General Information

Source: Department of Tourism, Philippines

Accessibility

Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, and Laoag are the international gateways, with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila as the premier gateway. It is served by more than 30 airlines, which fly to different cities around the world. The Mactan International Airport (MIA) in Cebu handles regular flights from Japan, Singapore, and Australia as well as chartered flights from Hong Kong, the United States, and other major travel capitals. Davao International Airport handles regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore. The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and Subic Airfield in Central Luzon service both chartered and cargo planes. Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services regular flights from Taiwan and Macau.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national flag carrier and considered “Asia’s First Airline,” remains the country’s biggest airline company. It has the largest number of international flights to the Philippines as well as domestic flights. PAL links Manila to 14 cities in 8 countries, and flies regularly to 41 domestic destinations outside Manila. Website: www.philippineairlines.com

Cebu Pacific Air (5J), the low fare leader in the Philippines, is the country's leading domestic airline with the lowest year-round fares, most number of destinations, most number of routes, most number of flights, most number of passengers flown in its domestic network and newest fleet of brand new Airbus A320s, Airbus A319s and ATR 72-100s. It links Manila to 21 domestic destinations and the Philippines to 12 international destinations with its direct flights. It also makes its international and domestic destinations virtually accessible to each other through its extensive connecting flight network. The airline currently operates hubs in Manila, Cebu, Davao and Clark. Website: www.cebupacificair.com

Other airlines that presently fly the Philippine skies are Air Philippines, South East Asian Airlines, Laoag International Airlines, Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit Airlines), and SkyJet Airlines – each serving popular tourist destinations at pocket-easy prices.

Manila has four (4) terminals located in Pasay and Paranaque, namely NAIA 1, 2, 3 and 4 (the latter formerly called the Manila Domestic Airport).

DMIA, also called Clark International Airport, is the main airport serving the immediate vicinity of the Clark Special Economic Zone and the general are of Angeles City.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport serves as the southern hum of the air transportation system of the country. The airport is ideally and strategically located that travel time is only 3-4 hours to 14 cities in Asia Pacific.

The Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also called Davao International Airport, is the main airport serving Davao City. It is the busiest airport in the Mindanao region and is the only international airport in Mindanao serving actual international flights on a regular basis.

These international airports have adequate traveler facilities: duty-free shopping centers, souvenir shops, tourist information counters, hotel and travel agency representatives, and car rental services. The NAIA has banks, postal service, medical clinic, pharmacy, salon, sauna and massage services.

Terminal Fee/Departure Tax

Airport fees of P750 (about US$ 17) for international flights and P200 (about US$ 5) for domestic flights (paid in Pesos only) will be charged at the respective airports upon departure.

Exempted are:

1. Children under 2 years of age
2. Transit passengers remaining in the transit area and not leaving the airport

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 to September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78F / 25C to 90F/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.

For up-to- date weather information, visit the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) website: www.pagasa.dost.govph or call PAGASA 24-hour hotline (+632) 433.8526.

Clothing

Light clothes, preferably cottons, are advisable. Jackets or sweaters are needed in upland areas like the mountain city of Baguio. Casual wear is the rule although formal parties may require a suit or Barong Tagalog for men and dressy frock for ladies.

When visiting churches and mosques, it is well to remember that shorts or provocative dresses will be inappropriate.

Visitors are also advised to bring walking shoes, sunglasses, sunblock cream, insect repellant, caps and a wide brimmed hat.

Time

The Philippines is eight (8) hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8).

Language

The two official languages are Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. It is also the dominant language in business, government, the legal system, medicine, and sciences and education. A large percentage of the media such as television, newspapers, and entertainment are also in English. Eight (8) major dialects are spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog (nationwide), Cebuano (Cebu & other Visayan provinces), Ilocano (Ilocos Region), Hiligaynon, Ilonggo (Iloilo and Bacolod), Bicol (Bicol Region), Waray (Eastern Visayas), Pampango (Pampanga), and Pangasinense (Pangasinan).

Government

The Philippines has a democratic republic type of government.

Religion

Majority of Filipinos (approximately 83%) are Catholic; about 5% are Muslims. The rest are made-up of smaller Christian denominations.

Currency and Credit Cards

Unit of currency is the Philippine Peso, divided into 100 centavos. Bills are in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Coins come in 5, 10, 25 centavo and 1, 5, 10 peso denominations.

Next to the peso, the US dollar enjoys wide acceptance. Most foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at banks, hotels, and authorized foreign exchange dealers. Remember to transact only with banks and licensed foreign exchange dealers. Always keep receipts of the transactions.

For a complete list of registered foreign exchange dealers / moneychangers by the Central Bank of the Philippines, log on to www.bsp.govph.

International credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express Card and JCB are accepted in most establishments. It is advisable to use credit cards for major expenses.

