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General Info about Philippines

Visa Requirements
Before you travel to the Philippines, first you need to make sure you passport is valid for 6 months before entering. And once you don’t come from one of the countries that the Philippines have restrictions on, you can stay for up to 21 days on your passport as long as you have a valid onward/return ticket. Those wishing to stay longer than 21 days must apply for a tourist visa which will permit the holder to stay in the country for up to 59 days.

To ensure you are aware of the full entry requirements for entering the Philippines contact your nearest embassy before travelling.

Currency
The official unit of currency in the Philippines is the Peso (P) which is divided into 100 centavos (c). Notes come in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50, P100, P500 and P1000. Coins in circulation are 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, P1, P2 and P5.

Language
Pilipino (with many various dialects) is the national language, while English is spoken widely also.

Climate
The Philippines has a tropical climate which is cooled by temperate breezes which frequently blow around different islands. There are three different seasons – the wet season (June to September), the cool and dry season (October to February) and the hot and dry season (March to May).

Medical Care
While no vaccinations are mandatory, the risk of malaria in rural areas can be evident and strongly advised that you take the necessary precautions. Make sure to have insect repellent and avoid mosquito bites at all costs. Always drink bottled water and not tap water.

It is advised that you take out travel insurance before going. You can now purchase travel insurance on Hostelphilippines.com. Click here for further details.

Time Zone
The Philippines is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 13 ahead of EST.

Opening Hours
In the major towns and cities most shops and shopping centres/malls open from 10am-8pm daily. Government offices/business open from 8am-5pm of 9am-6pm. Banks open from 8am-3pm.

Tourist Offices
The Filipino Department of Tourism have offices in Manila and most areas around the country where the tourism industry is strong. They usually have brochures for activities and attractions in the area.

Tax
The rate of value added tax is 10.75%.

Currency Exchange
The most widely accepted foreign currency to change into Pesos is the US Dollar. Travellers cheques are also widely accepted, although you may encounter some hassle when doing so. Exchange rates outside Manila get progressively bad the further away from the capital you go.

Electricity
The most frequently used voltage is 220V/60Hz but this can sometimes be 110V in some hotels.

Telephones
Outside Manila and other major towns and cities it can sometimes be a chore finding public telephones. Hotels and tourist offices are the best places to look.

When calling other countries from within the Philippines dial the international access code (00) plus the country code, the local area code (dropping the 0) and then the local number. When calling the country from overseas, its country code is +63.

Post Office
Post offices generally open between 8am-5pm (Monday-Friday). The country’s postal service is seen as reliable so your postcards won’t get lost.

Tipping
A 10% service charge is added to the bill in restaurants. Whether you add an extra tip on top of this is at your own discretion. On the other hand, it is expected to tip bellboys and porters usually expect to be tipped.

Public Holidays
New Years Day (1st January), Bataan Day (9th April), Easter (March/April), Labour Day (1st May), Independence Day (12th January), National Heroes Day (last Sunday in August), All Saints Day (1st November), Bonifacio Day (30th November), Christmas Day (25th December) and Rizal Day (30th December).

It is worth noting what the Philippines’ public holidays are before travelling, as the majority of businesses, banks and shops shut for the day.

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