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Experience Philippines

Introduction to the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 tiny islands, each swathed with soft-sanded beaches, sapphire seas, and vibrant coral reefs. The Philippines boasts an astonishingly diverse range of flora and fauna including the Philippine Tarsiers, one of the smallest primates in the world, to the thrill of encountering the graceful and harmless whale sharks.

Filipinos love a chance to celebrate, and there are plenty of festivals throughout the year, such as the Sinulog Festival in January and MassKara Festival in October.

Best Places to Visit

A package holiday in the Philippines would not be complete without a visit to North Luzon. A UNESCO site, the island sports mist-swathed mountains, white-sand beaches, abundant jungles, and pine forests which perfume the air.

If you want to get to grips with what is under the water, one of the best diving spots in the archipelago is to be found in Mindoro. Deep in the clear waters you will find Apo Reef, which is teeming with sea creatures, including rays, sharks, and beautiful sea turtles.

If you are looking for an activity holiday, look no further than Boracay in the northwest corner of Panay Island. White Beach is the main tourism beach, renowned for its white sand and calming atmosphere. Across from White Beach you will find Bulabog Beach, which is Boracay’s main area for windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Top Landmarks

The Puerto Princesa Underground River can be found 50 miles north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Along the river you can soak up all of its mountain-to-sea ecosystem, courtesy of the island’s guided boat tours.

Above ground, the famous Chocolate Hills are an ideal place to visit on your Philippines package holiday. There are over 1,000 of these geological oddities, each standing between 30 and 50 metres in height. They are called ‘Chocolate Hills’ because of the way the green hills turn brown during the dry season.

Entertainment in the Philippines

Cebu is well known for being a party city, ideal if you are looking to spend your evenings dancing the night away. VIP clubs, subterranean watering holes and karaoke bars fill the city, so you are never short of places to go when the sun goes down. However, if you are holidaying with your children, Kidzania, in Manila, is the place to go if you want a fun-packed day with your little ones.

Our best deals in Philippines

Need to know

Language

There are two official languages spoken in the Philippines: English and Filipino. However, take a flight to the Philippines and you’ll soon be introduced to another 13 indigenous languages such as Tagalog, Bikol and Pangasinan. There are also hundreds of different dialects spoken on the islands, but the majority of the population speak Filipino so, if you are looking for a phrasebook, that’s the one to get.

Currency

The official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine peso. To get the best exchange rate, make sure to change up your sterling before flying to the Philippines.

If you do find yourself running low on cash, you will find plenty of ATMs in the major cities. However, it is worth keeping your eye out for international banks, as most of these do not charge for withdrawing on a foreign card, whereas the local banks are likely to add a surcharge of around 200 pesos.

Travellers’ cheques are rarely accepted as cash anywhere and are hard to change up.

Visas

As a British National, you do not need a visa for holidays to the Philippines as long as your break is less than 30 days. If you want to go for longer, you can apply to the Philippine Embassy for a tourist visa, which will extend your visit to 59 days.

Climate

Set in the tropics, the only two discernible seasons in the Philippines are the wet season and the dry season. The dry season runs from November to May and the temperature is distinctly subtropical, with the coldest month being in January. March, April and May are the hottest, with the temperature climbing to around 28°C.

Main Airports

Although there are 85 airports scattered across the islands, your flight will most likely take you to one of the five main international airports: Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Francisco Bangoy International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, or Kalibo International Airport.

The Ninoy Aquino Airport is the main gateway for people travelling to the Philippines on their holidays. There are four terminals with a range of cafés, shops, and places to eat, alongside comfortable airport lounges.

For international flights, the airport recommends that you check in at least three hours before take-off. For domestic flights, the check in time is 90 minutes.

Flight Options

The Philippines is well connected to the rest of the world, with direct flights taking around 15 hours. However, most flights from the UK to the Philippines include stop-overs, so expect the journey to take at least 15 hours.

Other Advice

When you fly can affect the price of your Philippines holiday: March and April are the warmest months and are generally much busier – and more expensive - than the rest of the year.

The city of Manila is around half an hour’s drive from Ninoy Aquino Airport. There are taxis available from the airport but, if you want to make your own way, you’ll also find a good selection of car-hire companies.

Bus

Buses in the Philippines range from luxury, air-conditioned buses, to highly-decorated and artistic ‘jeepneys’. Jeepneys are slowly becoming the most popular means of public transportation. Bus stations are similarly diverse, ranging from rickety tin huts by the roadside, to large and well-maintained garage-style buildings.

Taxi

While there are plenty of taxis in the Philippines, it pays to be aware of a few ‘rules’. Ensure that the driver turns the meter on before you set off. If they don’t, ask them to. While it is a legal requirement, there are ‘cowboy’ drivers on the roads, who will invent an unreasonable fare. It is also worth ensuring that you are carrying a lot of change and lesser bills before jumping in as taxi drivers are likely to ask for an exact fare.

Tram

There are no trams currently in operation in the Philippines.

Rail Services

There is only one rail system in the Philippines, the Philippine National Railways. The Metro Commuter Line serves Manila and offers services to the city’s suburbs. There are plans to extend the line to major cities.

MAP

FACTS

  1. The Philippines is home to three of the ten largest shopping malls in the world.
  2. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism.
  3. The Philippines were named after King Philip II, of Spain.
  4. There are 7,107 islands which make up the archipelago.
  5. The Philippines is the 12th most-populated country in the world.

FACTS

  1. The Philippines is home to three of the ten largest shopping malls in the world.
  2. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism.
  3. The Philippines were named after King Philip II, of Spain.
  4. There are 7,107 islands which make up the archipelago.
  5. The Philippines is the 12th most-populated country in the world.

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