The Philippines: Practical travel guide, tips and advices

The Philippines has some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world such as rice terraces, white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, friendly locals, amazing wildlife and of course the most beautiful spots to swim and dive.

To get ready for your trip in the Philippines, we prepared for you this practical travel guide. We are telling you everything you need to know about this country as well as a few tips and advices.

We’ve put together this infographic with practical information about the Philippines that you can download and print at home. Scroll down to get it.

When to visit? For how long?

The best time to visit the Philippines is during the dry season which is from December to February. The temperatures are not too hot at this time of the year, around 25-30 degrees celsius and it almost never rains. Though it will also be the period where you will see more tourists.

Between March and May is the hot season, temperatures can climb to 32-35 degrees. And it starts raining more from April.

Between July and November is the rainy season. The rains are intense and it rains on average every other day. There can also be some strong typhoons.

To enjoy the country at its most, we recommend to allow a stay between 2 to 4 weeks in the Philippines.

Budget

The local currency is the Philippine Peso ₱ – PHP. The rate was about $1 = ₱50, €1 = ₱56, £1 = ₱62 as of June 2020.  

To give you an idea, this is on average how much things cost in touristy area. Prices can be cheaper in non-touristy places.

  • Hostel night = ₱450-850
  • Double room night mid-range = ₱1200-2000
  • Cheap meal = ₱150-200
  • Mid-range meal = ₱300-400
  • One beer = ₱50-80
  • One day scooter rental = ₱300-500
  • Tricycle ride = ₱20-100 for about 1 to 5km

You need to pay in cash pretty much everywhere. So don’t forget to withdraw money whenever you can.
Tipping is usually not required but accepted, and sometimes expected like in guided tours.

We give you more details about The cost of travelling in the Philippines in our dedicated article.

Health and vaccines

Vaccines against Typhoid and Hepatitis A/B are recommended but none are mandatory. It is also recommended to have your regular vaccines up to date.

In addition, we recommend you to always have a First Aid Kit with you as it can be difficult to find basic medicine outside of cities, even on organised tours. That’s why you should make sure you have some plaster, sterile dressings and antibiotic cream, but also regular medicine such as antidiarrheal and pain reliever.

For this trip, it was the first time that Lauriane rode a scooter. She got too close to the scooter exhaust and burnt herself on the ankle. Better be prepared.

Visa and passport

For most passport, you can stay up to 30 days in the country without visa. However, your passport much be valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of stay. You can also apply for a 59 days visa depending of your nationality.

Languages

The Filipino speak Tagalog between themselves, but in some islands they speak their own dialect. They speak very good English and everything is also written in English such as signs, pricing, restaurant menus etc. So really, we only learnt 2 new words. Salamat = Thank you. And the second one is not even in Tagalog: CR (i.e. comfort room) = Toilet.

Food

We heard a lot of negative comments regarding the food in the Philippines. However, we were positively surprised. There are some very good options and you can find all types of restaurants. One basic tip when you’re looking for a restaurant is to check their rating on Google Maps. It is usually a good starting point to select or avoid some restaurants. 

Local specialities

While you can find pretty much any kind of food in the Philippines, you may want to try a few local specialities.

  • Kinilaw: It’s a raw fish salad that is not without recalling the taste of a Ceviche.
  • Lechon: They love their roasted big!
  • Adobo: A famous Filipino dish usually based of chicken and served with rice.
  • Sinigang: A sour soup usually eaten with pork.

Sweet tooth

If breakfast is as important for you as it is for Lauriane, don’t worry. There are always some sweet options with pancakes and maple syrup and/or bread. Also in Bohol, you have to try their peanut specialities. Their peanut butter is super tasty!

If you want to know more about the food in the Philippines, check out Our food experience in the Philippines.

What are the best activities to do?

There are a lot to see in the Philippines so it can be difficult to decide! Those are the main destinations as well as the main types of activities

  • Bohol: Chocolate Hills, Tarsier, Rice Terracesand a few nice beaches
  • Dumaguete: Waterfalls, Hot spring, Lakes and Snorkelling with the sea turtles
  • Moalboal: Snorkelling, Diving and Canyoneering
  • Coron and El Nido: Island hopping, Lagoons, Lakes, Snorkelling, Diving and Beaches
  • Siargao: Surfing and Beaches
  • Luzon: Rice Terraces, Hiking and Volcano

We’re telling you more how we’ve chosen our destinations in our Itinerary for 2 or 3 weeks to plan your trip in the Philippines.

