Philippines

PhilippinesPhilippinesWith its tropical climate, the Philippines is one of the many tourist destinations that travelers frequent to escape the cold weather. More than 7,000 islands comprise the Philippines, and the country is blessed with plenty of natural wonders. Colonized by the Spanish, invaded by the Japanese, and freed with the help of Americans, the Philippines offers a unique combination of historical landmarks. But ask any traveler – it is the warm and welcoming attitude of the people that makes any stay here truly unique and memorable.

Geography and Climate

As a tropical country, you can expect the weather in the Philippines to be sunny most of the time, except for the occasional storm that may cause the weather to be rainy and wet. The rainy season usually starts during June and lasts up to October, but recently the rain patterns have changed so that the rain lasts all the way to December.

Any season is good to travel to the Philippines, save for Holy Week when hotels charge triple the regular rate, as well as New Years when party hot spots like Boracay and other beaches are fully booked.Boracay White BeachBoracay White Beach

As for geography, the islands that comprise the Philippines are divided into three groups – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Travelers can easily get around the country in a private car or the usual forms of public transport like buses, cabs, and jeepneys. If you find yourself in the walled city of Intramuros, a ride on a kalesa will certainly complete the Spanish feel that the city has to offer.

Things to Do

There are plenty of things to do in the Philippines, like swimming and relaxing at one of the beautiful white sand beaches of Boracay, enjoying the cool weather in the mountains of Baguio, exploring the Banaue Rice Terraces, or simply taking a stroll along Baywalk and enjoying the sun as it sets over Manila Bay.

The Philippines is also abundant with plenty of malls, movie theaters, and shopping centers that any shopping enthusiast will enjoy visiting. Famous international brands are available in some malls, as well as specialty shops where travelers can take home souvenirs unique to the Philippines.

Festivals held in the Bulacan Province like the Pagoda Festival are also something you should not miss if you find yourself in the Philippines during the first Sunday of July. Every city has its own festival that is truly a unique experience, like the Ati Atihan Festival in Cebu and the Flower Festival in Baguio.

Banaue Rice TerracesBanaue Rice TerracesSights to See

Travelers will certainly enjoy seeing the man-made Banaue Rice Terraces found in the Ifugao province, as well as the preserved (mummified) bodies in caves.

Subic Freeport Zone is also another sight to see, as it was previously a naval base of the US Army. Today, it has been turned into a commercial zone where tourists can watch dolphins perform, explore a jungle, take part in a safari, as well as shop without taxes.

Currency and Money Matters

Most major hotels accept credit cards with a Visa or MasterCard logo, but it would be in any traveler’s best interest to bring cash and exchange it to Philippine pesos at money exchange centers found in most malls. This way, travelers will have smaller bills to pay for cabs, etc. while a credit card can be used to pay for major charges like the hotel stay.

Most travelers only need a valid passport to enter the Philippines, but it is best to check with a local travel agent for any specific requirements from the traveler’s country of origin.

BeachBeachRules of Behavior for Visitors

Filipinos are very hospitable and are very used to dealing with Americans and other visitors due to the involvement of the Americans since the Spanish colonization era. As such, Americans will not find it hard to get along with people in the country. However, exercising caution, especially when it comes to money matters, is always a good idea.

For visitors it is best to already have an idea of where they want to go and make reservations ahead of time so that there will be no hassle after their arrival. Most major hotels and other tourist hot spots have online bookings available and anyone can easily pay online with a credit card. Planning an itinerary is also advisable or better yet, there are plenty of local travel agencies in the Philippines accredited by the Department of Tourism who will make all the necessary reservations so that tourists can just sit back and relax.