Greetings from the Philippines!
The journey of a thousand miles begins with you, our dear travel agents, tour operators and travel planners.
Travelers cherish and relive the experience of their trip if everything goes well. They would even perhaps prefer a simple yet well planned trip more than a glamorous tour plagued with minor inconveniences.
That is why we prepared this Philippine Travel Sales Manual with you and your valued travelers in mind.
The Philippines has a lot to offer ... unique places vividly captured on film and uplifting experiences permanently etched in one's heart. Facilities are affordable, services incomparable. Savor international cuisine, regional specialties and exotic local delicacies. Indulge in the people, imbibe the culture... and find out why expatriates find it hard to say goodbye.
In today's highly competitive world and the magic of multimedia, we are bombarded with sales pitches, promised benefits, and images about the best a country can offer. Amidst all our expectations and after the actual experience, we end up with the usual offering and packages.
But the Philippines is different.
We invite you to discover for yourselves why. For a travel sales manual can only do so much ... but it cannot surpass the testimonial of someone who has actually experienced why the Philippines is Beyond The Usual.
Thank you and Mabuhay!
JOSEPH H. DURANO
Secretary of Tourism
The Philippines 6
Fast Facts 7
Metro Manila and Environs 35
Bohol & Boracay 265
Philippine Trivia 325
DOT/PCVC Offices 333
Beyond the Usual
In 2002, the Philippine Department of Tourism, through its marketing arm the Philippine Convention & Visitors Corporation, launched a worldwide advertising and marketing campaign which carried a new logo – WOW Philippines and the tagline "More than the Usual".
The campaign focused on the country's bestselling destinations, natural wonders, pristine beaches, thrilling adventures and real bargains. Truly, a Wealth of Wonders to share with the world from an archipelago of 7,107 exciting islands.
The astounding success of the campaign necessitated its continuity by elevating it to a new level. As a sequel, the Philippine Department of Tourism re-launches a vibrant logo and tagline "Philippines, Beyond The Usual".
The creative rendition of the logo is highlighted by prominent icons that are representations of what the country offers.
The focal point of the advertising campaign is the uniqueness of the country with specific emphasis on what is distinctly Filipino. It showcases never before seen attributes of our destinations, cuisine, adventures, sports, wellness, diverse culture
, shopping and, most of all, our inherent warmth and hospitality
It's simply Beyond the Usual!
Travel Time from Target Markets to the Philippines
Amsterdam 11 hours 30 minutes Macau 1 hour 55 minutes
Anchorage 19 hours 16 minutes Melbourne 8 hours 00 minutes
Athens 8 hours 30 minutes New Delhi 9 hours 45 minutes
Bangkok 3 hours 15 minutes Nagoya 4 hours 00 minutes
Beijing 4 hours 25 minutes New York 17 hours 30 minutes
Bandar Seri Begawan 2 hours 05 minutes Okinawa 2 hours 20 minutes
Busan 3 hours 45 minutes Osaka 3 hours 55 minutes
Cairo 13 hours 00 minutes Paris 14 hours 10 minutes
Chicago 23 hours 33 minutes Rome 15 hours 30 minutes
Dubai 8 hours 45 minutes Russia (Moscow) 19 hours 00 minutes
Frankfurt 13 hours 55 minutes San Francisco 12 hours 00 minutes
Guam 3 hours 40 minutes Seoul 4 hours 00 minutes
Ho Chi Minh 2 hours 30 minutes Shanghai 3 hours 10 minutes
Hongkong 2 hours 00 minutes Singapore 3 hours 35 minutes
Honolulu 10 hours 15 minutes Stockholm 17 hours 50 minutes
Jakarta 6 hours 15 minutes Sydney 10 hours 50 minutes
Karachi 9 hours 00 minutes Taipei 2 hours 00 minutes
Kuala Lumpur 3 hours 15 minutes Tokyo 4 hours 15 minutes
London 15 hours 25 minutes Vancouver 12 hours 05 minutes
Los Angeles 12 hours 30 minutes
The Philippines, from its northernmost tip to its farthest island in the south, is an unmistakably beautiful country endowed with pristine beaches, bountiful lakes and serene lagoons, magnificent mountains and challenging volcanoes, pastoral country sides and exciting and highly developed cities and urban centers. Name it and the country has all that can lure even the most seasoned traveler. Most of all, it is home to a fascinatingly captivating people given to smile and renowned for their hospitality.
