Fact file: Philippines

Did you know?
The Tasaday people, discovered in 1972, live a stone-age lifestyle in caves in the remote Minadoo valley.
Language
Filipino (Tagalog), Spanish, English and many indigenous languages
Visas
Visa on arrival valid for 21 days
Getting there
Several major airlines fly from London to the capital Manila, although most require a connection.
Flying time from London
17 hours
Getting around
There are countless flights between the 7,000 islands and you can buy multiple passes. Ferry and boat services are just as numerous but quality varies. There are cramped long-distance buses and jeepneys (originally reconstructed jeeps). Locally only Manila has its own bus service, but taxis, unmetered cabs and trishaws abound.
Currency
Peso
Costs
Prices do vary but as a rough guide: roll of camera film £1.70, bottle of beer 40p, litre of petrol 20p, four-mile taxi ride about £1p, moderate restaurant meal £7-£10.
Weather
The climate is tropical, with an average year-round temperature of 32C (90F). Summer (March-May) is always hot and dry. June to October is the wet season with heavy monsoon rains and typhoons in most parts. The coolest time is November to February, when the maximum is around 84-88F (29-31C).
Time difference
Eight hours ahead of GMT
International dialling code from the UK
00 63
Voltage
220v, major hotels also have 110v outlets.
Opening hours
Banks open from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, but there are ATMs in cities and major towns. Government offices open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Most department stores and supermarkets open from 10am to 9pm, Monday to Sunday.
Health - Before you go
No jabs are required but start taking anti-malarials before you go if you are planning on travelling to remote areas. There have been outbreaks of dengue fever recently but no vaccination is available. A yellow fever certificate is required if you are travelling from an infected area.
Health - When you are there
Water in big cities should be safe but if at all in doubt, stick to bottled water.
Warnings
Rickety Filipino ferries are notorious for their accidents so don't get on a boat if you are doubtful. The Filipino government and the Moro National Liberation Front signed a peace accord in 1996 after a 24-year conflict over Mindanao, but trouble continues so check with the Foreign Office.
Emergency
Numbers for emergency services vary from region to region, check when you arrive. Manila police, dial 166. British Embassy, LV Locsin building, 6752 Ayala Ave, Makati, Manila. Tel. 02 816 7116.
Customs
It is strictly forbidden to export coral, certain types of orchid, mussels and certain animal parts (eg: turtle shells and python skins) from the country.
Pets
Animals need a health certificate from a vet to enter the Philippines but quarantine restrictions apply to pets returning to UK.
Tipping
A 10% service charge is usually included in restaurant and hotel bills. In addition, 10 to 15% of the bill's total makes an appropriate tip. Porters expect about P5 per bag. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, security guards, etc also expect a tip.
Tourist office
Philippines Tourism and Cultural Office, 146 Cromwell Road, London, SW7 4EF. Tel. 020 7835 1100.


Telephone

+44 (0) 203 696 2870

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

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