Philippines Travel Tips

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If you have been to Philippines before, please share your experiences, ideas and feedback (Hotel, Excursions, General Feeling,…) in the comments section below, by doing so you will help fellow travellers to plan their next trip ;)

In this page you will find practical information to plan a scuba diving trip to Philippines:

Philippines Photos

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Before getting to much involved in the tourism and diving aspects of the Philippines, it best to reveal some of the facts about the Philippines that might help explain some difference of opinions that visitors may have. People have the view point that the Philippines is small, yes it is. In 300,000 square km land mass is just ¾ the size of California and has almost three times the population of that United State’s most populated state. The Philippines at 98 million people has over 25% of the population of the entire United States (320 million) in only 4% of the land mass that the United States has. The Philippines has 7107 islands, however, only 11 have a significant population.

Luzon, the largest island,has over half of the countries population and the location of the capital. Manila is the most densely populated city in the world and is one of 12 cities that make up the National Capital Region also called Metro Manila. Metro Manila has the worst traffic in the world and holds over 12% of the country’s population in just 638 square kilometers. The World Banks definition of urban or Greater Manila covers an area 1,300 square kilometers, and a population of 24 million. This basically means that once you leave the main cities, the county is not heavily populated.

The north to south distance of the Philippines is 1,850 kilometers (1,150 mi), just about the distance from Boston to Key West. While people in Key West do not greatly concern themselves with events in Boston, people outside of the Philippines paint the entire country with events in the remote south. Land based travel is also slower in the Philippines as ferries are used between islands. Look at these warnings from different governments:

  • The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago, certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao, and the southern Sulu Sea area.
  • Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to the Mindanao Region, excluding urban areas of Davao City. The advisory applies to Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces, as well as to the Zamboanga Peninsula and the provinces of Davao del Sur, Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping. The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance may be limited in this region.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons.

Each of these advisories say the same thing do not go to the southern area. Which if fine, except for the possible exception of Samal Island near Davao City, this area does not have a diving destination. Each of these countries also advise that other portions of the country need normal precautions.

Where to stay?

I usually use this website to book in advance my hotels in Philippines as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because it's free to cancel and change the dates.

Health and Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Philippines, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Where is Philippines located in the world?

See the map below.

Philippines Map

philippines map

Map Credit

How to get to Philippines?

There are three main international airports that carry the majority of the international arrivals.

  • Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL): Do not judge the country by your first impressions of the airport. The Manila airport is often listed as one of the worst airports in the world and terminal 1 is the worst of the worst. If you arrive by international flight and flying on to a domestic destination you may have to clear customs and transfer to the domestic terminal. It is not unusual to spend over a hour in traffic.
  • Mactan–Cebu International Airport (CEB): If you are diving in Cebu, Negros or Bohol it is much better to make your arrival plans to Cebu. The airport is modern and efficient. The dive resorts on Mactan are just minutes away, and transfers to other dive destinations in the rgion are easy.
  • Clark International Airport (CRK): Clark International Airport is located about 60 km north of Manila and is sometimes listed as a Manila airport. If your destination is north of Manila or even the northern portions of Metro Manila this is a much better option.

Do I need a visa for Philippines?

While Visa requirement vary by country and change, currently many nationalities can get a visa when they arrive at the airport. The requirement is an passport good for 6 more months and an outbound ticket. The visa issued will be good for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, visitors can visit an immigration office to extend. If at all possible, extend your visa at a regional office and not Manila. What is a full day trial in Manila takes only a hour or so in other locations.

Money Matters

The Philippine currency is the Peso. Foreign currency exchanges are found in most malls and readily available in cities and towns. Few banks offer currency exchange except for clients. Travelers checks can be difficult to use. ATM machines that accept international cards are very common. However, scams are also found. It might be best to use a re-loadable card for your journey.

Scuba diving

You will find all information about sea life, best time to visit, top dive spots, etc. in our review: Philippines Diving

Diving Reviews for this region

Subic Bay

Interesting Wreck Diving close to Manila in the Philippines.

Subic Bay Diving Review

Donsol

The best place in the World to swim and dive with Whale Sharks! Also a fantastic spot for spotting Manta Rays.

Donsol Diving Review

Puerto Galera

Great spot for Macro Underwater Photography, to take a diving course and for amazing Drift Diving.

Puerto Galera Diving Review

Anilao, Batangas

The best place in the Philippines for Macro Underwater Photography! A must dive for muck diving and macro photographers. Thriving biodiversity and superb coral.

Anilao, Batangas Diving Review

Boracay Island

Great place to learn Scuba Diving or to take courses. Some interesting and challenging dive sites and good macro photography opportunities.

Boracay Island Diving Review

Bohol Island

Some of the best scuba diving in the Philippines! Great wall dives, Coral, Macro Pictures opportunities and Reef Sharks.

Bohol Island Diving Review

Coron, Palawan

One of the Best places in the World for Wreck Diving!!! Also very interesting lake diving all within a superb tropical scenery setting... ahh bliss!

Coron, Palawan Diving Review

Malapascua Island

The best place on Earth to see the very rare Thresher Shark! Good chances also to spot Manta Rays and world class macro diving. Very Beautiful pristine Island.

Malapascua Island Diving Review

Philippines

Thousands of stunning Islands with unlimited Scuba Diving opportunities! Some of the best Wreck Diving in the World is in Coron Island and great chances to spot the rare and shy Thresher Shark in Malapascua Island... The philippines will amaze every diver!

Philippines Diving Review

Liveaboard Reviews in Philippines

MV Solitude One

MV Solitude One is a liveaboard owned an … Continue reading

MV Solitude One Liveaboard Review

Rags II

The 27 meters Rags 2 is a liveaboard cru … Continue reading

Rags II Liveaboard Review

MY Vasco

The 34 meters MY Vasco is a liveaboard o … Continue reading

MY Vasco Liveaboard Review

Seadoors

The 25 meters Seadoors liveaboard takes … Continue reading

Seadoors Liveaboard Review

MV Eco Explorer

The MV Eco Explorer is a 46 meters livea … Continue reading

MV Eco Explorer Liveaboard Review

One Dive Log in “Philippines

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