Thursday, November 08, 2007

Traveler's Hints - Philippines


Visitors to the Philippines can spend up to US$1,000duty free within 48 hours of arrival. There are duty free outlets at Special Economic Zones at Clark and Subic. The gateway cities of Manila, Cebu, Davao and Laoag also offer duty free shopping.


Eating is a central part of life in the Philippines,with meals consumed five times per day. The two extra meals are known as snacks (merienda), and are usually taken mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Visitors are always invited to share a meal and are usually served the choicest portions.

Filipino Cuisine is a fascinating combination of Chinese, Spanish, and American and local influences. The staple food is rice, fish and vegetable, with pork and chicken also popular. Pit-roasted suckling pig (lechon baboy) and is served on special occasions. Chinese influence is evident in dishes such as noodles (pansit), spring rolls (lumpia) and steamed buns with savory filling (siopao).

Each region of the Philippines is justifiably proud of its local specialties, which take advantage of the dazzling range of seafoods and meats and, tropical fruits and vegetables. Fastfood outlets such as Domino's Pizza, McDonald's and KFC are now located in the Philippines, while Jollibee is a popular local alternative.

Health and Security

City water is usually safe to drink, but many visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is readily available. There are no rampant epidemics in the Philippines, but it may be wise to consult a doctor about possible vaccinations before traveling.

Short-term visitors short consider travel insurance, as they would when visiting any outer country. Most hotels provide safety boxes for the deposit cash and other valuables, free of charge.


Mail services for the most part are reliable. Public telephones are situated in major shopping malls, but there are very few on the street. Instead,there are numerous business and communications centers, which provide telephone, fax, email, internet access and other services. Some centers can also act as a temporary mailing address.

Telephone Dialing Tip

The Philippines Country Code is (63). For international dialing into the Philippines, omit the zero preceding the city area code. The Philippines is plus(+) eight hours GMT. For making in-country long distance calls, remember to include the zero (0) preceding the city area code.


Transportation in the Philippines is very inexpensive compared to other travel destinations in the world. The main form of transportation in the Philippines is the colorful jeepney. These passenger vehicles ply a set route, which is written on the side of the jeepney. A journey of up to four kilometers costs P4.00. Buses run regularly and often, connecting all large cities and towns for a modest tariff. Air- conditioned buses are slightly more expensive.

Passenger cars, vans and tour buses can be hired. Car and motorcycle rental agencies are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, with major international companies; such as, Dollar Rent-A-Car and Nissan, well established.

Taxes are mostly air-conditioned, metered and with fares among the lowest in the world. Pasenger tricycles, complete with sidecars, are available in most cities and towns for short journeys. Bicycles with sidecars (pedicabs) and horse drawn cabs (calesas) can also be hired.
Rail services are currently being renovated and extended. Major projects include the extension of Manila's Light Rail Transit (LRT) and EDSA's Metro Rail Transit (MRT). The average LRT and MRT fare is P12, with actual fares being determined on how far you travel.

Sea travel is the major form of transportation between islands, with vessels ranging form small boats (bancas), to massive passenger vessels. WG&A SuperFerries, SuperCats and Cebu Ferries ply major inter-island sea routes.

There is regular domestic air service from Manila and Cebu to important destinations. Air Philippines, Philippine Airline, Cebu Pacific and Asian Spirit are major carriers.

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