Endless stretches of soft white sandy beaches, magnificent landscapes, colourful cultures and smiling people, this is the real Philippine experience. You will never be in shortage of natural discoveries, exotic food, heavenly islands, and people who will welcome you with open arms.
Made up of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines' reputation as an island paradise destination is not unfounded. However, more than just crystal-clear emerald waters, infinite sandy beaches, and amazing marine biodiversity, this island country is also home to monumental churches, bizarre eats, bustling cities, sprawling landscapes, rolling mountains, and warm hospitality.
The Philippines offers a visa-free visit up to 30 days for most nationals with some exceptions. Being an island country, most visitors will choose to enter by plane at one of the eight international airports in the country. Alternatively, you may choose to come in by ferry from Malaysia. Accessing the Philippines overland is not possible as it does not share a land border with any other countries.
The only recognised currency is the local currency called the Philippine Peso (PHP). Some exceptions are at duty-free outlets and internet purchases where the vendor might accept US Dollars. Many ATMs accept cash withdrawal using most major credit cards but might incur bank fees per transaction. In commercial areas, credit cards are widely accepted but usually, a minimum purchase amount is imposed. If you wish to exchange foreign currencies, it is best to do it at a bank rather than at money exchange booths that could potentially give you counterfeit notes.
The country's official language is Filipino, but English is also widely used, so communicating with the locals is very easy. However, this might not be the case in remote villages where the education level is not high. Filipinos speak with a thick local accent that could sometimes be hard to understand, but they are extremely friendly so do not be afraid to strike up a conversation with them.
As a tropical country, the weather in the Philippines is divided into two seasons – the wet and dry seasons. During the wet season of June to October, the country is subject to heavy rainfalls and fierce typhoons. Therefore, it might be best to travel to the Philippines from November to May if you are looking for a tranquil island holiday.
Filipino cuisine have gone through an evolution enriched by many different influences such as Malay-Indonesian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Spanish, and American. The result is a tantalising line of cuisines utilizing a variety of cooking methods, preparations, and ingredients. A perfect balance of sweet, sour and salty, Filipino foods are flavourful but not spiced with chillies like most of its Southeast Asian neighbours.
Traveling in the Philippines
The road and railway networks generally centre around the capital city of Manila. With many airports nationwide, the fastest way to travel between major islands is by air. Alternatively, boats are cheaper but take a longer time.
The most common mode of transport within cities is by jeepneys, although taxis and ride sharing apps are also available. For short distances, the cheapest way is by tricycles or rickshaws, but this can be cramped and uncomfortable.
Thanks to the welcoming nature of the English-speaking locals, the Philippines is a relatively easy country to travel in. You are guaranteed an exceptional experience whether you are soaking up the sun at Cebu Island, swimming with whale sharks at Donsol, conquering a mountain in the North, or sampling unique food in Manila.