The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 81 provinces with 7,641 islands. Only 2,000 are inhabited and are clustered into three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It boasts some of the world’s best natural resources. To name a few: Boracay, Cebu and Palawan are three fantastic examples of a perfect ‘tropical paradise.’
Aside from it’s pristine beaches, each island offers a range of amazing activities, cultural sites and mouth-watering food that’ll make you want to explore more.
LANGUAGE: Filipino (or Tagalog) and English are the official languages of the country. Both are used in government, education and business. The Filipino language is rich in mainly a fuse of different languages as the early Filipinos interacted with many cultures across the world. Most Filipinos are multilingual so asking for directions wont be a problem.
VISA POLICY: Visitors from 157 countries are permitted to enter the country without a visa for periods ranging from 14 to 59 days. Just be sure to have a valid passport for at least six months after arrival. But if you wish to extend your stay, you are required to secure an extended visa waver from the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines.
For more information on visa-extensions, you may checkout the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
CURRENCY: The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PHP) or Piso. It is made up of 100 centavos (or sentimos) and is often represented with the symbol ₱. It’s denominations are: Bills – 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 piso. Coins – 1, 5, 10, 25 cents (or sentimo). 1, 5, 10 piso.
No permit is required from the Central bank of the Philippines to bring in or to take out from the Philippines of foreign currencies. However, if the traveler carries foreign currencies that exceed $10,000, it must be declared at the Bureau of Customs Desk in the airport. It’s not against the law you just have to declare it.
Mostly, you may have your currency exchanged at the banks but some malls also have exchange booths.
BANKS AND ATMS: It is advisable to always bring cash as some famous tourists spots, particularly in the remote areas only accept cash. ATMs are mostly available in the cities and you may withdraw a maximum of ₱10,000 per transaction but will charge you ₱200 (more or less 4USD).
Most banks in the cities are open from Monday to Friday (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM) and on Saturdays (9:00 AM – 12:00 NN).
SOCKETS AND ADAPTERS: Most electrical outlets in the Philippines are non-grounded two-pronged outlets of either type A (North-American standard) or type C (European style). Power outlets rarely accept both types of plugs. If you have a US three-pin plug (type B), you will need an adapter to plug in to non-polarized, two-pin outlets. All power sockets in Philippines provide a standard voltage of 220V with a standard frequency of 60Hz.
CONNECTIVITY: The three most widely used telecommunication networks are Smart, Globe and Sun. All of them are available in prepaid or post-paid plan. Sun is mostly used as a backup since it has “unlimited calls/text” promos but signals in remote areas are weak.
Most places in the Philippines have no free internet connection so it is best to carry a WiFi router. You may switch over to your carrier’s wireless data network but it’s costly (specially if you’re using a post-paid plan).
TRANSPORTATION: There are three popular airline companies in the country, Philippine Airlines, (Philippines’ flag carrier), Cebu Pacific and Airasia. I usually prefer PAL for traveling outside of the country and for domestic flights, Cebu Pacific and Airasia offer cheap options.
For land transportation you may check out this post.
WEATHER: The Philippines has two seasons: Wet and dry. For details you may check out this post.
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