General Information


Composed of 7,107 islands, the Philippines offer a host of fascinations for the adventure-seeking traveller. From the white sand beaches of Boracay and Palawan, to the crystal clear waters of Palawan and Caramoan, to majestic mountains of Davao and Albay, rare flora and fauna that abound, spectacular coral reefs teeming with marine life, colourful festivals, and ancient rituals, there is definitely something for everyone.

Visit excellent dive spots and find your-self nose-to-nose with exquisite aquatic species. Take a trip to a romantic island hideaway, where nature’s beauties are on full display. Climb to the top of an extinct volcano for a breathtaking view of the lush countryside. Explore underground rivers and mysterious caves. Witness the most magnificent red-gold sunsets in the world. Taste mouth-watering native delicacies and experience customs and traditions dating back hundreds of years. Rejuvenate your spir-its in natural hot springs. Challenge yourself at a variety of sports. Travel back in time with tours of historic spots and museums. Sample the exciting nightlife of Manila, with its world-class entertainments. All these amid the fa-mous Filipino hospitality.

History


The Philippines was a thriving Malay settlement when it was “rediscovered” by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Later it was claimed for Spain by the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who named the islands after King Phillip II of Spain. For the next three-and-a-half centuries the Philippines was under Spanish rule. A Philippine revolutionary government declared independence in 1898; however, Spain ceded the country to the United States that year. The Philippines became an independent republic in 1946.

The Filipinos are of Malay stock, with Chinese, Spanish, Indian and American strains. This cultural diversity is apparent in its 87 dialects.

Filipino is the national language, though nearly everyone understands and speaks English. The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic, with a scattering of Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, and Taoists.

Entry Formalities


Visitors with valid passports may enter the country and stay for a maximum of 21 days without visas provided they have tickets for their onward journey. However, stateless persons, nationals of the People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, North Korea, Tonga, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, Palestinians, and holders of Belize passports need to secure appropriate visas.

Likewise, Chinese nationals who are holders of Hongkong Certificates of Identity, and holders of Taiwan passports need special entry permits.

Time Zone


GMT + 8 hours

Customs Regulations


Visitors to the country may bring in the following items free of duty: 400 sticks of cigarettes or 2 tins of tobacco and two bottles of alcoholic beverages of not more than 1 litre each.

Electricity


Electricity is 220 volts, 60 cycles. Most hotels in Metro Manila have 110 and 220 voltage outlets.

Departure Tax


Departure tax of Php 550.00 (payable in Philippine Peso or in US equivalent) for all departing passengers for international destinations.

Language


Filipino is the national language. The Philippines is also the third largest English-speaking country in the world. Thus, English is widely spoken and is extensively used in business and government.

Climate


March to May is usually hot and dry, May to October is rainy, while December to February is cool and dry.