Enjoy this guest post by Hamid.
The Republic of the Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. However, about half of the country’s 94 million people live on the island of Luzon. The islands have a volcanic mountainous terrain and are covered in tropic rainforests. Although there is a dry season from March through May, other months are frequently hot, humid and rainy.
In order to receive vaccinations against communicable diseases, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that travelers visit a physician four to six weeks before embarking.
In addition, the CDC suggests taking precautions against dengue, a disease spread by infected mosquitoes. Wear long sleeves and pants as well as insect repellent. The CDC also suggests bringing sunblock, iodine tablets and anti-diarrheal medicine.
It is always a good idea to obtain travel insurance before leaving the country. Travel insurance covers many situations, such as losing possessions, but the CDC recommends that all travelers acquire at least $100,000 of traveler’s medical insurance that includes emergency evacuation back to the United States.
In this era of identity theft, financial institutions become suspicious about overseas travel. Therefore, travelers should notify banks and credit card companies of the upcoming trip. Many travelers have complained about becoming stranded without funds due to unforeseen security policies.
Travelers will need cash outside of Manila since this is the only city that accepts either travelers’ checks or credit cards. However, it is best not to bring more than $3,000 into the country since that amount must be declared upon arrival.
According to the State Department, United States citizens may enter the Philippines with only a passport, not a visa, and may remain up to six months, although this policy does have some fine print. Travelers who plan on staying longer than 21 days should check with the State Department for specifics.
The State Department also suggests that travelers inform them of the upcoming trip so that they may remain up-to-date on all security issues. Currently only the Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern.
The Philippines is a heavily Catholic country due to a long-time Spanish presence. This influences means that the Philippines has many religious and non-religious festivals.
Planning around these festivals is a good idea. Travelers who enjoy festivities should maximize their exposure while travelers who enjoy solitude may wish to allow some days for crowds to disperse. Some of the more popular festivals include the Moriones Festival, which is held during the Christian observation of Holy Week, and Sinulog Festival, which is held on the third Sunday of January.
Transportation and Lodging
Most experienced travelers suggest traveling by taxi in Manila rather than renting a car. Those who desire more freedom can hire a driver, but renting a car is not a good idea in Manila. Other Philippine means of transportation are by bus or jitney.
The Philippines are beautiful islands full of beautiful beaches, lush rain forests and friendly people who are happy to help visitors. However, as with any endeavor, especially travel outside the United States, good planning will dramatically enhance the experience.
Hamid Mirabi is the owner of a limousine and transportation company, Colony Limousine, that specializes in providing limos, airport shuttles and party buses in Houston, Texas.