Travel route » Philippines

Mabuhay. Welcome to the land of warm-water beaches, coastlines you can have to yourself, smouldering volcanoes, intricate cave systems and undiscovered backpacker trails.

The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.

Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.

The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 76.5 million as of May 2000, and it is hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

The major cultural agencies of government are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the National Historical Institute, the National Museum, The National Library, the Records Management and Archives Office, and the Commission on the Filipino Language. The Heads of these cultural agencies are all ex-officio members of the NCCA Board and all except the Commission on the Filipino Language are together under the National Commission on Culture and Arts.


The first half of the year, from January to May, is the best time to visit the country. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F/25 degrees C; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country such as Cebu, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.


Two official languages --- Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.

Filipino is the native language which is used nationally as the language of communication among ethnic groups. Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse.

There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.

The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are : 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the 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 resorts accept major credit cards including American Express , Visas and MasterCard. Traveller's checks preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.

Unit of Measure
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.

220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.

People in the Philippines dress for the weather. Casual attire during the day for women are 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 occasion which would usually require a jacket and a tie, there is a wonderful substitute. You may go to a department store and buy a barong tagalog. It is an embroidered shirt that is considered a formal dress. It will cost more or less PhP1,000.00, but it is worth every centavo.

Water supply in Metro Manila and in all the other major cities are considered potable. Bottled purified water, spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and resorts, and sold in all grocery stores.

Telephone and Mobile Phone
Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful. Public phones require a minimum of two one-peso coins for a local call.
    Bayantel - Bayan Telecommunications, Philippines
    Globe Telecom - One of the leading mobile phone companies in the Philippines
    PLDT/Smart - One of the leading telecommunication company in the Philippines
Some Important Telephone Numbers: (24-Hour Hotline)
    Police & Fire: 757 or 116
    Emergency No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728
    Directory Assistance: 114
    National Operator: 109
    International Operator: 108
    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.

Business Hours
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Mondays through Fridays. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
The post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes, please include them in addressing local mail.
NOTE: The Standard lunch hour is noon to 1:00 PM. Most businesses and government offices are closed.

Time Difference
Local time is GMT +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.

Airport Taxi
Passenger Terminal Fee is levied on all passengers embarking for:
    International travel : Php750.00
    Domestic travel: Php200.00
Place of payment: Airport of departure.

    Children under 2 years of age.
    Transit passengers remaining in the transit area and not leaving the airport.
    Crew members.

Anti-Smoking Law in Enclosed Places, etc.
MANILA, Philippines -- Section five of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9211) prohibits the carrying of any lighted tobacco product in public vehicles, schools, health centers, elevators, cinemas, malls and in places where fire hazards are present.
Smoking is also banned in recreational facilities for minors. Fines imposed on violators of this section range from P500 to P10,000.



Visa Information
Guidelines on the entry of temporary visitors to the Philippines Nationals from countries (click list) who are travelling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding twenty-one (21) days, provided they hold valid tickets for their return journey to port of origin or next port of destination and their passports valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the contemplated period of stay. However, Immigration Officers at ports of entry may exercise their discretion to admit holders of passports valid for at least sixty (60) days beyond the intended period of stay.

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 liter of alcohol. Balikbayans have separate rules and should check with the Embassy or Consulate in their home city. 

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

Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the 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 resorts accept major credit cards including American Express , Visas and MasterCard. Traveller' s checks preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.

Excerpt from :

Currency Regulations
It is illegal for any incoming or outgoing passenger to bring in or out Philippine Pesos in excess of P10,000.00 without prior authority from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Any violation of this rule may lead to its seizure and civil penalties and / or criminal prosecution. (BSP Circular 98-1995).

The transportation of foreign currency or monetary instruments is legal. However, the carrying of foreign currency in excess of US$10,000.00 or its equivalent in other foreign currencies must be declared to a Customs Officer or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Violation of this rule may lead to seizure and sanctions, fines and / or penalties.

Everyday Greetings

Tagalog speakers in the Philippines have many ways of greeting other people. It is common also to hear them say "Hi" or "Hello" as a form of greeting, especially among close friends. There are no Tagalog translations for these English greetings because they are basically borrowed terms, and any English-speaking person will be readily understood by Filipinos in general (Yes, Virginia and Joe, English is widely spoken in the Philippines, a former colony of the US of A for nearly 50 years!).

Below are a few Tagalog greetings that are importart to learn if one wants to endear himself/herself to Filipinos.

