About Philippines

Welcome to the Philippines. Discover this diverse country with its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, renowned hospitality, wonderful mix of international cuisines, superb beaches, unparalleled shopping experiences and thriving cities. Couple this with the ease of communication, the Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world, and you have all the ingredients for a great holiday.

Whether you're young or old, travelling alone or with friends or as a family and are looking for a romantic getaway, an action packed holiday or a chill out and relax holiday the Philippines is sure to satisfy.

The main gateway to the Philippines is the national capital, Manila. From here it is easy to radiate out to the main tourist destinations within the county's many islands. Flying is the most efficient and quickest way to get around this nation of over 7000 islands. Manila is served from Sydney and Melbourne by Philippine Airlines several times a week. Other major Asian carriers also offer access via their home ports, including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai International. Domestic routes are generally served by Philippine Airlines or some of the "low cost" carriers including Air Philippines and Cebu Air. These carriers generally have different baggage allowance limits so it is advisable to check these details when making your booking. The main holiday resort islands of Cebu, Boracay and Bohol can be accessed using the services of Philippine Airlines. Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport is located 7km from the city centre while the domestic terminal is 1km from the International Terminal. All Philippine Airlines flights arrive and depart from the same terminal making flight connections quick and easy.

The Philippines has a second major international gateway, Cebu, known as the "second capital" of the country and is the gateway to the south. The airport is located on Mactan Island which is connected to Cebu Island, where Cebu City is located, by two bridges. Most of the major resorts are set along the palm fringed beaches of Mactan Island. Cebu is served by frequent daily domestic flights from Manila and other major domestic cities. There are several International airlines flying into Cebu from Asia cities including Singapore and Hong Kong making access to the Philippines even more convenient. Why not combine your holiday with a stop in one of these exciting destinations.

Philippines is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. An easier way to think of it is: Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in normal time are 2 hours ahead of Singapore (during Daylight Savings this increases to 3 hours). Perth is in the same time zone.

Back to Top

Food

The Philippines’ distinct cuisine exhibits multi-layered flavours are expressed differently from kitchen to kitchen. The strong Spanish influence that has swept across all facets of Filipino culture also shines through in their cuisine. Combine this with strong influences from Malay and Chinese cooking styles and you have a truly unique gastronomic treasure with a spicy blend of various cultures.

Each region in the Philippines has its own culinary treasure to boast. Take the Trinidad Valley for example – famous for having the highest quality fresh fruits and vegetables. Pampanga is best known for its sweet meat, Batangas for its tender juicy meat and rich coffee beans, the coastal regions of Cebu and Palawan known for their beautiful fresh seafoods. The list really does go on…

Feeling brave? Try one of the Philippines most famous delicacies – Balut. A Balut is essentially a developing duck embryo which is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. Sounds appetising…

Back to Top

Shopping

While the Philippines are most famous for their beautiful beaches and natural wonders, less known to the world is the fact that the destination is a shopper’s paradise. The malls are unlike anything we’re used to here in Australia, with the Philippines boasting three of the world’s top ten largest malls – they are virtually mini-cities!

The air conditioned malls are a welcome refuge from the heat outside and are a popular ‘hang out’ spot for locals and tourists alike. They offer a ‘one stop shop’ for all your shopping needs with a wide range of department stores, supermarkets, spas theatres and much more.

You can look forward to making great savings on clothing, shoes and accessories. Beware that the sizing is suited more to Asian frames, so make sure to try everything on before purchasing when possible.

It’s advisable to carry cash with you when shopping as credit cards are not as widely accepted as they are here in Australia.

Back to Top

Culture

With three centuries under Spanish rule followed by 50 years of American influence, the Philippines have a culture unlike any other Asian country.

Despite the strong Spanish and American influence, the Filipino soul still shines through with its unique cultural identity and creativity.

The Filipino’s love of socialising, dancing and music culminate in the province-wide street party and town talent show – the fiesta. Be ready to dance in the streets to tribal drum rhythms or simply marvel at elaborate floats blooming with the season’s harvest and the town folk’s crafty work.

