Facts for visitors: Useful information for new arrivals



Filipino (formerly known as Pilipino) is based on the Tagalog dialect and is the official language of the Philippines. The English language is the second most commonly spoken language and is understood by most Filipinos, though the country exhibits 168 dialects throughout its various regions and islands. In 1897 the Tagalog dialect was established as the official language of the Philippines, as the rest of the Philippine dialects are normally spoken by smaller groups. Tagalog and English are the languages commonly used in business settings and conversations – especially in urban business environments. English has also been fused with the Tagalog dialect to form the hybrid language, “Taglish”, which is used in everyday informal conversations. Although the country was under Spanish rule for nearly four centuries, there is only a small amount of Filipinos who speak Spanish remaining. The exception to this is Chavacano, the only Spanish-based creole language spoken in the Philippines.

Society & Etiquette

Similar to other foreign business customs, the focus of doing business in the Philippines is on building a stable relationship with business partners. Filipinos are known to be very hospitable and warm-hearted. As a result, doing business in the Philippines is usually conducted in a relaxed manner. A handshake with a smile is the standard form of greeting for both men and women, however, make sure to prepare business cards because they are widely used and important when meeting with high-ranking government official or high-level business executives. It is recommended to present and receive the business cards with both hands as a sign of respect.

Filipinos are known to be courteous and respectful. Therefore it is best to be cognisant of academic, professional and honorary titles as they are used frequently in conjunction with a person’s surname. Another significant and acceptable variation for conducting business conversations in the Philippines is to use text messages as a medium for formal business communication.


For purposes of tourism, no visa is required for a stay not exceeding 30 days, and obtaining extensions of between one to six months is relatively easy. It usually requires presenting the proper paperwork and $68 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 is usually two months.


The same precautions that are taken in most tropical climates should also be followed before travelling to the Philippines. Although incidence is rare, vaccinations for yellow fever, dengue, typhoid fever and hepatitis are all recommended.


The Philippine peso is the currency of Philippines. It is divided into 100 centavos. The currency notes are produced in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Since the Philippines is a cash-centric economy it is recommended to carry small bills as a precaution. Credit cards are generally only accepted at major hotels, shops, restaurants and resorts.


Manila is infamous for its traffic jams, and during peak hours travel around the city can be difficult. Although there are two metro lines and one rail line, with additional expansions planned, their reach is limited. Taxis are plentiful and affordable, but it is best to insist on using the meter. Other than taxis, there are transport apps for download that offer fixed fares when one types in the pick-up and drop-off locations.

Business Hours

Shops tend to open six days a week between 9.00am and 11.00am, and close between 6.00pm and 9.00pm. Offices in both the private and public sectors are typically open from Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 5.00pm, although some corporate offices stay open later. Banking hours run Monday thorough Friday from 9.00am to 3.00pm, while embassies are generally open from 9.00am to around 1.00pm.


The Philippines uses the 220-V, AC system with two flat-pin plugs, so most visitors, except those from North America, will require adaptors.


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