  • Magandang umaga po. (formal/polite) - Good morning
  • Magandang umaga. (informal) - Good morning
  • Magandang tanghali po. (formal/polite) - Good noon
  • Magandang tanghali. (informal) - Good noon
  • Magandang hapon po. (formal/polite) - Good afternoon
  • Magandang hapon. (informal) - Good afternoon
  • Magandang gabi po. (formal/polite) - Good evening
  • Magandang gabi. (informal) - Good evening
  • Kumusta po kayo? (formal/polite) - How are you?
  • Kumusta ka? (informal) - How are you?
  • Mabuti po naman. (formal/polite) - I'm fine
  • Mabuti naman. (informal) - I'm fine
  • Tuloy po kayo. (formal/polite) - Please, come in
  • Tuloy. (informal) - Please, come in
  • Salamat po. (formal/polite) - Thank you
  • Salamat. (informal) - Thank you
  • Maraming salamat po. (formal/polite) - Thank you very much
  • Maraming salamat. (informal) - Thank you very much
  • Wala pong anuman. (formal/polite) - You are welcome
  • Walang anuman. (informal) - You are welcome
  • Opo/ oho. (formal/polite) - Yes
  • Oo (informal) - Yes
  • Hindi po/ho (formal/polite) - No
  • Hindi (informal) - No
  • Hindi ko po/ho alam. (formal/polite) - I don't know
  • Hindi ko alam. (informal) - I don't know
  • Anong oras na po? (formal/polite) - What time is it?
  • Anong oras na? (informal) - What time is it?
  • Saan po kayo papunta? (formal/polite) - Where are you going?
  • Saan ka papunta? (informal) - Where are you going?
  • Saan po kayo galing? (formal/polite) - Where did you come from?
  • Saan ka galing? (informal) - Where did you come from?
  • Ano po ang pangalan nila? (formal/polite) - What is your name?
  • Anong pangalan mo? (informal) - What is your name?
  • Ako po si ________ (formal/polite) - I am ______ (name).
  • Ako si _________ (informal) - I am ______ (name).
  • Ilang taon na po kayo? (formal/polite) - How old are you?
  • Ilang taon ka na? (informal) - How old are you?
  • Ako po ay _______ gulang na. (formal/polite) - I am _______ years old.
  • Ako ay _______ gulang na. (informal) - I am _______ years old.
  • Saan po kayo nakatira? (formal/polite) - Where do you live?
  • Saan ka nakatira? (informal) - Where do you live?
  • Taga saan po sila? (formal/polite) - Where are you from?
  • Taga saan ka? (informal) - Where are you from?
  • Kumain na po ba sila? (formal/polite) - Have you eaten yet?
  • Kumain ka na ba? (informal) - Have you eaten yet?

Below is a list of Tagalog words and phrases used in giving or asking for directions.

There are a number of Tagalog words and phrases which are rather vague in terms of specific distance but signify "nearness" or "farness" of a particular object, thing, or place from the speaker. These are:

  • deretso - straight ahead
  • (sa) kanan - on the right
  • (sa) kaliwa - on the left
  • umikot - turn around
  • (sa) harap - in front
  • (sa) likod/likuran - at the back/behind
  • hilaga - north
  • silangan - east
  • kanluran - west
  • timog - south
  • (sa) itaas - on top
  • (sa) ibaba - below/at the bottom
  • (sa) ilalim - at the bottom
  • (sa) loob - inside
  • (sa) labas - outside
  • doon - yonder (over there)
  • diyan lang po sa tabi - there, on that side
  • sa banda po doon - over on that side

Question Words
Below is a list of Tagalog question words with their corresponding meanings and examples in English.
    Ano? - What?
    Alin? - Which?
    Sino? - Who?
    Saan? - Where?
    Bakit? - Why?
    Kailan? - When?
    Paano?/Papaano? - How?
    Magkano? - How much? (money)
    Nasaan? - Where? (to look for something/somebody)


Gateways into the Philippines
There are 5 international gateways - Manila, Cebu, Clark, Davao, Laoag and Kalibo The busiest are Manila and Cebu.

In Manila, there are 3 international airports.

  • NAIA 1 is serving some international air carriers. Please check with your airlines which Terminal. Except Philippine Airlines
  • NAIA 2 - is being used by Philippines Airlines for their international and domestic flights.
  • NAIA 3 -   is being used by PAL Express and Cebu Pacific for their international and domestic flights and some international carriers.  Please check with your airlines which Terminal.

       Other airports

  • Manila Domestic Airport (Terminal 4) – all other airlines (some Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Air Swift –El Nido ) for domestic flights
  • Hangar            -  Amanpulo chartered flights

The airports are located near each other.

To Major hotels
15-20 minutes’ drive from the airports, either located in Manila, Pasay or Makati.  Ortigas/Mandaluyong hotels need extra 15-30 minutes. While to Muntinlupa, drive is 40 minutes to 1 hour.  To Quezon City approximately 1 hour or more depends on the location.

Baguio City
Located north of  Manila.   To get there needs 5 hours’ drive.  There are however public transportation buses plying regularly everyday Manila/Baguio and vice versa.


Fro Manila, drive of  9-10 hours.  There are also regular commuter air-conditioned public buses plying everyday, usually scheduled at night time

South of Manila and 2.5 hrs drive to the Batangas center.

There are two airport serving way to Boracay

  • Kalibo airport
    Is 1hr+45 minutes drive to Caticlan Jetty, then boat 15 minutes ride to Boracay Cagban port.  From here to the resort is 15-30 minutes depending on the location of the resort either by boat, tricycle or multi cab .
  • Caticlan airport
    Is 5 minutes drive to Caticlan Jetty, then boat 15minutes ride to Boracay Cagban port.  From here to the resort is 15-30 minutes depending on the location of the resort either by boat, tricycle or multi cab .

    There are some resorts that ferry passengers direct to the resort from Caticlan or Boracay port, subject to confirmation.

Cagayan de Oro     
Daily flights from/to Manila approximately 1 hour flight, it can also be reached via Cebu.  Cagayan is also the gateway to Camiguin Island, which is 2 hrs more plus boat ride from the airport. To the city hotels around 20 minutes drive.

Cebu City
The 2nd busiest airport in the country.  Cebu airport serves some international flights and domestic flights to other destinations such as Davao, Boracay, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Clark, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban and El Nido.

Mactan resorts
are barely 15-20 minutes’ drive from the airport, while other islands such as Badian or Kasai Village 2.5 hours,  and Sumilon 2.5-3 hours.  To the city is 40 minutes’ drive from Mactan resorts or airport

From Cebu
, There are many ferry schedules to Tagbilaran, Bohol which is 2 hours ride. Cebu Port is located in the City. 

Davao City
Regular daily flights from/to Manila as well as from/to Cebu.  To the city is 15 minutes’ drive.  And to the main resort, Pearl Farm Beach Resort, plus boat ride of 40 minutes from the jetty port.

Regular daily flights from/to Manila as well as from/to Cebu.
Ferry transfer from/to Cebu or Tagbilaran or Siquijor is possible. To Dauin (where most of the resort are located)  is 30 minutes’ drive. 

Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
4 to 5 hours drive from Manila. There are no direct Public transportation from/to Manila

Regular flights from/to Manila  around, 1 hour flying time. Driving is 11-12 hours.  There are some regular chartered flights mostly from China.

Legazpi City, Bicol
There are flights to/from Manila.  Flying time is about 55 minutes.  Flights to/from Cebu are also available. From the airport to the city and city hotels is 10 – 15 minutes drive.  Going to the main beach destination Misibis Bay Resort, add 40 minutes boat ride.  During rough seas, alternative is 45 minutes drive to the resort.

There are   five (5) main destinations

  • Puerto Princesa City
    Daily flights from/to Manila, approx 1hr.15minutes.  It can also be reached via flights from/to Cebu. From the airport to the city is 10-15 minutes drive, where most of the hotels are located.  Popular resorts such as Dos Palmas needs around 30 minutes’ drive, then n30-40 minutes boat ride, while Daluyon and Sheridan Resorts (located in Sabang) and Astoria located in San Rafael need around 2 hours’ drive.
  • Busuanga
    The entry point to the islands of Coron and Busuanga. Regular flights from/to Manila daily are available.
  • El Nido
    Air Swift flies to El Nido from Manila and vice versa daily, about 1 hour flying time. Flight from/to Cebu also available. There is also a way to connect El Nido via Puerto Princesa, approximately 5-6 hours drive to El Nido town or Airport,

    For those staying at El Nido Resorts another 30=40 minutes boat ride
  • Pamalican, Amanpulo
    The resort operates their own aircraft flying directly to the island, also about 1 hour flying time, no transfer needed
  • Taytay
    The way to Apulit Island, where Apulit Resort, owned by El Nido Resorts.

    From Taytay, El Nido can be accessed, with 2.5-3hrs drive.  Then take the boat to the resorts, 30-40 minutes
  • From Puerto Princesa, about 5 hours drive them 30-40 minutes by boat.

