The Republic of the Philippines is an island nation located between Taiwan and Indonesia in the western Pacific Ocean. The state consists of 7,107 islands divided into three groups. Philippines is a hot country with ideal conditions for beach vacations and water activities. In high season, about five million people come here, wanting to get their portion of the gentle sun. Holidays on the islands has its own significant features, so before the trip is best to get as much information about the country and its people. So, what does a tourist need to know about the Philippines?
Customs and currency
When crossing the border by air or sea, you must fill out a declaration if you have items that must be declared. The system of passing through customs is arranged according to world standards: there are green and red corridors. After obtaining a visa, luggage, and passport control, you must go through one of these corridors: if you have items subject to declaration, you go to the red corridor, if there are no such items, your way is to the green corridor.
You can bring in and take out foreign currency without restrictions, but amounts exceeding ten thousand dollars have to be declared. You are allowed to bring through the border: 400 cigarettes, fifty cigars or two hundred and fifty grams of tobacco, not more than two liters of alcoholic drinks; personal belongings. It is prohibited to bring into the country and take out of it: drugs, pornography, edged weapons without a permit, firearms, lottery tickets, gambling machines, unpacked food products.
The greatest value for every Filipino is family, so it is most common to have more than five children. All relatives help each other, the older members of the family are never abandoned, they are taken care of as well as the little ones. Many Filipinos go abroad to work, but many come back because they can’t imagine their existence without their homeland.
Filipinos are very relaxed about money and material possessions, but class differences are still conspicuous. But wealthy locals do not try to show their status, there is no ambition or so-called “pompousness. Filipinos do not pay any special attention to appearance. Everyone dresses quite simply and does not pay attention to the appearance of others. All residents are as natural as possible. Filipinos also have a very simple attitude towards work. They believe that life is one and it is very foolish to spend it on constantly making money. If a Filipino is in a bad mood, he may not go to work at all.
Locals are very proud of their personal achievements. Victories in competitions, Olympiads, diplomas, cups – all this is collected, stored for years and discussed with pleasure on occasion. There is one very interesting feature of the Filipinos: they never start anything on time. If you have an appointment with a local, don’t expect him to be there by the appointed hour. Even at large official events, where there is a clear plan, nothing is done according to this plan. For this reason it can be difficult for foreigners to work with Filipinos because they are not used to such free organization of life.
The locals are reverent about religion, which is why even the smallest communities have churches. Most Filipinos are Catholic, so divorce is not accepted. It is possible to break up a marriage, but it will take a lot of time and money. A child whose parents are divorced may not be admitted to a good school. For this reason, Filipinos often do not formalize their divorce, but simply stop living together. Children come into the family early. The locals are friendly, good-natured and hospitable. They like to relax in large groups every day, and on the holidays the festivities take on an especially large scale.
When to go
The Philippines has a hot tropical monsoon climate, which has led to two seasons: the dry season from November to April and the wet season from May to October. The weather is hot all year round, with high temperatures and humidity reaching near 100 percent in the summer months.
In March, the temperature gradually rises every day, and the weather is sunny and dry. April and May are the hottest months, with temperatures in excess of 35 degrees. In May, cyclones show up on more islands, and the south-western monsoons bring rainfall that lasts for about eleven to twelve days. The rest of the time it is possible to swim, if not embarrassed by the high water temperature.
In summer, the islands are overtaken by rainfall, which takes an average of twenty out of thirty days. The humidity becomes almost a hundred percent, so the summer period is much harder to endure than the winter period, although the average summer temperature exceeds the winter one by only a degree. Heavy rainfall often causes floods and mudslides. Summer is the low season, when prices of everything drop considerably. Experienced travelers who want to save money and know how to plan an itinerary that circumvents all weather obstacles go to the Philippines during this time.
The first half of fall is not much different from summer, heavy rainfall continues, and the threat of typhoons and flooding persists until the end of October. November is a kind of transitional period, when the weather gradually improves.