How to move around?

The transport between cities or islands can be a mission. The Philippines being an archipelago of 7000 islands, it can take time to go from one place to another. So don’t forget to take this into account when you plan your itinerary.

  • Tricycles are the most common type of taxi if you want to do short trips. You can find them pretty much everywhere, just raise your hand and they will stop for you.
  • Jeepneys are local buses or shared taxi. They can stop anywhere. You will see they are mostly used by locals.
  • Bus or mini-van for long distance travel between cities. If you take the bus to go from one city to another – don’t look for the schedule time as they are never accurate. You just have to be lucky and hopefully arrive at a time close to the departure ;). It seems that there is usually at minimum one bus every one hour to connect between cities.
  • Rent a scooter for a few days to visit around. It is easy to rent one, cheaper and more flexible than hiring a tricycle. They always provide helmet and you just need to leave your ID, driving licence or passport as a guarantee.
  • Flights or Ferries are necessary if you need to travel between islands.

What to bring absolutely?

  • Snorkels: You can rent or borrow snorkels directly there, but they are usually quite used and not very clean. You better have your own so you can just jump in water whenever you’d like.
  • Dry bag: You want to keep your stuff dry, this is quite necessary. Most activities includes water in the Philippines and you often have to walk in water or even swim to go on a boat, like for island hopping. The good news is that if you forget to bring yours, you can always buy one directly there. They are selling them everywhere on touristy spots.
  • Water-shoes: To climb on a boat you usually need to walk in the rocks which can be sharp. Also if you want to do some snorkelling and you don’t have fins, at least it will be more comfortable with water shoes. Better be careful!
  • Underwater camera: If you can afford it, this is great to take pictures of the corals, fishes and sea turtles.
  • Mosquito repellent: It’s warm and humid, most restaurants are open to the outside. And you will quickly realise that they don’t hesitate to bite in the evening!

Flying a Drone

Flying a drone is legal in Philippines, but that doesn’t mean you can fly it everywhere.

There are a few places where it’s not allowed to fly. Most touristic spots where you need to pay an entrance fee don’t allow you to fly. For example in the Chocolate Hills or the popular Lakes and Lagoons of Coron and El Nido. However you can always go a bit further away and fly your drone in more quiet area.

Also as usual in most countries:

  • You cannot fly above 120 metres high.
  • You must only fly in good weather conditions during daylight hours.
  • You’re not allowed to fly within 10km of an airport.
  • You should avoid flying over populated area.

For more details about the law, visit https://uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-philippines/

Random but hopefully useful information

  • You cannot drink tap water. However you can find water fountains pretty much everywhere, just bring your water bottle and fill it up!
  • The plug type is usually US but sometimes it also allow EU plugs. Voltage is 220V / 50Hz.
  • The network is average and it can be difficult to find a good internet connection. Still you better get yourself a SIM card, we bought a SIM card from the company “Globe” and it was acceptable in populated area.
  • You can find ATM machine pretty much everywhere in cities or where there are tourists. They can be difficult to find in remote places. There is a limit of ₱10,000 and a fee of ₱250 per withdrawal.
  • In the Philippines everything take time. For example, it is common to wait at least 30 minutes in the restaurant to be served. Or don’t worry if your boat is still at the port whereas other tours already left. The only tip: be patient, keep calm and smile 🙂
  • There are a lot of street dogs and cats. So be prepared to see them a lot. Though they are not naughty and didn’t really disturbed us but be careful anyway.
  • Always put a comb in your dry bag. Even if you are not looking for the perfect Instagram photo, it can be quite useful to have a comb with you :). As the landscapes are perfect postcards, it will be a pity to look terrible ;)! 
  • The timezone is UTC+8, don’t call mum too early!

Infographic about The Philippines

We’ve put together this infographic with practical information about the Philippines that you can download and print at home. Enjoy!

Download the infographic

Alexis
Alexis – 31 years old – the explorer. He is the photograph and the pilot of the drone. He is also the webmaster of this blog :)! He is from a small town in the South of France.

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