Category Archives: Visiting the PH

If you want to visit the Philippines, you’ll find useful information here.

Some Random Stuff You Might Find Out While Visiting the Philippines

Here are some random stuff you might find weird, questionable or inconvenient but totally common in my country. So please prepare yourself (emotionally and physically) if you think that is necessary.

  1. basic services are a privilege and not a right
  2. electricity and water could be disrupted sometimes
  3. hot water bath is not common in Filipino homes (hotels have them)
  4. there will be insects/bugs almost anywhere you go (yes, that includes cockroaches)
  5. if you’re male and you notice a sudden rise in popularity among the girls, they’re most probably after your money and not your body
  6. service crews everywhere you go will expect to get a tip from you for doing their job
  7. you are expected to be wealthy wherever you go
  8. people use hi-beams with their car during night-time even when they’re on regular streets (yes, we blow horns too)
  9. when you buy stuff, you might not get all the (coin) change you deserve
  10. people love karaoke (also called videoke) and depending on where you are staying, you may hear it throughout the night
  11. some men drink with their buddies outside their house or even if it is on the side of a roadway
  12. air pollution is terrible in densely populated cities (take necessary measures if travelling with kids, infants or if you are sensitive to air pollution)
  13. people will ask/dare you to eat balut
  14. internet/wifi is slow in most places
  15. most Filipinos cannot eat their meals without rice
  16. you will find it very uncommon to eat with a knife and fork
  17. most men do not use an umbrella even when it is raining
  18. guys could go out a short distance from their house without wearing a shirt on
  19. many homes have at least one family member outside the country that supports them financially
  20. cellphones are among the basic commodities of the people
  21. no matter what students or teachers tell you, basketball IS the national sport
  22. all the parts of a chicken can be cooked and eaten (nothing goes to waste)
  23. not all homes have flushes for their toilets (don’t worry most hotels do)
  24. floods caused by rain in some cities could reach up to 1 meter (3 feet) high
  25. traffic congestions inside Manila could stall cars for 1 to 3 hours
  26. the very long queue of people taking the MRT is an everyday occurence
  27. posters, banners, billboards of Politicians could be seen in almost any city you go
  28. drinking water may be bought in gallons from water purifying stations/shops
  29. you may get extra special treatment anywhere you go just for being a foreigner
  30. most people will smile while talking to you and that is despite whatever current condition they are in
smiling children
photo source: snipview.com
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Why Visit or Live in the Philippines

You have probably read or heard many good reasons to visit the Philippines like the beaches or the warm weather. But here are some more reasons to visit the country that you probably do not often hear or read about.

1) Low cost of living

According to a survey, the Philippines is one of the countries with low costs of living.

I think at least half’s worth of your airplane and hotel costs combined together will be the worth of what you will save by taking advantage of the cheaper but good quality services available in the Philippines.

However, there is a possibility that you will be charged slightly higher compared to how much they charge the locals but you can negotiate.

2) Service fees (dentist, barber, car wash, etc.)

For less than $2, you can have a nice clean cut in 15 minutes or less! Sometimes, with an after massage as free added service.

Other service products are relatively cheaper too, provided, you know where to avail of these services. Because as many as there are cheap services, there are also many expensive places to go to have these services.

I don’t know how much those fees cost in your country but if you live in one of the G20/OECD member countries, I am sure those listed above will be way too cheaper in the Philippines compared to your country.

3) Female Doctors/Gynecologists/Obstetricians/Pediatricians

Many female patients feel awkward or uneasy with male doctors. Countries like Japan, have more male doctors than female doctors (even for fields that tend to the female anatomy).

In the Philippines, there are many female medical practitioners that female patients could consult with. So if you are a female visiting the Philippines, why not have a simple check‐up or consultation with our lady doctors.

This might also be the reason why, in a survey of gender equality, the Philippines was ranked among the Top Ten countries.

4) Fruits

If you love fruits, you will not be disappointed in the Philippines because fruits here are dirt cheap (compared to prices of fruits in wealthy countries). As of this writing, you can have all the pineapple, melon, banana, coconut or mango you can eat each for just under US$3/kg (but I’m sure you cannot eat that much).

5) Philippine products

Products made in the Philippines are reliable. I recommend clothes and leather products made in the Philippines. They last longer than products made in other countries and they have cheaper prices than those you can buy in wealthy countries.

