PHILIPPINE TRAVEL INFO
Valid passpport. Except for stateless persons and those from countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for onward journey. Holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan passports must have special permits. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
WAIVER OF VISA FOR A MAXIMUM OF ONE (1) YEAR UNDER THE BALIKBAYAN PRIVILEGES
Upon representation of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Tourism adopted a liberal interpretation of the Balikbayan Law to benefit all the balikbayans.
No Visa shall be required as a privilege for a maximum stay of one (1) year for the following, everytime they enter the country to visit regardless of the frequency of their travel: FORMER FILIPINO CITIZENS SPECIFICALLY FILIPINOS WHO HAVE BEEN NATURALIZED FOREIGN COUNTRY CITIZENS AND THEIR FAMILIES. The traveller has to declare before the Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is availing of said privilege and has to present his/her current foreign passport plus any of the following documents:
* cancelled Philippine passport or birth certificate
* Naturalized papers to show former Philippine citizenship; or
* certification from adopted country
This privilege is extended as well to families of Filipino citizens (spouse and minor unmarried children) provided:
* that the latter are not required entry visas under existing regulations; and
* that they are travelling together with the balikbayan spouse to the Philippines.
The family members should present at the Philippine port of entry the following:
* valid passport
* marriage certificate in case of the spouse;
* birth certificates in the case of minor children; or
* adoption papers in the case of adopted children.
(Source: CIR 181-OCA-2000 dated 02 March 2000. FSC-255-01 dated 20 June 2001, Philippine Embassy London)
Unit of currency: Peso (P) = 100 centavos. Bank notes: P10, P20, P50, P100, P200, P500 and P1,000. Coins: 5c, 10c, 25c, P1, P5, P10. Money changers will be able to give you the official guiding rates and are located at the airport, local banks, and other authorized foreign exchange dealers in commercial establishments.
March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy. November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78oF / 32oC; humidity: 77%
Filipino is the national language. English is the business language and spoken widely. Approximately 111 languages and dialects are spoken in the country.
GMT plus 8 hours.
220 Volts, A.C. 60 cycles. Most hotels have 110 volt outlets.
Water in Metro Manila and in key cities and towns is potable and safe for drinking. Bottled water is available in many hotels, restaurants, resorts, supermarkets and convenience stores.
The International Airports have adequate traveller facilities: tourist information & assistance counters, hotel & travel agency representatives, banks & ATMs, postal service, telephone booths, and medical clinics, among others. Baggage carts and porter services are available for free. The airports are handicapped-friendly. Wheelcharis are available on request from the airline ground staff.
P750 for international departure and P100 for local departure (paid in Philippine Peso Only). Departing passengers for international destinations are advised to check with airport or tourist information counters (Tel. Nos. 524 1703; 832 2964) the departure fees which may change without notice.
Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. Visitors carrying more than US$3,000 are to declare the amount at the Central Bank of the Philippines counter situated at the Custom area. Foreign currency taken out upon departure must not exceed the amount brought in. Departing passengers are not allowed to bring out more than PHP1,000 in local currency.
Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide. Jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways of getting around most places. In Metro Manila the fastest way of commuting is via the railway system. LRT connects Monumento on the North to Baclaran on the South. MRT traverses the length of EDSA from North Avenue to Taft Avenue.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travellers coming from infected areas. Children less than one year old are exempted but may be subject to isolation when necessary.
Hospitals are listed in the Yellow Pages of the local telephone directory. Health Centers provide emergency medical attention in remote towns and cities.
De luxe, standard, economy, pension-type, and special interest accommodations are available. The Department of Tourism has a Homestay Program that offers visitors the comfort of modest homes and an insight into Philippine Life. For information, contact the Tourist Information Center at Room 106, Department of Tourism, Tel. Nos. 524 2384 / 524 1703.
BUSINESS AND BANKING HOURS
Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Most commercial establishments are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
International credit cards such as VISA, DINERS CLUB, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD are accepted in major establishments.
ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
Metro Manila is the center of entertainment and cultural activities. The premier venue for the performing arts is the CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES. The hubs of nightlife activities are the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center and the Fort at Bonifacio Global City in Makati, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City.
For visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables, there are casinos in Metro Manila and in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Laoag.
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.
Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, handwoven cloths, embroidered fineries, terra-cota, porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories, among others. Big Malls are located in Manila, Makati and EDSA, while handicraft, antique, and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila. Duty-Free Philippines near the NAIA is the country`s largest duty-free outlet.
TIPS ON TIPPING
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.
Most national dailies are in English. There are 7 national television stations, which broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable TV is available as well.
Manila, the pioneer convention city in Asia, has played host to a number of prestigious international events. The Philippine International Convention Center and World Trade Center are some of the biggest venues. Out-of-town hotels and resorts are alternative sites.