Facts and Figures
The Philippines has a total land area of 191,000 square miles (300,400 square kilometers) comprised of 7,107 islands, bounded in the east and northeast by the Philippine Sea and on the south by the Celebes Sea. Borneo is the country’s neighbor on its southwest border and Taiwan lies to its north. The islands are grouped into three major regions - Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Manila, on Luzon Island, is the capital. Manila is part of the National Capital Region, which is composed of 12 cities and five municipalities with a total land area of 636 square kilometers (1,000 square kilometers) and has a population of 10.5 million.
The national language is Filipino. English is widely used in commercial and legal transactions.
Round-the-year warm climate is characterized by relatively high humidity, mild temperature, abundant rainfall and gentle winds with three pronounced seasons - rainy from June to October, cool to dry from November to February, and hot from March to May.
Light and loose clothes are most practical when walking or traveling. Bring a sweater, most especially when you are traveling to the mountains.
At formal gatherings, men usually wear the Barong Tagalog, a shirt made of fine silk or jusi. Coat and tie are also appropriate. The ladies usually come in fashionable formal attire.
Otherwise casual clothing, like short-sleeved shirts and leisure slacks, are appropriate and widely accepted in most restaurants and business establishments.
A valid passport is required. Visitors may enter the country without visas and stay for 21 days provided they hold an onward or return ticket except those from countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations.
Visas may be obtained from any Philippine Diplomatic or Consular Office abroad.
The unit of currency is the Philippine Peso. Travelers checks and selected foreign currencies may be cashed in all commercial banks and authorized Central Bank foreign exchange dealers.
Tipping is an accepted practice. 10% is standard although most establishments add a service charge. In such cases, tipping is optional.
220 volts AC, 60 cycles. Most hotels also have 110 volt outlets.
The Philippines offers a wide range of accommodations from 5-star luxury hotels to pensions and beach cottages. Manila alone hosts over 10,000 hotel rooms.
Philippine cuisine is a blend of Chinese, Spanish, and local culinary arts. Every region has its own unique cuisine. In Manila, specialty restaurants serve international food like French, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese; and regional Philippine dishes and seafood.
Manila is one of Asia's swingiest cities with ballroom dancing, casinos, discos, karaoke/videoke bars, music lounges, and pubs. You can party all night in the tourist district of Ermita, the high-rise haven of Makati, or the fast-rising commercial district of Ortigas. Baguio, Cebu, Davao and other principal cities are also lively.
The Philippines teems with great shopping bargains and treasures. Some of the best buys are abaca placemats, antique jars, brassware, embroidered banana or pineapple fiber cloth, gold and silver jewelry, handwoven fabrics from different regions, plates and statues, rattan and bamboo crafts, and shellcrafts.
Shopping malls have sprouted among the commercial areas of Alabang, Cebu, Makati, and Ortigas.
Most shops are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.