ABOUT The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has many wonderful beaches and as of one of the world's longest coastlines and it would take about three decades to visit and experience every island. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations. Nationals from countries who are travelling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding 21 days, provided they hold valid tickets for their return journey to port of origin or next port of destination and their passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the contemplated period of stay. However, Immigration Officers at ports of entry may exercise their discretion to admit holders of passports valid for at least sixty days beyond the intended period of stay. Although the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors arrive by plane. International airports are located in Cebu, Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles, Davao, Kalibo, Laoag, Manila and Zamboanga. Unfortunately, most visitors currently fly in via Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila which is regularly voted one of the worlds worst for both facilities and corrupt officials. A much more congenial airport to arrive at is Mactan-Cebu International Airport which is both in the centre of the Philippine archipelago and outside the Typhoon belt. Passengers departing the Philippines have to pay a terminal fee (in addition to the Philippine travel tax levied on locals). This fee is included in airfare if flying from Manila. The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are : 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
CLIMATE The first half of the year, from January to May, is the best time to visit the country. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F/25 degrees C; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country such as Cebu, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
BEWARE There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out these attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, public transport, places of worship. There is a high incidence of violent crime, including gun crime British nationals have been recent victims, but there is no evidence that they are specifically targeted. Criminal gangs sometimes use terrorist tactics, such as kidnapping and explosions. Explosions attributed to criminal organisations have caused fatalities. There is a high incidence of street crime and robberies . Sensible precautions include: arranging to be met at the airport or using hotel transfer services; using a driver or taxis from a reputable source and avoiding displays of cash or jewellery. You should beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery; criminals intent on robbery may lace these to render the victim unconscious. You should be particularly vigilant when travelling on public transport. Armed hold-ups have occurred on jeepneys and buses in the Philippines, and have in some cases resulted in fatalities. The roadworthiness of some of these vehicles is also a concern.