In winter, the high season begins. The rains, typhoons and floods end, the humidity drops, and it gets cooler due to the northeast winds. During this time, prices go up significantly, but this does not stop tourists who want to swim and spend Christmas and New Year’s holidays in the warmth.
The most frightening thing that can happen in the Philippines is another natural disaster, to which the locals are as accustomed as we are to ordinary rain. Floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, landslides occur here, so before the trip you should be prepared and thoroughly know how to behave in an extreme situation. If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of typhoons, go on vacation in Mindanao, which during the typhoons is subjected only to heavy rains.
The locals are friendly and honest as people can be honest in principle. Classic security measures are enough: leave large sums of money, jewelry and documents in a safe, do not take things of great value. The rest of the advice is about everyday life. Do not use unboiled water neither for brushing teeth, nor for drinking. Be sure to heat milk, meat, fish, and vegetables. Wash and peel your fruit well.
In the Philippines you can rent a room in a classic hotel or rent a house, apartment or apartment from locals. It is recommended to look for accommodation in advance, because the best rooms and apartments are booked in advance. In order to book an accommodation, it is best to use special sites where you get all the information about the proposal, you can look at pictures and read reviews of tourists. It is possible to take care of the search on site, after arriving, but be prepared that you will have to look at many options before you find something suitable.
When searching for accommodation, first of all pay attention to those aspects that are of particular importance to you. For example, consider the distance from the coast, the presence or absence of air conditioning, kitchen facilities, food offerings, speed of Internet, the presence of markets or stores nearby. Find out if you will have to pay extra for gas and electricity. Pay attention to the homeowner’s home furnishings. If you notice dust, cobwebs, trash, and scattered items, be prepared for the fact that your room may also have problems, such as stale linens, a shower that does not work, holes in the walls, or worse, bedbugs.
Try to assess the degree of noise insulation in the house or apartment. On vacation, you do not really want to listen to the noise made by neighbors. Some Filipinos along with apartments rent bikes, which is included in the price and is cheaper compared to renting a separate vehicle. Ask if this is an additional option.
What food to try
Philippine cuisine is similar to Asian cuisine, but it has also been greatly influenced by European cuisine. In the Philippines they eat pork, fish, rice, vegetables and fruits. They prefer stir-frying to braising, local cooks are not fond of spicy and exotic spices, they are not too fond of deep-frying.
Adobo is a method of cooking meat marinated in vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and spices. The resulting dish has the same name, but the prefix is added to denote the type of meat used. Adobo is one of the main dishes served in national restaurants and on the streets. Street vendors offer the meat without a side dish, while restaurants add rice to it. The meat is non-spicy, sweet and salty, with a crispy crust and a tender core.
Shiomai are puffed dumplings with a filling that are steamed. The dumplings can be varied, but shrimp mince is popular. Rice flour dough is rolled into pouches and envelopes, which are filled to the brim with the filling.
Pansit is a succulent, hearty dish that’s great for satisfying hunger. It consists of fried noodles, a main filling of chicken, pork, fish, seafood, mushrooms, eggs or beans (your choice) and vegetables stewed in a spicy sauce: carrots, cabbage, onions and tomatoes.
Tinola soup is made with chicken with chili, ginger, and green papaya. The vegetables lighten the soup with coarsely chopped pieces of chicken, and the spices make it slightly sweet.
The classic version of Filipino soup includes pork, but chicken, fish, beans, or shrimp can be used instead. Coarsely chopped vegetables and meat are stewed in an aromatic broth. Citrus, mango, and breadfruit may be added to sinigang. Sinigang is not often found on hotel menus, but is available at eateries and restaurants.
Lumpia rolls with a variety of meat, rice, vegetable, and egg fillings are extremely popular. Every third tent in the market sells the snack, and hotels serve lumpia as part of the breakfast buffet. There is a sweet lumpia that is filled with fruit, cream and peanuts.
