Time zone for the whole country is only one; which is 120° East Meridian Time and eight hours in advance of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
How to Get in Philippines
International gateways in the Philippines are Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, and Laoag. The leading gateway is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. It is attended by more than 30 airlines which fly to different cities around the world.
The Mactan International Airport (MIA) in Cebu operates regular flights from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Busan, Doha, Seoul, and Australia as well as chartered flights from the United States and other major travel capitals.
Davao International Airport handles regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore and seasonal flights are also available to Macau.
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport which is also known as Clark International Airport in Pampanga handles regular flights from Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Subic International Airport conducts regular flights from Taiwan and different cargo flights.
Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte services regular flights from China.
Philippine Airlines, the country's flag carrier, has 32 international and 20 domestic points. Major cruise liners call on the port of Manila.
A valid passport is always required. Aside from stateless persons and from countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations, all visitors or tourists may enter the country without visas and can stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for onward journey. Passports must have special permits for holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan countries. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
Travelers coming from infected areas require a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever.
Airport and Facilities: Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is 7 kms. from the city center, while the Manila Domestic Airport is one kilometer from the NAIA. The international airports have sufficient traveler facilities: duty-free and souvenir shops, tourist information and assistance counters, hotel and travel agency representatives, car rental services, banks and automated teller machines, postal service, national and international direct dial telephone booths, medical clinics, and baggage deposit areas.
Facilities for the Physically-Handicapped: The airports are handicapped-friendly. Wheelchairs are accessible on request from the airline ground staff.
Customs: Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before arrival in port to facilitate Customs examination. The following are allowed duty-free: reasonable quantity of clothes, jewelry, and toiletries; 400 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco; two bottles of wine or spirits of not more than one liter each. Porterage: Baggage carts are available for free. Porter services are also free. Tipping is traditional.
Airport Transfers: Visitors are advised to avail of recognized fixed rate or metered taxis at the NAIA's Arrival Area. At the Manila Domestic Airport, approved transfer services are available on pre-paid coupon basis. Other airports are served by metered taxis. All airports have counters for hotel transport and car rental service. Airport Fees: P750 for international departure or its US dollar equivalent as of March 10, 2007, $15.50 US dollars; and P200 for local departure (paid in Philippine pesos only). Departing passengers for international destinations are advised to check with airport or tourist information counters (Tel. Nos 524-1703; 832-2964) the departure fees may change without further notice.
Duty-Free Shopping: Duty-Free Philippines near the NAIA is the country's largest duty-free outlet carrying quality imported items and selected Philippine export products.
The Philippines has a tropical climate with relatively abundant rainfall and gentle winds. There are three pronounced seasons:
March to May is hot and dry season
June to October is wet or rainy season
November to February is cool or dry season
Average temperatures: 78°F/25°C to 90°F/32°C
* Philippine Weather Forecast
WHAT TO WEAR
Light, casual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. When visiting churches and temples, modesty dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided. Formal occasions require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine barong tagalog) for men and cocktail dresses or long gowns for women.
Unit of currency: Peso (P) = 100 centavos
Bank notes: P10, P20, P50, P100, P200, P500 and P1, 000
Coins: 5c, 10c, 25c, P1, P5, P10
Tipping is expected for many services since it is traditional here in the Philippines. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
By air, Philippine Airlines (Tel. No.  855-9999) and Cebu Pacific (Tel. No.  702-0888 ) provided daily services to major cities and towns. Asian Spirit (Tel. No.  851-8888), Laoag International Airlines (Tel. No.  551-9729), and Seair (Tel. No.  891-8708) service the missionary routes. There are also scheduled chartered flights to major domestic destinations serviced by smaller commuter planes.
By sea, interisland ships connect Manila to major ports. Ferry services connect the smaller islands.
By land, Philtranco connects Manila to Bicol in Southern Luzon, to Samar and Leyte in the Visayas, and Davao in Mindanao. Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide. Jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways of getting around most places. In Metro Manila, the fastest way of commuting is via the railway system. LRT-1 (yellow line) connects the northern district of Monumento to the southern district of Baclaran with stations situated at major intersections. MRT traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district. LRT-2 (purple line) starts at the university belt in Recto, passes through Sta. Mesa, Cubao, Katipunan, and ends in Santolan, Pasig.
There are two official languages which are Filipino and English. The national language is Filipino which is based on Tagalog. Filipino language is a native language used nationally as the language of communication among ethnic groups. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education and the business language as well.
Other eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.
A wide selection of deluxe, standard, economy, and pension-type accommodations are available in Metro Manila, key cities and towns throughout the country. In island destinations, there is a variety of resorts ranging from deluxe to special interest category.
The Department of Tourism has a Home stay Program in several destinations outside Manila. The program offers visitors the comfort of modest homes and an insight into Philippine life. For information, contact the Tourist Information Center at Room 106, Department of Tourism Building, tel. nos. (632) 524-2384 / (632) 524-1703.
