Philippines: detailed travel guide

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Philippines: detailed travel guide

The Republic of the Philippines is an island nation in Southeast Asia, located in the western Pacific Ocean, and is part of the Malay Archipelago. It is included in the zone of the Pacific volcanic ring of fire.

The closest neighbors are Taiwan, Indonesia (Sulawesi), Malaysia (Sabah). Time differs from Moscow time by four hours upward, UTC / GMT +8. The currency of the Philippines is the Philippine Peso (PHP).

The coastline is the fifth longest in the world. It is washed by the South China, Philippine and Sulawesi Sea.
The length of the Philippine archipelago is 3,000 kilometers from north to south and 900 from east to west. The composition of the territory includes 7107 islands – this is 300,000 km² (an area comparable to the Tomsk region), less than a thousand of them are inhabited, and a third does not even have their own names. The largest are Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Palawan, Visayi.

Half of the Filipinos live on the island of Luzon, where the capital, Manila, is also located. The population is one hundred million people, of which about eleven million are abroad: every year one million Filipinos go to study or work in other countries of the world. Among them there are also highly qualified specialists, but for the most part they are engaged in low-paid work, in Italy, for example, where there are approximately 250,000 Filipinos, the word “filippina” has become synonymous with the word housekeeper.

Injections from abroad make up a large part of the country’s economy – almost ten percent of GDP. The Philippines is an agro-industrial state, which is the world’s main supplier of coconuts and one of the largest – bananas, pineapples and rice. 32% of the working-age population is involved in the agricultural sector, the share of GDP is 14%. Half of the population works in the service sector (56% of GDP). In the industrial sector – 14% (GDP 30%). Unemployment is 8%.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

The Philippines is a multinational state where dozens of peoples and nationalities live, speaking 400 languages ​​and dialects. The largest peoples are the Visaya, Tagaly, Ilok, Moro. There are many representatives of small peoples, including the indigenous inhabitants of the islands – aeta. In the seventies, the Tasadai-Manube people were discovered, who are believed to have existed for about a thousand years in isolation, unaware of what was happening in the outside world.

The history of the state known to us as the Philippines began when the Spanish explorer Rui López de Villalobos named the islands of the archipelago, first visited by Europeans in 1521 as part of the Magellan expedition, in honor of the prince, and later the king of Spain, Philip II – Las Islas Filipinas. It happened in 1543. And until the end of the nineteenth century, the islands were part of the Spanish Empire.

In the pre-Hispanic period, the islands were already inhabited by the peoples of the Negritos (Aeta) – the Australoids and the settlers of the second and third waves – the Austronesians, in other words, the Malays.

There are several theories about who were the first settlers in the Philippines, how their development took place through the Stone, Bronze and Metal Age, there is no exact opinion when humanoid first appeared on the islands – fifty or twenty thousand years ago, but anthropologists, historians and geologists are more less agreed that civilization already existed here in the fifth century.

You can delve into the unverifiable part of history indefinitely: it is believed that Chinese merchants visited the Philippines in the eighth century, and in the fourteenth century the Arabs brought Islam to the archipelago.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, resistance arose among the Muslim and Chinese diaspora to Spanish rule. For a hundred years, Spanish-speaking Filipino Catholics, Mestizos and Creoles have joined the struggle for independence.

View of Coron Island from Mount Tapias

View of Coron Island from Mount Tapias

In 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War, the Philippines passed to the United States. Around the same time, the leaders of the rebel movement declared their independence. The Philippine-American War began, which unofficially lasted until 1913. Only in 1935 did the Philippines receive autonomy status within the United States and achieved final independence in 1946.

In the same year, the Filipino language becomes the official language. Basically it is Tagalog (the language of the capital and the revolution), interspersed with Spanish and English. Belongs to the Austronesian language family. English is also official.

An interesting feature is that the use of chewing gum is considered the height of disrespect for the Phillips. Chewing it on the street is simply unacceptable, it will certainly cause a storm of indignation among interlocutors and passers-by. Another point that deserves attention is the wizards, who are called healers. These are healers who are credited with mystical abilities – they perform the most complex surgical operations without any tools, only by laying on of hands. The fame of healers spread far across the world, and now foreign tourists come from all over the world to experience the power of the inexplicable skill of Filipino healers to heal with their own biofield.

