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Philippines Information

Travel and Local Information Guide

The Democratic Republic of the Philippines is located in the Western Pacific Ocean, some 1,210km east of Vietnam and is separated in the north from Taiwan by the Bashi Channel. It is bordered on the east by the Philippine Sea (and Pacific Ocean), on the south by the Celebes Sea, and on the west by the South China Sea. The country is divided into three main regions; Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the centre, and Mindanao in the south. Consisting of 7,710 islands the total land mass of the archipelago is 300,000sqkm. The Luzon islands include Luzon itself, Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate and Batanes Islands. The Visayas is a group of islands in the central Philippines, the largest of which are: Palawan, Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. The Mindanao islands include Mindanao itself, plus the Sulu Archipelago, composed primarily of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

The Philippines has one of the longest coastlines of any nation in the world. Most Filipinos live on or near the coast and there are just 16 landlocked provinces. Imelda Marcos once described the country as being, “hamburgered geographically”. Many of the islands in the Philippines are extinct volcanoes and atolls. On the larger islands there are many mountains, rainforests, rich valleys and swamp regions and the country still does have thermal activity consisting of active volcanoes and hot springs.

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Philippines Weather & Climate

The Philippines has a tropical rainforest climate, the two main characteristics of which are high temperatures and high humidity levels.

In theory rain can be expected every month, but this is not always the case. The rainy season occurs during the months of June to October

During the months between December and May, the Philippines experiences dry months, when temperatures soar. Typhoons are most likely to occur during November.

Getting Around the Philippines

International flights to the Philippines land at Manila or Cebu. There are no direct flights from Europe; you must travel via Asia (e.g. Bangkok or Hong Kong), the USA or Australia. Transportation is incredibly reasonable here. The best method of transport for island hoppers is by bus, air conditioned and efficient. There is only one railway, on the northern island of Luzon. It goes from Manila to Naga, taking around seven hours. For shorter journeys, jeepneys tricycles and taxis are used.

Tricycles are best for short trips; the motorcycles with sidecars attached to them have a certain novelty but aren’t always great in the dirty air and noise pollution in big cities. Jeepneys are very popular all over the country, in cities and town you will always find one at hand. Taxis are the more costly alternative, while probably being the most pleasant. In Manila MRT and LRT are definitely the fastest and most convenient means of transport.

Good to Know

Vaccination

Vaccination may be needed against Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B and rabies. Malaria and dengue fever are present; consider taking anti-malarial medication and protect against mosquito bites. Schistosomiasis is transmitted in freshwater lakes and rivers by larvae or flukes which penetrate the skin.

Festivals in the Philippines

January Ati Atihan, Panay Island: colourful festival to honour Jesus Christ. Manila: Feast of the Black Nazarene; famous devotional procession.
April Holy Week; celebrations across the country, with re-enactments of miracles and Christ's last days.

Visas

Visa requirements: Visas lasting 21 days are issued on arrival to many nationalities, including holders of a valid UK, EU or US passport. If you wish to stay longer you must obtain a Visa Extension before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embassy. Or, once here, you may obtain one from the Bureau of Immigration.

Customs

Upon Arriving: Visitors are allowed to bring in duty free personal belongings, two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco and up to one litre of alcohol. Balikbayans have separate rules and should check with the Embassy or Consulate in their home city. 
You may bring in unlimited amount of foreign currency. 
Upon Leaving: Any antiques you may have acquired during your stay must be accompanied by a certificate from the National Museum. Also, you may not take more than PhP5,000 (five thousand Philippine pesos) out of the country.

Currency

The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos. Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Traveller's cheques, preferably American Express, are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal cheques drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.

Languages

Although Filipino and English are the official languages in Philippines, Bikol, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Pangsinan, Waray Waray are also spoken in certain parts of the country.

Important Telephone Numbers

Calling Code: +63
Police & Fire: 757 or 116
Emergency No: 501- 650 or 501- 728
Directory Assistance: 114
National Operator: 109
International Operator: 108

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