Philippine Travel Guide
Online Holidays Travel Guide Philippines Hotels, Beach Resorts
The Philippines archipelago of more than 7,000 islands is sandwiched between Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, flanked by the South China Sea. All her neighbours have magical tourist appeal to various degrees, but the Philippines, even though the sea is just as blue and clear and the myriad coral islands just as alluring, seems to have missed the boat when it comes to marketing its attractions.
Philippines Time GMT +8
Local time is GMT +8.
Language: The official language of the Philippines is Filipino, but English is widely spoken. Tagalog is the most predominant of the many dialects or local languages spoken throughout the islands.
Health: No special vaccination certificates are required, except by travellers entering the Philippines from an area infected with yellow fever. There is a malaria risk in parts of the Philippines and visitors should seek medical advice before travelling. Urban areas are generally considered risk-free. Dengue fever is a risk throughout the country; the best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites.
Tap water is not safe to drink and ice in drinks should be avoided; cholera is a risk in the country and precautions are advised. Rabies is endemic. Medical care is good in the major cities, although very expensive, however it is limited in the remoter areas. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
Tipping: 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.
Safety: Safety and security should be of paramount concern to any visitor to the Philippines. It is vital to be fully informed of threats and developments regarding crime, terrorism and kidnapping before and during a visit to the islands. Vigilance is vital throughout the islands, particularly in Manila, as opportunistic crimes are motivated by circumstances of poverty.
Extremist groups have a history of kidnapping foreign tourists, and terrorist bombings occur frequently in Manila and Mindanao, targeting transport and public places. Three explosions in Mindanao in October 2006 killed six people and injured many more. Security has been increased across southern Philippines, with roadblocks across the city, and many foreign governments have issued warnings against travelling to Mindanao.
Terrorist groups have also threatened to attack passenger ferries and other vessels, particularly those operating from Mindanao. The threat of terrorism and kidnapping is greatest in central, southern and western Mindanao, Basilan, Tawi Tawi, Jolo and the Sulu archipelago; the FCO, US Department of State and other governments advise against all travel to these areas, and care should also be taken in Palawan and at coastal resorts and tourist centres throughout. There is a high incidence of piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Philippine waters, and a risk of kidnappings at sea.
It is believed that terrorists are continuing with plans to kidnap foreigners from the islands and coastal areas in southern Philippines, putting all boats travelling to and from offshore islands in the Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, as well as at dive sites at great risk. Safety standards on ferries are low, and rescue services are not very comprehensive.
It is advisable to avoid travel off the beaten track, and to leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives. An increase in volcanic activity at the Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon Province and the Kanlaon volcano in Negros Oriental Province indicates that eruptions could be imminent. Permanent Danger Zones have been established around the summits in case of sudden explosions, and travellers should avoid the areas.
People have also been advised to stay away from Mayon volcano in Albay Province for the time being. The area is prone to typhoons between July and November, when flooding and landslides can occur.