Philippines: Travel Info & Transport

The Basics

  • Currency: Philippines Peso
  • Exchange rate: Find up to date exchange rate here.
  • Capital city: Manila
  • Main religion: 95% Christianity, 81-85% Roman Catholic
  • Main language: Tagalog (although there are 100 plus local dialects)
  • Telephone code: +63
  • Time: GMT +8 hours
  • Emergency numbers: Ambulance, Fire, Police: 117

Philippines Language Essentials

This one is a bit tricky as it is likely that the language will change as you travel through the country. Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines and most people will know this as well as their local dialect. Some common phrases (in Tagalog) are shown below:

  • Goodmorning/afternoon/evening: Magandang Umaga/Magandang hapon/Magandang Gabi
  • Thank-you (very much): (Maraming) Salamat po (po is used for respect)
  • Kumusta ka?: How are you?
  • Can I have the bill please?: Maaari ba akong magkaroon ng check? (or make a funny envelope shape with your hands)
  • How much?: Magkano ho ito?
  • My name is.. Ako si..

Philippines Visa Information

  • Tourist Visa: Most nationalities, including Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and most Europeans receive a free 3 week tourist visa upon arrival into Philippines. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months upon entering and you must have proof of your onward flight (don’t be caught out because most airlines seem to require this to let you board the aircraft). If you don’t know when you are going to leave you can always just purchase the cheapest ticket you can find out of the country.
  • Visa extension: Visas can be renewed for up to a year, as long as you are prepared to pay. Immigration often changes the fees and regulations but currently; first extension for 38 days (3000P), second extension for 59 days (4760P), third extension for 2 months (2810P), and so on!!
  • Penalty for late departure: Last time we checked this was 500P/month plus the fees that you would have had to pay for extending your visa. While it’s not a big fine you can be at risk of missing your flight if they make you pay this at the Bureau of Immigration instead of the airport.

Climate

  • As with most of Asia there isn’t really a summer and winter, but more a period of “hot” or “hotter”, “dry” or “rainy”. While it is hard to generalize Philippines weather as conditions vary across the group of islands, you can expect more rain from May/June until October when the summer monsoon is present. The wet season consists of short hard down pours which shouldn’t effect travel enjoyment too much. It should be noted that this period also coincides with Typhoon season in the Philippines, with Northern Luzon and the Eastern Visayas the worst affected areas. If you are travelling to the Philippines between July and October you will probably find better weather in the Central/Southern areas. Unless you’re looking for waves that is!!

Getting To The Philippines

  • Thanks to the good guys at Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Jetstar Asia and SEA Airlines, getting to the Philippines has never been cheaper. No matter if you’re coming from Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, or KL, just jump on one of these low cost carriers and find yourself in Phili! It should be noted that at this time Cebu Pacific and JetStar (as well as generally more expensive Philippine Airlines and Cathay Pacific) are the only ones that fly into Manila, whereas Air Asia and SEA Air land at Clark Air base. Wala problema (No problem)! A couple of hours on a bus from Clark and you’ll be in the big city.