The Philippines has been largely cut off to foreign visitors since the start of the pandemic but that's set to change next month.
With powdery beaches, including Boracay's 5km signature White Beach, world-class surf and dive spots, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and more than 7000 islands spread across the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines has plenty to offer tourists. But since the pandemic began in March 2020, most have been cut off or subject to strict quarantine rules.
Starting February 10, that will change when border restrictions are eased for travelers from 157 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, South Korea, Germany and more.
They'll be permitted to visit the Philippines without quarantine—if they are vaccinated against COVID-19 and test negative for the virus.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said [the reopening] "will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down."
Initially, the Philippines had planned to reopen in December but that was postponed when the Super-typhoon Rai struck; wiping out resorts, restaurants and cafes in tourist destinations, particularly the popular surfing and diving spot Siargao where, per NPR, the recovery is ongoing.
COVID-19 in the Philippines
The Philippines—a nation of 110 million people—has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Asia with just 50% of the population double jabbed and a slow booster campaign rollout. Since the end of December, the country has been experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant but, according to the New York Times, health officials are reporting milder cases and domestic restrictions are easing.
What you need to know before visiting the Philippines
Fully vaccinated returning Filipinos can travel to the Philippines without quarantine from February 1; fully vaccinated foreign travelers can visit from February 10.
Travelers from the list of 157 approved countries are permitted to visit the Philippines without a visa if their stay is under 21 days, a border policy that has been in place since before the pandemic. They're required to have a return or outbound ticket and a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival.
To be considered fully vaccinated, arrivals must have had at least two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization, or one shot of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. An official certificate of vaccination is accepted as proof.
Arrivals also have to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to departing for the Philippines.
Unvaccinated foreign arrivals are banned from traveling to the Philippines starting February 16. Children under the age of 18 are exempt.
COVID-19 restrictions vary across destinations in the Philippines, though most resorts, restaurants, museums and tourist attractions are open with some capacity limits in place. Check the Philippines' official tourism website for the latest updates before you go
You might also like:
The 12 best beaches in the Philippines
The Philippines for beginners: 7 first-timer fails to avoid on your trip
No more 7-day quarantine as Thailand encourages vaccinated tourists to return