"We'll take you places!!"
As the second largest archipelago in the world, with over 7,100 tropical islands, the Philippines is home to many natural wonders. Situated slightly north of the Equator on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the country boasts of amazing beaches with powdery white sand - from Pagudpod in Ilocos Norte up North to the Pearl Farm in Davao down South. Below its sea level are some of the world's best diving and snorkelling, including wreck-diving in Coron and swimming with the whalesharks, locally known as butanding, off the coast of Donsol. The Philippines also offers fantastic landscapes to the land travellers such as the Ifugao Rice Terraces in Banaue, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol and the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano in Bicol.
The country's real treasure is its people. Any traveller who has stayed in the Philippines long enough can say that they fell in love with the country because of its people. Warm, friendly and easygoing are just some of the adjectives to describe the Filipinos. Its long colonial history with some of the world's oldest superpowers, lends to its unique and colorful culture. With its rich combination of land and culture, the country is beginning to capture the interest of travellers all over the world and is proving to be a choice destination in Southeast Asia.Practical Information
- Visas & Entry Regulations
- Getting Around
- Banks and Business Hours
A valid passport is required for entry to the Philippines. Generally, foreign visitors are allowed to enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided their passports are valid for at least 6 months and they hold return tickets. For visitors intending to stay for more than 21 days, they need to acquire a Tourist Visa, which is valid for 59 days. Permits and visas can be obtained from Philippine Embassies and Consulates.
For passport holders of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the British National Overseas (BNO), Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) and holders of Portuguese passports issued in Macau may enter the country without a visa for a stay not exceeding seven (7) days.
For further inquiries, the Visa Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs can help. They can be contacted at (632) 8343707 or (632) 8344810, or log on to www.dfa.gov.ph/consular.visa.htm.
Getting from Point A to Point B within Metro Manila, there are several transportation services to choose from. For the budget traveller or those who don't mind squeezing through crowds of passengers, buses (aircon and non-airconditioned), jeepneys (a local invention which is a cross between a jeep and a bus) and the Metrostar Express (Railway Transit System) are your most viable options. For those who can afford to pay for a bit of luxury, taxis are available all over the metro as well as several car rental services.
If you are travelling to another island, your best bet is to take a boat or ferry ride. Though it may take longer to reach your destination compared to a plane ride, an archipelago like the Philippines is best enjoyed via water rides.
Unit of currency is the Philippine Peso, divided into 100 centavos. Bills are in: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos. Coins come in 5, 10, 25 centavo and 1, 5, 10 peso denominations. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Mastercard, American Express Card, and JCB are accepted in major establishments.
Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays while some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores all over the metro. Banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATMs) operating for 24 hours.