6) Volunteer, outreach, charity projects

I am not really proud of this but if you are a foreigner who wants to do some humanitarian activity, there are many places in the Philippines where you can do this. No thanks to our corrupt politicians and government agencies, government money is not used properly and basic government services in several areas are poor.

Places such as those devastated by natural calamities or poverty stricken areas could always need volunteers.

7) We speak English

You won’t have to worry if you get lost or can’t find your way. You can ask anyone and you will be able to read most of the signs anywhere you go.

8) We love foreigners

You can have an unfair advantage over locals when it comes to service quality, friendliness and hospitality. Do not be surprised when in certain situations, you will get a special treatment just because you’re a foreigner.

9) We have the most beautiful beaches

The Philippines is popular for its beautiful tropical beaches and this year, CNN has cited Palawan as a perfect sailing trip destination.

In another survey, Palawan was voted as the best island to visit according to CN Traveler. Vigan and Boracay on the other hand, were finalists for the New Seven Wonder Cities of the World for 2014.

10) Foreigners can easily adapt in the Philippines

A survey for expats have ranked the Philippines as one of the 14 best countries to raise a family. And in another survey, about 6 out of 10 expats were found to be integrating well in Philippine companies.

In 2014, the Philippines was honored the Destination of the Year for 2015 at the 25th Annual TTG Travel Awards by TTG (Travel Trade Gazette) Asia.

Also, Forbes have ranked the Philippines as one of the Top 20 retirement havens of 2015.

And these are only some of the reasons why you should visit the Philippines. Why not try and see it for yourself?

Complete International Arrival Procedures for NAIA Terminal 1

I cannot cover all the arrival procedures for each International Airport of the Philippines here. However, since the procedure does not change drastically from airport to airport, I will write about the arrival procedure for the busiest airport of them all. And that will be the infamous NAIA Terminal 1.

Why infamous? Because it has been consistently voted as one of the worst international airports in the world. And unfortunately, this is the airport that most airlines currently use. If it is at all possible, please refrain from using this airport (I recommend NAIA 3).

CAUTION: Everything is free in the airport when you arrive. You are not required to pay anything. The immigration process, the baggage carts, the customs check, the elevator, the toilet is all free to use. Report to nearby airport officials if anyone is trying to extort money from you.

naia 1 arrival map

Arrival Procedures for NAIA Terminal 1

1. Fill-out some stuff (preferably while inside the plane)

2. Get-off the plane (duh!)
3. Pass through the thermal camera/scanners
4. Line-up for the immigration check (use the Foreign Passports Lane)

At the immigration counter, submit to the immigration officer your passport, return ticket, immigration/disembarkation card and customs declaration form. Except for the disembarkation card, everything will be returned back to you.

Please note that there are 2 types of immigration cards:

ARRIVAL CARD – for arriving passengers
DEPARTURE CARD – for departing passengers

Sometimes it becomes very crowded as people line-up in front of the immigration counters, check which counters are for foreigners before lining up in front of any of them.

5. Get your luggage

After going through the immigration, you may go ahead to the baggage conveyors. Flight numbers are displayed on top of the conveyors in the baggage retrieval area.

6. Go through customs check

After retrieving your luggage, you may proceed to the customs checking area. Hand over your passport and customs declaration form to the customs officer and answer some questions.

Answer as honestly as possible and if the officer asks if you have anything to declare, it would be best if your answer is “none”. Meaning, you are not bringing anything with you any taxable or subject for inspection item (please refer to link at bottom of this post).

Luggages are very rarely inspected for arriving passengers. However, items larger than your luggage may be subject for inspection (such as a surf board, guitar, keyboard, golf clubs, etc.) If you say that you have something to declare, then prepare yourself for some inconvenience, time wasting and unwanted spending of precious money.

The best you can do in this situation is do not bring any taxable items in the first place OR do not say that you have anything to declare to customs.

If everything is clear, your passport and customs declaration form will be returned to you. Get your stuff and head for the exit.

There is another person right ahead (just before you head to exit) that is collecting the customs declaration form. Give that form to him/her. It will not be returned to you after that.

7. Changing your money to Peso

Before getting out of the arriving passengers processing section of the airport, you might want to change your currencies first.

To change your currency into Philippine Peso, you may find some booths in the airport that specializes in this service. Unfortunately, these booths have very very poor rates so DO NOT change all of your money with these booths.

Change only a certain amount of money that you will immediately need. And have your other currencies changed elsewhere (like the mall). You can also change your left over Pesos into your country’s currency before returning home but there might be a set minimum amount of how much of your currency you can buy.