How to get to the Philippines

There are 10 international airports in the Philippines. The largest is the airport named after Ninoy Aquino, located in the capital of the Philippines – the city of Manila. Most of the international flights go through this airport. The next most important airport in the Philippines is the airport located on the island of Mactan (this airport is often referred to as the nearby island of Cebu). The rest of the airports are less involved in international flights, taking mainly domestic ones.

The most popular among Russian tourists are planes flying from Moscow to Philippine Manila or Cebu with transfers to Abu Dhabi, Doha, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo or Singapore.

Climate and weather in the Philippines

In general, the climate can be described as hot and humid. Based on weather conditions, the best time to visit the Philippines is from January to May, but with some reservations.

The reason for this is the 2004 tsunami, after which the climate in all of Southeast Asia became less predictable: it sometimes rains in the dry season, and unbearable heat during the rainy season.

In addition, you need to take into account the characteristics of a particular island. For example, on one of the most popular island among tourists – Boracay, the sea begins to bloom in February. Most of the algae appears closer to May. This means that you have to walk the first three to five meters through the green goo before swimming. On the one hand, this is certainly an exotic experience, and on the other, slightly different impressions of the “paradise” place.

You can find up-to-date information on the weather, as well as forecasts, on the website of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration – PAGASA.

The weather on the west and east coast of the same island may be different! In the descriptions of popular tourist places that you will find on the links, this will be mentioned separately, for now it is enough to know that the meteorological service of the Philippines distinguishes four types of climate (on the clickable map on the right you can see the distribution of types by territory):

  1. Dry season from November to April. The rainy season the rest of the time.
  2. There is no pronounced dry season. Maximum precipitation from December to February. The minimum precipitation is from March to May.
  3. Similar to the first type, but the dry season is much shorter, lasting one to three months, falling in the period from December to February or from March to May.
  4. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year. It is similar to the second type, except that there is no specific month when no rain is expected.

The western part of the country is characterized by the first type of climate, the central one – the third, and the eastern – the fourth and second.

In many countries in the region, travel during the rainy season is not a global problem or disaster, but the Philippines. Around the same time as the rainy season, there is a likelihood of a typhoon. This can result in floods, canceled flights and ferry services. It is worth considering this, especially if you are going on vacation for two weeks or buy tickets from island to island in advance. Typhoons most often come in August. The further north, the more likely this event is, especially for the main island of the country – Luzon – up to three typhoons a year. In the central part of the country – one or two. On the southernmost island, Mindanao, the likelihood of a typhoon tends to zero.

Cities and regions

The Philippines is an island state, unique in its beauty and culture. For many centuries here, one ruler succeeded another. The islands have been influenced by European conquerors for many years, but nevertheless, their culture has preserved the amazing distinctive traditions of local aborigines.

And also, despite the fact that the Philippines has long been considered a true paradise for tourists, the islands are famous for the fact that the unique, pristine beauty of nature has been preserved here, which you can admire for an unlimited amount of time. Below are links to the regions of the Philippines, following which you will read more detailed information about a particular region.

  • Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
  • Bikolsky Region
  • Eastern Visayas
  • Davao
  • Valley Kagayan
  • Western Visayas
  • Ilocos
  • Calabarson
  • Palawan (and separately about Coron)
  • Karaga
  • Cordillera Administrative Region
  • Mimaropa
  • National Capital Region
  • Zamboanga Peninsula
  • Northern Mindanao (and separately about Camigin)
  • Sokksxarhen
  • Central Visayas
  • Central Luzon

Philippines landmarks

The Philippines is an extremely multifaceted country, there are both natural beauties and man-made sights left for us by the Spanish conquistadors or the Americans, or by the Filipinos themselves. We decided to split them geographically – the capital of the country, the most popular tourist island of Cebu and the rest of the country.

