The second-largest archipelago in the world, with over 7000 tropical islands, the Philippines is one of the great treasures of Southeast Asia. Often overlooked by travellers because of its location on the ‘wrong’ side of the South China Sea, the Philippines rewards those who go the extra distance to reach it. And because it’s off the beaten path, the Philippines is a great place to escape the hordes who descend on other parts of Southeast Asia. First... Read more...
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Cities and Destinations in Philippines
The second-largest archipelago in the world, with over 7000 tropical islands, the Philippines is one of the great treasures of Southeast Asia. Often overlooked by travellers because of its location on the ‘wrong’ side of the South China Sea, the Philippines rewards those who go the extra distance to reach it. And because it’s off the beaten path, the Philippines is a great place to escape the hordes who descend on other parts of Southeast Asia. First and foremost, the Philippines is a place of natural wonders – a string of coral-fringed islands strewn across a vast expanse of the western Pacific. Below sea level, the Philippines boasts some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, including wreck diving around Coron and swimming with the whale sharks off Donsol. Above sea level, it has a fantastic landscape with wonders enough to stagger even the most jaded traveller: the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Banaue & the Rice Terraces and fascinating reminders of the islands’ history in places such as Samar & Leyte and Vigan. And if you’re after palm-fringed, white-sand beaches, try laidback Sipalay or flat-out party town Boracay.
Of course, any traveller who has been here will tell you that it’s the people and their culture that makes the Philippines unique. Long poised at the centre of Southeast Asian trade, colonised by a succession of world powers, the Philippines is a vivid tapestry that reflects its varied cultural inheritance. And despite the poverty that afflicts much of the nation, the Filipinos themselves are among the most ebullient and easygoing people anywhere. The Philippines truly qualifies as one of the last great frontiers in Southeast Asian travel. Cross whichever ocean you need to and see for yourself.
There are a total of 79 provinces in the Philippines that can be divided among three main island groups:
Luzon – the northernmost island group, center of government, history and economy and home to the Manila capital
Visayas – the central island group, heart of the country’s antiquity, nature and biodiversity
Mindanao – the southernmost island group, which showcases the Philippines’ indigenous and rich cultures
Cities and towns to visit while in the Philippines Each small city, town or Island has it's very own unique personality. Chases that you will be able to visit every one of the are slim to none. Unless you decide to visit the Philippines more than once in your life time. Some of the places to visit are listed below:
Bacolod – While Bacolod isn't the most exciting place to visit it however a very necessary place. Bacolod has an airport, a sea port, bus stations, and jeep rental companies.
Banaue & the Rice Terraces – A small town where the people are as well known for their wood carvings as they are for the beautiful rice terraces that are so amazing to look at.
Batad – The rice terraces in Batad are surrounded by stone walls that appear to rise magically out of the ground.
Baguio – The lush green cool of the higher altitude offers relief from the heat of the day farther down the mountain.
Donsol – Here is your chance to swim with whale sharks. The whale sharks remain in Donsol from around November to about late in the month of June.
Iloilo – One of the more modern cities has been called the Queen City of the South. The night life in Iloilo is filled with music and partying.
Legazpi – Located at the bottom of Mt Mayon which is a great volcano.
Negros – A beautiful island with incredible beaches and plenty to do. If you make it to Negros you may just want to stay.
Since the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors will arrive by plane. International travelers can fly into airports in Manila, Cebu City Cebu, Davao, Angeles Clark (Angeles), Kalibo, Laoag City Laoag, Subic Subic (Zambales), and Zamboanga.
If you plan to travel around the various islands, it is best to get an open jaw ticket. This can save much time back tracking. Most common open jaw combination in flying into Manila and out of Cebu.
The cheapest options when coming from Europe or North/South America is via Singapore or Hong Kong. There are many regional carriers that can give excellent open jaw ticket options Silkair with Singapore Airlines being one.
Most visitors will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. NAIA has three terminals. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines for its International and Domestic flight networks and by Air Philippines for its Domestic flight networks. Terminal 1 is used by airlines that fly to international destinations. The Manila Domestic Passenger Terminal is used by airlines that fly to domestic destinations. Terminal 3, the largest and most modern of the terminals, is set to open early next year.