The underlying charm of the Philippines is its chain of 7,107 islands so beautiful they were once called the "Green Necklace of the Pacific." Bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the South China Sea to the west, the Bashi Channel to the north and the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea to the south, the Philippines has a total land area of 300,780 square kilometers, with a coastline of 15,500 kilometers (invite that of *~the United States) where the most beautiful beaches in the world can be found. The country is divided into the geographical areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Its capital, Manila, is in Luzon while the premier city of Cebu is in the Visayas and Davao City is in Mindanao.
Manila, the main entry point to the country, is a cosmopolitan and bustling metropolis that boasts of posh hotels, upscale shopping centers and entertainment venues that become rather stirring and full of life at night, amidst centers of arts and crafts, museums, historical landmarks, and centuries-old churches like the one considered to be the country's greatest link to its Hispanic past.
A little farther north of Manila, the cadence slows down a bit as the scenery changes from towering skyscrapers to the rugged terrain of a spent volcano with an awesome crater lake. Here, the aborigine Aetas now share their know-how in jungle survival with those who dare scale whatever is left of the revered mountain that was once their home. Farther still are the Cordillera Mountain Ranges, where lived the descendants of the Ifugao tribal folk who carved the breathtaking rice terraces out of the mountainside 2,000 years ago. The Ifugaos and the rest of the mountain tribal folk continue their customs and traditions although modernization is fast catching up with the younger generations. On the plains, in the towns and villages bordered by beaches and the sea, centuries -old churches and historic landmarks built by the Spanish friars still stand, veritable substantiation of the almost 400 years of Spanish colonization.
Ancient churches and turn-of-the-century houses also mark Luzon's southern landscape of verdant fields, placid lakes
, mighty rivers and either dormant or active volcanoes. Add to these the larger islands of Palawan and Mindoro, both boasting of natural parks now listed in the ASEAN's Greatest Parks. To many people, Palawan is the "Last Frontier" as many rare flora and fauna still inhabit its mountains, hinterlands and plains, islands and islets and its surrounding seas, making the island province a venue for daring sports adventures. Also in Palawan are the incomparable El Nido Archipelago and some of the most stunning island resorts where travelers can soak up the sun, sand and sea in luxury.
Pristine beaches, warm tropical waters and unique inland attractions also abound in Cebu, Bohol and other islands in Central Philippines where the people have something in common: the innate sense of festivity often based on combined religious and folk beliefs. A very good example of this is Ati-Atihan, the festival in honor of the Sto. Nino (Holy Child) and, while differing in name and fervor in execution (it's called Sinulog in Cebu and Dinagyang in Iloilo, Ati-Ati in lbajay), the celebrations have the same passion and devotion very much like that seen during the procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
For Filipinos, in general, fiestas (usually in honor of some patron saints) and festivals (either age-old traditions or ones created to showcase the town's tourist attractions, cultural heritage, arts and crafts, agricultural products and the like such as the Panagbenga of Baguio City, Kadayawan of Davao City, Lanzones Festival of Camiguin, Hong Butuan of Butuan City, Kaamulan of Bukidnon, Maradjao Karadjao of Surigao, etc) are venues not only for homecoming and the gathering of family
, relatives and friends but also as an opportunity to show the ultimate in hospitality as they open their homes to visitors and offer food and drinks to one and all, including foreigners present only by mere happenstance.
For its sheer size - it is the second largest in surface area in the country – and its abundant natural resources, Mindanao has been dubbed the "Land of Promise." It is also a promising place for exciting travel, cultural and sports adventure with the opportunity to interact with the Muslims (Maranaws, Maguindanaos, Tausugs, Yakans, Samals) and its indigenous peoples such as Manobos, Bagobos, Mandaya, Bukidnons, Talaandigs, ~'laan, Subanons, Tirurays, T'bolis and others, including the seafaring gypsies known as Badjaos. And there are more to see and experience like the region's unique flora and fauna thriving in its virgin forests, mineral-rich mountain ranges and surrounding seas.
And there are the Filipinos who have the most unique racial mix in Asia: a complex intermingling of Malay, Spanish, German, British, Japanese and American. All these bloodlines produced the unique Filipino race and the cultures that melted into each other created a heritage of pagan and Christian, East and West, customs and traditions and language all their own. And, having been under Spanish colonization for almost 400 years and American domination for 50 years, the Filipino "thinks like an American, feels like a Spanish and behaves like a Malay."
