All the information you'll need to know for planning your trip of a lifetime to The Philippines!
The international airports are located in Cebu, Clark, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag, Manila, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1, 2 and 3 in Manila are the premier gateways. They serve more than 30 airlines that fly to different cities around the world.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City handles regular flights from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Doha and China as well as chartered flights from the United States, and other major travel capitals.
Davao International Airport (also known as Francisco Bangoy International Airport) handles flights from Singapore and other chartered flights.
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga currently services low-cost or budget airlines and chartered flights while Subic in Olongapo City services both chartered and cargo planes.
Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services flights from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s flag carrier, flies to and from 14 cities in eight countries.
The younger Cebu Pacific Air, also a flag carrier, is known for its budget flights and frequent seat sales.
You’ll find these travel facilities at the international airports:
•Duty-free and souvenir shops
•Tourist information and assistance counters with meet-and-assist personnel
•Hotel and travel agency representatives
•Free to use luggage carts
•Prayer Rooms and Chapel
•NAIA in particular, has banks, postal service, a medical clinic, a pharmacy, chapels, salon, sauna and massage services.
Airports are handicapped-friendly. For wheelchair assistance, just ask any of the airline ground staff for one.
You’ll find counters for hotel transport and car rental services at all the airports, just past the Arrivals gates.
Metered taxis and rent-a-cars, even van rentals, are readily available at the international airports for transportation to the city proper or beyond.
Hotel transport can be arranged with hotel representatives at designated counters at the arrival lobby of the airport.
As of writing (September 2012), the airport fee for international departures is Php 550.00, but it is scheduled to increase to Php 750 before the year ends.
NAIA has a Php200 fee for domestic flights, but it is already included in your ticket fare.
Domestic terminals around the country charge their own fee. Though preparing Php100-200 should cover it.
Children under two (2) years of age, transit passengers are exempt from airport fees.
Please note that fees may change without prior notice.
Baggage carts and porter services are available free of charge. Tipping is optional though traditional.
If you want the bright & sunny, tropical glory of the Philippines, plan your trip between the summer months of March and May. It will be hot and dry, but that’s what beaches, sunblock and straw hats are for!
Want things a little bit cooler? Then November to February are best for you.
We’d say avoid the rainy season from June to October, but a good traveler knows that off-peak season means lower rates in airfares, hotels, resorts — and maybe the beer too. Just be forewarned that the months between July and September are characterized by typhoons.
Some parts of the country such as Cebu and Davao, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
Welcome to island life! All you’ll need are light, casual clothes.
Typical outfit for the mall or sightseeing outdoors: Shorts, flip-flops & a shirt.
Typical outfit for watching movies or going to churches or museums: Jeans/pants, a shirt, closed shoes.
For formal occasions, men are encouraged to wear the Philippine barong tagalog. Quentin Tarantino and Jeremy Renner have! But dinner jackets and ties will still do. For women, a more traditional look would incorporate butterfly sleeves a la Imelda Marcos. But cocktail dresses or long gowns are accepted and more contemporary.
A lot of establishments refuse entry to people in slippers or “sando” (men’s undershirts).
Bring warming clothes if you’re traveling to the mountain regions. Quick-dry ones if you’re hitting the water or the beach.
Good to have: Mosquito repellent or long-sleeved tops against bites. And of course, sunscreen against sun burns!
Philippine Peso (PHP)
1 Philippine Peso (Php) = 100 centavos.
Bank notes: Php20, Php50, Php100, Php200, Php500, Php1,000.
Coins: 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, Php1, Php5, Php10.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at most hotels, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.
We have two official languages – Filipino and English.
Filipino is based on Tagalog, the predominant dialect from the Luzon mainland, and is used nationally to communicate among the ethnic groups. There are seven (7) other widely used languages: Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Apart from these, there are more than 176 local dialects!
Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine or foreign languages, as well as from inventions among different sub-cultures (ask someone about “becky speak” or “gay lingo”).
Thanks to the American Period, American English was and continues to be taught in schools. Filipinos get a healthy amount of Hollywood movies and American TV shows too. So if you speak English, feel free to ask for directions or strike up a conversation. If the Filipino you spoke to can’t speak English, he’ll happily pull in someone who does.
Hospitals and clinics in the country are manned by highly skilled and competent doctors, nurses and health care workers, typically in demand all over the world. Together with modern equipment found in the best city hospitals, the Filipino brand of caring and compassion makes sure you’re well taken care of.
The country boasts of a wide variety of medical healthcare groups to choose from. There are private as well as government-run medical facilities, hospitals and clinics. Most hotels and resorts have medical assistance protocols ready. Towns and cities have health centers that provide emergency medical attention.
Feel free to tip waiters, drivers, porters, housekeepers, salon staff, barbers, and other service providers.
A tip of 10% of the total bill is the usual practice. But if the bill already includes a 10% service charge, tipping is optional.
Fly within the country on our local airlines. You’ll find information on flight schedules, destinations, booking, and on-line ticketing on their websites:
Philippine Airlines (PAL)
You can also take a chartered flight to major domestic destinations and island resorts.
It is possible to travel by air-conditioned bus from Manila to nearly all major destinations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
There is also a National Railway, that, sadly, only really transects Southern Luzon. Some of the trains have recently been replaced or refurbished though, so if you’re not in a hurry, it’s a viable way to get from Manila to Legazpi.
Within Metropolitan Manila, take the Light Railway Transit (LRT). It’s the fastest and most economical way to travel throughout the metropolis:
LRT Line 1 – to go to and from the Roosevelt in the north to Baclaran in the south.
LRT Line 2 – to go to and from Recto Avenue to Santolan St. in the eastern part of the metropolis.
The Metro Rail Transport (MRT) Line 3 – to go through Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Metro Manila’s main circumferential road. Stations are located at major intersections of Makati City, Ortigas, and Cubao.
If there are no LRT lines where you’re going, take a bus or metered taxi. You’ll find taxis in Manila and major parts of Metro Manila, and they can usually be flagged down right where you’re standing.
For short distances within the city, try taking a public utility jeepney (PUJ) or a tricycle.
If you’d like to try our roads, an international driver’s license is valid for up to three months.
There are car rental services available in major cities, just ask your hotel to assist you. It might be easier to go around with a local driver, so you won’t have to worry about navigation and local traffic rules.
Off-roading is popular in the Philippines though, so if you’re into that, there are local 4WD groups in most adventure destinations.
Underbone motorcycles are also available for rent in most of the cities. If your hotel can’t help you and you don’t spot a “Motorcycle for rent” sign anywhere, just approach any tricycle driver for a lead.
Starting August 1, 2013, nationals from 151 countries (including USA) 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 a next country of destination.
Average temperature: 78 degrees F/25 degrees C.
Average humidity: 77%