|Most popular in||December||High demand for flights, 6% potential price rise|
|Cheapest in||September||Best time to find cheap flights, 5% potential price drop|
|Average price||$766||Price for this month|
|Cheapest price||$398||From New York to Manila|
$683 - $1424
86 - 93.2 °F
0.67 - 15 inches
With more than 7,000 islands making up the Philippines, the hardest decision will be which ones to visit. Manila is the capital and the main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The country’s people are warm, hospitable and family-minded; its cuisine is a delicious blend of Chinese, Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, Indonesian and Indian.
The islands have several international gateways. Ninoy Aquino is the airport at which many flights to the Philippines (and its capital Manila) land. Mactan in Cebu handles flights from Japan, Singapore, and Australia, Davao – regular flights from Indonesia and Singapore.
Manila, on Luzon, boasts one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Intramuros, the walled city, covering almost 160 acres, was built by the Spanish in 1571. Damaged during the Second World War, restoration work was started by Imelda Marcos, of shoe fame. Manila Cathedral is at the centre and Fort Santiago at the northwestern tip. Its colorful Chinatown is north of the Pasig river.
The islands have some of the best diving. Internationally recognised spots include Tubbataha Reef; Malapascua Island (Cebu); Balicasag Island (Bohol); Anilao, Batangas; and Puerto Galera (Mindoro).
The flight from the US to the Philippines varies depending on the city of departure. Direct flights out of LAX take about 15h 45m, while indirect service from this and other origin cities typically has a flight time of about 20h to the Philippines. Philippines flight deals might offer lower fares, but check stopovers and total travel time to avoid substantial increases by choosing discounted rates.
Direct flights to the Philippines are available from coastal cities in the US, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. These flights are provided by Philippine Airlines, and available throughout the week. Other major US cities offer one-stop flights originating from Chicago, Seattle, and other airports, as well. Flights are also available from Delta and other airlines.
Road conditions aren’t ideal in the Philippines and traffic can make driving stressful for those visiting from the US and other countries. Thus, driving is not the ideal option for traveling once you arrive in the country. Car hire and taxis are much more common, and are available in most major cities and towns. Some airports also offer car hire services, as well. Be careful with taxi fares and agree in advance to the metered rate to avoid being overcharged. There is also an extensive private bus network in the Philippines, but there is no central network or source to find them. Everything from luxury coaches to cheap local buses are available and travelers can inquire at their hotel to find out about available bus routes and times. 2Go Travel handles most of the major ferry services offering transit between islands in the Philippines.
The Philippines offers everything from city attractions to outdoor adventures, including the Apo Mountains, which is home to one of the longest ziplines in all of Asia. Guests can visit the rice terraces and small villages of the Cordillera or explore historic old Manila, which offers the remains of the old walled city and the San Agustin church, as well as the ruins of historic Fort Santiago. Mount Mayon and Mount Pinatubo allow visitors to climb a volcano and visit natural mineral springs nearby, as well. Guests should visit Cebu City, which is the second largest in the island country and much more relaxing than Manila. Here, visitors will find festivals, diving, and a variety of other attractions.
All US citizens traveling to the Philippines will need a valid US passport to gain entry to the country. Visitors should also have proof of a return ticket or onward travel, and can stay for up to 30 days without a visa by providing this information to immigration officials on arrival. Those who want to stay longer than 30 days will need to apply with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. Do not overstay your passport stamp date or you may be subject to fines or detention.
The Philippines have a tropical climate, which varies by region. The dry season runs from November to April, and the wet season from May to October. Northern islands such as Baguio and Luzon, as well as the center, have temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees during the wet season. The temperature range drops a bit in the dry season, ranging between 55 and 73 degrees. Typhoon season lasts from June to December.
The best time to visit the Philippines and the northern and central islands is during the dry season when the days are clear and bright and rainfall is minimal.
The south (Davao) has no distinct wet or dry seasons. Weather is constant year-round and temperatures are about 73-90 degrees. There is no bad time to visit this part of the Philippines.
Domestic flights are a good way to get around the Philippines. Charter (helicopter and small-to-medium sized airplanes) flights are also available.
Ferry services connect the islands while cruise liners dock at the port of Manila.
The Metrotren stretches south to Carmona and Cavite and north to Meycauayan, Bulacan. In Metro Manila, the Light Railway Transit runs from Caloocan to Baclaran.
Other ways of getting around the country include taxis, buses, trikes and the jeepney. The jeepney is a classic, inspired by the American World War II army jeeps. When the American soldiers left the Philippines, surplus jeeps were sold or given to local people. The stripped-down jeeps were fitted with seats, decorated with ornaments and painted in bright colors.
The calesa is a rather touristy way of getting around. It is a traditional horse-drawn carriage brightly decorated that was introduced during the years that Spain was ruler.