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20 Best Tips for Traveling to the Philippines

If you are thinking of traveling to the Philippines, and you do not know very well where to start organizing your trip, what requirements you should take into account, which places are the TOP to visit, such as health, security... in this post I will add the 20 best tips for traveling to the Philippines. And here you have a complete guide with a lot of destinations and the best itineraries in the Philippines.

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1. Necessary documentation to travel to the Philippines

For most countries in Europe and America, a visa is not required to travel to the Philippines, as long as you are less than 30 days in the country.

If you are really liking the Philippines and want to extend your stay there, you should apply for a visa extension. You can do this in two ways; the most common is to visit the immigration office, or when landing in the Philippines, at the airport you can request the extension on arrival.

For this last option, you must tell the immigration officer, and you can stay a total of 59 days in the Philippines. They will ask you to fill out a form and pay the corresponding fee.

To travel to the Philippines, your passport must be valid for more than six months before entering the country.

If you need a visa for your nationality, you can request the electronic visa from here.

2. Fly to the Philippines, Arrive in Manila or Cebu?

Well, it depends on the itinerary you want to do and the price of the flight. The first time I flew to the Philippines, it was about 200 euros cheaper to get to Cebu, so I chose this option. The bad thing is that I was arriving and leaving from Cebu, so after visiting Manila (my last stop) I had to take another flight to go to Cebu.

You should keep in mind if you want to visit Manila, many travelers come to the Philippines with the intention only to visit beaches and paradisiacal islands, so Manila is left aside. If that is your intention, I recommend that you arrive directly to Cebu, even if the flight is somewhat more expensive.

When organizing your itinerary and time in each destination, you should keep in mind that Cebu will be your link to many other islands. Therefore, I recommend that you use these link moments to visit the city. For example:

You arrive in Cebu at noon (stay one night to visit a part of the city in the afternoon). The next day you take a ferry to Bohol, and when your days in Bohol are over you will have to return to Cebu, stay another night to finish visiting the city, the next day take a flight to Puerto Princesa. In this way the transfers and stopovers will not be so heavy for you.

You have itinerary ideas in this same post, below. And on this page you have all the destinations in the Philippines, routes, how to get to each island...

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3. Currency and credit cards in the Philippines

The Philippines is a country that runs mainly on cash. You can exchange money at exchange offices or in some hotels. Avoid exchanging money at the airport, the commission is 10 times more than in any exchange house.

The official currency of the country is the Philippine peso (PHP), the current exchange rate is 1 euro – 59.98 PHP.

In cities and large islands you will have the option of withdrawing money from ATMs with the local currency. However, you should keep in mind that in rural areas and small islands there are no ATMs, so always carry cash with you.

The best way to pay little money in commissions is to take the money directly from the ATM. With the N26 card you have the possibility of withdrawing money from ATMs for a very low commission. This is the most profitable way to hardly lose money in commissions. I explain in detail how the N26 card works to travel in this post.

The N26 card does not charge opening or maintenance commissions. You can activate and deactivate the card at any time from your mobile, as well as authorize all charges in advance to avoid improper charges.

4. What is the best time to travel to the Philippines

The climate of the Philippines is tropical and has three distinct seasons. The dry season with mild temperatures, the dry and hot season and the rainy season.

The best time to travel to the Philippines are the months of January and February, since during these months it is the dry season, and the temperatures are somewhat milder and there is little rainfall, so you can enjoy the good weather to the fullest.

The nearby months; December and March are also good months to travel to the Philippines, the temperatures are a little higher and there is a little more precipitation, but generally, you will have good weather.

The months of April and May are the hottest of the year. In general, the temperature usually exceeds 35º with almost 100% humidity.

From June until the end of November in the Philippines you will have the wet season, where there is usually precipitation every day (although sometimes they are only summer storms that last 15-20 minutes).

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5. Typhoons in the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the countries that every year is hit hardest by typhoons along with very strong storms.

The typhoon season runs from June to the end of November, coinciding with the rainy season.

But the intensity of the typhoons is different in each month, the strongest tend to happen in August, and the area where they hit the hardest is usually the north of the country.

This does not mean that both the center and the south do not suffer from typhoons, in fact, there have been years where these have been devastating in these areas of the Philippines.

Typhoon tracks can be predicted at least a week before they hit the Philippines. By checking the weather conditions with some time, you will be able to avoid, vary your route or be prepared so that a typhoon does not hit you by surprise and you have problems using means of transport such as ferries or planes, which are usually canceled due to typhoons.

6. Internet in the Philippines, is it necessary to buy a SIM card?

The Philippines is a country where communications and Wi-Fi do not usually work very well, especially on small islands or rural areas. Even so, if you have your trip organized in advance, and the hotels where you are going to stay have Wi-Fi, you can travel to the Philippines without the need for a SIM card. Many times you will be incommunicado, but it is not essential.

However, if you want to be connected and with the option of accessing the Internet at any time and place, the best option is to buy a SIM card.

Having a SIM card will help you to enter Google maps, book a ferry, excursion or last-minute activity...

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7. Vaccines required to travel to the Philippines

To travel to the Philippines it is not mandatory to get any vaccinations, unless you come from a country where yellow fever is endemic. In that case, you must get vaccinated and take the yellow fever certificate with you.

Although there is no mandatory vaccine, it is recommended to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, as well as typhoid fever and tetanus.

Above all, I recommend typhoid fever, since eating something in poor condition or drinking contaminated water (ice) is common. You have the possibility of taking 3 pills (a few weeks before the trip) that have the same effect as the vaccine. The medicine is called vivotif and you don't need a prescription. But I recommend you discuss it with your doctor and pharmacist beforehand.

In any case, I recommend you, we always do it, that you go to an International Vaccination Center where they will indicate which are the recommended vaccines taking into account the places you are going to visit.

8. Travel insurance to travel to the Philippines

To travel to any country (including Europe) it is advisable to take out travel insurance, but for the Philippines it is essential. In big cities like Cebu or Manila you will find international hospitals, but in general, at most you will find a basic health center.

If you need any type of assistance and you do not have insurance, you will have to pay for visits, medical assistance, and if it is something serious, hospitalization, transfers... VERY EXPENSIVE! Also, arranging a medical airlift without insurance is virtually impossible to do quickly.

Therefore, I recommend yes or yes, take out travel insurance. Accidents happen and it is better to be 100% protected. The cost of complete travel insurance for 2 weeks in the Philippines costs around 60 euros.

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9. Safety in the Philippines

The Philippines is a pretty safe country. In all the destinations that I have been to, I have never seen anything that could cause me insecurity. However, you should always be forewarned.

Manila is a city that does not have a good reputation in terms of security, so I recommend you increase your precautions in the capital of the Philippines and avoid going out at night. However, in the tourist and essential areas to see in Manila, there are hardly any thefts.

The southern Mindanao region is not the safest place in the world. There is an armed conflict, since this region, with a Muslim majority, demands the independence of the country. So I recommend you not include it in your itinerary.

However, the biggest risk in the country is pirates.

10. Pirates in the Philippines

Pirates in the Philippines move between the Semporna Archipelago, Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai, through the Sulu Sea,

In recent years, due to the kidnappings of fishermen, cargo ships and even tourists in the Semporna archipelago, in Malaysian Borneo, there is a patrol of Philippine, Malaysian and Indonesian soldiers who watch 24 hours a day to prevent further incidents.

11. Language in the Philippines

The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog, a language based on Spanish, English, and other Philippine languages.

The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898, so the influence was quite important, and that is also reflected in the language. You will find it quite curious to listen to Filipinos in Tagalog, and understand numbers, or various words.

The older people studied Spanish at the school, and although some of them barely remember it anymore, they make an effort to communicate with you and start saying words in Spanish.

In general, all the people who work with tourism speak perfect English. This is the second most spoken language in the country, because it was under American rule from 1898 to 1946.

12. Take a full first-aid kit to the Philippines

  • Paracetamol: (antipyretic analgesic. In case of fever, it will lower it).

  • Ibuprofen: (anti-inflammatory pain reliever).

  • Loperamide: (used to stop diarrhea quickly).

  • Antibiotic: (although it is difficult to get it without a prescription, you can ask your doctor, explaining that you are traveling to the Philippines, to help you, and if not, you can buy it as soon as you arrive in Cebu or Manila, without a prescription). It will be very useful, especially in case of diarrhea with fever.

  • Antibiotic ointment: This type of ointment will be very useful in case you have a wound that takes time to heal or that may be infected. Even for mosquito bites. It is very important that you clean the wound with soap and water. In tropical waters there are a large number of bacteria due to their high temperatures, so wounds become infected very easily.

  • Antihistamine ointment: In case of insect bites they can be very useful. Sometimes a bite becomes very inflamed and you can even have allergic reactions. Keep in mind that some bites (such as from spiders) it is essential that you go to a health center to have it checked.

  • Mosquito repellent: There are many, although extra-strong Relec, Goibix, etc. They are the best option. Also, I recommend that you wear long sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk, when there are more mosquitoes.

