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Top Philippines Hotels


Philippines The Philippines represent a series of the scattered islands along the fringes of the Pacific Rim stretching from Malaysia's Sabar in the south to Taiwan in the north. The nation cobbles together some 7000 islands or more, and it is this geological disintegration that characterises the Philippines. The infrastructure and development is as broken as the contours of the land, and each province or island has traditionally been somewhat separate from the rule of the capital. Endemic corruption and conflicting religious backgrounds means the country grapples with overwhelming social, economic and political problems. A lso, rather unluckily, its location means it suffers a catalogue of natural disasters - typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In fact, the unfortunate Philippines was recently cited as the most disaster prone country in the world! So quite why would you come? Could it be the fascinating rice terraces of north Luzon, or Boracay's White Beach oft cited as the best beach in the world, or the steep limestone cliffs and spectacular diving around the secluded islands of Palawan or the chocolate hills of Bohol or could it be just that infectious Filipino smile which welcomes all comers to these stunningly beautiful shores? No doubt for delicate travelers the Philippines might prove intimidating, but for the majority the diversity and sheer beauty make the effort worthwhile. Being the only Asian country colonized by the Spanish, the Philippines is quite apart from any other land of the East. It exudes a Latin flair and pulse and has more in common with South American countries than near neighbours Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong or Japan. The culture is heavily rooted in religion and spirituality, with the vast majority of Filipinos following Catholicism. Most pay more heed to their church leaders than their traditionally weak governments (periodically turfed out by incredible surges of 'People Power'). The country can broadly be split into three regions - the northerly fertile island Luzon, the central island band of the Visayas and Palawan, and the large island of Mindanao furthest south. Metro Manila is found on Luzon and is a sprawling and chaotic city. It is not a pretty city and for visitors it is more famed for its raunchy nightlife, Manila and Bangkok being considered international leaders in the ambiguous massage field. The commercial centre Makati is orderly and smooth except for the traffic, but the poverty elsewhere is quite obvious and some areas are best avoided. As soon as you leave the city behind the pace drops. The Visayas and Palawan feel much more remote than they look on the map. Cebu City is a major commercial hub but not far away are the developed beaches of Mactan and countless quieter forgotten ones. The dive sites around this region are absolutely fantastic, with crystal waters and abundant marine life drawing underwater enthusiasts from all over the world. Distant Mindanao is closer to Malaysia and Indonesia than Manila and culturally separate from the rest of the country. By the time you get down there the capital's influence has all but dissipated. It has a predominantly Moslem population with a strong separatist movement characterised by some guerilla activity. Mindanao has real security issues and it is strongly advisable to give the island a wide berth. Filipino hotels are not the best by Asian standards but this is more down to shaky infrastructure than anything else. Within the mediocrity are some real gems of resorts and some world-class business hotels. The staff are almost always a total delight. Smiles are a constant in the Philippines, no matter what life conjures up, so it is almost impossible not to be drawn to them, and the level of English spoken is remarkably high, among the best in Asia. Typhoons can bring the Philippines to a standstill so it is best to visit it away from the wet season during the humid and sticky summer months around July to September. Outside this period you can expect beaming sunshine to match the smiles of this happy people. More...

Visas

All visitors to the Philippines must hold a passport valid for at least one year and should also be in possession of a return or onward ticket. No visa is required for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union and the United States for visits of up to 21 days. Holders of Taiwanese Passports and Hong Kong Certificates of Identity will need a special entry permit. Citizens of these and other countries should check with the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate regarding visa requirements.

Customs

Visitors carrying more than $3,000 must declare the amount at customs on arrival. On departure, foreign currency taken out of the country must not exceed the amount brought in.

Visitors may take the following into the Philippines duty free:

  • Alcoholic beverages - 2 litres of alcohol
  • Tobacco - 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco

Penalties for carrying or trafficking illegal drugs are extremely severe, ranging from long prison sentences to the death penalty.

Time

Philippines Time: GMT + 8 hours

Currency

  • Peso (P) - Check current exchange rates
  • 100 centavos = 1 Peso
  • Notes issued: P1,000, P500, P100, P50, P20, P10
  • Coins issued: P5, P2, P1, 50c, 25c, 10c, 5c, 1c

Tipping

Tipping is an accepted practice and 10% is usual if service has not been added.

There should be a list of rates posted at the airport for porter charges and hotel porters should receive about P5 - 10 per bag.

Banking Hours

Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 3.00 pm

Language

Filipino, is the national language of the Philippines, although many other regional dialects are also spoken - Tagalog is one of the most widely used. English is commonly spoken and is often used in business transactions.