Major airlines that fly to Manila include KLM and Lufthansa, which have daily connections to Amsterdam and Frankfurt, respectively, and to other points in Europe; Northwest Airlines, which have various connections to the United States via Japan; Singapore Airlines with multiple connections each day to Singapore, and Cathay Pacific which offers multiple flights a day to Hong Kong and further into the the Chinese Mainland. Budget carrier Jet Air Asia operates flights from Singapore to Manila unlike other low cost carriers which fly to Clark (see below).
Major airlines that fly into Manila include (as of April 2008):Air Macau (Macau)Air Niugini (Hong Kong, Port Moresby)Asiana Airlines (Busan, Seoul-Incheon)Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)Cebu Pacific (Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Xiamen)China Airlines (Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiamen)Continental Airlines (as Continental Micronesia; Guam, Koror, Saipan, Yap)Emirates (Dubai)Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)EVA Air (Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)Gulf Air (Manama, Muscat)Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu)Hong Kong Express Airways (Hong Kong)Japan Airlines (operated by JALways; Tokyo-Narita)Jetstar Asia Airways (Singapore)KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam)Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon, Busan)Kuwait Airways (Bangkok, Kuwait)Malaysia Airlines (Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur)Northwest Airlines (Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nagoya-Centrair, Tokyo-Narita)Philippine Airlines (Bangkok, Beijing, Busan, Chengdu, Chongging, Fukuoka, Guam, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Nagoya-Centrair, Okinawa, Osaka-Kansai, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita, Vancouver, Xiamen)Qantas (Brisbane, Sydney)Qatar Airways (Doha)Royal Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan)Saudi Arabian Airlines (Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh)Singapore Airlines (Singapore, Jakarta)Thai Airways International (Bangkok, Osaka-Kansai)
From either international airport, passengers can connect to domestic flights. Philippine Airlines domestic flights leave from the same airport (Terminal 2), while other domestic airlines fly out of the old domestic airport.
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Angeles City is where budget airlines like Air Asia (from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu) and Tiger Airways (from Singapore and Macau) fly to, aside from that it also receives direct flights from Hong Kong and Korea. Clark is located to the north of Metro Manila, about 1 to 2 hours by bus. Currently Cebu Pacific operates domestic flights to Cebu-Mactan airport, and South East Asian Airlines operates flights to Boracay's Caticlan airport. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are currently awaiting approval to open up new hubs/focus cities at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu on the island of Mactan, is the second busiest airport with various domestic and international connections.
Major airlines that have regular flights in and out of Cebu include (as of August 2007):
DOMESTICAir Philippines (Bacolod, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo, Manila)Asian Spirit (Cagayan de Oro, Malay, Manila)Cebu Pacific (Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Manila, Manila-Clark, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga)Philippine Airlines (Manila)South East Asian Airlines (Bislig, Cotabato, Malay, Mambajao, Manila-Clark, Siargao, Tagbilaran)INTERNATIONALAsian Spirit (Koror-Palau)Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon)Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)Cebu Pacific (Busan, Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)Mandarin Airlines (Kaoshiung, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)China Eastern Airlines (Shanghai-Pudong)Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon)Malaysia Airlines (Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur)Philippine Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita)Qatar Airways (Doha)Silk Air (Singapore)
Most visitors usually fly in through the Mactan-Cebu airport if their intended destination is within the Visayas (for Boracay and Bohol) and Mindanao regions.
The Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on the island of Mindanao receives direct flights from Seoul in South Korea, Singapore, Manado and Gorontalo in Indonesia, and Palau in Micronesia and seasonal flights from Macau. Flights operated by Air Asia are to begin next year, from Kuala Lumpur.
The Kalibo Airport in Kalibo in the province of Aklan, a gateway to Boracay, receives direct flights from Seoul in South Korea and Shanghai in China.
The Laoag International Airport in Laoag City in the province of Ilocos Norte receives direct flights from Guangzhou in China.
The Subic Bay International Airport in Subic in the province of Zambales receives direct flights from Taipei in Taiwan, Pacific Pearl Airways, a Charter Airline currently offers flights to Kalibo, Cebu, Puerto Princesa and parts of South Korea.
The Zamboanga International Airport in Zamboanga City on the Zamboanga Peninsula will soon receive direct flights from Sandakan in Malaysia beginning in April 23, 2007.
Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines are some of the airlines that operate domestic flights. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific serve most large cities, while smaller operators like SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines typically fly to popular resort destinations.
