Philippines General Travel Information

Local Time

GMT plus 8 hours

Immigration

Visas are not required for SA passport holders for a stay of up to 30 days provided they hold valid air tickets for their return journey to port of origin or next point of destination. Passports must be valid for a period of not less than 6 months from date of authorized stay and have at least 3 blank pages available.

Taxes

The Philippine Travel Tax is PHP1, 620.00 (approximately $35.00). All passengers departing from the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) are expected to pay the Airport Terminal Fee of PHP750.00 (approximately $17.00). No one is exempt from paying the Airport Terminal Fee.

PHP 200 - 220 for domestic flights from big airports

PHP 20 - 50 for small domestic airports

PHP 2.50 - 100 for seaports

Things to know

  • Population: 67,114,060
  • Language: Tagalog (Filipino dialect) is the National Language.
  • The Philippines is currently the third largest English speaking country in the world.
  • Currency: Peso (Php).
  • Notes are issued in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50, P100, P500, and P1000.
  • Coins are issued for (centavos), 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, p1, p5.
  • Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized exchanged dealers.
  • Outside of Manila payments are preferably made in pesos.
  • Major Travelers Checks is widely accepted.
  • Major Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club) can be used to pay for most goods and services.
  • Bank Hours Banks are open 9am-3pm Mon-Fri (except public holidays).
  • Shop Hours Most shops operate 10am-7.30pm daily (except public holidays)
  • Time: Local time is GMT plus 8 hours.
  • Business English is the language used.
  • Sexual equality is more widespread in the Philippines than in other Asian countries.
  • Make sure you have business cards.
  • The American occupation was responsible for teaching the English Language.

Customs

Upon Arriving: Visitors are allowed to bring in duty free personal belongings two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco and up to one litre of alcohol. Balikbayans have separate rules and should check with the Embassy or Consulate in their home city. You may bring in unlimited amount of foreign currency.

Upon Leaving: a certificate must accompany any antiques you may have acquired during your stay from the National Museum. You may also not take more than Php 5,000 out of the country. Possession or use of prohibited drugs carries a maximum penalty of death.

Utilities

Electricity is 220 volts a/c. many of the major tourist hotels also have 110-volt a/c outlets.

The water in Metro Manila and the other major cities are considered potable. Bottled spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and Beach Resorts and sold in all grocery stores

Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful. The red public phones are 75 centavos (exact change only) for a local call. The modern silver public phones are P2 for a local call.

Some Important Telephone Numbers: Police & Fire: 757 or 116 24-Hour Tourist Emergence No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728 Directory Assistance: 114 National Operator: 109 International Operator: 108 Direct Dialling Assist once: 112

For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory.

NOTE: It is advisable to always have the telephone number and the address of your embassy or consulate with you

Water

Do not drink the tap water - drink only securely sealed bottled mineral water and be careful of ice in your drinks and raw fruit and vegetables which may have been washed in their water – this is most important in rural areas, on islands or in the rainforest.

Clothes and Customs

People in the Philippines dress for the weather (HOT!) Casual attire during the day for women is light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in.

For Men Only: If you expect to have to attend any occasions which would usually require a jacket and tie (which is torture in this weather) there is a wonderful substitute. Go immediately to a department store and buy a barong tagalog. It is an embroidered shirt that is considered formal dress it will cost about Php 1,000, but it is worth every centavo.

Currency

The currency in the Philippines is the Centavo and the Peso (P). 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are 25 and 50 centavos, P1 and P5. Bill denominations are 5, 10 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 pesos.

Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, most large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.

Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and Beach Resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Travellers checks preferably American Express is accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.

Tipping

Most countries have a culture of giving monetary tips. It’s usually 15-20% of what you pay for, and is given to cab drivers, waiters, bell hops, hotel maids, bartenders, or anyone who renders you any kind of service.

It’s more common in other countries, but not so much in the Philippines, as most establishments already include a 10% service fee in your bill. Giving a tip here is viewed as a sign of goodwill when you do give them out, especially if that person gave you excellent service. It also works both ways.

If you don’t get the service you pay for, you can opt not to give a tip. Be it a waiter, a barber, or masseuse, any service worker who receives one greatly appreciates the gesture.

If you want to give out tips, yet are unsure of how much to give, here are a few tips for you (pun intended):

  • Cab drivers: Depending on the distance you travelled, the time you spend on the road, and how accommodating he/she was you can give them anywhere from P20 to P50.
  • Hotels: Bell hops can be given at least a P20 tip (P50 or more if you’re feeling generous or if you asked them to carry a lot of bags), while hotel maids are usually given P20 – P50 per day.
  • Restaurants: It’s uncommon to leave tips for restaurant service crews, since your bill will include a 10% service charge. However, if you’re feeling awfully generous (or if it’s not included in your bill for some reason), you can leave them the P20 or P50 bills from your change depending on your bill.
  • Bars: Leaving the change or rounding up the bill is way to go for bars, as a 10% service charge is already included.
  • Salons and spas: P20 – P50 is usually enough, though there are times when you can give more if you receive particularly excellent service.

Weather

The Philippines is tropical with just two seasons hot and dry from November to June and rainy from July to October. Filipinos will tell you that it is cool from December through February and they themselves will wear jackets.

Dry Season:

March -May (warm) 33-34 C

Wet Season:

June- October (monsoon)

November -February (coolest) 29-31C

Getting Around

Metro Manila offers virtually every mode of public transportation, as well as few others you'll find extraordinary. All charge a specific minimum fare with the total cost depending on the distance travelled. The most luxurious and hassle-free mode of transport of course are taxis and car rentals. 

Car Rentals: Car rentals, with or without driver is readily available at airports, hotels and local independent services. If you know the city, driving yourself is fine but you have to deal with some traffic and parking problems. Taxis: Air-conditioned taxis cost P25.00 on the meter and additional P2 is added for every 500 meters to the final cost. No Regular taxis. Taxis are always lined up at the major hotels and tourist restaurants and can be hailed on the street. If you take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter. If he gives you a story that it is broken, get out and take another taxi. Unless you are taking a long trip or traffic is unusually horrible, most taxi rides should be well under P100. At least a 10% tip is expected.

Public Transport: Air-conditioned and regular buses or Tamaraw FX, usually ply the major routes such as EDSA. Other convenient choices for transport include the unique and colorful, Filipino-built local jeepneys, the (LRT) Light Rail Transit, public utility tricycles (motorcycle-run side cars) and Pedi cabs (pedal-pushed side car).

The picturesque horse drawn carriages called Kalesa or Karitela, could also be an interesting way of going around Manila's historical landmarks such as the Intramuros, Luneta Park, Chinatown (Binondo, Ongpin) and Divisoria, where the hub of night markets and bargain can be found.

Most of the major car rental agencies, including AVIS, Budget, and Hertz have offices in Metro Manila and carry a full line of vehicles from jeeps to limousines. All vehicles may be rented with or without a driver. If you wish to do your own driving you must have a valid foreign or international license

Either airplane or ferryboat provides inter island transportation. Philippine Airlines services 43 major provincial airports. Aerolift Philippines and Pacific Airways are smaller carriers servicing more remote tourist destinations. For information about boat schedules, check with the Department of Tourism on T.M. Kalaw Street

The LRT: It's the fastest, cheapest way to go. P10 takes you from Monumento (the northern end of Edsa) to Baclaran, travelling first along Rizal Avenue and then Taft Avenue. Many of the tourist maps have the route of the LRT marked.

Taxis: Air-conditioned taxis cost P25.00 on the meter and additional P2 is added for every 500 meters to the final cost. No Regular taxis. Taxis are always lined up at the major hotels and tourist restaurants and can be hailed on the street. If you take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter. If he gives you a story that it is broken, get out and take another taxi. Unless you are taking a long trip or traffic is unusually horrible, most taxi rides should be well under P100. At least a 10% tip is expected.

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