Attractions of the Philippines:

  • Rice terraces in the Philippine Cordilleras

    Coron Island

    Coron Island

  • Church of Santa Maria / Assumption of Our Lady
  • Underground river Puerto Princesa
  • Kabayan burial caves
  • Coron Island Biological Reserve
  • Agusana Swamp Nature Reserve
  • Fortress Santa Isabel
  • Tabon cave complex
  • Petroglyphs of Angono
  • Chocolate hills
  • Miagao Church
  • Mount Hamigitan
  • Panglao island
  • Tubbataha reef

What to do in the Philippines

The Philippines is of interest to divers around the world for its coral reefs, wrecks, picturesque underwater islands and sparsely populated bays. Diving enthusiasts can always find interesting places here. As a rule, small boats are used for diving, the length of which is no more than 25 m in length. They are equipped with special balancing floats – outriggers.

The most developed area for diving is the Tubbatah area, at the same time, due to the increased interest in diving, this area is actively developing. Subic Bay attracts divers with its wrecks. This site has been available for diving since 1992, and was previously the site of a US naval base. Coron Bay is also interesting for divers.Here you can see sunken Japanese ships that were sunk during the Second World War. American revenge for Pearl Harbor turned into the bombing of a huge number of ships.

Most of the Philippine reefs have a shallow top. It is covered with barrel sponges, various corals, spreading sea fans and hydroids. In all this diversity, you can see many marine life. The most common fish are cesium, pennant fish, Moorish idols, angel fish. Among the underwater animals, you can also find large marine life – sharks, turtles, rays, cave sharks. Also during the dive, you can see nudibranchs, whitetip reef sharks, sea cucumbers, lobsters, ascidians, feathery worms and starfish.

Many dive sites in the Philippines can be reached by plane. Diving enthusiasts should not forget about decompression sickness when flying after diving. Doctors recommend taking a break between flights and multiple dives for at least a day.

Getting around in the Philippines

With regard to travel within the country, between the islands, the choice here is limited only to ferries and domestic flights.

Air traffic

The main air carriers are Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia. The cost of their flights, in general, does not differ much, they all fall under the budget category. For example, Cebu Pacific offers ticket prices to Boracay (Kalibo) from 200 pesos, to Palawan (Puerto Princess) from 800 pesos, to Cebu from 1,100 pesos, and to Bohol from 1,600 pesos.

The main tourist destinations in the Philippines are Boracay, Palawan, Bohol and Cebu. Any of these places can be reached both from Manila and from other islands. It is worth noting the fact that due to the remote location of some airports, you will have to spend additional time traveling by land and / or using the ferry. So, for example, to get to Boracay (from Manila), you need to fly either to Caticlan (upon arrival you will only need to change to a ferry to Boracay Island and in 15–20 minutes you will be on the spot), or to Kalibo (in this case, you will first need to get to Caticlan, where you can change to the ferry). If your goal is Cebu, then the destination will be about. Mactan, where the Cebu-Mactan airport is located, will not be difficult to get from there to Cebu, since there are bridges between the islands.

As for Fr. Palawan, then its airports are based in the cities of Puerto Princesa and El Nido, it is worth choosing between them considering where you plan to stay on vacation. You can get to Bohol to see the famous chocolate hills by direct flights both from Manila and, for example, from Cebu, the closest popular island to Bohol. The flight time between the islands is from 30 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the direction.

Ferry service

All islands are connected by ferry service, which is perfect for those who are afraid to fly or want to save money. It should be borne in mind that ferries are often delayed or canceled due to bad weather (as well as flights). The schedule changes regularly for each direction, so the best option would be to arrive at the pier in the morning, as ferries run, for the most part, up to 6-7 hours, 3-6 times a day, depending on the destination of the direction.

An approximate schedule can be found on the cebuboattrips website, where, in addition to everything, the phone numbers and official websites of most ferry companies operating in the Philippines are indicated. You can also use the site schedule.ph, where navigation around the islands and piers is quite convenient, by selecting the desired one, you will see the schedule.

Do not forget that the schedule is indicative, as well as the fact that it is best to buy the cheapest tickets, because the seats of the 3rd class are located under a canopy on the open deck, and the 1st class is in the hold. Ferry prices range from 250 to 500 pesos for a non-air-conditioned trip on the most budget-friendly regular ferry destinations. And from 600 to 1000 pesos with all the amenities, on high-speed boats.

