- Continent: Asia
- Area: 310,000 km²
- Population: 100,000,000
- Capital city: Manila
- ISO code: PH
- National language: Filipino, English
- International dialing code: +63
- Currency: Phillippine Peso
- License plate number: RP
- Flight routes from Philippines: 3893
- Flight routes to Philippines: 5331
- Popular airports: Luzon - Metropolitan Area (NCP), Manila (MNL), Luzon Clark (CRK), Davao (DVO), Cebu (CEB), Tuguegarao (TUG), General Santos (GES), Cagayan (CGY), Dipolog (DPL), Tacloban (TAC)
- Large cities: Manila, Davao, Cebu, Antipolo, Zamboanga, Mansilingan, Cagayan de Oro, Dasmariñas, Iloilo, San Jose del Monte, Bacoor, Calamba, Santol, Mandaue, Cainta
- Airlines based in Philippines: CEBU Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, Philippines AirAsia, Cebgo, Pan Pacific Airlines, PAL Express, Mid-Sea Express
Philippines travel guide (Asia)
The Republic of the Philippines is in the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia. This fifth largest island state in the world borders on Vietnam in the west via the South China Sea, and with Indonesia in the south via the Celebes Sea. The Philippines consist of 7,000 islands in total, only 2000 of which are populated.
Geography: the Philippines are in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions are characteristic phenomena in this part of the world. There are 20 active volcanoes at present, of which Pinatubo and Mayon on the Luzon are the most active. East of the island chain is the Philippine trench, which is 10 km deep making it one of the largest submarine trenches in the world. Massive flood waves, tsunamis, can come about here as a result of seaquakes.
Mountains and rivers: the highest point on the Philippines is Mount Apo (2,955 m; 9,694 ft) on the island of Mindanao. The mountain is situated in the Apo mountain range, a mountain chain that is a paradise for nature lovers as it disposes of wonderful waterfalls, dense forests, fresh water springs and picturesque mountain lakes. The longest river in the country is the Cagayan, with a length of 350 km and originating in the Sierra Madre Mountains on the island of Luzon. The river flows into the Pacific Ocean by the picturesque town of Aparri.
Climate and best time to visit: the Philippines are in a tropical climate zone determined by the sea. The location of the archipelago and the influence of the surrounding ocean means that the average yearly temperature is at 26°C. There are three seasons: a relatively short summer between March and May; a rainy season between the months of June and October, with partly deluge type rain showers and typhoons; and finally a more pleasant, “cooler” season with less rainfall between November and February, when temperatures rarely climb above 30°C.
Language and communication: the official and national language is Tagalog. English is the main foreign language taught in schools and therefore understood by the majority of the population. The older generation will tend to understand Spanish. Over 900 local langauges are spoken by more than 100 different ethnic groups in the Philippines.
Health and vaccinations: vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is a countrywide danger of contracting malaria during the rainy season. Medical care is of a sufficient standard in all larger cities and tourist resorts. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten
Entry requirements: US citizens do not need a visa to enter the Philippines as tourists. A tourist visa is available from the Philippine Embassy and is valid for 21 days, which can be extended before expiry. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. Some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter or leave the country or have special regulations on unaccompanied children; please contact the Philippine Embassy for further details. For more information on vaccinations and entry requirements please see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website.
Arrival and onward journey: Air France (AF), British Airways (BA), and the KLM (KL) for example all provide convenient services from European airports to the international airports at Manila (MNL) and Cebu (CEB). The Philippines have a well-developed and comprehensive airport network. Flights to Bacolod (BCD), Iloilo (ILO), Legazpi (LGP), Davao (DVO) or San Jose (SJI) for example are cheap and convenient and provided by airlines such as Philippine Airlines (PR), Air Philippines (2P), Asian Spirit Airlines (6K), Cebu Pacific Air (5J) or Laoag International Airlines (L7).
Capital city: the capital Manila on the island of Luzon is the largest city in the Philippines. The city has 12 million inhabitants and is the hub of the entire nation. Attractions include churches, cathedrals, the Chinese district, several tropical parks and a wide variety of museums providing an insight into the century old history, art and cultural heritage of the islands.
The islands and their main attractions: Luzón is the largest and most northerly of the three biggest islands. The tropical landscape is comprised of high mountain chains, picturesque mountain lakes and volcanoes in the north, plains and valleys in the interior and warm tropical coastal sections in the south. Notable is Laguna, a province near Manila and famous throughout the country for its curative sulphur springs and spas. The “Hundred Islands” off the coast of Pangasináns near the city of Alaminos are recommended for swimming and diving. There are 125 islands in all off the coast in the South China Sea, all fringed with fine white sand and corals. The islands are the second largest ocean nature reserve and home to more than 2000 ocean creatures. The south east of the island is also worth a visit: The region of Bicol has a good choice of beaches, thermal springs and the well known Naglabong "Boiling" Lake in the Tiwi Hotsprings National Park.
The Visayas, the middle islands of the archipelago were the landing sites of American troops in 1944. Cebú City is on the island chain and is the second largest city in the Philippines. Boracay Island is a natural gem; the beaches here are considered amongst the most beautiful in the East Asian region and are a popular travel destination with the native population. The island of Bohol on the Visayas should also not be missed. It is between Cebú and Mindanao and possesses one of the most interesting natural wonders in the world: the "Chocolate Hills". The 1,268 "Chocolate Hills" are between 40 and 120 m (130 to 393 ft) high and consist entirely of limestone covered in thin grass, which dries out in the summer months meaning that the hills take on the appearance of semi spheres of chocolate. The island of Panglao off the shores of Bohol is particularly good for swimming; two bridges link the island to the town of Tagbilaran. Panglao Island is a well-known tourist destination with snow-white sand and turquoise seas. Those looking for adventure should definitely visit the island of Palawan, between Lake Sulu and the South China Sea. The island was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site and still disposes of the original rainforest. Its biggest attraction is St. Pauls River, the longest underground river in the world measuring 8 km and still navigated.
The island of Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines after Luzon and a Garden of Eden for nature lovers, having numerous waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Besides climbing Mount Apo, the well-known holiday resorts in the south of the island is worth visiting. A very beautiful place is Zamboanga City, picturesquely embedded in a wonderful tropical landscape and having beaches with the largest diversity of shells in the whole country. South of Zamboanga City is the island of Santa Cruz, where the water turns pink when the corals are washed to land. The island is particularly popular with divers and snorkellers.
Religion: the Philippines are unique in East Asia in having a clear Christian majority of 90%. Only the island of Mindanao has a 6 % majority of Muslims. There are also 3% Buddhists on the islands along with followers of the natural religions.
Major Cities and accommodation: Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Metro Davao and Cebú City.