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PHILIPPINES: The Pearl of the Orient

Planning your trip to the Philippines:

  • Travel light - limit the things you carry with you when you travel. If at all possible, carry just one 9" x 22" x 14" bag with a maximum weight of 20 pounds. If you can manage to limit your bag to this size, you don't have to check-in your luggage at the airport. Upon arrival to your destination, you can go directly to customs while everybody is waiting for their luggage at the carousel. Pack light and pack smart. When choosing what to bring, think in terms of what you can do without rather than what might be handy for the trip.

  • When you travel to the Philippines, bring light clothing specially if you're visiting in summer. Cotton Tees, shirts, pants and walking shorts are your best bet. For ladies, a hat with brim will help protect against the heat of the sun. A pair of sunglasses with UV protection is recommended. And if you plan to travel to the countryside or walk a lot, don't forget to bring your comfy sneakers or sandals.

  • Note that the Philippines uses 220V of electricity. Most 5-star hotels provide 100V outlets but generally, they are not available, specially in the rural areas. So if you're planning to bring some electronic gadgets, make sure you bring a converter with you.

  • Travel tip for smokers: long haul flights can be difficult for smokers. Bring with you a couple of nicotine patches and put one on about an hour before your flight. It is amazing how this small patch can make your craving for a smoke disappear.

Travel Tip on Valuables:

  • Avoid bringing valuables. A decent watch and faux accessories (optional) are all you need. But in case you did bring some expensive jewellery, deposit them and your other valuables in the hotel safe (most major hotels provide them for free).

  • Make sure you make a photocopies of your passport and tickets just in case you loose them. Keep the copies in a separate locations - place them in the deep pockets of your luggage.

  • It is a good idea to use a belt bag to put your money, passport and other valuables when on the road rather than a bag. And position it in front of your body and under your shirt if possible. Better yet, use a money belt and hide it under your clothing.

  • Never leave your bag and other valuables on the beach or at the poolside when swimming. It is a lot safer to leave them in your hotel room.


  • It is customary to leave a tip when rendered a service. On restaurants, a 10% tip based on the total bill is recommended. However, if there is already a service charge on the bill, a tip then becomes optional.

  • Taxis drivers, bellboys, chambermaids, all expect to be tipped. For a short taxi ride, a P20 tip will suffice. But for hotel bellboys and chambermaids, a P100 tip is more appropriate. Adjust the tip according to your length of stay and service rendered.

Shopping Tips:

  • If you are about to do some shopping and are scheduled to visit the Philippines, don't. Do your shopping in the Philippines. Even designer clothes are sold cheaper in the Philippines than the countries they are made in. Many Filipinos living overseas come home to see their families and shop at the same time. The savings oftentimes pays for their vacation.

  • Aside from the goods, you can save substantially by having your medical, dental and cosmetic needs done in the Philippines. Ask for referrals from friends (or the hotel concierge for minor services) and choose the best ones.

Philippine Travel Seasons:

  • June to August is the typhoon season. Although the temperature is moderate and hotel rates are lower, it is not the best time to travel specially if you intend to see the countryside or cross the islands by sea.

  • From March to May is summer time and is a good time to see the islands with clear skies and calm waters. You are also assured that no flights or ferry boat trips will be cancelled due to typhoons. Although expect the temperatures to occasionally reach 38 degrees centigrade.

  • The best time to see the country is from November to February when the weather is cooler. It is also a good time to see the longest Christmas season in the world. Were Filipinos start to decorate for Christmas as early as October.

General Philippine Travel Tips:

  • Filipinos (as with most Asians) are mostly conservative. Act, speak and dress modestly, more so  when going to the countryside. In most places, wearing shorts, tees, sleeveless shirts, sandals or sneakers are fine - specially in summer.

  • Avoid talking about religion and politics specially to people you have just met. Especially when drinking (alcoholic beverages) this sometimes lead to heated arguments or worse.

  • If you are going to Mindanao (southern Philippines) where some areas are predominantly Muslims, dress conservatively - specially the women. And don't call Muslims Moros. It's considered rude.

  • When travelling overseas, its always a good practice to get a travel health insurance. Travel health insurance offers peace of mind when abroad. Also, check with local health authorities for any concerns when going to remote villages. And drink only bottled water or canned beverages when unsure of the local water supply.

  • Filipinos are a very friendly and welcoming people. The Philippines has a lot to offer its visitors. Discover the country, get to know the people and their culture. Enjoy your visit to the Philippines and Mabuhay!








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