The Philippines is easily accessible by air as most of the world's major airlines serve the international airports in Manila
, Clark in Pampanga and Mactan in Cebu. Some major airlines in Asia also now serve the international airport in Davao City. Travel time is approximately five hours from Tokyo, less than two hours from Hong Kong, 17 hours from Los Angeles, and a little over 20 hours from London. It takes only one hour from Manado
, North Sulawesi in Indonesia to Davao City; only two hours from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah; three hours from Singapore, and one hour and a half from Palau, Micronesia.
It's now time to come to the Philippines and embrace
the beyond-the-usual offerings of its 7,107 islands!
A valid passport is required for entry to the Philippines. Generally, foreign visitors from countries with diplomatic relations with the Philippines are allowed to enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided their passports are valid for at least 6 months and they hold return tickets. When staying for more than 21 days, a Tourist Visa, which is valid for 59 days, is necessary. Permits and visas can be obtained from Philippine Embassies and Consulates.
The following are allowed to enter the country without a visa for a stay not exceeding seven (7) days: holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports, holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports, holders of Portuguese passports issued in Macau and holders of Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports.
Further inquiries may be addressed to the Visa Division (tel. nos. (632) 834 3707 / (632) 834 3707 (632) 834 4870, Department of Foreign Affairs or log on to www.dfa.govph/consular/ visa.htm.
The Philippines is fortunate to be free from epidemics. The country remains free from bird flu and foot-and-mouth diseases.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers coming from an infected area.
Hospitals in the country are manned by highly skilled and competent doctors and nurses and equipped with modern facilities. The unique Filipino brand of caring and compassion makes the Philippines' medical services at par with the best of the world.
The country boasts of a wide variety of medical healthcare groups to choose from. Its healthcare system is largely patterned after the American model. There are private as well as government run medical facilities, hospitals and clinics all over the country. Hotels and resorts provide medical assistance as well. Towns and cities have health centers that provide emergency medical attention.
To facilitate customs examination, visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage and Currency Declaration Form before disembarking. Visitors are allowed to bring in the following items duty-free: reasonable quantity of clothes and jewelry; two bottles of wine or liquor of not more than one liter each; and, 400 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco.
Foreign Exchange Regulations
Visitors carrying more than USS3,000 are requested to declare the amount at the Central Bank of the Philippines counter at the customs area. Foreign currency taken out upon departure must not exceed the amount brought in. Keep all exchange receipts for record purposes. Departing passengers may not bring out more than P1,000 in local currency.
Airports and Facilities
The Philippines has four (4) international airports: the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Angeles City, Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu and the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City.
The NAIA is the main international gateway of the country. It is seven (7) kilometers south of Manila and southwest of Makati City's Central Business
District. It has three (3) terminals that serve Manila and its surrounding metropolitan area. Manila is also served by the Manila Domestic Airport which is one kilometer from the NAIA.
DMIA, also called Clark International Airport, is the main airport serving the immediate vicinity of the Clark Special Economic Zone and the general area of Angeles City.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport serves as the southern hub of the air transportation system of the country. The airport is ideally and strategically located that travel time is only 3-4 hours to 14 cities in Asia Pacific.
The Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also called Davao International Airport, is the main airport serving Davao City. It is the busiest airport in the Mindanao region and is the only international airport in Mindanao serving actual international flights on a regular basis.
These international airports have adequate traveler facilities: duty-free shopping centers, souvenir shops, tourist information counters, hotel and travel agency representatives and car rental services. The NAIA has banks, postal service, a medical clinic, a pharmacy, chapels, salon, sauna and massage services.
Taxis/Car Rental: The following accredited coupon taxis/limousine services are available at NAIA:
• Airport Shuttle Service Inc.
• Alamo Transport Leasing Services Inc.
• Classic Shipping Corporation
• G&S Transport Corporation
• Jorivim General Merchandise Transport
• MIA Transport Service Cooperative
• NAIA Transport Services Cooperative Inc.
• New Horizon Transport Service Inc.
• Nissan Car Lease Phils., Inc.
• Pacific Blue Transport Services
• People's Network Transport
• Sunshine Transportation Inc.
Metered taxis and rent-a-cars are readily available at the airport (Angeles, Cebu and Davao) to the city proper.
