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Philippines Country Guide

The Philippines is a country of a group of 7,107 islands, starting from South China and continuing all the way down to the north of Borneo.

Filipino culture is an interesting mix of diverse cultural elements, thanks to its own ethnic groups numbering in hundreds, and also a history of foreign rulers and traders who have helped in churning up a Filipino culture that is only Filipino, and not Asian, or European or Oriental.

The Philippines is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, and to its west and north lies the South China Sea, while its southern tip touches the Celebes Sea.

The Philippines is diverse not only in terms of its people, but also its climate, vegetation and topology.

Our Philippines Country Travel Guide below will provide you with all you need about the best of beautiful Philippines and Boracay. If you are more interested in Boracay's events, attractions and things to do.  Let us guide you through our beautiful country with our in-depth local knowledge.



Best Time to Visit Top

The Philippines is a country blessed with natural wonders, magnificents sunsets and beautiful beaches. The weather is warm all year round and perfect for louging at the beach sipping your favorite drinks and passing the time watching nature's wonders. 

Climate/WeatherTop

Our Philippines weather page has a six-day Manila weather forecast along with some handy information about the climate and temperature in the Philippines.

CommunicationTop

The country code to dial into the Philippines is +63. To dial overseas from within the country, dial 00 followed by the country code and phone number. Emergency numbers for fire & ambulance are 116; and 117 for police.

Internet cafes are available throughout the major cities, although may be harder to find in more rural areas, especially some of the outer islands. Mobile phone coverage is almost exclusively restricted to Manila and other major cities. The postal system is relatively efficient both for internal and international mail.

Currency/MoneyTop

The currency is the peso, with 100 centavos making 1 peso. You can exchange foreign currency at most hotels, banks and even the larger department stores. Another option is to head for money changing shops, but be sure they are authorized by the Central Bank of Philippines. The major hotels and shops accept most international credit cards, especially Visa, Bank Americard, American Express, Diners Club and Master Card.

Tipping Tips

Another effect of the Western influence on Filipino society is that tipping has become a ritual that cannot be avoided. The bigger hotels and restaurants do add a 10 % service charge to the final bill, but that does not do much to convey your gratitude. For that you need a more personal touch called an additional tip.

The smaller hotels and restaurants, as well as the taxi drivers, do look forward to that little extra in return for their services.

To view the current exchange rates, click on this link to OANDA.com - The Currency Site.

Embassy LocationsTop

To view the list & locations of Philippines embassies around the world, including a list of foreign embassies within the Philippines, click on this link to http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/.

ElectricityTop

The standard voltage of electricity used by most business centres and residents in the Philippines is 220 volts AC, 60 cycles. However, quite a few major hotels in some areas also have the US-style 110 volts capability.

General InformationTop

Population - 90 million people (Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half the population. Population growth is estimated at 2.36 percent annually)
Total Area - 300,000 square kilometres
Capital • Manila (10 million people)
Time Zone - Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +8 hours

To view the current time in Manila, click on this link to TimeAndDate.com.

LanguageTop

Filipinos are probably the only ‘oriental' people who speak English as much (and as well) as their own national language. Though Filipino is the official language, English is spoken widely enough to warrant it the status of Philippines' ‘unofficial' language.

The Filipino language is based on Tagalog, which is just one the many native dialects of Philippines and has been standardised with common words from various other Philippine languages.

Most of the 170 languages spoken in this country belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group from the Austronesian language family. There are twelve major regional languages, which are an attempt to frame a common language for their regions, and each has over one million speakers: Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Pangasinan, Tausug, Tagalog and Waray-Waray.

Both Filipino and English were declared as the official languages by the 1987 Constitution.

Some common Tagalog words/phrases handy for travellers to know include:

Hello/How are you? - Kumustá/Kumustá ka?
Good-bye - Paalam
Please - pakí
Thank you - Salamat
How much? - Magkano
No - Hindî
Where's the bathroom?
- Nasaán ang banyo?
Sorry - Paumanhín
I don't understand - Hindí ko pô naíintindihan

Public HolidaysTop

Follow the link to view a list of current public holidays in Philippines.

