Tips for traveler and backpacker on budget
The Philippines are not a very cheap country for traveling!
To Indonesia, Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka one can travel surely more favorable, in Malaysia and Thailand you get much better quality for your money. In Indonesia are not 80 - 90% of the coral reefs destroyed. The rain forest is also in the other countries threaten, but there are comparably larger residues and national parks without illegal lodging and animals do not become caught for selling!
Ok - enough with the bad news, there are still a few very beautiful corners in the Philippines. In consequence of the Christian past the Philippines are in the first impression, for people from western countries, not so strangely like other asian countries. One can eat here also potatoes and quite a lot foreigner found the partner for a common life!
More than 7000 islands are waiting for the visitor, many awesome beaches are still in no travel guide registered - no backpacker ever entered them!
Foreigners are welcome in the Philippines, although you have to pay quite a lot for the visa extensions, since 2010 also for an additional plastic card without special functions (ACR card, 50 $). Foreigners, who stay longer than 60 days in the country, must apply for a visa extension in an immigration office and have also to pay for the ACR card.
If somebody stays only 21 days in the philippines, a visa is not necessary(exceptions for some countries!).
A visa for 60 days you can make in a philippine embassy in your homecountry or you go in the Philippines to an immigration office after arriving, to extend your 21 days into a visa for 60 days.
Another good opportunity is the "lonely planet book". The "thorn tree forum" of the company is of course the most helpful forum for all questions about traveling in the philippines. There you can find (specially with the search function) also some information about remote places.
For Diving and Snorkeling the lonely planet offers also another recommendable book.
The weather in the Philippines is from region to region very different. For the westcoast of Luzon and Palawan, best time for traveling is from December to May, lots of rain you have to expect from June to November.
Of course the Philippines are a tropical country, so you find mostly a temperature around 30 degree Celsius and above and a high humidity, coldest month are January and February, very hot it`s becoming in April and May.
Inoculation protection is necessary against Tetanus and Polio, it is also a good idea to have it for Hepatitis A and B. If you planning to travel to the southern part of Palawan, you should bring Malaria pills or a standby medicine. Against Dengue fever, that is rising in all countries of south east asia, there is no vaccination - but if you get a high fever with symptons like a flu infection - have that sickness in your mind and go to a doctor or a hospital!
Against nik niks (sandflies), which are common in some parts of Palawan, use the "off"-lotion and try not to scratch, even if it will be hard!
I travel the Philippines regularly since 1995 and I spent there also many long-term stays. From 2009 until 2012 I lived 3 years in the Philippines. With this website I like give my experience to other travelers. Predominantly I am interested in non-tourist areas, or at least - on a low level. That`s why I never been in Boracay and so you get also no information about the place from me! And ... I am an island fan, don`t expect reports about mountain areas on this side, like the rice terraces or ifugao people. (Yes, of course - it is worth for going there! Best time is March to May.)
I start with Palawan and the region of "Surigao del Norte", meanwhile Mindoro, Camiguin, Leyte, Samar, Negros, Bohol, Camarines Sur/Caramoan, Catanduanes, Mount Mayon/Albay and Donsol were added, as well as information about "rafting" in the Philippines, next I will update my Mindoro site, including a new site about Mindoro Occidental.
The english translation needs time and I hope a new region can be add every month - in advance use yahoo babelfish (link) or google to translate my german website.
Time by time I evaluate my travel diaries and extend the map - and I am still on the road - so there coming also updates and new destinations!
... and sorry for my bad english - I am a german guy!
Some useful links:
The best time for traveling to the east coast from Luzon, the Bicol region, Samar, Leyte and the east coast of Mindanao, is March to October, but from July to November there can be dangerous typhoons in the area (excluding Mindanao). In the other Visayas (Bohol, Cebu, Negros, Panay) it is always raining a little, but there is not a very bad period, driest traveling time is from March to June.
Freddie Aguilars song "anak" is maybe the most famous folksong of the Philippines.
To get an impression, go to the free mp3-sample on the left side!
Other recommendable english websites about the philippines:
Website of a philippino, who is traveling to many places in the philippines and south east asia, very good photos, he win already some web awards, the navigation could be better.
Female counterpart to the guy upside, reports also about some remote areas, also very nice photos, also some awards.
Plenty of information, also about remote areas, go to the philippine sitemap to get an overview.
Good information about Palawan and the Luzon highlands from an aussie, who lives now already long time in the philippines.
||Travel warnings from USA, Australia and UK.
I think the warnings about all areas of Mindanao are exaggerated. Regions and cities like Davao, Cagayan de Oro or Surigao del Norte are safe!
||Visa Extension fees of the philipp. Bureau of Immigration
This website is not able to be a replacement for a travel guide book (and that would be also not my intention). In my opinion the best guide for the philippines is Jens Peters "Philippines travel guide". His website offers also a lot of information and innumerably links.