Every so often, you might come across an article about a new species of owl, fish or even lizard that’s just been discovered in the Philippines.
Our islands are hotbeds of life, with approximately 12,000 plant species, 1,100 land vertebrate species and at least 400 coral species.
And more are being discovered as you read this! We’re just shy of being 2,000 kilometers long from the tip of Luzon to the toe of Mindanao, but we are host to a lot of mosts. The island with the most volcanoes per square kilometer. The most mangrove species in the world. The most bio-diverse reef system. We have extensive mountain ranges to hike through, underwater landscapes to dive in, flat plains to drive across, cave systems to explore, waterfalls, rock faces, rivers, lakes – and, of course, much more.
If you want the bright & sunny, tropical glory of the Philippines, plan your trip between the summer months of March and May.
It will be hot and dry, but that’s what beaches, sunblock and straw hats are for! Want things a little bit cooler? Then November to February are best for you. We’d say avoid the rainy season from June to October, but a good traveler knows that off-peak season means lower rates in airfares, hotels, resorts — and maybe the beer too.
Just be forewarned that the months between July and September are characterized by typhoons. Some parts of the country such as Cebu and Davao, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year. For up-to-date weather information, visit the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Adminstration (PAGASA) website: www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph or call the PAGASA 24-hour hotline (632) 4338526.
What to Wear
Welcome to island life! All you’ll need are light, casual clothes. Typical outfit for the mall or sightseeing outdoors: Shorts, flip-flops & a shirt. Typical outfit for watching movies or going to churches or museums: Jeans/pants, a shirt, closed shoes.
For formal occasions, men are encouraged to wear the Philippine barong tagalog. Quentin Tarantino and Jeremy Renner have! But dinner jackets and ties will still do. For women, a more traditional look would incorporate butterfly sleeves a la Imelda Marcos. But cocktail dresses or long gowns are accepted and more contemporary.
A lot of establishments refuse entry to people in slippers or “sando” (men’s undershirts). Bring warming clothes if you’re traveling to the mountain regions. Quick-dry ones if you’re hitting the water or the beach. Good to have: Mosquito repellent or long-sleeved tops against bites. And of course, sunscreen against sun burns!
Welcome to the global capital for SMS and social media. Here, keeping in touch is definitely not a problem. Mobile phone sites are all over the country. We have 2 major mobile connectivity providers (Globe and Smart), plus three to four secondary ones. It’s fairly easy to pick up a new pre-paid SIM card and start texting or calling away.
Top-ups are widely available from most anywhere, usually in places with signs saying “LOAD DITO” (top-up here). “Load” is the common term for mobile connectivity credit. Internet & email services are widely available through most establishments, with more and more offering them for free. Free Wireless Fidelity (WIFI), in particular, is gaining popularity in commercial establishments, especially in Metro Manila and other cities. Just look for the Free WiFi sign on the door.
With a 3G+ network available, your own mobile phone can hook you into the web. Or you could do as most locals do and duck into an internet café. These are to be found in all shapes and sizes all over the country. Of course, the country is wired with international and national direct dial phone and facsimile service. You can access them in malls, restaurants, hotels, internet cafés, business centers, PLDT, Globetel or Bayan offices.
Aside from the postal system, worldwide express delivery service is available. LBC, FedEx, DHL, 2Go, are just some of the active couriers. Majority of national dailies are in English. You’ll find foreign publications at major hotels, malls and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities.
Thanks to the Filipino love of food, visitors won’t run out of options for their meals. You get a buffet of options – first class restaurants with world-class chefs, world cuisine, family-style dining places, simple grilleries, “carinderias”, cafeterias and food court stalls. “Halal” and kosher food are available.
Healthful, natural and organic food products have also increased considerably. As a result, major supermarkets including selected dining establishments now carry a wide array of organically-grown fruits, vegetables, condiments, and grains to cater to the health-conscious.
Night Life and Gaming
Whether you’re in a party-packed street or shoreline, refreshments here are served almost everywhere. DJs come from all over the world to party with us. And it’s probably because of our sunny weather and good nature that we know how to have a good time.
Challenge a local to some karaoke and you’ll be singing till sunrise! Manila’s nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia. Get a taste of it at the different hotspots around the metro: Malate, Manila; Greenbelt, Glorietta, and Rockwell Center, Makati City; The Fort at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Resorts World Manila, Pasay City; Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City; Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Clubs, bars, music lounges, pubs and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers known for their exceptional musical talents. De luxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. And there’s always a concert or stage play to score tickets to.
For visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables, there are the large casino complexes at the Bay area or near NAIA Terminal 3. Apart from Metro Manila, you can try your luck in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Laoag.
What to Buy
Filipinos, you’ll find, are crazy about shopping. In fact, every capital of the country has a shopping center. So whether you find yourself in the city, in the middle of a beautiful island resort, or even relaxing in an outrigger boat, you can always go for some casual retail therapy. If you’re a professional shopper though, willing to spend whole days of “finding something to buy”, our malls are sure to keep you occupied.
Try SM Mall of Asia or SM North, two of the biggest in the world. For the more adventurous, try the Divisoria area and its 168 mall. This area is the backbone of Manila’s buy & sell trade — blocks and blocks of no-frills bargain-shopping. You will definitely find it hard to leave empty-handed. If you enjoy the bargain-hunting but would like to avoid the heat, try Greenhills shopping center in Mandaluyong City or Market Market mall in Taguig City.
What to Buy
There’s an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, hand-woven cloths, embroidered fineries, terracotta and porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl accessories. Pineapple fiber, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts, and handmade footwear are interesting items, too.
The Philippines also produces fine furniture, basketry, exquisitely crafted jewelry, and gift items made of shell, wood, and stone. Shop for handicrafts, antiques and souvenirs in Manila’s Quiapo district: ilalimngtulay (literally, “under the bridge”). The Ermita and Malate districts in Manila, Tiendesitas in Pasig City.
Market Market in Taguig, The Kultura shop in SM malls, and most department stores also stock up on a wide selection of excellent, local handicrafts and souvenirs. Of course, don’t forget to check out the souvenir center or central dry market of the particular province or town you’re in. Every region has its own particular craft, material or delicacy. And some, like our dried mangoes, are deservedly world-famous. For a start, you can browse some of our products at http://otopphilippines.org
Hospitals and clinics in the country are manned by highly skilled and competent doctors, nurses and health care workers, typically in demand all over the world. Together with modern equipment found in the best city hospitals, the Filipino brand of caring and compassion makes sure you’re well taken care of.
The country boasts of a wide variety of medical healthcare groups to choose from. There are private as well as government-run medical facilities, hospitals and clinics. Most hotels and resorts have medical assistance protocols ready. Towns and cities have health centers that provide emergency medical attention.
As a pioneer convention city in Asia, Manila has hosted its share of prestigious international events. The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the country’s convention showpiece, was built to accommodate 4,000 delegates in the Plenary Hall and 5,700 persons in the Reception Hall.
Other venues of varying sizes and facility grades can be found throughout Metro Manila, like the World Trade Center or the SMX Convention Center. While Subic Bay, Cebu city, Davao City and Baguio city – with their own convention centers and large hotels – also regularly host large delegations.
For more information regarding holding a convention in the Philippines, email the Tourism Promotions Board through email@example.com.