COME AND VISIT THE PHILIPPINES!
There are over 7,100 islands inhabited by absolutely charming and friendly people. An abundance of white sandy, black sandy, stone beaches, palm trees and deciduous forests, rice terraces, thousands of churches, deserted coves and islands, beach resorts, volcanoes and mountains, clear blue seas and skies inhabited by colorful creatures as exotic as the friendly whale shark , local spirits, shaman and old tribal customs - all connected by multi-colored transportation like jeepneys, bikes and noisy buses but also sometimes in the most modern airplane. English is widely spoken and activities besides the obvious diving in the most pristine coral reefs can be as divers as jungle treks and hiking, visiting historical landmarks, watching cock fighting, doing some of the best shopping in the world whilst enjoying fantastic food. This country offers a huge variety for lots of different visitors, a wide range of accommodation and activity choices.
Climate & Weather
The climate of the Philippines is hot and tropical with relatively high temperatures and humidity and at times abundant rainfall. Inland areas can feel extremely hot and humid whilst coastal areas are generally much less humid and blessed with a cooling ocean breeze. Most dive destinations are situated in the central belt of the country. Mean temperatures for this area is between 24 degrees centigrade (low) and 34 degrees centigrade (high). Most tourists visit the Philippines in the dry season between November and May whereas there could be some rain in December and January. February to May are generally warm, dry months with cooler nights making a pleasant time to visit. The rainy season is considered to start in June and can run through to August. Despite the seasonal rain some regular visitors to the country swear that this is the best time to visit. You can often strike luck and have weeks of brilliant blue skies and unlimited sunshine. The Christmas, Chinese New Year and particularly Easter periods are times when there are large numbers of people move within the country. If you are planning to visit at this time, secure your accommodation well in advance and be prepared for a lively time at our resort!
What to Bring
Ideal for a holiday destination it is not necessary to bring a lot of luggage, in fact we recommend as little as possible, It's hot and, at times, wet so bring (or better still, buy here) shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, trainers or walking shoes, and a spare towel or sarong. You should consider light long sleeve shirts and trousers for the evenings when it may be a bit cooler. A light raincoat is probably a very good idea and you might like to consider a lightweight sweater for the hilly areas. Make sure you have a camera and it's a good idea to carry an adaptor with you for any electrical items you carry. Our resort provides electricity at 220V, 60Hz, the sockets connect european two pin and american plugs. Our own generator ensures power supply at all times. If you need to stay in touch with the rest of the world then you can pick up SIM cards just about anywhere for your cellphone which will allow immediate access to international calls. Internet access is widespread and relatively cheap. We offer free wireless connections for our guests through our own satellite uplink. Obviously we would advise that you have comprehensive medical, travel and, if appropriate, diving insurance. Definitely bring a wide smile and a good sense of humor. Filipino people are some of the friendliest in the world and you will find that a smile goes a long way to getting everyone on your side. Finally, before you depart check your visa requirements. The majority of foreign travelers are issued a 21 day visa on arrival which can be extended. For some countries this may be different so you are advised to make your own enquiries.
Money & Prices
The currency is the Philippine Peso (PHP). The US dollar is a widely recognized foreign currency and can be changed at many places. (April 2012: 43.0 pesos to 1 US$) . Some hotels will quote prices in US$ as well as PHP. It is also possible to exchange Euros in many places. We would advise that you always use proper banks or money changers. The majority of larger towns have ATM where you should be able to withdraw money. However, facilities for money withdrawal or changing are far less widespread the lesser urban it gets. Always ensure that you carry enough cash on you to cover taxis, food and beverages you may need whilst traveling. Common credit cards are accepted in all major establishments, however sometimes in more rural areas an extra 5-8% surcharge is applied. It is possible to withdraw cash on your credit or debit cards in some banks or tourist centers.
As a very rough guide, typical costs in the major cities are as follows:
- Five minute taxi ride 50-100 PHP
- Typical 'fast food' meal 80-150 PHP
- Mid range meal 150-300 PHP
- Deluxe meal 1000+ PHP
- Budget hotel/lodging 1.000-2.000 PHP
- Mid range hotel/lodging 2.000-3.000 PHP
- Deluxe hotel 5.000 pesos and above
VAT at 12.5% is normally included in all prices indicated, if in doubt check with staff.
Tip: Although a service charge is usually raised it is reasonable to give a 10% tip for good service.
In markets you may negotiate but only do it in a friendly manner.
Health & Safety
Before traveling to the Philippines check with your GP about advisable vaccinations. Currently malaria is only a potential problem in a few remote rural areas. There are pharmacies throughout The Philippines and most have common medication available. For more special medication requirements it is advisable to bring these along..
In the unlikely event that you fall ill there is a full range of medical services throughout the country with fully equipped hospitals availible. Please note that medical bills derriving from treatments must be settled immediately and having a credit card to do so is advisable. Similarly it is of benefit to hold sufficient travel insurance should medical treatment require air-lift or specialist hospitals.
Most important is to stay healthy and with the hot and sunny climate precaution can be taken by wearing the right clothing and a sun protection.
Do not spend too much time in the sun and drink sufficient water and non-alcoholic liquids. Unless otherwise advised it is not advisable to drink tap water. Bottled mineralized water is cheap and everywhere available.
Like any country in the world, The Philippines has its share of touts, pickpockets and others happy to take advantage of travelers. However, the problem is not much worse than in other cities or countries in South East Asia. Precautions such as watching your valuables, not displaying huge amounts of money, avoiding unsafe areas late at night are advised to avoid problems. Hotel and resort staff will always be able to give you local advice. Incidentally, aside from the usual minor hassles the country is considered a very safe and easy place to travel, especially for women. For families it is a wonderful holiday place as children are much loved and appreciated.
Driving in the Philippines
However much you may enjoy driving, there are laws to be respected on the roads in the Philippines, written and unwritten ones. While traffic signs conform to international standards, local drivers pay little or not attention to them at all. Within town boundaries everything seems to be allowed that gets you nearer your destination. On country roads buses and trucks claim right of way at all times. While this may look like a daunting prospect to some, you will soon master this new driving experience and actually start to enjoy it!
The Philippines recognize your home countries driving license as valid for a period of 90 days. Afterwards you are supposed to have an international driving permit.
The most important rule to follow at all times: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!