About the Philippines
This small archipelago housing more than 7000 islands is every beach lover’s paradise. Its emerald fields, crowded megacities, smoldering volcanoes, crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and impressive mountains will reward if you plan to visit this majestic destination.
The Philippines proudly boasts World Heritage sites like the City of Vigan in Ilocos region, the Tubbataha reefs in Palawan with the preservation of marine life, Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean river where you can see aborigines rocks and baroque churches, all representing cultural and historical backdrop originating from the forefathers of the country. If you want to spend some time in peace, a backpacking adventure to the calm and chilly Sagada Mountains is just your thing. Just enjoy the sunset at La Union at one of the few surfing beach resorts.
Philippines Travel Info
Language: The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog, but you will find multiple dialects of the same. The best part is that about everybody living there knows English and you will face absolutely no problem in interacting with the locals.
Currency: Philippine Peso.
Visa: Nationals from 151 countries do not need a visa to enter the Philippines if they plan to stay for 30 days or less. The traveler must have a valid ticket to return journey to their country or next destination and a passport valid for the next six months.
Electricity: Philippines operate on 220V power with plug types A and B which is a standard American Plug. I would recommend that you carry a universal travel adapter to avoid any inconvenience. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Philippines Festivals & Celebrations
The Philippines is an ethnic and cultural melting pot where travelers can experience a huge variety of festivals, cultural events and ceremonies throughout the year. In order to get the true feel of a country, you need to dive into it’s festivals and celebrations and see first-hand how the people come together to celebrate and honor century old beliefs and traditions.
Sinulog Festival: Sinulog festival is the most notable, the grandest and the most colorful festival of the Philippines. It takes place on the third Sunday of January every year in the Cebu City in honor of Santo Nino who is believed to be the child of Jesus. It is a dance ritual where participants dress up in colorful attires and dance on the beats of drums and native songs.
Ati-Aithan: People celebrate this festival to honor a land deal that happened in the 13th century between the Ati King Marikudo and ten migrating Bornean chiefs. Drums pound constantly in a rhythm and you would involuntarily move towards the streets dancing on the beats, shaking your head, moving your feet, waving your hands along with thousands of soot blacked, gaily costumed dancers.
Dinagyang: In the city of Iloilo during this weekend cheerful chaos can be seen, and the people leave everything and to become a part of the fiesta of the year. People shed their shyness, dress up in vibrant colored Ati warrior costume, paint their bodies black and hit the streets. The costumed Ilonggos dance to their heart’s content and celebrates Dinagyang.
Safety In the Philippines
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to the Philippines. The Philippines has lately been declared an unsafe country due to the war of drugs, and the government has strongly warned travelers to consider traveling to Central and Western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago due to terrorist activities and clashes between the insurgent groups and military. Although crime rate is high in some parts of the country, yet the main tourist destinations of Philippines are safe.
Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other scams to take advantage of travelers are common in some places. Some parts of the Philippines are dangerous so always do your research before you travel and make sure that you avoid any dodgy areas. Female travelers to the Philippines should be mindful to dress appropriately and be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Based on many years of solo travel around southeast Asia I would never leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Philippines trip. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Top Things To Do In The Philippines
Go Hiking through Mountains and Rice Terraces
Although most of the people who come to the Philippines come with the intention of enjoying the postcard beaches but the Philippines also has some magnificent mountains to trek. One of the best adventures to pursue here is to move north to the mountain region and hike Batad, Banaue, and Sagada. You can find impressive rice terraces here that have been made by local tribesmen. You can also climb one of the many mountains like Mt Apo, Mt Pulag, and Pico de Loro.
Go Scuba Diving in Shipwrecks
If you love exploring underwater, scuba diving in the Philippines is a must for you. Although the country has numerous excellent dive sites you must for once visit the WWII sunken shipwreck in Coron, Palawan. Some other diving destinations are Apo Reef, Malapascua in Cebu and Pescado Island which are well known for their thresher sharks. If you crave for more adventure, opt for a Philippines liveaboard diving trip that will take you to some of the best and unexplored sites
Marvel at the beauty of San Anguin Church
This church is situated in Manila and is a beautiful building that constructed during the Spanish Colonial Era. It is the third time the church was built on the same spot. Earlier it was made of wood and was destroyed by fire twice. Now, the building is made of stone and has survived major calamities. People visit this magnificent church to become aware of its history and soak in its beauty.
See the Active Mayon Volcano
A volcano named Mayon is an active volcano on the island of Luzon. People also refer to it as Mount Mayon where Mayon means perfect cone due to its conical shape. The volcano erupts frequently leading to the evacuation of the neighboring towns to save the people from the mud and lava. The volcano and the area surrounding it are a part of a public section that you must see during your visit to the Philippines.
Relax at Rizal Park
The park got its name after Jose Rizal who is a Philippines National Hero with its location in Manila. The park is spread across an area of 60 Hz and has several ponds, ornamental gardens, and walking areas. It also has a monument of Jose Rizal which has a 46-meter flag post and is under strict patrolling. The center of the park has a lagoon with the heads of some national heroes on its bottom. Open air concerts and musical fountains and t’ai chi by locals make this park all the more attractive.