8. Head for the exit

Finally, at the exit, an airport staff will compare your baggage tag with that of your airplane ticket. This completes your arrival procedures for NAIA Terminal 1. Cross the street and head for the arriving passengers waiting area.

arriving passengers at naia terminal 1
after retrieving your baggages, head for the passengers waiting area (flyertalk.com)

9. Wait for the person who will pick you up

If someone is scheduled to pick you up, you should wait at the arrival area coinciding with the first alphabet of your last name. Or you just call whoever is picking you up and tell him/her where you are.

If someone comes bargaining with you to ride a taxi or stay at a hotel, just ignore them. Or pretend you do not understand what they are talking about. Or simply turn them down.

Do not go with anyone you do not know if there is someone already scheduled to pick you up!

10. Welcome to the Philippines!!!

It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re profusely sweating. Yeah, baby!!!

Currency Import Regulations:
For residents and non-residents, an amount of  up to 10,000 Philippine Peso (PhP) will be allowed without declaration. Exceeding amounts require an authorization from the Central Bank of the Philippines. Foreign currencies of up to USD 10,000 or its equivalent will not need to be declared. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000 or its equivalent, on the other hand, must be declared.

Information must be furnished on the source and purpose of the transport of such amount. Violation will be subject to sanctions under Philippine customs law and regulations.

Note:

  • Only banknotes and coins, which are legal tender must be declared (travellers checks, credit cards etc. are exempt from declaration requirement)
  • This guide is mainly applicable to residents and travelers visiting the Philippines for tourism purposes and do not require a visa
  • For other travelers to the Philippines, please check the Immigration website or the Philippine Embassy in your country for more information

Find related information here:

International Airports in the Philippines

Here are the major International Airports of my country, the Philippines. See below where they are located and which airlines use them.

paliparan ng pilipinas
departure entrance of naia terminal 3

LIST OF INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS IN THE PHILIPPINES

1. Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA 1)
Location: Metro Manila
International Airlines:
Air China
Air Niugini
Asiana Airlines
China Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines
Dragonair
Etihad Airways
EVA Air
Gulf Air
Japan Airlines
Jeju Air
Jetstar Asia Airways
Korean Air
Kuwait Airways
Malaysia Airlines
Oman Air
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Royal Brunei Airlines
Saudia
Thai Airways International
Tigerair
United Airlines
United Airlines

2. Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 (NAIA 2)
Location: Metro Manila
International Airlines: Philippine Airlines

3. Ninoy Aquino International Terminal 3 (NAIA 3)
Location: Metro Manila
International Airlines:
AirAsia Zest
All Nippon Airways
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
Delta Air Lines
Emirates
KLM
Singapore Airlines

4. Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 (NAIA 4)
Location: Metro Manila
International Airlines: Air Asia Zest

5. Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (Clark International Airport)
Location: Pampanga
International Airlines:
AirAsia
Asiana Airlines
Cebu Pacific
Dragonair
Jin Air
Qatar Airways
Tigerair
Tigerair Philippines

6. Mactan-Cebu International Airport
Location: Cebu
International Airlines:
AirAsia
AirAsia Zest
Air Busan
Air Niugini
Asiana Airlines
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
China Airlines
Far Eastern Air Transport
Jeju Air
Jin Air
Korean Air
Philippine Airlines
SilkAir
Tigerair

7. Davao International Airport (Francisco Bangoy International Airport)
Location: Davao del Sur
International Airlines: SilkAir, Sriwijaya Air

8. Iloilo International Airport
Location: Iloilo
International Airlines: Cebu Pacific

9. Kalibo International Airport
Location: Aklan
International Airlines:
AirAsia
AirAsia Zest
Asiana Airlines
Cebu Pacific
China Airlines
Philippine Airlines
SilkAir
Tigerair
Tigerair Philippines

10. Puerto-Prinsesa International Airport
Location: Palawan
International Airlines: Malaysia Airlines

Consult with your airline or travel agency to check if they have options for you to arrive directly to the airport that is nearest to your intended destination in the Philippines. This will save you a lot of time and money.

Reference: International Airports of the Philippines

Countries Which Do Not Need VISA Permits to Visit the Philippines

Do you want to visit the Philippines? Are you wondering if you need a visa or not?

phil passport and sample boarding pass
phil passport and sample boarding pass

As of August of 2014, nationals from 158 countries may enter the Philippines without a visa and may stay for a maximum of thirty (30) days, provided they are holders of a passport valid at least six (6) months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines, and present a return or outward bound ticket to their country of origin or to a next country of destination.

