The Philippines

travel guide

The Philippines is what you would imagine a paradise to be. It is known in particular for its white dream beaches, clear sea water and breathtaking limestone formations. The more than 7,000 islands invite you to go island hopping and explore. The dreamlike backdrops allow you to immerse yourself in another world that will make you completely forget your everyday worries left at home.

About the Philippines

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

What to expect

Prepare to embark on an adventure like no other as we uncover the treasures of the Philippines. From pristine beaches to vibrant cities, ancient rice terraces to bustling markets, the Philippines offers experiences that promises to ignite your senses and leave an incredible mark on your heart.
Discover crystal-clear turquoise waters, majestic limestone formations, hidden lagoons, vibrant coral reefs and secret beaches. But it’s not just the landscapes that define the Philippines, it’s the spirit of the Filipino people – resilient, passionate and full of life. So pack your bags, open your heart and prepare to be enchanted by the wonders that await in the Philippines – a land of kindness, sunshine and endless beauty.

Passport to the Philippines

San Vicente in Palawan from above with a drone shot

Why you need to visit the Philippines:

Breathtaking natural beauty, perfect mix of beach vacation and adventure and memorable kindness of Filipinos

Our highlight:

The island vibe of Siargao

Best time to visit:

January to Mai (Siargao is different!)

TYPE OF VAC

Summer

CURRENY

Philippine Peso

LANGUAGE

Tagalog

Destinations

find your place to be

Drone shot of Guyam Island

Siargao

Discover the magic of the island vibe in Siargao. This natural beauty attracts tourists from all over the world. Surrounded by hundreds of palm trees, the island is (still) a hidden paradise and a real hotspot, especially for surfers.

Picture of San Vicente

San Vicente

This coastal paradise is home to the longest beach in the Philippines. Lose yourself in the whisper of palm trees, the gentle rhythm of waves and emerald waters. San Vicente invites you to unwind, recharge and create memories that will last a lifetime.

El Nido

El Nido is the place of your dreams. Where majestic rock formations meets crystal-clear turqoise water. Dive into the enchanting Bacuit Archapel and explore secret beaches, swim with turtels and go on unique island hopping tours.

Linapacan

Linapacan is a hidden gem for those seeking serenity and adventure off the beaten path far from the bustling crowds. With its untouched beaches, turquoise waters and lush landscapes, it embodies the essence of tropical paradise.

Banul Beach View

Coron

This tropcial gem in Palawan boasts stunning landscapes, breathtaking limestone cliffs and world-class dive sites. Explore historic shipwrecks, kayak through hidden lagoons and relax on white sandy beaches.

What you need to know

before going to the philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands located in the Southeast Asia. The second largest archipelago in the world is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters  and lush landscapes. From the famous Boracay and Palawan to hidden gems like Siargao, the Philippines offers a tropical paradise for every type of traveler. Besides, it’s home to 110 million Filipinos, who’ll greet you with genuine smiles and open arms wherever you go. Most of them speak Tagalog, but also mostly good English. The locals are eager to share their culture, traditions and stories making your experience in the Philippines truly memorable.

How many days do you need for the Philippines?

The number of days you need for a trip to the Philippines depends on several factors including your interests, the specific destinations you want to visit and your travel pace. However, we recommend you to spend at least 10 to 14 days in the Philippines to experience a good mix of attractions and activities. Ultimately, the more time you have, the mor you can explore and immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of the Philippines. Nevertheless, even a shorter trip can offer unforgettable experiences in this tropical paradise.

Best time to visit

The Philippines are particularly suitable for a summer beach vacation or backpacking. The hot tropcial climate with high humidity ensures cozy temperatures all year round. The daily air temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius makes you want to do various activities around the water.

When to go: The best time to visit the Philippines is between January and May, as this is the dry season. During these months, you can expect good weather on most of the islands. Especially in the hot season (around April and May), the thermometer can climb to over 40 degrees, making every dip in the sea a welcome cool-down. Even if the water temperature is usually more than 27 degrees. But remember: You’re not the only one who wants to visit the Philippines at this time of the year.