Telephone

The international dialling code for the Philippines is 63

When making international telephone calls from the Philippines first dial 00 +country code + area code + telephone number

Local Telephone Codes

Angeles 455
Baguio City 74
Batangas 43
Boracay 36
Cebu City 32
Davao 82
Iligan City 63
Iloilo City 33
Lucena 42
Manila, Quezon City, Pasay 2
Masbate 56
Puerto Princesa 48
San Pablo 93
Zamboanga 62

Electricity

  • 220/110 V AC, 60 cycles
  • Flat 2 or 3 pin plugs are most commonly used, so take a universal adapter. In certain less developed areas blackouts - locally known as "brownouts" are common, therefore a torch would be useful.

Water

Water from the tap is not safe to drink and ice cubes should be avoided. Stick to bottled water, which is widely available.

Health

Outside of major cities, sometimes medical services are inadequate and health insurance covering evacuation is recommended. Consider inoculations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis and take advice regarding anti-malarials. Dengue fever is also a problem in certain areas of the Philippines. It is always best to check the current situation and any vaccination requirements with a doctor when planning your trip.

International Airports

  • Cebu - Mactan
  • Davao
  • Manila - Ninoy Aquino

International Airport Departure Tax

P550

Domestic Airports

In addition to the above international, there are numerous domestic airports dotted around the Philippines, some of which include:

  • Bagabag
  • Calapan
  • Caticlan
  • Davao
  • El Nido
  • Kalibo
  • Manila
  • Mamburao
  • San Jose
  • Puerto Princesa

Domestic Airport Departure Tax

P100

Etiquette/Dress Code

A great emphasis is placed on politeness and a soft tone should always be maintained during conversation. As with many Asian countries, situations should be avoided which would cause a loss of "face". Try to steer clear of confrontation as it is not appreciated and will only worsen rather than resolve any situation. Fixed eye contact between men should also be avoided as this can be considered aggressive.

Gestures, rather than words, are sometimes used to convey messages; the raising of an eyebrow coupled with a smile can mean "hello" or "yes". Dress is fairly relaxed throughout the Philippines, although it is slightly more formal in Manila City.

Diplomatic Missions

Many countries have representative offices and consulates in the Philippines.

Useful Sources of Information

Further information on Filipino culture and tourist attractions.

  • The Philippines Department of Tourism-OnLine

Weather

The Philippines are subject to a tropical climate with hot and humid weather all year round. There are many regional variations, however for most of the country the year can be divided into two seasons:

  • Wet Season - May to October
  • Dry Season - November to April
  • North - annual temperatures tend to be pleasant and relatively cool, particularly during the dry months. Warm clothes are a necessity at this time, especially in the mountainous areas.
  • Central - remains hot and humid all year round. Light cotton clothes are best and a lightweight jumper may also be useful during the evenings.
  • South - temperature and rainfall both remain high throughout the year. Lightweight clothing and an umbrella are required at any time.

There is a possibility of typhoons in the central and northern areas from June to November.

Carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings during hot weather.

The Northern Area

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Wet Season (May - October) 16 - 32°C 630mm
Dry Season (November - April) 13 - 23°C 57mm

The climate in the north provides a pleasant relief from the dust and heat of the lowland areas to the south.

  • Dry Season - can be very mild throughout the day, therefore light clothing is best - although some items of warm clothing are useful all year round as temperatures can drop away in the evening. Warm clothes are an absolute necessity from December to February.
  • Wet Season - July and August are the wettest months. Rainfall is both heavy and prolonged making waterproofs and an umbrella essential.

Typhoons may also strike this area between June and December.

Best time to visit: The Dry Season experiences clear, bright days and minimal rainfall - although warm clothes are definitely required.

The Central Area

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Wet Season (May - October) 24 - 32°C 297mm
Dry Season (November - April) 22 - 32°C 47mm

The climate in this area is tropical and remains reasonably hot and humid throughout the year.

  • Dry Season - the east coast tends to experience slightly milder temperatures but receives more rainfall than the west during December and January.

January is the coolest month of the year, although temperatures rarely fall below 20oC and May is usually the hottest - the heat and humidity can get quite oppressive at this time.

  • Wet Season - this period is characterised by heavy rainfall and can also suffer from typhoons that rage in from the east. However, the weather pattern is normally one of occasional rainfall followed by extended dry periods. An umbrella is a necessity and light cotton clothes are still required, as temperatures can be very high.

Best time to visit: From January to April during the Dry Season when temperatures are moderate and rainfall is low.

The South

Season Average temperature Average rainfall
Yearly Average (January - December) 23 - 32°C 159mm

The weather in the southern Philippines remains fairly constant all year round with no distinct wet or dry seasons.

This area lies below the typhoon belt and is unlikely to suffer from the damaging storms that hit the central area.