If you order sisig at a restaurant, they will bring you a red-hot frying pan with everything sizzling for a few more minutes. The standard recipe for sisig is pork marinated in a mixture of lime and hot peppers, with chicken liver, onions, and spices. You can order sisig from mushrooms or fish as a substitute for meat. A modern version of sisig includes rice, mayonnaise, and an egg that is fried in a heated pan right in front of diners.
A dish called “kare-kare” consists of different types of meat that are cooked with vegetables (Chinese cabbage, eggplant, herbs, daikon, okra), spices and peanut sauce. Chefs add veal and pork shanks, oxtails, pork hams, and beef parts to the dish. In some places, you can taste rack of seafood. Vegetarians will be happy too: for them, beans are added to the dish instead of meat. The dish has a rich orange-red color thanks to the local seasoning. Kare-kare is often dressed with chili sauce or lime juice.
If you like fish and seafood dishes, order the pinakbet. The dish is a delicate stew made with fish or shrimp, with slices of melon, pumpkin, eggplant, and beans. The coconut milk makes the dish extraordinarily tender, with each piece literally melting in your mouth.
Accomodation prices vary greatly depending on location, comfort level and other features. Long-term rental house on the shores of Cebu and Panglao Islands will cost about three hundred dollars a month, but provided that live in it for at least three months. Daily rent for a shorter period will cost twice as much. Partygoers often stay on the island of Boracay, they find accommodations for as little as fifteen dollars a day. On this island you can rent a room with a kitchen, air conditioning, bathroom and free internet for three hundred and fifty dollars a month.
In the Philippines, you can find super-budget accomodation at a cost of five dollars a day. Of course, the comfort and amenities in such a case, you should not expect. Overnight stays in dormitories are a little more expensive – prices start at ten dollars. On the island of Cebu, a room without air conditioning can be rented for a hundred dollars a month, and for a luxury apartment in the city center will have to shell out about seven hundred dollars. For three hundred and fifty dollars a month in Cebu can rent a studio apartment in a condominium with a pool and gym. The cost of accomodation depends on the season. Prices begin to rise in November and reach a peak in February. It is cheapest to come on vacation in the summer and rent long term accommodations.
Food prices for locals and tourists vary greatly. To save money, you need to know some tricks. Buy your food at local supermarkets or grocery stores for locals; the prices there are much nicer than in establishments aimed at tourists. Eat where Filipinos prefer to eat. You can get breakfast at such eateries for as little as two and a half dollars. A grocery basket consisting of: chicken, pasta, cucumbers, tangerines, mangoes, papaya, will cost nine dollars.
Breakfast at a cafe, consisting of a cup of coffee, a muffin or an egg, will cost one dollar. A classic Filipino lunch of rice with meat gravy, lentil soup, a portion of pasta with some meat and vegetables will cost about $1.50. Lunch at KFC will cost about three dollars, and lunch at a restaurant will cost twice as much. Going to a restaurant for dinner for a family of four would cost about twenty dollars.
Resorts and beaches
The Philippines consists of seven thousand islands, so tourists have no shortage of territory for recreation. Plenty of entertainment, bars, discos, restaurants, chic hotels, secluded lagoons, delightful nature – all this is available at the resorts of the country. The main wealth of the Philippine Islands – Paradise beaches, like from advertising a candy bar “Bounty”. It is for the beach vacation tourists come here in the first place. The islands have a huge number of gorgeous sites, ideal for a comfortable holiday.
Manila, the most densely populated city in the world, is the capital of the Philippines and the country’s premier resort. It has a subequatorial climate with two weather seasons: the dry season, which lasts from November to April, and the wet season, which falls between May and October. During the dry season about five million tourists visit the city, while during the wet season the number of visitors decreases by two million.