Rainy season: June to November is the rainy season. Heavy rainfall and typhoons occur more frequently during these months. Although there are significantly fewer travelers in the Philippines at this time of the year, we advise against a trip due to the weather and hurricanes.

Regional particularities: The climate can vary slightly across the archipelago. Boracay, for example, has the least rainfall from December to May, whereas the driest time in Palawan is slightly shifted from November to April. If you want to take a trip to Siargao, the months of April to June are ideal. But even when it rains, the rainfall is usually heavy but short.

Travel Tips

Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing a travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations and other unexpected events. This provides peace of mind and financial protection during your trip to the Philippines.

Pack essentials: Bring essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, lightweight clothing, swimwear, sandals, a hat and sunglasses. The tropical climate of the Philippines can be hot and humid, so staying hydrated and protecting yourself from the sun is crucial. Also don’t forget to take important medication or drugstore items with you (such as period products). Sometimes it can be difficult to get these things in the smaller towns.

Cash and ATM: While some establishments accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry enough cash, especially on less touristy islands, as ATMs may be limited. In tourist locations, many ATMs were already empty and a maximum of 10,000 Pesos could be withdrawn. Most transactions in the Philippines are conducted in cash, so be prepared accordingly.

Environmental: Practise responsible tourism by minimizing your environmental impact. Dispose of waste properly, avoid single-use plastic and support businesses that promote sustainability and eco-friendly practices. In the Philippines, it is customary throughout the country to pay an environmental fee for entry to various islands. 

Internet: The internet connection in the Philippines is basically ok. Of course, there are always places where the internet is faster or slower than in other plcaes. Wifi is available in most accommodations as well as in some restaurants. The best thing to do is to get a Philippine SIM card for your entire stay in the country.

SIM Card: The easiest way is to buy a SIM card directly at the airport in Manila. There are different providers there. The price depends on how long you need it for, but in general it’s not expensive and a good investment. We paid around 20 USD for a card valid for 30 days. Otherwise, you can also buy a SIM card in the larger cities of the islands in official stores and from authorized dealers as well as in convenience stores and shops. Look for signs displaying logos of Globe, Smart or DITO.

Transportation

There are of course various options for exploring the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines. The perfect option depends on your requirements and your budget.

Rent a Motorbike: On many islands you can rent a motorcycle or scooter to explore the island yourself. However, it is best to take a look at the routes you want to ride beforehand and see if you really feel up to it. Traffic can be very heavy in many towns and the roads are not always fully developed. Nevertheless, it’s not expensive and of course a lot of fun, as you can simply stop anywhere and set your own pace.

Tricycles: For short trips and exploration within towns and villages, tricycles offer a convenient and budget-friendly option. These motorized three-wheelers can navigate narrow streets and winding pathways, providing a glimpse into local life and culture as you ride through bustling markets and vibrant neighborhoods.

Local vans/buses: Traveling between cities and provinces is made easy with an extensive network of vans and buses that crisscross the Philippine islands. You can choose the level of comfort by different providers, which also offer private vans. For longer distances, we recommend taking a public or private mini van. You’ll pay a little more, but you’ll travel much more comfortably and have enough space for your luggage. But be prepared for the Filipino driving style!

Ferries and boats: With thousands of islands to explore, ferries and boats become your gateway to island hopping adventures in the Philippines. Whether you’re crossing between major islands or embarking remote excursions to hidden paradises, ferry services offer a glimpse into the maritime heritage and breathtaking seascapes that define the nation.

Domestic flights: For travelers seeking to cover vast distances or reach remote destinations quickly, domestic air travel is a convenient option. With numerous airports scattered across the archipelago, airlines offer daily flights to major cities and tourist hotspots, making it easier than ever to explore the diverse landscapes and culture of the Philippines. If you book early, the flights will only cost you a few dollars.

Multi-day safari: The best way to get from one island to another is via a multi-day safari, which also takes you to island groups that are away from the hustle and bustle.

