More than 7500 islands filled with the most beautiful beaches, friendly people and the clearest water you’ll ever see. The Philippines is a great country to explore. But can you use your credit card everywhere? What about transport? In this article I will answer all your questions, these are my travel tips for The Philippines.
Before you go
At least a month before you go, you should check if you need vaccinations. I had to get a vaccination for DTP and Hepatitis A and also had to take an emergency set of malaria pills. Check your doctor if you want to be sure. If you have travel insurance, the costs are probably covered.
The Philippines are known to be unsafe, but it’s safe on most of the islands. Stay away from the far south, though. Check your government if you want to know if traveling to The Philippines is safe, they usually can tell you where to go and which areas you’d better avoid.
With most passports (for example EU, USA, Canadian and Australian) you can get a 30-day visa-on-arrival. You just need a passport (for some countries it has to be valid for 6 months after arrival) and show a return ticket (or ticket to another country) within 30 days. In the plane to The Philippines, you will receive a small form, which you have to fill out and give to the employee at the airport. If you didn’t get the form on the plane, you will have to fill it in at the airport. Don’t miss it, because the lines can be pretty long and it’s no fun to stand in line twice.
If you want to stay longer than 30 days, it is possible to get a visa for 59 days (not for free). You can get it at the consulate or embassy of The Philippines in your country, or in big cities in The Philippines (like Manila and Cebu).
In big cities like Manila and Cebu you’ll find plenty of ATM’s you can use to get cash. You can also pay with credit card at most places. However, if you travel to remote islands, you probably won’t find working ATM’s, so bring cash!
The Philippines exist of 1800 islands. To get from one place to another, there are multiple options: by air, over land, or over sea.
If you don’t have a lot of time, traveling by air is your best option. Almost all the islands have (multiple) airports. There are a couple of airlines that can take you from island to island, I can recommend Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Check Skyscanner for the cheapest options.
There are many ways to travel overland. You can take a jeepney (the local bus, usually completely full), a tricycle (for short trips), or a minivan. During my trip, I mostly used minivans for long distances. You can buy tickets for the minivans pretty much everywhere. They leave on set times (usually, they are 30 minutes early or 30 minutes late).
If you have plenty of time, it’s fun to travel from island to island by ferry. You can book ferries at the harbors. 2Go Travel is a well-known ferry company, and you can check the schedule on their website.
Where to sleep?
In The Philippines, you can find accommodation for every budget. From luxury resorts with infinity pools to a basic beach hut, anything is possible. I found all my accommodation through Booking. Keep in mind, not every accommodation has a hot shower or airconditioning (at least book something that has a fan, it can be really hot at night).
The food in The Philippines is not as good as in other countries in Southeast Asia, but it’s basic and fresh. Expect to eat a lot of rice, chicken, and fish. There’s not a lot of vegetables, but you will eat a lot of fresh fruit.
For most tourists it’s not advised to drink tap water, you can get very sick from the water. Some places in The Philippines are known for food poisoning (especially in El Nido, Palawan) because they wash vegetables and fruits with tap water. If you want to avoid it, it’s better to drink from cans or bottles (like cola and beer) and don’t eat salads. You can buy mineral water at every corner.
Prepare yourselves: wifi in The Philippines is rarely available and spotty at best. If you want a good connection, I advise you to buy a sim card of Globe or Smart. You can buy those on every airport and for 999 PHP you can use up to 8GB in 30 days. Connection in the cities is great but will be spotty at remote locations.
Hopefully, I have answered all your questions about traveling to The Philippines. Do you want more travel tips for the Philippines? Please leave a message in the comment section underneath this article.