize plastic waste, always bring your own reusable bag or bag-for-life in addition to your backpack.
Here’s a comprehensive list of things you should pack for your trip to the Philippines:
- Light clothing (shorts, t-shirts, etc.)
- Comfortable shoes (sneakers or sandals)
- Hiking sandals or shoes with strong grip for Kawasan Falls Canyoneering
- Rain gear
- Waterproof bag / dry bag
- Mosquito repellent
- Reusable bag
- Camera/action camera (GoPro) and other electronics (including chargers & batteries) & SD card
- Any necessary medications
- Spare cash (stored in a secure belt or money pouch)
- Copy of passport, travel insurance policy, and emergency numbers
- Other personal items
Electrical Outlets and Plugs
The Philippines uses Type A, B, and C electrical outlets with a voltage of 220V and a frequency of 60Hz. If you’re traveling from a country that uses a different type of outlet, you’ll need to bring a travel adapter.
Filipino is the national language; however, English is widely spoken in urban areas. But do not worry if you do not know any of these languages as many locals can also communicate in other foreign languages like Japanese, Chinese, or Korean.
The official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine Peso (PHP), which comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 50, and 1,000 pesos. Credit/Debit cards are accepted in most stores but smaller establishments may still prefer cash payments. ATMs are available throughout the
The Philippines is known for its flavorful and unique cuisine. Popular dishes include adobo, sinigang, lumpia, pancit, kare-kare, and halo-halo. Food can range from simple home-cooked meals to high-end restaurants with exotic ingredients. Seafood is a staple in the local diet and street food vendors are plentiful in major cities. Filipino food is often overlooked in Asia, when it’s actually one of the most varied cuisines on earth. With mixtures from both Eastern and Western cultures, there is a multitude of intriguing flavors to explore – however keep in mind that meat forms an integral part. Therefore vegetarians or vegans who visit cities outside the major ones may find it hard to locate vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants.
The Philippines has several modes of transportation, including buses, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, and motorcycle taxis. However, the most convenient and comfortable way to get around is by using ride-hailing apps such as Grab or booking a private car with a driver.
The Philippines is a generally safe country, but like any other country, you need to take precautions to stay safe. Some of the things to keep in mind include:
- Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables secure.
- Only drink bottled or filtered water to avoid getting sick.
- Be aware of pickpockets and scam artists in crowded areas.
- Follow local laws and customs to avoid any potential trouble with the authorities.
- Ensure that your accommodation has emergency evacuation plans and familiarize yourself with them.
- You might want to purchase travel insurance before heading out on your Philippine adventure. Check with your government for the latest information on any current travel advisories. As with travel to any foreign region, make sure to remain mindful of personal safety at all times.
DOS AND DON’TS
- Be mindful of local customs, traditions and beliefs.
- Respect local cultures, religions, and customs such as taking off your shoes before entering a home.
- Women should cover their arms and legs when visiting religious sites.
- Be mindful of scammers who may try to take advantage of tourists.
- It’s considered polite to use respectful terms like “Sir” or “Ma’am.” Familial words like Tito/Tita (Uncle/Aunt) for elders, Lolo/Lola (grandfather/grandmother), and Kuya/Ate (older brother/sister) can be used; the words “Po” and “Opo” are terms of respect. Don’t refer to older people by their first names.
- Always be friendly and wave back at anyone who waves to you.
- Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated.
- Finally, respect the environment and leave things better than you found them!
- It is illegal to make bomb jokes or any joke related to terrorism. Bomb jokes or false bomb threat is a violation of Presidential Decree 1727 punishable with five (5) years imprisonment or PHP 40,000 fine, or both. Read more about it here https://lawphil.net/statutes/presdecs/pd1980/pd_1727_1980.html
- Do not litter or be disrespectful to the environment and people.
- Do not touch marine animals & corals, as it is illegal & harmful for their survival.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use ATMs to withdraw money instead.
- Do not give money or gifts directly to beggars; it’s better to donate to a local charity instead.
- Do not drink alcohol in public places or on the street.
- Do not engage in any illegal activities such as gambling, drug use or human trafficking.
- Don’t lose your temper or be confrontational.
- Don’t walk alone, particularly at night, and keep your belongings close to you at all times.
- Never insult the Philippines or Filipino people.
- Don’t buy items made from endangered species such as animals, plants, giant clam/shells and the like.
- Avoid taking photos of people without their permission.
Customs and Etiquette
The Philippines is a country with a rich culture and traditions, and it’s important to respect local customs and etiquette. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Filipinos are known for their hospitality and warmth, so it’s common to greet people with a smile or a friendly hello.
- Remove your shoes before entering a Filipino home or temple.
- Respect the elderly and those in authority.
- Avoid pointing with your index finger; instead, gesture with your whole hand or palm.
- Be mindful of your body language, such as not crossing your arms in front of someone.
- When dining out, it’s polite to wait for all guests to be served before eating.
In summary, having even a basic understanding of Filipino culture will make your journey to the Philippines an incredible experience!
These tips will help you have a safe and enjoyable time in the Philippines! All that’s left to do is to pack your bags and enjoy the amazing sights, culture, and cuisine of this beautiful archipelago.