What the Traveller Must Know
TIME ZONE - GMT plus 8 hours.
The Philippines has 5 international airports. These are in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic and Laoag. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila is the premier gateway served by more than 30 airlines that fly to key cities across the globe including Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei.
The Mactan International Airport (MIA) in Cebu serves regular flights from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, as well chartered flights from Hong Kong, Shanghai, the United States and other major travel capitals. On the other hand, the Davao International Airport handles regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore. In Central Luzon, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and the Subic Airfield service both chartered and cargo planes. Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services regular flights from Taiwan.
A passport valid for at least 6 months. Except for stateless persons and those from countries that do not have diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for an onward journey.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers coming in from an infected area.
Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is 7 kilometers from the city center while the Domestic Airport is 1 km from the NAIA. The international airports have adequate travel facilities: duty-free and souvenir shops, meet and assist personnel at the tourist information and assistance counters, hotel and travel agency representatives, car rental services, banks and automated teller machines, postal service, national and international direct dial telephone booths, medical clinics and baggage deposit areas.
CUSTOMS: Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. The following are allowed inside the duty-free: reasonable quantity of clothes, jewelry and toiletries: 400 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco, two bottles of wine or spirits of not more than one liter each.
PORTERAGE: Baggage carts are available for free. Porter services are also free. Tipping is traditional.
AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Visitors are advised to avail of accredited fixed rate or metered taxis at the NAIA's Arrival Area. At the Manila Domestic Airport, accredited transfer services are available on pre-paid coupon basis. Other airports are served by metered taxis. All airports have counters for hotel transport and car rental service.
AIRPORT FEES: P750 for international departure and P200 for local departure (paid in Philippine Peso only). Departing passengers for international destinations are advised to check with airport or tourist information counters (524-1703; 832-2964) regarding departure fees which may change without notice.
March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy. November to Februar is cool. Average temperatures: 78oF/25oC to 90oF/32oC; humidity: 77%.
WHAT TO WEAR
Light, casual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. When visiting churches and temples, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided. Formal occasions require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine Barong Tagalog) for men and cocktail dresses or long gowns for women.
Unit of currency: 1 Peso (P) = 100 centavos. Bank notes: P20, P50, P100, P200, P500 and P1000. Coins: 5c, 10c, 25c, P1, P5 and P10.
Tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
By air, Philippine Airlines (Tel. No. 855-9999), Air Philippines (855-9000) and Cebu Pacific (636-4938) provide daily services to major cities and towns. ZestAir (851-8888), Laoag International Airlines (551-9729) and Seair (891-8708) service the missionary routes. There are also scheduled chartered flights to major domestic destinations serviced by smaller commuter planes.
By sea, inter-island ships connect Manila to major ports. Ferry services connect smaller islands.
By land, Philtranco connects Manila to Bicol in Southern Luzon, to Samar and Leyte in the Visayas, and Davao in Mindanao through the Maharlika Highway. Via the western seaboard, the premier bus company connects Manila to Batangas and Mindoro of the Southern Tagalog Region, to Kalibo and Iloilo in Western Visayas utilizing RORO or roll-on, roll-off vessels as moving bridges along the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.
Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide. Jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways to get around most places. In Metro Manila, the fastest way of commuting is via the railway system. The Light Rail Transit or LRT connects the northern district of Monumento to the southern district of Baclaran. The Metro Rail Transit or MRT traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district.
Pilipino is the national language. English is widely spoken. It is the language used for business and as the medium of instruction in higher education.
In Metro Manila and in key cities and towns throughout the country, a wide selection of deluxe, standard, economy and pension-type accommodations are available.
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful fusion of Asian, European and American culinary influences with a variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. First-class restaurants offer gourmet specialties as well as Filipino cuisine.
ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
Metro Manila is the center of entertainment and cultural activities. The premier venue for the performing arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, features excellent performances by local and international guest artists. Museums located in Manila and in some parts of the country offer a glimpse of Philippine history and culture. Art galleries exhibit the works of the country's leading and promising visual artists.
Manila's nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia, reflecting the Filipino's love for music. The hubs of nightlife activities are at the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center, The Fort at Bonifacio Global City, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong and Pasig Cities and Eastwood in Libis. Clubs, music lounges, pubs, and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers known for their exceptional talent in music. Deluxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form a part of the country's entertainment scene.
Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, hand woven cloths, embroidered fineries, fashionable ready-to-wear and haute couture clothes, terracotta and porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories. Artifacts, pineapple fiber shirts, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts and footwear are interesting items too. The Philippines also produces fine furniture, fresh and processed fruits, exquisitely crafted jewelry and gift items made of shell, wood and stone.
Big malls are located in major cities while handicraft, antique and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila and in other nearby towns in the metro's environs.
BUSINESS AND BANKING HOURS
Private and government offices are open either from 8am to 5pm or from 9am to 6pm. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9am to 12 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open from 10am to 8pm daily. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores in major towns and cities.
Banks are open from 9am to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Mastercard and American Express are accepted in major establishments. Holders of China issued Union Pay cards may withdraw Philippine Pesos from most Bancnet Automated Teller Machines.
220 volts, A.C. 60 cycles. Some hotels have 110-volt outlets
Water in Metro Manila and in key cities and towns is generally potable and safe for drinking. Bottled water is available in many hotels, restaurants, resorts, supermarkets and convenience stores.
The country has international and national direct dial phone and facsimile service, mobile phone sites, internet and e-mail facilities, and worldwide express delivery service. The postal system is efficient.
Most national dailies are in English. Foreign publications are sold at major hotels, malls and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities. 7 national television stations broadcast mainly Filipino and English programs. Cable TV is available in many hotels in Manila and in many parts of the country.
TOURS AND SPECIAL INTEREST ACTIVITIES
Tour packages, from day trips to multi-day programs, are special ways of discovering the Philippines and its wealth of culture. Special interest activities include golfing, game fishing, scuba diving, white-water rafting and other aqua sports, trekking, spelunking and safari trips.
source: Tourism Promotions Board