Culture & Food

Culture: The culture in the Philippines is incredibly diverse, vibrant and deeply rooted in a rich tapestry of traditions, values and influences. Filipinos are known for their warm hospitality and genuine kindness towards visitors. Family is at the heart of Filipino culture and close-knit family relationships are highly valued. The Philippines is also known for its colorful festivals, which reflect the country’s cultural diversity and rich heritage. And Filipinos love to sing: Whether in the minivan to love songs on the car radio or at the various local karaoke events. 

Religions: The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic, but it is also home to a diverse array of religious beliefs and practices. Religious festivals and traditions play a significant role in Filipino culture, with celebrations like Christmas, Easter and various fiestas being widely observed across the country.

Local food: Filipino cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors influenced by Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American culinary traditions. Indulge your senses in the bold and tantalizing flavors of Filipino classics like adobo, sinigang and lechon. Besides, the Philippines is also a paradise for dessert lovers: Treat yourself to the creamy decadence of halo-halo, a colorful concoction of shaved ice, sweet beans, tropical fruits and creamy leche flan topped with a scoop of velvety ube ice cream. Street food culture is also vibrant in the Phlippines, offering a wide range of savory, sweet snacks and fresh fruits.

Costs / Budget

Planning a journey to the Philippines involves understanding the costs associated with accommodation, food, transportation and activities.

Accommodation options in the Philippines vary widely in price, with budget accommodations ranging from 10 to 30 USD per night, mid-range hotels and beach reasorts from 30 to 80 USD per night and luxury accommodations over 100 USD per night.

Food expenses are generally affordable, especially when dining at local restaurants and street food stalls. Meals at budget-friendly restaurants can range from 1 to 5 USD per dish, at mid-range restaurants between 5 to 15 USD per meal and at fine dining restaurants between 15 to 50 USD or more.

Transportation costs depend on the mode of transportation and distance traveled. The budget-friendliest way is traveling via public vans and buses or tricycles for shorter distances. Ferries or flights are recommended for longer distances, although flights are a bit more expensive but make traveling much faster. Especially if you ony have limited amount of time and want to get the most out of your vacation.

Activities and excursions in the Philippines vary in price depending on the type and duration. Entrance fees to tourist attractions and national parks typically range from 1 to 10 USD per person. Guided tours, island hopping and adventure activities can range from 10 to 50 USD or more per person. Especially private tours are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it.

Total: For us, the most expensive cost was the flights from Zurich and Manila and back. We booked very late and therefore paid 1,500 USD per person. You can definitely save money if you book your flights 3 to 6 months before your travel date. You should also book domestic flights well in advance to save money. We also booked many tours in advance from home, which can be significantly more expensive than booking the tours locally. Next time we would be more spontaneous and book more tours locally, also to have more flexibility. For three weeks in the Philippines, we paid a little under 4,000 USD per person including the flight from Zurich to Manila.

Health and Safety

Health: Travelers to the Philippines should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. This includes vaccinations for diseases such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever and influenza. Travelers should also practice good hygiene, drink bottled water and take measures to prevent mosquito bites. As the situation there can develop quickly, it is best to inform yourself before your trip on an offical website, such as CDC or PassportHealth.

Safety: In terms of crime, we can say that we never felt unsafe or uncomfortable during our trip to the Philippines. Even in places with less tourists, we found the locals to be extremely friendly. Of course, pickpockets or similar unpleasant encounters can occasionally occur. You should exercise caution and avoid less frequented areas at night and keep and eye on your belongings. Stay informed about security risk and travel advisories, particularly in areas with high crime rates, civil unrest or terrorist activity. Check your government travel advice before going.

Natural catastrophes: The Philippines is known for its natural beauty, but it is also susceptible to various natural catastrophes due to its geographical location and topography. There can be typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, especially during rainy season. By staying informed, heeding local advisories and taking necessary precautions, travelers can enjoy their Philippine journey while respecting the power and unpredictability of nature.

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