Light cotton clothes are best with a few extra layers in case temperatures drop at night - an umbrella is also a good idea as rainfall is commonplace at any time of the year.

Best time to visit: Rainfall can be slightly less during the early months of the year but in general, the weather is similar all year round.

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Philippines Travellers Tales

hiroshi fujiwara
8/29/2005

I would recommend to go Greenbelt for meal, Lndmark and Glorietta for shopping and Sanry''s for money exchange.


virgilio cerrer,
8/18/2005
Stayed at:

Cebu City was a two day stop in our month long vacation to the Philippines. Since we have have spent a week in Boracay we thought two days would be enough to go shopping and visit some of the tourist spots. We went shopping at a couple of malls, Ayala Center and SM where the prices are really good compared to back home. The public market was of interest to us specially for the fruits, mangoes, mangosteen, etc and dried fish. We rented a van which was recommended by the hotel staff which took us to the Magellan''s Cross, St. Nino church, the fort and to the Otap factory where they also sell dried mangoes. We plan to visit the Philippines again and next time we will spent more time in Cebu, tow days we found out is not enough.


sam chang
8/14/2005
Stayed at:

Cebu is very good for backpackers. You can visit "Carbon Market", a traditional philppine market, not far from Magellan Cross. Cebu people are very friendly. It''s very convenient to take jeepney around the city. Jeepney fare is about 6 to 8 pesos depending on distance.


kenneth bumgarner
8/7/2005
Stayed at:

Restaurant: Harbour View on the Pier!!!! Outstanding food - a different experience (and we went three times!!!!) Fed 9 people for the equivalent of $100.00 USD!!!!! And everyone was stuffed like a Christmas goose with everything from Female Crab (and I never knew that there was any ''significant'' difference (more meat on the female) to Steaks to Veggie favorites. It is not a fancy place and it is somewhat slow for service... But the price, the food and the experience - it can not be beat in Manila for family dining!!! Unless you are under 5 feet, stay away from the Jeepneys and the trikes...Metered taxis (or if you stay at the Copa, the associated taxi/limos) are the way to go. It is actually much nicer and not all that more expensive to take the taxi/limo from the Copa to your destination and HAVE THE DRIVER WAIT for you for other destinations or the return to the hotel. 9/10 times, picking up a cab at the location and trying to get back to the hotel can be hair-raising and expensive not to mention time consuming while the driver tries to find the hotel. ( You will see some interesting things though!!!) CAUTION: The best drug store in Manila is the chain Mercury... BUT - they require a prescription for EVERYTHING including what is an over-the-counter item anywhere else in the world. And - they sell by the tablet - not by the bottle or box. You can find some smaller drug stores that will sell w/o but they do not always have what your are looking for. BEST: BRING ENOUGH OF YOUR PRESCRIPTION and non-prescription items with you for your stay. It is best not to have to rely on the local outlets for your needs.


ken torii
8/6/2005

Moving around Manila by car was not a bad experience this time. The roads got better, less traffic jams, rental car was good idea, especially if you are traveling with family. But this is of course if you do not mind driving and you have driven in Philippines before.


vince gobuyan
8/6/2005
Stayed at:

Iloilo City is the hub of the island of Panay and is on the Nautical Highway route. The popular beach resort of Boracay is a few hours by land. There are interesting restaurants in the city and environs as well as historical attractions.


Anonymous
8/1/2005

Metro Manila is quite and interesting place with and interesting mixture friendly people. People who are shopping oriented can find most of anything they need. People like myself who like to sample various ethnic foods, will find this city rewarding. I enjoyed my trips to Baguio,Cabanatuan and Tagaytay learning some of the cultural aspects. On my next visit, I promise myself a trip to Boracay.


christopher gundayao
7/4/2005

In Makati at Glorietta--try the Cabalen restaurant--filipino buffet for only 260 pesos--good food. In Boracay, there''s Jona''s shake. And while in Boracay, stay at Escondido, though not a beachfront hotel, is one of the best kept secrets in the island...Find out for yourself why.


Anonymous
7/4/2005

Dont miss honda bay tour, many islands with beautiful beaches, great snorkeling, and starfish. Kahlui restaurant has the best fresh seafood there, and has very inexpensive prices, try the lobster, it is awsome!


gladie san juan
7/1/2005

We visited Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. We stayed at the Vigan Plaza Hotel in Ilocos Sur. Very beautiful Hotel and great location. Highly recommend. We also visited Baguio. Be wary of people offering homes for rent. We were offered a 3 bedroom house for 5,000 pesos. We later found out it was an agent and the actual cost of the house was only 2,700 pesos! I would recommend staying at a hotel. Never will we do that again!


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