In addition to beach activities, Manila has a lot to offer to party goers, discos and history buffs. At various times, Manila has been invaded by Americans, Spaniards, Japanese and British, who have left behind a great legacy of ancient sites. The historic district of Manila can safely be called a museum in the open air. Here tourists get acquainted with the sacred structures of various religions: temples, mosques, and churches. Both day and night in Manila, life is in full swing, people are having fun and relaxing.
Davao City is the second most populous city after the capital. There are practically no storms or typhoons here, because the city is protected by mountains that influence the climate. There is no pronounced contrast between the dry and wet seasons. There is almost no crime in the city, as the police are vigilant in keeping order.
Boracay Island is a tropical fairy tale. Snow-white sands, azure water, palm trees – it has everything for a relaxing vacation. The island is a real treasure of the Philippines – White Beach. Its area – four miles of wide strip of fine white sand, which gives the water the famous color of blue azure, coupled with its transparency. The beach is great for families with small children, as there is no seaweed, coral and rocks on the bottom, and the entrance to the sea – the gradual and gentle. On the coast there are many public institutions: cafes, restaurants, pubs, hookah houses, massage rooms. On Balabog beach, which is on the other side, the winds are always blowing, so water fun lovers flock here.
Palawan Island is a center of amazing natural beauty: rice paddies, mangrove forests, white cliffs, jungles, underground rivers and waterfalls. The island is part of the most sparsely populated province of the Philippines, so there are few traces of human activity. It attracts vacationers who want to spend time in peace and as much privacy as possible. The coast with unblemished sand stretches for two kilometers. It is here there are huge areas of coral reefs, protected by the world’s organizations. The village of Sabanga is famous for the underground river of the same name, which runs through the karst cave with numerous stalactites and stalagmites.
The island of Cebu harmoniously combines unspoiled nature and modern comfort. Tourists have the opportunity to relax in secluded lagoons with palm trees, soft sand and clear water. Shopping centers, shops, markets offer tourists a great opportunity to buy souvenirs and gifts. Architectural landmarks are expressed in the form of structures of the Spanish era. Near Cebu many small islands, where fans of snorkeling, surfing and diving rush. Explorers of the sea have a unique opportunity to see the remains of several shipwrecks.
Panay Island is a favorite diving spot. The west coast is famous for its unique objects: the Black Rock, the cliff Dog-Drift, the underwater walls of Nasoga and Buruanga. Here rest not only professionals, but also beginners divers who dream to see packs of exotic fish and coral reefs. In Panay, tourists visit the stalactite-stalagmite caves, the largest of them under the name Pangihan are natural formations, the age of which reaches five million years. Like it here not only lovers of natural wonders, and fans of fun outdoor activities also find something to their liking, as there are modern hotels, and nightclubs and restaurants.
The island of Siquijor has a magical atmosphere, not only because real sorcerers and magicians still live here, but also because of the large number of fireflies that live in the trees and reflect an iridescent glow at sunset. Despite the magical atmosphere, many tourists come here to enjoy the natural beauty. There are six villages on the island, where quite friendly locals live. Travelers who find themselves on the island have the opportunity to visit mysterious caves, butterfly gardens and mangrove parks.
The volcanic island of Bohol is the tenth largest in the Philippine archipelago. It is surrounded by seven dozen small islands, which together are a single resort area. The largest island, Panglao, is connected to the main island by a bridge. The area of Bohol is hilly, there are one and a half thousand hills, which are popularly called “chocolate” because of the color of the dried grass. One of the main exclusive attractions is a visit to the Longhorn Center, where monkeys of a rare species with huge eyes live.
Malapascua is a small island off the island of Cebu. Most of the locals are employed in the tourist industry and serve hotel guests. Those of the locals who are not in this business are engaged in fishing and agriculture. Getting to the island is difficult, but this does not stop lovers of pristine nature. The most popular beaches on the island are Lighthouse, Tawigan, Bounty and Logon.