Philippine cuisine

Filipino cuisine is primarily associated with dishes of rice, fish, seafood, meat and vegetables, which are unusual for a European pungency and pungency. Most dishes are quick enough to prepare. Eating is a little different from that in Russian life: in the Philippines, snacks are relied on first, followed by soups and hot dishes with a side dish, which is rice and vegetables. The end of the meal ends with a local drink and dessert, which, for example, can be soufflé, jelly or ice cream. By tradition, people eat here mainly with their hands, but in many restaurants tourists can also be offered the usual cutlery. Now let’s get acquainted with the dishes of the Philippine cuisine in more detail.

Philippine cuisine

Philippine cuisine

Rice in the Philippines, like in many Asian countries, can be called one of the main national dishes. Rice, which is also referred to here as “white gold”, is used in most of the local cuisine. Boiled lightly salted rice in Filipino cuisine is used both as a popular side dish, served with fish, meat, poultry or seafood, and simply instead of bread. In the Philippines, rice can be eaten as porridge with garlic and spices, and added cold to salads. Even desserts are not complete without rice – tourists can taste rice cakes and sweets. Rice flour is used to prepare siomai – fish dumplings paired with vegetables in sweet and sour peanut sauce. Fried rice noodles with meat, seafood, or vegetables are called pansit. And this is just a small part of the Filipino dishes, in the preparation of which rice is involved.

Along with rice, fish and seafood are the most important ingredients in Filipino cuisine. Due to the geographical location of the state, there is a wide variety of marine life. Most often in the Philippines, you can find dishes prepared from fish such as trout, marlin, tuna, mackerel, bangus milkfish, paw-paw, tilapia, catfish, mackerel, shark and stingray. Other marine life here include shrimp, mussels, oysters, octopus, crabs and squid.

So what kind of dishes do these sea representatives cook? While spending time in the Philippines, try fermented bagoon salted shrimp, fish balls in vinegar sauce, pinakbet shrimp paste, siniganga broth, coconut milk mackerel with a variety of quinilo-on-tankwinkle spices. One of the most popular types of fish in Filipino cooking is the paw-paw, a type of sea bass that is often steamed. After cooking, the fillet is carefully separated from the bones and then served with a side dish.

Fish or seafood dishes can be found absolutely everywhere: from a restaurant to a small cafe. In luxury restaurants, you can taste real gourmet dishes with dozens of different ingredients and local specialty sauces. Fish dishes can also be served with slices of kalamansi lemon, unripe papaya or spicy sauce, herbs and rice as a snack. In some coastal cafes and restaurants, guests can prepare a dish from seafood brought by the tourists themselves. At home, fish is mainly steamed or grilled, and served with rice or vegetables.

Watermelon smoothie in the Philippines

Watermelon smoothie in the Philippines

In the Philippines, meat dishes are no less popular than fish dishes. Due to the mixing of culinary traditions, you can find both familiar European or Asian dishes, as well as traditional local dishes. The local specialties include adobo – pieces of chicken, pork or even squid stewed in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, well seasoned with pepper, garlic and bay leaves. No less popular is “lechon” – a suckling pig stuffed and roasted on a spit or “crispi patu” – a pork leg fried with garlic until crispy golden brown. Quite an unusual meat masterpiece is “Chicharon”, which is a pork skin fried to a crisp. Here you can also try morcon and embutido meat rolls. If this is still not enough, then you can really go on to exotic dishes by trying, for example, “caret-caret” – buffalo tail soup; “Carabao” – a buffalo meat dish fried over coals; “Cake” – an omelet made from eggs and minced meat; or “asso” – a dish made from dog meat.

Traditional sauces of Filipino cuisine include sweet and sour, soy and vinegar sauces. Patis is a popular by-product of bagooong shrimp paste. Porridge “arros caldo” is a very popular tourist dish, served with patis. On the dining table, patis often replaces salt. Apart from sauces, one of the key ingredients is vinegar, which comes in many varieties. Food in the Philippines is mostly cooked in palm oil, without subjecting it to intense heat treatment, unlike other Asian countries.