You’ll also appreciate the Filipino’s artistic flare exhibited through their penchant for colour and craftsmanship even outside the museums and galleries. It can also be seen through their handicraft, design and fashion.

Back to Top

Water sports

The Philippines are lucky enough to boast some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. But did you know that there’s a whole other world to discover beyond the breakers? The Philippines is truly an aquatic playground for any water sport enthusiast.

Water sports abound! Sailing in Subic Bay and Batangas; white-water rafting down Chico River; even the more extreme kite surfing is growing more popular by the day in Bicol, Boracay, Coron, Cuyo, and windswept Pagudpud Peninsula — the country’s northernmost tip.

From the gentle, clear water of Boracay to the surf breaks of Siargao; you’ll find the island, the beach, the shore that’s just perfect for you.

If you love the mysteries of the underwater kingdom then the Philippines is the place for you!

Those who choose to snorkel can enjoy simply hovering above glistening corals, inches from the hull of World War II shipwrecks.

Pros may prefer to dive directly into the darker caverns of these sunken vessels and uncover history hatch by hatch.

Some amazing reefs—like those in Anilao, Calamianes and Cebu islands—are just a shore entry away. Sit down to lunch as soon as you strip off your wetsuit!

Just a quick dip proves that the Philippines’ seas are home to the planet’s most diverse marine life—from the huge whale sharks to the tiniest reef fish — as well as some of the strangest ocean species known to man.

Back to Top

Nature & adventure

The Philippines offers a great variety of options for those who love to immerse themselves in nature – from serious trekkers to lazy beach – there’s something for everyone!

Hundreds of volcanoes dot the landscape — you can have a truly majestic experience as you soar by private plane over the smoking vent, or scale these fiery mountains by foot, through lava-rock trails.

If defying the laws of nature isn’t your idea of fun, there’s sure to be something else to kick up your adrenaline. Perhaps you’d prefer to take in the World Heritage Site of the Banawe Rice Terraces, a natural wonder best seen up close. Or for the thrill seekers there’s always zip lining over seven stunning waterfalls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Looking for a little more luxury as you take in the natural wonders of the Philippines? Give glamping (glamorous camping) a go in one of Bohol’s top resorts, where activities include getting to know a tiny Tarsier (one of the world’s smallest monkeys).

Craving cooler climates? Drive up for the low temperatures of the highlands. Check out Baguio City and the place that time forgot — Sagada.

Back to Top

Popular Regions

The Philippines a wealth of wonders. These are some of our favourite regions.

MANILA: the exuberant capital of the Philippines is a fast-paced, ever-changing city, full of local culture and traditions and mixed with international appeal. Manila offers a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, clubs, bars and casinos. It also offers some of the best shopping available in Asia. Incredible bargains abound at the many major shopping malls spread throughout the city. Some of the best include the massive SM Mall of Asia in the Bay area, the third largest mall in the world, or try the Ayala, Glorietta or Greenbelt Square shopping malls in Makati. Retail therapy was never so good!

CEBU: Cebu city, just 1 hour's flying time south of Manila, is the second capital of the Philippines and is the historic birthplace of the Philippines. Magellan set foot here in 1521 and much of its early history is still in evidence. Mactan Island, which is connected to Cebu Island by dual bridges, is home to many wonderful resorts and offers a tranquil pace, balmy weather and sparkling clear waters. An ideal destination for the whole family!

BORACAY: If a wonderfully relaxing beach holiday is what you crave then head to White Beach, Boracay, recognized as one of the best beaches in the world, with its talcum fine sand and crystalline waters. It is a true tropical paradise. Days can be spent simply lazing on the beach or having a soothing massage under the coconut trees and at night make sure you drop in to the swinging disco on the beach. Every night is party time!

