Resources

  • Philippine Newslink (www.philnews.com) Thorough pile of news, views, links.
  • ClickTheCity.com (www.clickthecity.com) A great listings site for happenings in Manila and around the country.
  • Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
  • Experience Philippines (www.experiencephilippines.org) Tourism authority site; good for planning.
  • National Commission for Culture & the Arts (ncca.gov.ph) Arts listings and articles on all things Filipino.

Top Tips

  • If you're comfortable on a motorbike, it's a great way both to overcome unreliable bus schedules and to experience the sights and sounds of ordinary rural life.
  • Stay flexible so you can reroute if a typhoon is approaching your projected path. Advance transport and hotel bookings usually aren't a necessity outside of 'superpeak' periods.
  • Keep track of weather-related disturbances through www.typhoon2000.ph and www1.pagasa.dost.gov.ph.
  • Bring a water bottle and fill it up for P5 (or for free) at ubiquitous water-refilling stations.
  • Basketball players rejoice: nearly every village, no matter how small and remote, has a court. Call 'next' and be ready to compete.
  • Schedule at least half a day for connecting flights back to Manila or Cebu, to account for possible delays.

What to Take

  • Sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen
  • Earplugs – roosters and karaoke operate at full volume
  • Headlamp – brownouts, blackouts and no electricity are common
  • Cash is king so bring a waist-belt to keep it secure
  • Sarong or pullover for those ridiculously cold air-con buses and ferries
  • Dry bag
  • Mask, snorkel, rash guard and reef booties for snorkelling
  • Water bottle

What to Wear

Because of the tropical climate, the Philippines by necessity is a casual place. That being said, despite the heat most Filipinos look fairly unfazed – of course they're used to it – and tend to wear trousers in urban areas (offices of course) and for trips to the mall.

In beach towns, flip-flops or sandals, shorts, T-shirts or tank tops, and a bathing suit (bikinis are fine) are all you'll need. Outside of beach settings, lightweight and comfortable is the way to go. In rural areas and villages, locals tend to avoid overly revealing clothing – although again, shorts and flip-flops are the norm for both sexes.

In Muslim areas of Mindanao, locals dress more conservatively and women, especially, avoid wearing revealing clothing.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Print out your onward ticket – airlines won't allow you to board a Philippines-bound flight without it.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for six months past your arrival date.
  • Check airline baggage restrictions.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance.