Scuba Diving The Philippines | Need to Know
The Philippines is a unique blend of history and geography which makes this vast South East Asian archipelago unlike any other dive destination. More than 7,000 islands, wild jungle, steaming volcanoes, stunning coral reefs and smiling, happy-go-lucky people. Here’s a few things you need to know to get yourself around.
NEED TO KNOW
The climate is tropical, with March to May (summer) being the hottest months. The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible. The coolest months are from November to February, with mid-January to end of February considered the best for cooler and dryer weather. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. The average temperatures range from 25°C/78°F to 32°C/90°F and humidity is around 77 per cent.
Citizens of nearly all countries do not need a visa to enter the Philippines for stays of less than 30 days – you’ll be given a 30-day visa on arrival in the country. However, you may well be asked for proof of an exit or onward ticket upon arrival in the country. For non-British passport holders, you may call the Philippine Consulate at 02074511821 if you need a visa to enter. For longer stays, before you travel, apply at The Philippine Embassy Consular Office for a three-month single-entry visa, which usually costs £22. Additional visa extension can be applied in the Philippines. Passports should be valid at least six months upon scheduled return to point of origin.
Phones and Internet
Local SIM cards which can be bought on arrival can be used in most open line phones. Or you can buy a basic phone for about £10. Dial 0 before area codes when calling to and from a mobile or landline outside of that region. Important codes to remember: Country code is 63, Emergency number is 117, International dialling code 00 and International operator is 108 if using a landline.
The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP), divided into 100 Centavos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos and P1, P5 and P10 pesos. Notes are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos. All commercial banks, most large hotels, and some malls are authorized to exchange foreign currency. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are widely accepted across the country. Travellers’ checks (preferably American Express) are accepted at hotels and large department stores. ATM machines are common in cities but rare in far flung islands (transaction charges apply for foreign debit/credit cards).
There are two distinct languages spoken in the Philippines: Tagalog and Bisaya. While Tagalog is the official language, it is only spoken in Luzon. In the other two major regional areas, Visayas and Mindanao, varying dialects of Bisaya are spoken in different islands. All signs are in English as it is widely spoken in the whole country but more fluently within urban areas.
You’ll only be asked to show health certificates of vaccination against smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever if you’re coming from known infected areas. Immunization against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and Japanese encephalitis may be wise, as well as precautions against malaria and dengue fever. Consult your doctor before travelling. Avoid the sand fly (known locally as the niknik), whose bite is much worse than the mosquito’s. A regular and thorough application of locally produced ‘Off’ lotion on all exposed parts should keep them at bay.
Most visitors fly into the Philippines, arriving via Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila or Clark International Airport in Central Luzon, or through one of the Philippines’ other smaller international gateways: Cebu and Kalibo in the Visayas, and Davao in Mindanao. Once within the Philippines, travellers have an almost confusing selection of transportation options: budget airlines, ships and buses link Philippine cities and provinces, while shorter distances can be traversed using jeepneys, buses, and tricycles.
Electricity supply: 220 volts a/c. An American-style adapter is needed to connect.
The Philippines is GMT +8 and does not observe daylight savings time, so BST +7