Within Metro Manila, there is a network of light railway systems that connect various portions of the metropolis. The Philippine National Railways network in the south is dilapidated and possibly not advisable for tourists to take.
The Glora Macapagal-Arroyo Freeway has made travel by car across the various islands possible, albeit quite impractical for tourists due to long travel times required and the relatively cheap air fares between the major cities. If one is insistent on driving, the major car rental companies such as Avis, Hertz and Budget have offices in Metro Manila, notably at the airport. These companies have chauffeur driven rentals available and prices are bound to be reasonable.
Due to heavy traffic in Metro Manila, certain areas of the city have laws that restrict certain vehicles based on the day of the week and the ending number of your vehicle's license plate (this plan is called Color Coding, though it has nothing to do with the color of your vehicle). For example: Cars with license plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot drive between the hours of 7am and 7pm on Mondays on most main roads. Be sure to check with a local contact or the car rental agency/hotel concierge about whether these rules will apply to your vehicle, especially as foreigners driving can become targets for less scrupulous traffic aides.
Travel from Metro Manila to various provinces in Luzon will typically start off from either the North or South Expressways. These are tollways with good asphalt paved roads. Farthest tolls will not cost more than a few dollars from Metro Manila. From the expressways, national highways and provincial roads connect to the major cities and provinces.
Bridges and ferries connect the major islands together. Roads vary greatly in quality from the paved multi-lane highways to narrow dirt roads, which further complicates travel by car
Taxis are generally available within the major cities but are usually not used for travel across the various provinces and regions. Some FX (shared taxis), however, usually ply provincial routes.
You can also call reputable Taxi companies that can arrange pickups and transfers as well as airport runs.
Basic Taxi CompanyTel: 02 9001447Tel: 02 6427777Tel: 02 6437777
Apart from flying, buses are usually the way to go when it comes to traveling across the Philippines, at least from within the major islands. Provincial bus companies have scheduled trips from Manila to provinces to the north and south.Major Provincial Bus Companies:ALPS The Bus, Inc. http://www.alpsthebus.com--Southern Tagalog Region. The bus company have daily departures from Batangas to Alabang; Batangas to Lawton; Batangas to Pasay; Batangas to Cubao/Kamias; Cubao to Iloilo; Cubao to Estancia and vise versa. You can travel safely and conveniently with the everyday low fares on ALPS. They can be contacted via web: www.alpsthebus.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: +6343-7239033JAM Bus Co--Southern Tagalog RegionFive Star--Ilocos RegionVictory Liner--Ilocos Region, Baguio and ZambalesSaulog Transit--Baguio, Olongapo, CavitePartas--Ilocos RegionFarinas--Ilocos RegionDagupan Bus Co.--Ilocos RegionPhiltranco--Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Northern, Eastern, and Southern MindanaoRoll-on, Roll-off ferries have also made inter-island travel by bus possible.
WG&A SuperFerry and a number of other companies operate interisland ferries. There is a convenient Friday overnight ferry trip to Coron, Palawan. This allows divers to spend the weekend in Coron and take the Sunday night ferry trip back to Manila, arriving around noon.
Ferry trips to other islands can take over 24 hours, depending on distance.
Other major ferry companies include: Sulpicio Lines, Negros Navigation, Trans Asia Shipping Lines, and Cebu Ferries.
Schedule Information is difficult to obtain-newspapers often contain pages with ads on certain days, but, believe it or not, most people rely on word-of-mouth. Boat Schedules and Directory
Warning: If the boat appears to be over capacity, do not board. Always check the latest weather reports before travel by ferry, as some captains are willing to sail even when a typhoon is approaching. Bringing your own life preserver is strongly recommended (but no substitute for common sense). Travel by boat should not be considered safer than air travel.
The jeepney is by far the most affordable way to get around most major urban areas. Remnants of the Jeep used by the American troops during World War II, the innovative Filipinos modified the jeep (by lengthening the body and adding horizontal seats) to seat as many as 20 people (10 per side). Within Manila, you will find multiple Jeepneys per route, for added convenience. In the provinces, Jeepneys also connect towns and cities. For longer distances, however, buses are more comfortable.
Also worthy of mention are the tricycles and the pedicabs (three-wheeled vehicle); however, this may not be to the liking of most foreigners, as these are cramped and quite open to traffic. These means of transport are also usually only used for very short distances.
