From the moment we laid our eyes on the Philippines, it was love at first sight. From Boracay’s white sand beaches, to the seaside cliffs of Palawan, this humble island country has given us more to fall in love with than other place we’ve visited.
With around 7,641 islands in the Philippines, you’ll have a hard time visiting all of it in just a few weeks. We hope this Philippines travel guide will help you spend the most of your limited time in this paradise.
Philippines Travel Guide Contents
Important Information about Philippines
Philippines at a Glance: The Philippines has everything you’ll ever want. The country boasts of tropical islands, unique wildlife, white sandy beaches, rice terraces, turquoise blue waters, world class diving and surfing spots and a lot more!
Currency in Philippines: Philippines Peso | 2018 Conversion Rate: 100 pesos = $1.84 USD
Tipping in Philippines: In the Philippines, tipping is not required. Wait staff usually don’t expect tips so they are not offended when you do not give any tip. However, some establishments add a ‘service charge’ to your bill.
Language & Helpful Phrases: Filipino
Hello = kumusta
Thank you = salamat
Beer = bir
Delicious = masarap
Bathroom = CR (comfort room) / banyo
How much? = magkano
Too expensive = mahal
Don’t want = ayaw
Religion and Culture: The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. Around 86 percent of the country’s population is Roman Catholic. Aside from Christianity, there are also Muslims mostly found in the southern part of Mindanao. When it comes to culture, the Philippines culture is a mix between Western and Eastern cultures.
Transportation around Philippines: In major towns and cities, taxis, motorized tricycles, jeepneys and buses are commonly available. Getting around the Philippines is pretty inexpensive.
Transportation Tip: 12go.asia is a great site is you want to book your transportation in advance or look at the time tables!
Best Time To Visit Philippines
For an in-depth guide on the regional seasons, weather patterns and other factors, check out our complete guide on the best time to visit the Philippines. We’ve also listed out some of the basics below to give you a general idea.
Climate in the Philippines
The Philippines has three seasons namely hot dry season (summer), rainy season and cool dry season.
Hot season: March to May
Rainy season: June to November
Cool season: December to February
Peak season for tourists is usually from March to May during the summer time. This is usually the most expensive time to visit.
Times to avoid traveling in Philippines
The Philippines is within the typhoon belt so the country experiences around nineteen typhoons every year. It is best to avoid traveling in the Philippines from July to October when torrential rains and thunderstorms are commonly experienced.
Major Festivals in the Philippines
Sinulog Festival, Third Sunday of January: Celebrated in Cebu, the Sinulog Festival celebrates the Santo Niño or the Holy Child.
Dinagyang Festival, Fourth Sunday of January: This is another celebration of the Santo Niño which is celebrated with street dance competitions, bountiful food and drinks.
Panagbenga Festival, February: Panagbenga is a festival that gives tribute to the flower industry of the city. You will see here flower-decorated giant floats parading around the streets.
Masskara Festival, Third Week of October: The Masskara Festival in Bacolod boasts of colorful masks donned by dancers parading around the town.
Top Things to Do in Philippines
Boatmen all over the Philippines offer island hopping experiences for only around $20 to $100 per boat ride. Some great places to go island hopping are the Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan, Cebu, Iloilo, Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Camigiun, Palaui and Siargao.
All over the world, the Philippines has some of the best scuba diving spots especially since it lies within the “Coral Triangle”. Scuba diving here will blow your mind. The country boasts of 5000 species of snails, mollusks and clams; 488 species of corals, 2824 fish species, and many more!
Some of the best scuba diving spots are Apo Island in Negros Oriental, Monad Shoal in Cebu, Manta Bowl in Masbate, Panglao Island in Bohol, Mactan in Cebu, Verde Island in Batangas, Anilao in Batangas, Tubbataha Reefs in Palawan, and Puerto Galera in Mindoro.
Go beach bumming
It’s hard to find beaches that are as beautiful as the ones found in the Philippines. Don’t miss the chance to see the beaches of Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, Siargao, and Bohol.