Pursuant to the Bureau of Immigration’s Memorandum Circular No. RADJR-2013-006, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Foreign Service Circular (FSC) No. 95-2014 and Executive Order no. 408.

Below is the list of countries:

1. Andorra
2. Angola
3. Antigua and Barbuda
4. Argentina
5. Australia
6. Austria
7. Bahamas
8. Bahrain
9. Barbados
10. Belgium
11. Belize
12. Benin
13. Bhutan
14. Bolivia
15. Botswana
16. Brazil*
17. Brunei
18. Bulgaria
19. Burkina Faso
20. Burundi
21. Cambodia
22. Cameroon
23. Canada
24. Cape Verde
25. Central African Republic
26. Chad
27. Chile
28. Colombia
29. Comoros
30. Congo
31. Congo, Democratic Republic
32. Costa Rica
33. Cote d’ Ivoire
34. Croatia
35. Cyprus
36. Czech Republic
37. Denmark
38. Djibouti
39. Dominica
40. Dominican Republic
41. Ecuador
42. El Salvador
43. Equatorial Guinea
44. Eritrea
45. Estonia
46. Ethiopia
47. Fiji
48. Finland
49. France
50. Gabon
51. Gambia
52. Germany
53. Ghana
54. Greece
55. Grenada
56. Guatemala
57. Guinea
58. Guinea-Bissau
59. Guyana
60. Haiti
61. Honduras
62. Hungary
63. Iceland
64. Indonesia
65. Ireland
66. Israel*
67. Italy
68. Jamaica
69. Japan
70. Kazakhstan
71. Kenya
72. Kiribati
73. Korea (ROK)
74. Kuwait
75. Kyrgyzstan
76. Laos
77. Latvia
78. Lesotho
79. Liberia
80. Liechtenstein
81. Lithuania
82. Luxembourg
83. Madagascar
84. Malawi
85. Malaysia
86. Maldives
87. Mali
88. Malta
89. Marshall Island
90. Mauritania
91. Mauritius
92. Mexico
93. Micronesia
94. Monaco
95. Mongolia
96. Morocco
97. Mozambique
98. Myanmar
99. Namibia
100. Nepal
101. Netherlands
102. New Zealand
103. Nicaragua
104. Niger
105. Norway
106. Oman
107. Palau
108. Panama
109. Papua New Guinea
110. Paraguay
111. Peru
112. Poland
113. Portugal
114. Qatar
115. Romania
116. Russia
117. Rwanda
118. St. Kitts and Nevis
119. Saint Lucia
120. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
121. Samoa
122. San Marino
123. Sao Tome and Principe
124. Saudi Arabia
125. Senegal
126. Seychelles
127. Singapore
128. Slovak Republic
129. Slovenia
130. Solomon Islands
131. Somalia
132. South Africa
133. Spain
134. Suriname
135. Swaziland
136. Sweden
137. Switzerland
138. Tajikistan
139. Tanzania
140. Thailand
141. Togo
142. Trinidad and Tobago
143. Tunisia
144. Turkey
145. Turkmenistan
146. Tuvalu
147. Uganda
148. United Arab Emirates
149. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
150. United States of America
151. Uruguay
152. Uzbekistan
153. Vanuatu
154. Vatican
155. Venezuela
156. Viet Nam
157. Zambia
158. Zimbabwe

* Brazil and Israel remain eligible for a 59-day visa-free entry as elaborated under Section D of FSC-21-10.

For Indian Nationals

Since May 1, 2012, Indian nationals with a valid U.S., Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Schengen, Singapore, or United Kingdom visa are granted a 14-day visa free entry which may be extended for an additional 7 days for a maximum stay of 21 days. (BI Memorandum Circular No. RADJR-12-008)

The policy only applies to Indian Nationals arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA 1-3) who have the following:

(1) National Passport valid at least 6 months, beyond the contemplated stay
(2) Return or Onward ticket
(3) No derogatory record in BI, NICA, or INTERPOL

For trips more than 21 days, Indian nationals are required to apply for a tourist visa in New Delhi or any Foreign Service Post where they are valid residents.

For other nationals (not mentioned above) or for non-tourist purposes, you will find more information about visa requirements under the “VISA” category of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s website.

References: