Everything You Should Know Before Visiting the Philippines

March 7, 2024

visiting the philippines

Imagine a place filled with so many tropical islands that if you were to visit each of them every single day, it would take you over 20 years! Isn’t that mind-blowing? Yes, that paradise exists, and it’s called the Philippines! 

As the second-largest archipelago in the world, with 7,641 islands scattered across the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, there’s no doubt that the Philippines is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has something for everyone, from big cities to pristine beaches and tall mountains. 

However, many Americans have concerns about visiting the Philippines because of the distance from the US or the safety.

This is understandable when traveling to a destination that is far from home. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with all the necessary info to ensure you’re ready for your adventure in the Philippines. 

Is the Philippines safe?

Safety is the biggest concern for any traveler. However, The Philippines, with its warm and friendly locals, is a generally safe country to visit. 

Filipinos’ welcoming atmosphere and hospitable nature contribute to a secure and pleasant visit. According to the Safety Index 2024, the Philippines ranks 61st among 146 countries in terms of safety. It’s also worth mentioning that the United States ranks 89th in the same index, meaning that the Philippines generally offers a safer environment for travelers. Overall, the Philippines is considered a safe travel destination, with safety varying depending on the specific areas visited.

Given the country’s size, there are numerous travel options, but some regions are restricted to foreign travelers. Countries like the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the USA have advised citizens against traveling to the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao due to high-risk assessments, receiving active warnings from respective governments.

Even within Manila, tourists are cautioned to avoid the Ermita and Malate areas. However, all other areas in Manila as well as other regions in the country are perfectly safe for travel and there’s no reason to be worried. Like anywhere else in the world, you should keep an eye on your belongings. 

If you’re dreaming about visiting the Philippines, but solo travel makes you uneasy, you can join our small group tour. With our local hosts who will take us to the best and safest areas in the country, you’ll feel safe and protected and enjoy a stress-free journey exploring this stunning archipelago. 

Distance between the Philippines and the United States

Understanding the distance from different parts of the U.S. to the Philippines is essential for planning a smooth journey. The air distance between the United States and the Philippines is approximately 8211 miles.

The fastest mode of travel from the United States to the Philippines is by plane, with an approximate flight duration between 13 and 15 hours. Flights typically typically land at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL).

If you’re flying from San Francisco to Manila, Philippines, the average flight time is around 13 hours. There are a few direct flights every day. Utilize platforms like Skyscanner to explore flight options and find the best deals for your adventure.

The distance from the Philippines to different parts of the U.S. varies based on the specific location. For example: From the West Coast, like Los Angeles or San Francisco, to the Philippines, it’s approximately 7000 miles by air.

The distance from the East Coast, such as New York, is similar, around 8,070 miles by air. It’s essential to check specific flight routes and travel options as actual distances might vary based on the departure and arrival cities.

Visa and travel requirements for US Citizens

Knowing the travel requirements before visiting the Philippines is crucial.

According to Travel State Gov of the Republic of the Philippines, US tourists can stay in the country for up to 30 days without a visa. However, if you want to stay longer than that, you’ll have to apply for a visa at a Philippines embassy or consulate in the United States.

It’s also important to mention that, to enter the Philippines, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your arrival, and you should have sufficient space for an entry visa stamp.

Additionally, be mindful of currency restrictions, as the entry and exit limits are 50,000 pesos or $10,000. 

If you’re arriving from countries with a risk for yellow fever transmission or were transiting for more than 12 hours through an airport of any of the countries that are high-risk areas, you’ll need to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination before entering the country.

To keep yourself healthy during your trip, consider the vaccinations the World Health Organization recommends. These include protection against hepatitis A and B, cholera, rabies, measles, mumps rubella (MMR), chickenpox, pneumonia, shingles, influenza, and Tdap – also known as tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. 

Staying informed about these travel requirements will contribute to a smooth and enjoyable journey to the beautiful archipelago of the Philippines.

When is the best time to visit the Philippines?

The best time of year to visit the Philippines is from November to April, which is the high season.

Given its tropical nature, the country experiences hotter and drier conditions, with temperatures ranging from 85 degrees °F and above, particularly from March through June.

However, caution is warranted from July to October, as this period carries the risk of typhoons.

A relatively “cooler” season prevails from November to February, with temperatures hovering around 78 degrees °F.

It’s essential to note that the weather becomes more humid as you move south, and rain showers are probable regardless of the season. When planning your visit, consider these variations to ensure an enjoyable and comfortable experience in the diverse climate of the Philippines.

What to pack for your trip?

When preparing for your trip to the Philippines, it’s crucial to pack smartly for the tropical climate and diverse activities. Opt for lightweight and comfortable clothing, leaning towards casual wear, especially if planning beach excursions or water activities like boating and diving. Don’t forget to toss in a swimsuit for those refreshing dips and water shoes for some adventure activities like canyoneering.

Considering the weather, be equipped with a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the bright sun.

Ensure your footwear includes comfortable shoes, like sneakers or sandals, as you explore various terrains.

Carrying a waterproof bag will ensure your phone and camera stay dry during water-based adventures.

Lastly, two must-haves for your health and comfort in the tropics are sunscreen to shield against the sun’s rays and mosquito repellent containing DEET to ward off pesky insects.

Incorporating these items into your packing list ensures you’re well-prepared for a delightful and hassle-free experience in the Philippines.

What is the currency of the Philippines?

The official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine Peso, where each peso is divided into 100 sentimos, also called centavos. Exchanging money is convenient at shopping malls, and ATMs are widely available in major cities and popular tourist areas. However, if you’re traveling to remote areas, it’s advisable to ensure you have sufficient cash on hand before your arrival.

Credit cards are commonly accepted in larger cities and more populated beach areas, offering a convenient payment method. Keeping small change handy is beneficial, especially when dealing with local transportation like jeepneys.

Languages and the beliefs

The main languages are Filipino and English, but over 150 other languages are spoken in the country. While many people speak Tagalog, there are many other local languages too.

In Filipino schools, children are taught Tagalog and English, so it’s rare to meet someone who can’t speak English. Reading street signs, menus, and everything else won’t be a problem because they’re all in English.

Most Filipinos are very religious and follow Catholicism, and you’ll find many churches around. Their Catholic beliefs often influence how people live, celebrate festivals, and do things every day. So, when you visit the country, you’ll see a mix of traditions and customs that make the Philippines unique.

To sum it up, the Philippines is a diverse and welcoming country with lots to offer. From its beautiful landscapes to the friendly locals, there’s something for everyone. Remember, being aware of the cultural diversity, language nuances, and travel requirements is essential. Whether exploring busy cities or relaxing on pristine beaches, understanding local customs will enhance your experience. Stay informed, be respectful, and enjoy the Philippines’ unique charm.