The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands. Strategically located east of the Asian mainland and blessed with abundant natural resources, the country has attracted traders, explorers and adventurers for centuries. It has three main group of islands: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The islands are known for their pristine sandy beaches, volcanoes, coastlines, coral reefs, thick forests and ancient rice terraces. The clear water and abundant sea-life make it a paradise for diving enthusiasts. In addition to the scenery, a trip to the Philippines is made more memorable by the fun-loving Filipinos, whose hospitality is legendary.
Entry Formalities. A valid passport is required for all visitors. Check with the Philippine Embassy or Consulate for Visa requirements. As a rule, visitors may stay without a visa up to 21 days, provided they possess an onward or return journey ticket.
Health. Yellow fever vaccination is required upon arrival of visitors coming from infected areas, except children under one year of age who are, however, subject to isolation when necessary.
Customs Tourists may import the following items free of duty:
Tobacco. 400 cigarettes or two tins of smoking tobacco.
Alcoholic Beverages. Two (2) regular-size bottles not exceeding one liter each.
A reasonable amount of perfume, for personal use. A reasonable amount of personal effects necessary and appropriate for their personal use, comfort and convenience.
It is strictly forbidden to bring in dynamite, gun powder, ammunition, firearms, weapons of war and narcotics in any form.
Currency Philippine Peso (Piso) made up one hundred centavos (sentimos). Coins in 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos and one and five pesos (P). Paper denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 and 1,000 pesos. As a general rule, money changers and banks offer a better exchange rate for foreign currency than hotels. Always demand an exchange receipt, to enable you to reconvert your unspent local currency, upon departure.
Climate. Two distinct seasons: Dry summer months from November to May, and rainy months from June to October. Coolest months from November to February (average temperature 26° C). and warmest April and May (average temperature 30° C). Wear light clothing, with some warmer clothes for visits to cooler mountain regions. When formal attire is required, a coat and tie will do, or better still, the Filipino "Barong Tagalog"—a light material shirt worn untucked, over dark pants.
Business Hours. Private companies from 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Monday to Friday and 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN on Saturdays. Government offices same hours, except Saturdays. Banks from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM without lunch break Monday to Friday. Commercial establishments from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Monday to Sunday.
Electric Current. 220V, 60 cycles. Major hotels in Manila and Cebu, however, also have 110V. Electric sockets are for flat prongs.
Language. 110 dialects are spoken in the various regions and islands. However, most Filipinos speak the national language, Pilipino, and a majority speak English, which is the basic language for business, government, schools and everyday communications. Spanish is still spoken by a few, among the affluent in particular.
Transportation. In urban center by taxi, bus, light railway system and jeepneys. By jeepney and tricycle in rural areas.
Tipping. The standard tip is ten (10%) percent of the total amount of the bill. Hotels and restaurants, however, automatically add this amount as service charge, plus any applicable tax. Additional tip is optional. Five to ten pesos per bag for hotel porters/bellboys is expected, depending on the amount of your luggage. Taxi drivers are usually tipped depending on the figure in the taxi meter.