Philippine Travel Tips
The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.
In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.
Home to over 7100 islands, the Philippines is one of those destinations that is largely underrated compared to other destinations in Southeast Asia. However, for the travelers that do go, you will be rewarded with endless white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, gleaming emerald colored volcanoes and lakes, and impressive rice fields and mountains.
Philippines Quick Information
- Currency: Philippine Peso
- Electricity Socket: standard 220v electricity with mostly type A and B plugs (Standard American plugs). To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adaptors for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave.
- Visa: Nationals from 151 countries may enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for a maximum of thirty (30) days, provided they are holders of a passport valid at least six (6) months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines, and present a return or outward bound ticket to their country of origin or to your next country of destination (They are quite strict with showing an outbound ticket so plan accordingly). Brazilian and Israeli nationals are given fifty-nine (59) days stay based on existing agreements.
Some nationalities can only stay for 7-14 days so it is best to check the government website beforehand. If you plan on staying for longer than 30 days, you can apply for a visa waiver first, granting an additional stay of twenty-nine (29) in the Philippines.
-Safety: Still Safe in the Philippines
- Language: Despite being home to multiple dialects, Tagalog is considered as the National language. However, one of the most beautiful things about the Philippines is that almost everyone speaks English which makes it easier to communicate with the locals.
- Festivals and Celebrations: Undoubtedly, wherever you are in the Philippines, Filipinos are a fun-loving people there is a big party, festival, or fiestas (local celebration) going on. It is very common for people to invite complete strangers to join in on the fun. A few big ones though are Ati-Atihan in Kalibo which is near Boracay (January), Sinulog in Cebu (January), and Masskara in Bacolod (October). These festivals generally comprise of big street parades with locals showing off their indigenous native costumes. Expect to have lots of street dancing, and local rum drinking.
- Transportation: The transport from one place to the next is can be a mission due to it being an archipelago. If you have limited time, flying from one island to the next is essential.
VISITING THE PHILIPPINES
Moving around the country by land is easy with national highways connecting the major islands and an extensive public transportation sytem, which includes the exotic Philippine jeepney. Trains, taxis, buses, jeepneys, and trikes are the main modes of public transportation. The calesa, a more elegant means of traveling in most major cities, is more commonly offered as a “fun ride” in many public parks across the country.
A land railway system operated by the Philippine National Railways, called the Metrotren, is recommended for long distance traveling. It reaches as far south as Carmona and Cavite, or as far north as Meycauayan, Bulacan. Within Metro Manila, the Light Railway Transit (LRT), which stretches from Caloocan to Baclaran, provides a fast alternative from the regular jeepney. LRT 2 traverses five cities in Metro Manila namely Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila) along the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue. The Metro Railway Transit (MRT) traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district.
The Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, Cebu Pacific (CEB) entered the aviation industry on March 1996 and pioneered the “low fare, great value” strategy. It has since then flown 50 million passengers and counting.
CEB currently operates a fleet of 24 Airbus (10 A319 and 14 A320) and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft, the youngest fleet in the Philippines, and one of the youngest in Asia. It is the only 100% brand-new aircraft fleet in the country.
Aside from its 16 international destinations, CEB also creates an extensive network across the Philippines with its 33 domestic destinations. It operates from four strategically placed hubs: Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao.
CEB offers the lowest year-round fares for all its flights. The airline remains to be the pioneer in creative pricing strategies as it manages to offer the lowest fare in every route it operates. Popular seat sales are the zero fare all-in and 50% off seat sales.
CEB, the leader in innovation and creativity in the country’s aviation industry, is the first local airline to introduce online check-in, E-ticketing, prepaid excess baggage, and seat selection in the Philippines. CEB also partnered with WWF-Philippines for a climate adaptation program, and various destination hotels, car rental service, travel insurance, and entertainment ticketing service to provide its passengers a more convenient travel experience. Customers have also learned to anticipate a uniquely upbeat flying experience with CEB, as this is the only domestic carrier that offers fun in the skies with its "Fun Games" on board, together with its entertaining in-flight magazine - Smile. For more info visit their site at
Other airlines that presently fly the Philippine skies are Air Philippines, South East Asian Airlines, Laoag International Airlines, Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit Airlines), and Pacific Airways – each serving popular tourist destinations at pocket-easy prices. For a more personal experience, chartered flights are available via small air companies such as Airspan Corporation (helicopters), A. Soriano Aviation, and Aerolift Philippines (small-to-medium-sized planes).
A country that is made up of over 7,100 islands and islets, travel has a lot to do with transportation. Rest assured that options are endless for getting around, some typical and others quite unique.
Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, and Laoag are the international gateways, with the Manila International Airport (MIA) in Manila as the premier gateway. It is served by more than 30 airlines, which fly to different cities around the world. The Mactan International Airport (MIA) in Cebu handles regular flights from Japan, Singapore, and Australia as well as chartered flights from Hong Kong, the United States, and other major travel capitals. Davao International Airport handles regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore. The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and Subic Airfield in Central Luzon service both chartered and cargo planes. Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services regular flights from Taiwan and Macau.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national flag carrier and considered “Asia’s First Airline,” remains the country’s biggest airline company. It has the largest number of international flights to the Philippines as well as domestic flights. PAL links Manila to 14 cities in 8 countries, and flies regularly to 41 domestic destinations outside Manila.
As the islands of the Philippines are separated by different bodies of water, the sea plays an integral part in travel. A range of seafarers are available, from huge cargo ships to small ferry boats; take long trips that last for a day or two with regular ship lines or take shorter ones with ferries. Major cruise liners call on the port of Manila.
WG&A Lines, a partnership between William Lines and the Aboitiz Group, has launched its SuperFerry Program, an affordable but convenient alternative to the usually crowded vessels of other ship lines.
Taxis provide the best means of transportation around the city, with a flag-down fare of PhP20 on the meter. For the steel-hearted, buses also tread the roads. A vast majority of city buses travel via Epifanio delos Santo Avenue (EDSA) while provincial bus lines have put up various terminals all across the country. The best means of short distance travel is the trike: the motorized version is called a tricycle, and the pedal-powered one is called a pedicab. Trike terminals are often found near a “palengke” or marketplace.
The undisputed “King of the Philippine Roads” is the jeepney. Since it first emerged after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, it has become a fixture in roads all over the country – so much so that it is now considered a symbol of national pride.
Jeepneys are adorned with colorful designs that distinguish them from one another, with themes ranging from the serious to the outright silly, but all uniquely Filipino.
18 min (7.7 km) Manila International Airport via Paranaque - Sucat Rd/Route 63 and Roxas Blvd/R-1
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN MANILA
Rizal Park, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Manila Ocean Park
Viking's, Max's, Binalot, Lutong Pinoy...
SM Mall of Asia, Ayala Malls,