Hotel Transfers: Hotel transport can be arranged with hotel representatives at designated counters at the arrival lobby of the airport.
Terminal Fee/Departure Tax
Airport fees of P750 (about US$11) for international flights and P100 200 for domestic flights (paid in Philippine pesos only) will be charged upon departure.
The first half of the year, from January to May, is the best time to visit the country. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July to September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F/25 degrees C to 90 degrees F/32 degrees C; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country, such as Cebu, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
For up-to-date weather information, visit the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) website: wwwpagasa.dost.govph or call PAGASA 24-hour hotline (632) 433 8526.
Light clothes, preferably cottons, are advisable. Jackets or sweaters are needed in upland areas like the mountain city of Baguio. Casual wear is the rule although formal parties may require a suit or Barong Tagalog for men and a dressy frock for ladies.
When visiting churches and mosques, it is well to remember that shorts or provocative dresses will be inappropriate.
Visitors are also advised to bring walking shoes, sunglasses, sunblock cream, insect repellant and a wide brimmed hat.
The Philippines is eight (8) hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
The two official languages are Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. It is also the dominant language in business, government, the legal system, medicine
, the sciences and education. A large percentage of the media such as television, newspapers, and entertainment are also in English.
Eight (8) major dialects are spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, llocano, Hiligaynon, llonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango and Pangasinense.
The Philippines has a democratic republic type of government.
Majority of Filipinos (approximately 83%) are Catholic; about 5% are Moslems. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations.
Currency and Credit Cards
Unit of currency is the Philippine peso, divided into 100 centavos. Bills are in: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos. Coins come in 5, 10, 25 centavo and 1, 5, 10 peso denominations.
Next to the peso, the US dollar enjoys wide acceptance. Most foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized foreign exchange dealers. Remember to transact only with banks and licensed foreign exchange dealers. Always keep receipts of transactions.
For a complete list of registered foreign exchange dealers / money changers by the Central Bank of the Philippines, log on to www.bsp.govph/banking/FXDMCRA_registrypdf.
International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Mastercard, American Express Card and JCB are accepted in major establishments. It is advisable to use credit cards for major expenses.
Business and Banking Hours
Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
The international access code for the Philippines is +63. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code. Major towns, cities and popular tourist spots are covered by GSM 900 and 1800 mobile networks. There are also providers that offer International Roaming. Phone units are rented in malls at a reasonable price. Internet connections are available in hotels, Internet cafes and major or resorts all over the country.
Internet facilities are available in most hotels and resorts and in several Internet or cyber cafes all over the country.
Generally, tap water is not suitable for drinking in some areas. It is advisable to either buy mineral water or boil tap water prior to drinking.
An international driving license is valid for up to three months.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 60 Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachments and two-pin round plugs are used. A transformer is necessary for appliances with electrical current of 110 volts.
In general, tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. However, most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge
, making additional tipping optional.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has a 24-hour Tourist Assistance Unit located at T.M. Kalaw Street, Rizal Park, Manila. It can be reached at 524-1728 / 524-1660.
Important Telephone Numbers
DOT Information Center (24 hours):
524-2384 / 525-2000
DOT – NAIA Office:
DOT – Tourist Assistance Unit:
524 1660 / 524 1728
NAIA Airport Security Center:
877 1727 / 877 1109 loc. 3437
Philippine Airlines – Manila:
818 0111 / 855 8888 / 855 7888
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Public Information Office:
PNP 24-hour Hotline:
722-2353 / 722-9587
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA):
Association of Volunteer Fire Chiefs & Firefighters of the Philippines:
Civil Defense Operation Center:
New Year's Day
EDSA Revolution Day
Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor)
Last Sunday of August
National Heroes Day
Eid-ul-Fitr (end of the month of fasting)
All Saints Day
During the Catholic observance of Holy Week (Lenten season), Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are declared as holidays.
FESTIVALS IN THE PHILIPPINES
The fiesta is Part and parcel of Filipino culture. This annual ritual of color, pageantry and revelry is the focus of the energies of Filipino people given to gaiety, the love of living and the belief that a day must be set aside to thank the Lord for all the good things He has given them. To Filipinos, fiesta is the time to be pious and to have fun and they do it very well.
Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country. Filipino hospitality is legendary and at no time is it more evident than at fiesta time.
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