Puerto Galera, Mindoro
Located south of Manila.  Drive to Batangas Port for 2.5 hours then 40 minutes to the beach/island and resort areas by boat.

Subic and Clark, Angeles City
1.5 to 2 hours’ drive

In a country that is made up of over 7,100 islands and islets, travel has a lot to do with transportation. Rest assured that options are endless for getting around, some typical and others quite unique.

Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, and Laoag are the international gateways, with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila as the premier gateway. It is served by more than 30 airlines, which fly to different cities around the world. The Mactan International
Airport (MIA) in Cebu handles regular flights from Japan, Singapore, and Australia as well as chartered flights from Hong Kong, the United States, and other major travel capitals. Davao International Airport handles regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore. The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and Subic Airfield in Central Luzon service both chartered and cargo planes. Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services regular flights from Taiwan and Macau.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national flag carrier and considered “Asia’s First Airline,” remains the country’s biggest airline company. It has the largest number of international flights to the Philippines as well as domestic flights. PAL links Manila to 14 cities in 8 countries, and flies regularly to 41 domestic destinations outside Manila.

PR741  01:30 - 05:40              PR730  09:45 - 12:05
PR731  13:30 - 18:00              PR736  14:25 - 16:45                                                 
PR737  17:55 - 22:25              PR732  19:10 - 21:50                                 
PR733  22:50 - 03:15 + 1

BANGKOK - CEBU                 CEBU - BANGKOK                                                
PR739  01:30 - 06:25              PR738  21:10 - 23:59         
The Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, Cebu Pacific (CEB) entered the aviation industry on March 1996 and pioneered the “low fare, great value” strategy. It has since then flown 50 million passengers and counting.

CEB currently operates a fleet of 24 Airbus (10 A319 and 14 A320) and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft, the youngest fleet in the Philippines, and one of the youngest in Asia. It is the only 100% brand-new aircraft fleet in the country.

Aside from its 16 international destinations, CEB also creates an extensive network across the Philippines with its 33 domestic destinations. It operates from four strategically placed hubs: Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao.

BANGKOK - MANILA            MANILA - BANGKOK                                        
5J932  05:40 - 10:20              5J931  01:30 - 04:10                                     
5J930  11:15 - 15:50              5J929  07:35 - 0945  

Other airlines that presently fly the Philippine skies are Air Philippines, South East Asian Airlines, Laoag International Airlines, Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit Airlines), and Pacific Airways – each serving popular tourist destinations at pocket-easy prices. For a more personal experience, chartered flights are available via small air companies such as Airspan Corporation (helicopters), A. Soriano Aviation, and Aerolift Philippines (small-to-medium-sized planes).

By Sea
As the islands of the Philippines are separated by different bodies of water, the sea plays an integral part in travel. A range of seafarers are available, from huge cargo ships to small ferry boats; take long trips that last for a day or two with regular ship lines or take shorter ones with ferries. Major cruise liners call on the port of Manila.

By Land
Moving around the country by land is easy with national highways connecting the major islands and an extensive public transportation sytem, which includes the exotic Philippine jeepney. Trains, taxis, buses, jeepneys, and trikes are the main modes of public transportation. The calesa, a more elegant means of traveling in most major cities, is more commonly offered as a “fun ride” in many public parks across the country.

A land railway system operated by the Philippine National Railways, called the Metrotren, is recommended for long distance traveling. It reaches as far south as Carmona and Cavite, or as far north as Meycauayan, Bulacan. Within Metro Manila, the Light Railway Transit (LRT), which stretches from Caloocan to Baclaran, provides a fast alternative from the regular jeepney. LRT 2 traverses five cities in Metro Manila namely Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila) along the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue. The Metro Railway Transit (MRT) traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district.

Taxis provide the best means of transportation around the city, with a flag-down fare of PhP20 on the meter. For the steel-hearted, buses also tread the roads. A vast majority of city buses travel via Epifanio delos Santo Avenue (EDSA) while provincial bus lines have put up various terminals all across the country. The best means of short distance travel is the trike: the motorized version is called a tricycle, and the pedal-powered one is called a pedicab. Trike terminals are often found near a “palengke” or marketplace.

The undisputed “King of the Philippine Roads” is the jeepney. Since it first emerged after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, it has become a fixture in roads all over the country – so much so that it is now considered a symbol of national pride.

Jeepneys are adorned with colorful designs that distinguish them from one another, with themes ranging from the serious to the outright silly, but all uniquely Filipino.


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