NOTE: The jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are meant for small people. Seating is cramped, even for locals, who are, on average, smaller by Western standards. Jeepney drivers/operators often insist on seating the vehicle to full capacity (say, nine per side) even if there's a very large person seated. Consider this if you're overweight or 6 feet or taller. Watch your head when boarding as the roof is low (compared to a bus). Also, drivers often don't look to see if anyone is boarding before embarking. As you board, you need to evaluate every half second whether you're going to abort or hang on to the vehicle if it starts to move. If you're not in good physical shape, don't even try it.
When to go
Don't flash around valuables like mp3 players, jewelry, and cellphones because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Pickpockets are really common in the big cities of the Philippines. On the other hand, Manila is one of the safest cities in the Southeast Asian region.
See also common scams and pickpockets.Prostitution
Prostitution is thriving but officially and nationally illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars, massage parlors and other opportunities abound which offer this service. The age of consent is 18. Penalties for sex with minors are harsh, and offenders may also be prosecuted by their home country.
Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary also of Buko juice vendors, some usually just add sugar to water. Buy and eat fruit that has not already been cut up. Cooked food from a karenderia (outdoor canteen) is okay if there is a fire under the pots and the food has been kept hot.
If you must drink tap water (it is usually served/contained in a small to medium plastic bag), water in Manila, Cebu City, Subic, and Angeles may be ok, but it is recommended that you boil tap water for at least 5 minutes just to be safe. Elsewhere drink bottled water. There is always the risk of contracting amoebiasis when drinking tap water in the countryside. Also, this applies to ice that is usually put in beverages.
Bottled water is best purchased from within stores and sheltered eateries. Bottled waters sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled.
CDC advises that risk of malaria exists in areas below 600 meters, except for the provinces of Aklan, Bilaran, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, northern Samar, Sequijor, and metropolitan Manila. NB: chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines and around half of the c. 40, 000 annual cases are in a couple of discrete locations.
Also please note the tubercolosis is very common in the countryside, it is advisable not to stay in certain villages in areas you are not familiar with for a very long time. It is also higly advisable that if one coughs or looks weak in strength it is highly advisable to avoid contact with that person.
Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea.
Some vaccinations that you will want to have whether they are required or not are:
Adult diphtheria and tetanus – Simple booster if it has been more than ten years sense your last tetanus shot.
Hepatitis A – This vaccination is good for 1 year and a booster at that time will keep you protected from hepatitis A for 20 more years.
Hepatitis B – Usually given over a six month period in three shots, but it can be given at a faster rate if necessary. Most people will be protected for a lifetime by taking this vaccination.
Measles, mumps and rubella – Usually give in two doses unless you have had Measles, mumps or rubella.
Typhoid – Single shot vaccine, can also be taken in tablet form. This vaccination last for two to three years.
Japanese B Encephalitis – Vaccination is given in three shots you will need a booster after about two years.
Meningitis – Single shot vaccination that last up to three years.
Rabies – Three shots and a booster after one year will keep you protected for up to ten years.
Tuberculosis – You will only need this vaccine one time in your life. However, it is recommended that you have a TB skin test before and after traveling.
The history of the Philippines is a fairly simple one. From the Tabon Man of 47, 000 years ago, until today. The Filipino people have lived and survived in very a simple manner. The fossilized remains of a human being (Tabon Man) were discovered in the Tabon Caves, on Palawan Island in 1962 by Robert B. Fox and has told us that early Homo sapiens may very well have survived the ice age using the Tabon Caves as shelter.
The Philippines were originally inhabited by aborigines in or around the year 25, 000 BC. Then around 3, 000 BC the Indonesian and Malayan people came. With these people came trading, farming and, more people. The Philippines eventually began trading with India, Indonesia, China, and Japan on a regular basis.
Ferdinand Magellan a Portuguese explorer discovered and explored the Philippines in 1521. Later another Spanish exploration group name the Philippines in honor of Prince Phillip, who later became Philip II of Spain. For 350 years the Spaniards had control over the Philippines sense then the Philippines have had many changes in their government. Today their President is Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino.
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Quick Facts about Philippines
87,857,473 (July 2006 est.)
Filipino (based on the Tagalog dialect) are the two official languages. There are about 8 major dialects, 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.
Country Dialing Code
Philippine peso (PHP)