Travel guide to Philippines

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The Philippines possesses so many white sand beaches with crystal clear blue water that sun-hungry tourists may well think themselves in heaven. There are over 7000 islands offering an endless tropical climate in perfect natural surroundings.

Facts

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Local name
The Republic of the Philippines
Capital
Manila
Size
300.000 km2
Principal Languages
The official language is English but most of the population speaks Filipino.
Principal Religion
Roman Catholicism
Inhabitants
81.159.644 (2000)
Government
Republic
Geography
The Philippines is situated between Taiwan and Borneo. The country consists of 7107 islands, of which only 2773 have been named. Most of the inhabited islands are mountainous and 18 of the country's 37 volcanoes are still active. Lush green surroundings decorated with waterfalls and tropical vegetation all adds up to making the Philippine landscape a stunning experience.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Due to the tropical climate it never gets cold in the Philippines. The rainy season is from June until September and it is during this period that the most typhoons strike (approximately 15 typhoons per year). From October to February it is generally cool and dry and from March to May it is very warm and dry.

Literature

Lonely Planet Philippines

Local conditions

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Currency

Filipino Peso, 1 peso = 100 centavos

Net cafes

There are Internet cafés in most of the medium sized towns, making it possible to access the Internet even outside of Manila.

In case of emergency

In case of emergencies ring: Police (116), Fire Services or Ambulance (911 5061)

Tipping

It is customary to pay a 10 percent tip. Even if the 10 percent has been added to the bill it is recommended that one leaves a bit extra anyway. At most hotels a 15 percent tip is added to the bill in advance.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in Great Britain (Central European Time) it is 19:00 in The Philippines.

Weight and Measures

The following weights and measures are used in The Philippines: Weight: Kilo Temperature: Celsius (check spelling) Distance: Kilometre Volume/Liquid: Litre

Photography

Philippinos enjoy being photographed and there are many themes to choose between. If asked first, most people will willingly be photographed.

Drinking water

It is not safe to drink tap water in The Philippines, unless it has been boiled or sterilised first. Bottled water can be purchased in most places.

Behaviour

Eye contact over a longer period of time between men is considered to be an aggressive gesture. In the Muslim part of the land it is advisable to dress modestly.

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9.00 to 15.00 (Monday to Friday) Shops are open from 10.00 to 20.00 (Monday to Saturday) Many supermarkets and big department stores are also open on Sundays.

Food and drink

The Island people collect most of their kitchen's main ingredients from the surrounding waters. Fish and shellfish, raw or grilled are an important part of Philippino gastronomy. For festive occasions the menu often includes roasted pigflesh or kava-kava - an strange dish of ox's tails in an artichoke sauce. Philippine Rum is definitely worth a try - it is delicious!

Disabled travellers

It is important to contact your various destinations, hotels, resorts etc beforehand, in order to establish whether facilities are provided for the disabled.

Holidays

New Years Day 1 January EDSA Revolution Day 22 February Bataan Day 9 April Independence Day 12 June Manila Day 24 June National Hero Day 31 August All Saints Day 1 November Bonifacios Day 30 November Christmas Day 25 December Rizal Day 30 December Flexible Public Holidays Maundy Thursday, March or April Good Friday, March or April Easter Sunday, March or April

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are quite a few places where it is possible to camp on the islands. Just an hour from Manila you can pitch your tent next to Lake Taal. It is important to be aware that camping is not allowed everywhere. One must keep to official camping sites and never pitch a tent on private ground without asking permission first.

Hotels

The Ministry of Tourism has divided hotels into four categories: economy, standard, first class and deluxe.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Guesthouses can be found in various areas including Coron and Puerto Galera. The hospitable Philippinos will often rent a room out to a stranger in need.

Hostels

There are a number of youth hostels spread out over many of the islands.

Local transport

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Planes

Philippine Airlines is the national airline but there are a number of other airlines that offer domestic flights. Planes fly from Manila airport to approximately 50 destinations on the islands.

Bus

Buses operate between towns; it is also possible to travel in a so-called 'jeepney'. A jeepney is a share-taxi with a 14-passenger capacity. Public Transport runs at more or less regular intervals from early in the morning until around midnight.

Trains

The only railway system can be found on Luzon. It takes a long time and costs nearly the same as it does to take a bus.

Taxi

Taxis only operate in the cities. To prevent being over-charged, it is important to check that the meter is running. In general it is cheap to take a taxi even when going on slightly longer excursions.

Car rental

It is possible to rent a car in Manila and in a number of the other big cities. It is reasonably cheap to hire a car and it is also possible to hire a driver as part of the package. Hiring a driver can be recommended, especially if one has plans to drive around in Manila itself - it can be quite an experience for one who is not used to driving around in this particular chaos!

Boat or Ferry

The larger ports have ferry connections. Three different classes are available. You should be aware that there are over 100 accidents involving ferries travelling to the islands per year and many have perished as a result. If you are in doubt over the quality of a boat you have chosen do not hesitate to choose another one or fly instead.

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