Pagudpud Beach stretches for about three kilometers. Usually there are few holidaymakers here, so the place is ideal for those who prefer solitude and not too fond of crowds and noise. The descent into the water is gentle and comfortable. Nearby is a coral reef, to which it is fairly easy to swim. This beach is suitable for comfortable swimming and snorkeling, which is a rarity in the Philippines, as beaches are usually suitable for any one of the activities. There are several hotels on the coast, as well as small bamboo houses for rent. A palm grove completes the idyllic natural picture.
Surfing enthusiasts go to Siargao Island. This place is the unofficial center of diving. The most famous divers who want to hone their skills come here. Travelers who prefer secluded vacations will be delighted by the secluded lagoons formed by the cliffs.
Samal Island is known as a haven for cheese eaters, who eat only fruits and vegetables. Small cozy hotels, bungalows, a variety of seafood and fruits, pristine nature – in general, the conditions for recreation as comfortable as possible. However, there is a big drawback: the island can get a deadly type of dengue fever, which is carried by mosquitoes, so do not recommend coming here with small children.
Top 5 Tourist Attractions
Mayon and Taal volcanoes
On the island of Luzon is one of the most beautiful volcanoes on the planet, Mayon. At its foot you can see the remains of a town destroyed by an eruption in the nineteenth century. South of the capital in the middle of the lake is one of the tiniest active volcanoes, Taal. It takes about half an hour to reach its summit, and the view from there is astonishing.
A popular attraction and national pride are the unique hand-crafted rice paddies. The irrigation system of these rice terraces is still used today for growing vegetables and rice.
Southeast of Palawan Island is the Tubbataha Reef, which gave its name to the local park. Here is a unique underwater world, which seeks to see a huge number of divers from around the world.
The historic town of Vigan
The first mention of Vigan City was in the sixteenth century, when the locals traded with Chinese merchants. The buildings of this city combine Chinese, European, and Filipino architectural features. Among the most famous and noteworthy buildings are the Presidential Residence and the Cathedral.
José Risal Park
Jose Risal Park is one of the oldest parks in Asia, named after a famous nineteenth-century Filipino figure. It was in this park that the Philippines declared an independent country in 1946. There is a monument to Jose Risal himself, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the National Library, the Butterfly Pavilion and the Orchid Orangery.
Since the Philippines consists of islands, the issue of travel is very acute. Virtually every island has an airport, even the smallest, so air transport is very common here. The largest airports are on the islands of Luzon and Cebu, they carry out both international and domestic flights.
Of course, a well-developed water transport. Islands are connected by ferries. Use only the services of large ferry companies, as small firms often operate older vehicles, which can be life-threatening. Hydrofoil boats and regular boats also operate between the islands.
Land transportation includes trains, buses, automobiles, motorcycles, tricycles, and jeepneys. The railroad in the Philippines is alone, located on the island of Luzon, and connects the capital with other areas. Trains are often crowded and slow, but are considered more comfortable than buses, which transport people over long distances. Although the buses are usually without any amenities, they are very popular with locals and tourists who want to get to neighboring cities and even neighboring islands (buses are ferried). There are no stops here, so you have to vote on the road. The buses have no numbers, only the end and intermediate points are indicated.
One of the most popular ways to travel – jeepney, which combines features of a minibus and the American jeep. Jeepneys are an extreme means of transportation: the drivers prefer an aggressive driving style, and the traffic jams, crush, and road dust, from which there is no escape in the form of windows and doors, are added to it. The most budget-friendly vehicle is a tricycle. A sidecar is attached to a moped or bicycle and holds two people. Motorcycles are used by locals as a family transport. Tourists are also transported in this way, but experienced travelers say it is extremely inconvenient. Renting a car in the Philippines is possible, but it’s a risky venture given that traffic rules are rarely enforced here.
What to bring as a gift
- clothing made of natural fabrics;
- branded items;
- Filipino sarongs;
- local chintz products;
- straw hats and slates;
- pearl jewelry;
- seashell souvenirs;
- paintings made of natural materials;
- wooden products;
- terracotta crockery.