BOHOL: is the main island of Bohol Province which also includes approximately 75 other surrounding islands. Bohol’s most well-known tourist attraction is the famous Chocolate Hills – more than 1,268 grass-covered limestone domes that are almost identical in shape and height. These picturesque hills turn a distinct shade of brown during the dry season and give them a passing resemblance to everyone’s favourite sweet treat. For the more adventurous travellers out there, try touring the hills on an all-terrain vehicle tour. Bohol is also famous for its wonderful coastline where you can enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches or even jump in the water for a swim with the dolphins or whales. Other great attractions include the Tarsier – one of the world’s smallest (and cutest) primates, heritage listed sites and old stone churches.

Back to Top

Family Friendly

Any holiday with the family is a special treat for the kids. The Filipinos have a very high focus on family and in particular children. They just love them all. This is why the Philippines is such a great holiday destination for a wonderful family holiday. Cebu is an ideal destination for the family as it has terrific resorts that focus on kid's activities, very safe beaches with beautiful soft sand and crystal clear waters, balmy weather and friendly, attentive service.

The Shangri-la's Mactan Resort & Spa is a superb resort for all but caters to family needs to perfection. The Deluxe Family room is specifically designed to cater to a family of 2 adults and 2 kids while the Kid's Club is among the best in Asia. Here the concept has been set up in Zones, Toddler Zone with activities for the 0 - 3 years old, Adventure Zone for the 4 - 12 years old and E-Zone, for the teenagers up to 17 years old, which features video arcades, table soccer, and other opportunities for shared family fun. Add to this extensive grounds, swimming pools, a golf course and the beach with a full range of water activities including snorkeling, sailing, kayaks and windsurfing. There is sure to be enough to fill any kids day.

Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort offers a different style of resort but just as many options for a great family getaway. The resort sits in 5 hectares of beautiful tropical landscape along a beachfront of sparkling white sand lapped by clear azure waters. The Amuma Spa Suite and the Premier Deluxe rooms are ideal for families of up to 2 Adults and 3 kids with suitable bedding and plenty of space. The Dolpo Kid's Club is more than just a few toys. Kids buy a membership and get a whole host of goodies including a beachbag, refillable water bottle, colouring book and membership card. The Club arranges scheduled beach and outdoor activities as well as professionally supervised events and daily fun times. The Kids Club Hosts are there to ensure the kids and YOU have a totally relaxed and fun filled stay at their resort.

The resort also offers a vast selection of activities for the older kids including sailing, snorkeling, volley ball, tennis and scuba diving. There are more but save some energy 'til you get there.

Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort is sure to give you a great holiday.

Back to Top

People & Customs

The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The country is marked by a true blend of cultures; truly in the Philippines, East meets West.

Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their Western visitors. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.

The Spaniards introduced Christianity (the Roman Catholic faith) and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 83% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith the other practicing religions are Protestants, Islam Philippine Independent Church, Iglesia ni Cristo.

English is the most widely spoken next to Filipino/Tagalog, the national language. The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. The Philippines is currently the third-largest English speaking country in the world. Learning some basic local phrases may come in handy. Over 111 local dialects are spoken in the country.

Never leave home without your rain gear, umbrella, and heavy clothing during the rainy months from June to October as well as when setting out to the mountainous areas.

When shopping in a public market, it is perfectly acceptable to haggle for the cheapest price.

Comfortable yet sturdy footwear are best, as travelling the islands will often involve some walking.

When headed to the remote areas, come prepared with an insect repellent and even your own water in handy containers. Always have the island map with you.

Prepare to hop in a jeepney, tricycle, or pedicab - exotic modes of land transport that are the most commonly available for getting around. Always bring loose change when taking public transport.

Know the transport schedules. Some destinations are only being serviced intermittently, not to mention extreme weather conditions that will affect these schedules.

Adapt to local customs; accept local differences. The Filipinos are divided culturally into regions, a total of 16 at present, each with its own distinct traits and traditions.

Be sure to sample the endless variety of native delicacies and local cuisine, which differ in every region.

Tipping is expected for most services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.