Business and Banking Hours

Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Mondays to Fridays. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. Three are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores.

Banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.

Communication Facilities

The international access code for the Philippines is (+63). The outgoing code is 00 followed by the country code. Major towns, cities and popular tourist spots covered by GSM 900 and 1800 mobile networks. These are also providers that offer international Roaming. Phone units are rented in malls at a reasonable price. Internet connections are available in hotels, internet cafes and major resorts all over the country.

Internet Facilities

Internet facilities are available in most hotels and resorts and in several internet or cyber cafes all over the country.

Drinking Water

Generally, tap water is not suitable for drinking in some areas. It is advisable to either buy mineral water, or boil tap water prior to drinking.

Driving License

An international driving license is valid for up to three (3) months.

Electrical Current

Electrical current is 220 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachments and two-pin round plugs are used. A transformer is necessary for appliances with electrical current of 110 volts.

Tipping

In general, tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. However, most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge, making additional tipping optional.

Tourist Information

The Department of Tourism (DOT) Main Office is located at their new address at — DOT Bldg., 351 Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, 1200.

Important Telephone Numbers
DOT Tourism Information Center (24 hours)
459.5200 to 5230 loc. 102

DOT – NAIA Office
832.2964, 551.0698, 551.2554
NAIA (Lobby) 852.2191

NAIA Airport Security Center
877.1227 / 877.1109 loc. 3437

Philippine Airlines – Manila
818.0111 / 855.8888 / 855.7888

Emergency Numbers
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Public Information Officer
725.5115

PNP 24-hour Hotline
722.2353 / 722.9587

Patrol 117
117

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)
136

Association of Volunteer Fire Chiefs and
Firefighters of the Philippines

160.16

Civil Defense Operation Center
911.5061

Public Holidays

January 1 New Year’s Day
February 25 EDSA Revolution Day
April 9 Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor)
May 1 Labor Day
June 12 Independence Day
Last Sunday of August National Heroes Day
Movable Eid-ul- Fitr (end of the month of fasting)
November 1 All Saints Day
November 30 Bonifacio Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 30 Rizal Day
December 31 New Year’s Eve

During the Catholic observance of Holy Week (Lenten Season), Maundy Thursday and Good

Friday are declared as holidays

Religious Festival and Cultural Festivals

January

2 Feast of the Three Kings/Moriones Festival (Gasan, Marinduque)
3-16 Ati-Atihan Festival (Kalibo, Aklan)
9 Lingayen Gulf Landing Anniversary (Lingayen, Pangasinan)
Feast of The Black Nazarene (Quiapo, Manila)
10-16 Sinulog (Kabankalan) Festival (Kabankalan City)
15 Coconut “Coco” Festival – week long (San Pablo City, Laguna)
Makato Santo Niño Festival (Makato, Aklan)
16 Caracol Festival (Makati City)
Feast of the Santo Niño – 3rd Sunday (Nationwide)
22 Longganisa Festival (Vigan City)
23-25 Dinagyang Festival (Iloilo City)
Sinulog Festival (Cebu City)
31 Balot sa Puti Festival (Pateros, Rizal)

 

February

Moveable Chinese New Year – Nationwide (may also fall in January)

21-22 Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival (Iloilo City)
21-27 Cebu International Furniture and Furnishings Exhibition (Cebu City)
26-27 Panagbenga Flower Festival (Baguio City)

 

March

14-20 Strawberry Festival (La Trinidad, Benguet)
18-19 Banana Festival (Baco, Oriental Mindoro)
21-27 Moriones Festival – Province-wide (Marinduque)

 

April

1-2 Calacachara Festival (Calaca, Batangas)
27-May-3 Tsinelas Festival (Liliw, Laguna)

 

May

15 Pahiyas Festival (Lucban, Quezon)
17-19 Obando Fertility Rites (Obando, Bulacan)

 

June

24 Birthday of Saint John the Baptist – various areas which
includes San Juan, Metro Manila, Calumpit, Bulacan, Lian,
Balayan and San Juan, Batangas)
27-29 Viva Viva Apung Iru – Saint Peter Fluvial Festival (Apalit, Pampanga)

 

July

18              T’nalak Festival (South Cotabato)

August

16              Kadayawan Festival (Davao City, Davao del Sur)

September

5-12          Tuna Festival (General Santos City)
3                World War II Anniversary (World War II Sites)
8                Taal Lake Festival (Taal Lake, Batangas)
2 -3           Feast of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia (Naga, Camarines Sur)

October

16-19       Masskara Festival (Bacolod City)

November

1               Festival of Lights (Sagada, Mountain Province)
5-23        Higantes Festival (Angono, Rizal)

December

16            Christmas – Epiphany – nationwide