Philippines Travel Guides

Business Hours

Banks: 09:00 to 15:00, Monday to Friday
Post Offices: 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Government Offices: 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Business Centres: 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Shops: 10:00 to 21:00, Monday to Saturday; some open on Sundays

Cautions

Anyone visiting the Philippines should be aware that certain regions have a higher risk of terrorism and conflict, which can pose a low-level of threat to anyone visiting. Skirmishes between the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and the armed forces occasionally break out in Mindanao.

Illegal drug use is not tolerated in the Philippines, and stiff penalties range from lengthy imprisonment to execution. Corruption plagues the legal system; and it's advisable to bring a third party along if you have to visit the police station to report a crime. Even your embassy may be powerless to offer you effective assistance should you become a victim of crime.

Transport options are generally safe, though international concern surrounding a few recent high-profile accidents has scared away some travellers. For the most part, the busiest bus and air routes are operated by competent drivers and pilots in modern vehicles.

The biggest problem for tourists is confidence tricks and outright scams. Guard your belongings closely in public areas and don’t bring any valuables that you don't need with to. Beware of con-artists who claim to have met you before, and make a point never to leave your drink unattended in a club or bar.

Be weary of ‘policemen’ who ask to check your wallet for counterfeit money, as they may not be genuine police officers. Instead, con-artists occasionally use this scam to replace a portion of your money with counterfeit banknotes. Electricity: 220 volts, 60 hertz

Health

Comprehensive medical facilities are available throughout major cities in the Philippines. While primary government-run hospitals are typically adequate for travellers' needs, some visitors prefer opt for privately-run clinics, especially when travelling in less-developed regions. Pharmacies are usually fully-stocked and well-located around most tourist destinations.

It is advisable to check with your physician and ensure that all standard vaccinations are in date before travelling to the Philippines. Malaria and tuberculosis are problematic in rural areas, though most travellers don’t find themselves in these regions. Practice caution when heading into remote areas, and consider an anti-malarial regiment if you plan to spend considerable time trekking in the countryside.

For practical purposes, drink only bottled water. While tap water may be sanitary in large metropolitan areas, there's no guarantee. Bottled water is widely available and inexpensive, making drinking tap water an unnecessary risk. Beware of bottled water sold from road-side vendors. In many cases, locals fill these bottles with tap water and then reseal them. The safest policy for fresh produce is to purchase thick-skinned fruits that you can cut and peel yourself before eating.

Language

Tagalog (sometimes just called Filipino) is the official language of the Philippines. English is granted secondary-status as another official language, and it is widely spoken to varying degrees throughout the country. There are numerous dialects and minor languages spoken throughout the 7,000 islands. In many cases, locals use multiple dialects on a daily basis depending on who they're dealing with.Visit this website for further information about Languages of the Philippines

Currency

The official currency of the Philippines is the peso (sometimes spelled piso). Banknotes are issued in increments of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Smaller increments of pesos are also issued in coins. The peso is divided into 100 centavos.

Currency Exchange

Travellers do their best to maintain a reserve of small change in pesos, as many shops refuse to change large bills. Of course, getting hold of these smaller bills can be tricky. While ATMs are well-located throughout tourist destinations, they're often offline or otherwise unusable. It is wise to carry a cash reserve in US dollars, which are accepted practically everywhere.

Traveller's cheques are sometimes difficult to exchange. When exchanging currency, moneychangers on the streets offer better rates than the banks, though some of them are untrustworthy. It's best to ask around to locate a reliable moneychanger. Credit cards are accepted at most large hotels and fine restaurants, and many banks will issue cash advances against credit cards.For photographs and information on Banks In The Philippines please visit this website

Customs

Import and export of the following items are prohibited: pornography, illegal drugs and firearms. In addition, visitors are not permitted to take certain natural items out of the country, including turtle shells, snake skin, orchids, coral and mussels. Foreign currency may be carried across the border so long as the amount taken out doesn't exceed the amount brought in.

Everyone entering the Philippines must fill out a form declaring the goods they bring into the country. Per person, duty free allowances are: two litres of alcohol; two tins of tobacco (or 200 cigarettes); and various personal effects.

Etiquette

Filipinos are innately hospitable and sensitive. Education and a strong sense of dignity are highly valued. As a result, confrontation in any form is avoided whenever possible and even the word ‘no’ is used sparingly.

A Filipino will jerk the head upward to indicate ‘yes’ or general agreement. ‘No’ is indicated when the head is jerked downward. To further complicate matters, a local may indicate ‘no’ with his head but say ‘yes’. This is only meant to soften the ‘no’ and should not be misunderstood as an affirmative response.

A handshake is the standard form of greeting between both sexes; however, a man will usually wait for a woman to extend her hand before initiating the handshake. Filipino handshakes are much limper than the Western variety, and a firm grip can come across as aggressive.

Laughter is generously applied in the Philippines and is often used to relieve moments of tension or social awkwardness. Don’t assume that laughter is at your expense, as it’s often a social grace extended for your benefit. Staring is considered confrontational and is best avoided although tourists may encounter an inquisitive stare or two when visiting rural areas and minority villages.

Standing with hands on the hips is considered a sign of anger. The quantity, two, is indicated with the little finger and ring finger—not with the index and middle fingers. Make sure that you don’t beckon a Filipino by curling your index finger back and forth, as this may be misinterpreted as an insult. Instead, extend your arm with your palm facing downward and wag your fingers toward you.

Dining Etiquette
Filipinos are avid entertainers and it is quite possible that you’ll be invited to dine with a Filipino family at some point during your stay. If a Filipino in a restaurant or club invites you to sit down or offers you food, it is polite to decline the first time. If the offer comes again, have a seat and enjoy the hospitality.

Keep in mind that Filipino culture is laid back regarding invitations and punctuality. In all likelihood, a local may accept a dinner invitation without realising that you were serious. Even if you receive a definite ‘yes’, it’s a good idea to call again and confirm whether or not they plan to attend. As a general rule, the third invitation is taken quite seriously.

When eating dinner in public, it is polite to keep your hands above the table at all times. So as not to appear greedy, Filipinos leave a small amount of food on their plate when finished. You should place your spoon and fork on the plate to indicate that you’ve finished.

Wherever you travel in the Philippines, you’re sure to come across a turo turo (literally translated as ‘point-point’). As might be expected, you should approach the counter at these cafeteria style places and simply point to the food you would like to order.

Visa and Passports

As visa regulations are fairly fluid, tourists are advised to check with their nearest Philippines embassy for the latest visa requirements before finalising travel arrangements.

Standard tourist visas are issued on arrival and allow a maximum stay of 21 days. However, tourist visas for up to 59 days can typically be obtained from overseas Philippines embassies or consulates. If you arrange for a long-stay visa, make sure the customs official stamps your passport correctly or you may end up with a 21-day visa even though you applied for a longer stay.

All incoming visitors are required to have a passport with a minimum of six months validity. Visa extensions are relatively easy to obtain, and applications for extension can be submitted to any Bureau of Immigration. Express extensions are processed in one business day; otherwise, the process can take as long as a week.

Tourist Information Offices

Tourist information can be obtained online at: www.tourism.gov.ph/, or at any one of the Philippines’ tourist information offices. There is a helpful tourist information centre situated on the ground floor of the DOT building on TM Kalaw street in Manila. Phone: +63 2 524 2384.