One of the final stages of the meal is dessert, which, as you might guess, is mostly made from local fruits: bananas, pineapples, oranges, guava, mango, papaya, kalamansi, ube and others. They make salads, sauces, jams, add to cakes, pastries, ice cream, soufflé or jelly. In addition to fruits, the familiar eggs, flour and gelatin are used in desserts, as well as coconut milk, brown sugar, sweet corn and all the same rice. Among the most popular desserts it is worth noting such desserts as “halo-halo” – ice cream made from a mixture of pulp of various fruits, crushed ice and condensed milk; Leche – fruit pie; “Puto” and “bibinka” – rice cakes; “Ginataan” – a dessert made from fruits and coconut milk; durian sweets and fried bananas topped with sweet sauce. If you want to try something else unusual, then you should try “balut” – this is a boiled egg with a duckling embryo inside.

Eating, perhaps, in all cuisines of the world ends with some kind of drink. Popular soft drinks in the Philippines include lemonades, fresh juices, buko coconut milk, iced tea and local baraco hot coffee. Among alcoholic beverages, tourists can be advised of local beer, Tanduay rum, as well as Lombonac palm wine and Tuba wine made from fermented coconut milk.

Safety in the Philippines

Filipinos are a good-natured and calm people. But, like every locality, the Philippines has its own behaviors.

When planning to visit the Philippines, every tourist should take into account the fact that there is a high level of theft in this country, especially in large cities, but in rural areas this is out of the question. Everything is quiet and calm there. A favorite feature of local residents is begging the guests of the country for “presents”. So you have to be ready for such a turn. However, the Filipinos are not very persistent. In general, the local population is distinguished by friendly behavior towards guests from other countries, amazing cheerfulness and the famous slowness, about which there are whole legends.

Policeman in the Philippines

Policeman in the Philippines

You need to be careful with strangers, albeit good-natured people. There are many small scammers and pickpockets here. You need to watch your belongings and not rush to “free” food and drinks, so as not to become a victim of “divorce”.

If you overlooked things and they were stolen, then you should contact the embassy. But hoping that things will be found is not an option. So it’s best to be vigilant beforehand.

The Philippines has seen an increase in crime over the past ten years. A difficult criminal situation has developed not only in the capital of the state of Manila, but also in almost all large cities. Armed attacks on tourists followed by robbery are not uncommon. To minimize the risk of such a situation, tourists should not wander the streets at nightfall, especially alone.

It is no secret that the Philippines is considered a sex tourism mecca. Prostitution here is on a grand scale, and child prostitution simply flourishes. In the center of Manila, dubious comrades are ready to offer guests more than one catalog with girls for every taste and color. In order not to find yourself in a delicate situation and not to get a bag of troubles, go away immediately from such dealers.

The police are involved in maintaining public order in the Philippines. She exercises control over what is happening imperceptibly but thoroughly. They treat tourists with special trepidation, although at times it seems that they do it too intrusively.

It is better not to go to the islands of Mindanao and Sulu. The fact is that this part of the Philippines is mostly populated by Muslims. They often express their dissatisfaction with the governing apparatus of the country, so “squabbles” are encountered quite often here.

If you still really want to admire the nature of these islands, then you should be careful. Do not argue about religion and politics, take into account Muslim traditions – this is what you should remember.

The nature of the Philippines is not always kind to the tourist. There are earthquakes, typhoons, active volcanoes, and floods. In general, a complete set of seismic activity. But all this is not so scary if you know the answers to the questions of where and when there can be such kind of troubles. Typhoons are mainly the province of the northern Philippines. Locals are already used to the annual summer “attacks” from the ocean. Earthquakes here are not everywhere and are not so strong.

Collisions with seismic activity do not always have a negative effect on health, especially in the Philippines. Most just get off with a little stress and an increase in adrenaline in the blood. If anything, you can go to the local hospital for help.

Climate is another unpredictable factor on the islands. The rainy season here lasts from November to March-April.

Natural phenomena such as rain are, in principle, harmless. But they can still ruin the rest. It is worth knowing in advance about the rainy seasons as well as the hottest periods. The ideal period for a vacation in the Philippines is from January to June. More information about the weather and seasonality can be found in the “Weather in the Philippines” section.

For Filipinos to treat you well, you need to treat them the same way. No one has canceled etiquette and tolerance even in such remote places.