Visit the extraordinary Chocolate Hills
In the Bohol region of Philippines lie the chocolate hills which are a unique and mesmerizing site to see. In an area of around 20 square miles, there are 1260 hills. An expanse of grass covers the small hills which when dries give them the appearance of chocolate. The height of the mountains might vary between 30 to 50 meters and are among the highlights of the country, and your trip will remain incomplete if you do not visit these hills.
Go Island hopping to Mactan Island
If you want to escape from the chaos of the cities and relax on a beach, then you must plan a trip to Mactan Island. The Island has several water sports for its visitors, and its diving sites will give you a chance to absorb some excellent views of the marine life. As Mactan Island and Cebu share a connection, it is the perfect place to begin your island hopping.
Enjoy at the Lakes at Coron Island
At a short distance from Coron Town lie the Coron Islands which are famous for the two lakes situated there. You need to climb a steep terrain for around ten minutes to reach the first lake, Lake Kayangan which has crystal clear water and rests between the walls of mountains. The lake is perfect for a quick swim. The second lake is known as Lake Barracuda where the water reaches up to 38 degrees. You need to climb a few rocks to get straight into the lake.
Explore historical Corregidor Island
At the entrance of Manila Bay is located an ancient Island called the Corregidor Island. This island honors the Americans and the Filipinos who had sacrificed their lives saving the country from the Japanese at the time of WW II. When you visit the island, its remains will tell you the tale of the battle, and you can take a guided tour to learn the history of the symbolic island. If you are interested in exploring the island for longer, there is a hotel with excellent services and knowledgeable staff.
Soak in the famous Pagsanjan Falls
In the Laguna region, Pagsanjan falls are the most famous waterfall in the country. This three-tier waterfall is reached by going on a river trip and usually a canoe. It is a 91 meters high waterfall, and once you have reached the top, you can canoe down the fall with a skilled canoeist going past fourteen rapids. If you do not want to go for a rapid ride, you can also hike up the falls taking around 500 steps and two vertical ladders.
Other than these top things to do in the Philippines, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems.
What To Eat In the Philippines
Foodies believe that Filipino cuisine is the ‘next big thing’ where most of the dishes get influence from the rich history of the country, traditional cooking techniques and their knack for experimenting with flavors.
Some of the recipes that you must try during your visit are listed here:
Chicken Abodo: It is the most loved dish in the Philippines that everybody knows. The locals stew the marinated chicken in vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves. An addition of peppercorns enhancing its flavor. Abodo is usually served with rice.
Lechon: After Abodo, perhaps the next favorite dish of the Philippines is the Lechon. Pork lovers cannot find anything that can beat this fully roasted pig with super crispy skin and succulent meat. This sinful treat is prepared best at the island of Cebu and is a must serve at any grand fiesta or Pinoy gathering.
Crispy Pata: If you are not able to find Lechon, a delicious crispy pata is an equally yummy delicacy. The entire pig leg is deep fried to perfection and served with a soy-vinegar sauce and chopped chili and garlic on both sides.
Panchit Guisado: It is a Pilipino dish that is most popular among foreigners. Panchit means noodles and among this Panchit Guisado is the most known variant. This noodle dish is eaten as a symbol of long life and is thus an essential part of any birthday party. Locals like to have the sautéed noodles with meat and sliced veggies and squeeze kalamansi over it.
Silog-Filipino Breakfast: Meat, siningag, garlic fried rice, and egg form this hearty Filipino breakfast. Every variant of this dish has a different name depending on the type of meat used. This generous breakfast will be the best thing you treat yourself to, to kickstart your day.
Where To Stay In the Philippines
The Philippines is an incredibly affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in the Philippines is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget. Hostels and dormitories make travel to the Philippines affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
If you’re traveling to the Philippines during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. The Philippines is a pretty popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in the Philippines.
If you’re backpacking in the Philippines or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Asia very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
The Philippines Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit the Philippines
The Philippines are most popular with travelers during the dry season which is between November and April. During the Philippines dry season the country’s many beautiful islands and more remote areas are fully accessible. The weather gets really hot during March and April, so it’s best to travel during the cooler months of December to February.
Philippines Travel Budget
The Philippines is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to the Philippines really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $35 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $35 to $60 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Manila then budget about $60 to $150 plus a day.
- Budget: $10-25
- Mid-range: $25-$60
- Splurge: $60+
Meal For One
- Budget: $1.00-$5.00
- Mid-range: $5-$15
- Splurge: $15-$50+
Philippines Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to the Philippines, like most other places in southeast Asia, is a breeze because it’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates. Tropical southeast Asia climates also mean high humidity so lightweight and breathable lose fitting clothing is essential.
Be prepared for the occasional cool evening depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater just in case. If you’re visiting during the wet season bring a rain jacket and an umbrella. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need in the larger cities such as Manila and Cebu.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to the Philippines include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to the Philippines check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Asia Packing List For Female Travelers.