Facts for visitors: Helpful tips for new and returning visitors

Society & Etiquette

For those accustomed to doing business in the US or other Western markets, Philippine business customs will appear familiar. Handshakes are standard for both men and women in formal and informal occasions, while the exchange of business cards is fairly informal. However, if meeting with a high-ranking government official or high-level business executive, it is recommended to present and receive the business card with both hands so that the card is readable to the recipient, as a sign of respect. One should be cognisant of academic, professional and honorary titles as they are used frequently in conjunction with a person’s surname. The most significant variant in conducting business is that text messaging is a completely acceptable form of carrying out formal communication in the Philippines.


It is common to find Filipino businessmen and government officials wearing the barong


Most nationalities can easily obtain a tourist visa upon arrival in the country that is valid for 30 days. Obtaining an extension for between one and six months is relatively easy and requires the proper paperwork and a $68 fee payable to the Bureau of Immigration. For any traveller entering the country, an outbound ticket is required at the airport. Those who wish to obtain a visa overseas may do so for $35, but the length of stay granted is usually two months.


The Philippine peso is the country’s currency and is divided into 100 centavos. Notes are found in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. The Philippines is still a cash-centric economy, and credit cards are generally only accepted at major hotels, shops, restaurants and resorts. It is best to carry small bills when possible, as it can be difficult to find change. The current exchange rate is P1: $0.02.


The Philippines uses the 220-volt AC system with two flat-pin plugs, so most visitors, except North Americans, will require adaptors.


The same precautions that are taken in most tropical climates should also be followed before travelling to the Philippines. Although instances are rare, vaccinations for yellow fever, dengue, typhoid fever and hepatitis are all recommended. Malaria is sometimes reported, but dengue fever is of greater concern. Outside of major urban centres, quality medical facilities are few and tap water is not potable.


Manila is rather infamous for its endless traffic jams, and during peak hours travel around the city can be extremely difficult, particularly in recent years as large-scale infrastructure projects have begun construction in the middle of the metropolis and car sales have multiplied. Although there are two metro lines and one rail line serving commuters, their reach is currently geographically limited. Public transport within the metropolis is dominated by the colourful passenger “jeepney”. While taxis are plentiful and generally honest, it is best to ask for the meter.


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