ReligionTop

Official religious breakdowns include: Roman Catholic 80.9%; Evangelical 2.8%; Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%; Aglipayan 2%; other Christian 4.5%; Muslim 5%; other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census). Although Christianity is a major force in the culture of the Filipinos, some people still practice local traditions and rituals. The country is the 3rd largest Roman Catholic country, the 13th largest Protestant country, the 17th-largest Hindu and Buddhist country, and the 40th largest Muslim country. 

Visas/PassportsTop

Visas are not required for travellers from the United Kingdom, Other EU Countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan if your intended stay is less than 21 days. All tourists wishing to stay longer than 21 days need a visa. If in transit, passengers continuing their journey to a third country within 72 hours provided holding onward or return documentation (some nationals are required to leave by the same or first connecting aircraft; enquire at Embassy for details) also do not require visas.

Note: Holders of Certificates of Identity, Travel Documents ('Titre de Voyage'), Documents of Identity, Taiwanese Passports and all stateless persons do require visas. Also, all children of Filipino nationality must hold individual passports. Ensure your passports are valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure date.

Types of Visa: Temporary Visitor Visas - US$40 (three month single-entry); US$80 (six month multiple-entry); US$120 (one year multiple-entry). Single Entry Visas are valid 59 days from date of issue; Multiple-entry between 6 months and 1 year from date of issue. Visas normally allow stays of up to 59 days. Extensions are possible at the discretion of the Bureau of Immigration Office, with additional payment to the Emigration Clearance Certificate and corresponding Legal Research Fee.

Travellers are requested to pay an airport tax of P600 when departing from Manila\'s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. If departing from Cebu City, the airport tax is P400, while in Davao, it is P220. Travellers are advised to check with their travel agents on this issue before departure as the fees are subject to change.

It is advisable to check this information with your relevant embassy prior to travel.

 

Geography Top

The Philippines is a country which is actually a group of 7,107 islands, starting from South China and continuing all the way down to the north of Borneo.


- The Philippines is divided into three main groups of islands - Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.
- Its capital is Manila and it lies in the Time Zone of GMT + 8 hours.
- The islands extend over an area of 115,739 square metres, lying between 40º23'N and 21º25'N latitude and 11º60'E and 12º70'E longitude.

LocationTop

The Philippines are an archipelago located in South-East Asia located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, and east of Vietnam. To view a map of the Philippines, click on this link to WorldAtlas.com.

PeopleTop

The Filipino people are originally Malays, but some have a bit of Chinese, American, Spanish and even Arab ancestry. The long years of Western colonisation, and frequent visits by foreign merchants and traders, have helped in the evolution of a culture that blends the Eastern and Western worlds in every aspect.

Many elements go to make the Filipino character. The sense of brotherhood and camaraderie, or bayanihan as it's called, comes from their Malay forefathers. The close sense of family is said to have come from the Chinese while the religiousness must have come from the Spaniards - they were the ones who introduced the country to Christianity back in the 16th century. The one thing that's common to all Filipinos, and is a distinguishing feature, is probably hospitality.

The Philippines has a population of 76.5 million as of May 2000, and it is hard to distinguish the lines between stocks accurately.

ClothingTop

Pack some thick jackets if you're planning to scale the mountains or odd volcano. For the summer months, pack light and loose clothing. The tropical climate does tend to make things clammy for those who aren't used to the humidity but the sunny days are pleasant to bask in the warm sunshine. Slippers, thongs or flip-flops, whatever you may call them are handy to have when you go for a walk on the shore.

Business HoursTop

Shops

Shops generally remain open six days in a week, from about 9 am to 10 pm. Operating hours for shopping centres, departmental stores and supermarkets generally range from 10am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

Offices

Government and private offices work from Monday to Friday with timings from 8am to 5pm. The lunch break is usually between 12pm and 1pm. Some private offices do work on Saturdays with a half day from 8am to 12 noon.

Facilities

Banks generally operate between Monday-Friday with timings being 9am to 3 or 3.30pm. Embassies or consulates are open between 9am and 1pm. Post office working hours are from 8am to 5pm with a 1 hour lunch break between 12pm and 1pm on weekdays.