  • Biodramine: If you get dizzy, you should keep in mind that in the Philippines you will take many ferries, buses, planes...

  • Betadine, hydrogen peroxide, 96º alcohol, sterile gauze, gloves, adhesive tape, band-aids and compeed-type bandages for chafing.

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13. Drink bottled water

If you do not want to suffer the so-called traveler's diarrhea or catch typhus, do not drink tap water. Consume only bottled water. You should also take this into account when you order a drink from a street stall, or bars...

14. Gastronomy in the Philippines

In the Philippines you will be surprised to find traces of Spanish in their food. Recipes adapted to local products, the tropical climate, combined with local recipes.

The basis of Filipino food is rice. Empanadas, fresh fish, shellfish, longannissa, suckling pig... are traditional dishes that you can taste in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, typical restaurants are called Carenderias, and it is worth eating there and enjoying the authentic flavor, in addition to its good prices.

You will also find street stalls selling delicious grilled skewers.

On the most populated islands with more restaurants and shops, you can find more international foods, such as pizza, hamburgers...

15. How to move around the Philippines; from island to island

Inevitably if you are planning to travel to the Philippines you will have to take ferries, planes and buses to be able to move and move from island to island. The most recommended option to go from island to island (if they are close) is to take a small boat, they will charge you for the total amount of the boat. You also have the option of the ferry, it is how to make longer journeys, but if it is a journey of more than 3 hours by ferry and you have the possibility of arriving by plane, avoid the ferry. Another option is the plane, how and faster. There are small airports on many islands and sometimes you can even make the trip by plane. For routes in particular, you will find several guides here.

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16. Rent a motorcycle or a car to move around the islands

To move on the medium or small islands you can rent. Some you won't even need, as is the case of Malapascua, which, measuring 3km long, can be covered on foot or by bicycle. But some larger islands you can rent a motorbike or a car.

Bohol is a big island, but what can you do on your own by renting a motorcycle or car. It will give you independence and the cost is quite cheap.

17. Accommodation in the Philippines

The Philippines does not stand out for having high-quality hotels. Even the 5 stars are far below its neighboring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia... However, you can find many great accommodations. The prices are also usually very good. It is easy to find decent accommodation for 15 euros per night per person per day including breakfast in many accommodations. If you are traveling on a lower budget, you can stay in homestays for very little money. If you have a larger budget, you can stay in 4 and 5 star accommodation for around 25-30 euros per person per day.

If you want to know which are the best areas to stay in some of the most essential islands in the Philippines, you can find complete information on the blog.

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18. Organize your itinerary through the Philippines

A trip to the Philippines requires a lot of preparation. Unlike other countries I have traveled to, which give more freedom to improvise, in the Philippines you must have the route marked, in order to have the plane and ferry routes booked. Depending on the time of year, especially if it is high season, it is essential that you book ferries and connecting planes between islands with some time. So you won't be left without transportation.

If you travel in low season, you can improvise a little more, in case you feel like staying a little longer on one of the islands.

If you are still not clear about the destinations to visit or include in your itinerary, here are some posts that can help you:

19. Incredible places to see in the Philippines

The Philippines is a country of paradisiacal beaches and incredible landscapes. In addition, you have the opportunity to add cities, rural areas and mountains. Some of the most essential and incredible places to see in the Philippines are:

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20. Responsible tourism in the Philippines

For any destination you travel to, always opt for responsible tourism.

Which is responsible tourism?

When you travel anywhere you should take their customs into account, and even if they are different from yours, you should respect them. First of all, find out about customs, culture, religion, what is good or bad seen. It is important that you take all this into account so that your presence is not aggressive. Or that any of your actions is considered disrespectful. Also so you know how to relate to people.

The footprint we are leaving in travel has a significant impact on the planet in general and on certain ecosystems in particular. Plastic is the main enemy for the planet and much of it is caused by the over exploitation of tourism.

Minimize the use of plastic as much as possible, since to a large extent it ends up in the seas. Avoid taking things packaged in plastic to the island hopping, and if you do, take it back to your accommodation.

In the Philippines you will find animals in the wild frequently and we must be responsible in keeping them in their habitat without affecting as much as possible. While snorkeling you will see sea turtles, starfish... do not touch the animals, do not bother them, do not take them out of the water... It is sad to see how many tourists take starfish out of the water or even giant sea turtles to photograph them and get videos.

When booking a tour that includes swimming with the whale shark, a typical activity in the Philippines, make sure that the company opts for a respectful activity.

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I hope you enjoy your trip to the Philippines very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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