Back to Top

Shopping

Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices. Shopping in the Philippines offers the best value for money in Asia and an amazing array of merchandise. Best buys include shoes, ladies and men's fashion items, kid's clothes and toys, local handicrafts and sportswear. Incredible bargains abound at the many major shopping malls spread throughout Manila. Some of the best include the massive SM Mall of Asia in the Bay area, the third largest mall in the world, or try the Ayala, Glorietta or Greenbelt Square shopping malls in Makati. Retail therapy was never so good!

Back to Top

Top Things To Do

WATER SPORTS

The Philippines are lucky enough to boast some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. But did you know that there’s a whole other world to discover beyond the breakers? The Philippines is truly an aquatic playground for any water sport enthusiast.

From the gentle, clear water of Boracay to the surf breaks of Siargao; you’ll find the island, the beach, the shore that’s just perfect for you.

If you love the mysteries of the underwater kingdom then the Philippines is the place for you!

Those who choose to snorkel can enjoy simply hovering above glistening corals, inches from the hull of World War II shipwrecks.

Pros may prefer to dive directly into the darker caverns of these sunken vessels and uncover history hatch by hatch.

Some amazing reefs—like those in Anilao, Calamianes and Cebu islands—are just a shore entry away. Sit down to lunch as soon as you strip off your wetsuit!

Just a quick dip proves that the Philippines’ seas are home to the planet’s most diverse marine life—from the huge whale sharks to the tiniest reef fish — as well as some of the strangest ocean species known to man.

Watch the sunset over Manila Bay - one of the most spectacular in the world.

Sit on any of the beautiful soft white sand beaches on offer and have a refreshing drink and let the stress wash away with the lapping waves.

Enjoy some delicious Filipino style seafood at a beachside restaurant.

Go shopping at one of the huge shopping malls or the markets at Greenhills in Manila where bargains abound.

Hire a banca (outrigger sailing boat) and skim over the sparkling sea along the beachfront - incredibly exhilarating!

Enjoy a Spa or maybe just a soothing massage on the beach, you deserve it.

Do a Padi Diving course and open up a new world.

Drop in to any of the nightclubs or music lounges that abound and enjoy the musical talents of the Filipinos, you won't be disappointed.

Have a great holiday

Back to Top

General Health

As in most countries, vaccination certificates are not required for people unless coming from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Hospitals in the country are equipped with modern facilities to meet any medical need. In some remote towns and cities, clinics and health centres provide emergency medical attention. Most hotels and resorts provide medical assistance. Water supply in Metro Manila and in all the other major cities is considered safe for drinking. Bottled purified water, spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and resorts, and sold in all grocery stores.. Discuss vaccinations and risks with your doctor before you go. Travel Insurance is highly recommended.

Back to Top

When To Go

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 subject to tropical storms. Average temperature is 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.

Back to Top

What To Pack

Light, casual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. Casual clothing is acceptable inside churches, however shorts and scanty clothing should be avoided. Dining establishments and hotels impose no dress code but shorts and slippers are deemed improper. Formal occasions require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine barong tagalong) for men and cocktail dresses or long gowns for women

To enjoy your trip to the Philippines better be sure to include these in your essential list

First, keep in mind that the Philippines has a humid climate. It is suggested that you bring light coloured clothing. Forget about sleeves, thick textile coats and all. Shirts, pants or shorts will do. In a hot climate place like this, it is must to have a cap, hat or anything to protect your scalp from the scouring sun especially if you are travelling a lot. Remember those sunglasses too. Thinking about your foot wear? Well, whatever comes along with a casual get-up: let it be flip-flops, sandals or sneakers, depending on what activity you will be doing.

Secondly, never forget to bring that camera. You are travelling to a wonderful place (talcum white sand beaches, warm hospitality, luscious food, and paradise scenery, everything) make each moment count, click that button!

Bring only what is necessary, to be comfortable on your trip. Don't forgot there are a long list of shopping centres that have local and international stores that can offer plenty of bargains to fill up that suitcase. Enjoy the trip. Be ready for the experience of a life time!

Back to Top

Got the info you need? Ready to relax in Philippines?