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful blend of Oriental, European, and American culinary influences. There is a wide variety of fresh seafood and delicious fruits. First class restaurants offer gourmet specialties as well as Filipino cuisine and special Filipino recipes.
ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
Metro Manila is the center of entertainment and cultural activities.The Cultural Center of the Philippines is the primary venue for the performing arts which features world-class performances by local and international guest artists. Museums located in Manila and in some parts of the country offer a glance of Philippine history and culture. Art galleries exhibit the works of the country's leading and promising visual artists.
There are casinos in Metro Manila and in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Laoag for visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables.
Manila's nightlife is one of the most vivacious in Asia, reflecting the Filipino's love for music. The center of nightlife activities are the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center and The Fort at Bonifacio Global City in Makati, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City. Nightclubs, music lounges, pubs, and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers who are known for their great musical talent. Deluxe hotels offer a diversity of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form part of the country's entertainment scene.
Here in the Philippines, visitors can choose from an exhilarating selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, hand-woven cloths, embroidered fineries, fashionable ready-to-wear and haute couture clothes, terra-cota, porcelain, and home accessories. Artifacts, pineapple fiber shirts, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts, and footwear are interesting items, too. The Philippines also produces fine basketry, furniture, fresh and processed fruits, exquisitely crafted jewelry, and gift items made of wood and stone.
Located in Manila, Makati and EDSA are big malls, while at the Ermita District in Manila handicraft, antique and curio shops abound.
BUSINESS AND BANKING HOURS
There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores nationwide. However, private and government offices are open either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
Accepted in major establishments are international credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard, and American Express Card.
220 volts, A.C. 60 cycles. Most hotels have 110-volt outlets.
Bottled water is available in many hotels, restaurants, resorts, supermarkets, and convenience stores. However, water in Metro Manila and in key cities and towns is filtered and safe for drinking.
The postal system is well-organized. The country has international and national direct dial phone and facsimile services, mobile phone sites, internet and e-mail facilities, and worldwide express delivery service.
Most national dialects are in English. Foreign publications are sold at major hotels, malls, and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities. There are 7 national television stations which broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable TV is available in many hotels in Manila and in many parts of the country.
Manila, the pioneer convention city in Asia, has played host to a number of major international events. The Philippine International Convention Center is prepared with modern convention facilities and services. It can accommodate 4,000 delegates in its Plenary Hall and 5,700 persons in its Reception Hall. The World Trade Center near the PICC can hold huge exhibitions and events. Smaller meetings can be held in hotels and other establishments. Out-of-town hotels and resorts are alternative convention sites.
In the Philippines, hospitals are operational with modern facilities to meet any medical need. In several remote towns and cities, clinics and health centers provide emergency medical attention. Nearly all hotels and resorts provide medical assistance. Hospitals are listed in the "Yellow Pages" of the local telephone directory.
TOURS AND SPECIAL INTEREST ACTIVITIES
Tour packages, from day trips to five-day programs, are special ways of discovering the Philippines and its wealth of culture. Special interest activities include golfing, game-fishing, diving, white-water rafting and other aqua sports, trekking, spelunking, and safari trips.
Information on tour itineraries may be obtained from the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa), tel. (632) 893-0284, or from the Tourist Information Center located at the ground floor of the DOT Bldg. on T.M. Kalaw Street, Manila, tel. (632) 524-2384/(632)524-1703.
PHILIPPINE TRAVEL GUIDE
January 1 - New Year's Day
February 24 - Edsa Revolution Day
April 9 - Araw ng Kagitingan
moveable - Maundy Thursday and Good Friday
May 1 - Labor Day
June 12 - Independence Day
last Sunday of August - National Heroes Day
November 1 - All Saints' Day
November 30 - Bonifacio Day
December 25 - Christmas Day
December 30 - Rizal Day
Catholics - 82.9%
Protestants - 5.4%
Islam - 4.6%
Philippine Independent Church - 2.6%
Iglesia ni Cristo - 2.3%
Traditionally, the Filipinos have accepted two of the great religions of the world - Islam and Christianity. Islam was introduced during the 14th century shortly after the expansion of Arab commercial ventures in Southeast Asia. Today, it is limited to the southern region of the country.
Christianity was introduced as early as the 16th century with the coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
Protestantism was introduced by the first Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899.
Two Filipino independent churches were organized at the turn of the century and are famous today. These are the Aglipay (Philippine Independent Church) and the Iglesia Ni Kristo (Church of Christ) founded in 1902 and 1914, respectively. Recently, the Aglipay signed a covenant with the Anglican Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo has expanded its membership considerably. Its churches, with their unique towering architecture are landmarks in almost all important towns, provincial capitals and major cities.
Philippine Country Links