Eat local food
Eating in the Philippines is cheap. You can buy a meal for as low as $1. Filipinos love to eat food so you can expect to find lots scrumptious dishes all over the country.
Insider Tip: Research about the different prices of activities and food in the country beforehand. Some locals tend to charge you higher when you are a foreigner.
Do you want more local recs? Work with one of ViaHero’s locals in the Philippines to plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook packed with food suggestions, as well as things to do and see.
Best Food to Eat in Philippines
When we read that not a lot of people are fond of Filipino cuisine, we were surprised, because we loved it!
Here are some of our favorites:
Sinigang: Filipino sinigang stew is one of our favorite local dishes. It is a meat based sour stew that has a lot of vegetables.
Adobo: Chicken adobo is one of the most famous foods to try in the Philippines. In Spanish, Adobo means ‘marinade’ and this is just that.
Kare Kare: This dish is made with simmered oxtail, peanut-based sauce and vegetables.
Lechon: If you love to eat pork, you’re going to love this! Lechon is literally a whole pig roasted for a few hours.
Halo halo: This is the must-try dessert in the Philippines. It is a mix of ice shavings, evaporated milk and everything good.
Typical Budget for Philippines
The Philippines is one of the best budget travel destinations in the world. Rum is cheaper than soft drinks and you can sleep in a hammock or camp in a tent for free in most beaches.
Good to know: If you want to save some money, keep an eye out for Air Asia and Cebu Pacific sales. These are one of the cheapest airlines in the Philippines. Set prices alerts on Skyscanner so you know when the costs drop.
How to Much to Budget in the Philippines Per Day
Budget traveler: If you’re on a tight budget and want to watch your spending closely, $20 – $30 per day could be sufficient.
Mid-range traveler: If you want to have a few splurges and stay in nicer accommodation, plan to budget $35 – $50 per day.
Dorm bed = $5-$7
Budget room = $10
Mid-range = $20
Luxury hotel = $40+
Find the best deals on Agoda.com
Street food = $0.5-$1
Mid-range restaurant = $4-$6
Fancy restaurant = $10-$20
Local beer = $1-$2
Domestic flight = $30-$80
Bus = $5 for 3-hour ride
Jeepneys = $0.1-$1
Taxi = $1-$10
Ferry between islands = $5-$20
Snorkeling = $3-$5
Scuba Diving = $25-$100
Island Hopping = $20-$100
Responsible Travel Tips in Philippines
We’re passionate about sharing tips anyone can use to travel more responsibly. Here are some easy ways you can travel better in The Philippines.
1. Pack environmentally friendly products
Learn about traveling responsibly. Try your best to only pack environmentally friendly products. Here’s a packing list we made that you can use as reference.
2. Hire a local guide
Not only are you helping the local people feed their families, but you are also discovering more about the landscapes and their culture. After all, the locals know their home the best.
3. Be careful what you buy
Avoid buying products that are made from hard woods, ancient artifacts and endangered species. Corals and shells should stay where they’re supposed to.
Related Article: Why You Need To Visit The Philippines
What to Pack for Philippines
If you’re planning on going to the Philippines, we have listed the items you need to pack before traveling. Always remember that the lesser you pack, the better. You wouldn’t want to be carrying a lot of stuff in the tropical heat.
Here are some Philippines-specific items we’d recommend packing:
bug repellant (solids are the way to go)
insulated water bottle (We love our Hydro Flasks)
loose, lightweight clothes & layers
lightweight rain jacket (bring one especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season)
waterproof dry bag (great for beach days or scuba trips)
hiking or water shoes (We have been wearing Chacos for over 10 years now)
Find all kinds of information on traveling to the Philippines that will guide you plan the perfect vacation. From how to spend less than $50 a day, 2 week itinerary, to things to do, we have it all!
Tip: Be sure to book your flights between the islands before your trip, espcially the flight from Manila to Boracay. We have used 12go.asia (affiliate link) in the past to find the best deals on transportation in Asia.