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  • Where to go in Philippines | Rough Guides
    over Lake Taal the picture perfect crater lake with Taal Volcano in the middle Around the small coastal town of Anilao you ll find the best scuba diving near Manila while the adjacent agricultural province of Laguna is known for its therapeutic hot springs and luscious buko coconut pies To the north of Manila the theme parks beaches and wreck dives of Subic Bay make a tempting break before the long bus ride to the extraordinary attractions and spell binding mountain scenery of northern Luzon From the mountain city of Baguio it s a rough but memorable trip north along winding roads to tribal communities such as Sagada known for its hanging coffins and Banaue where you can trek through awe inspiring rice terrace countryside Off Luzon s northern tip are the alluring islands of Batanes one of the country s greatest secrets while along Luzon s west coast you can surf around San Fernando or explore the ravishing colonial town of Vigan a UNESCO World Heritage site Head south from Manila through the Bicol region and you ll reach perhaps the best known of Philippine volcanoes Mayon an almost perfect cone that towers over the city of Legaspi and is a strenuous four or five day climb Around Donsol you can swim with whale sharks and in Bulusan Volcano National Park trek through lush rainforest to waterfalls hot springs and volcanic craters Even further off the tourist trail Catanduanes offers excellent surfing while Marinduque is a pastoral island backwater that only gets touristy for the annual Moriones festival held at Easter For most visitors the myriad islands and islets of the Visayas right at the heart of the archipelago are top of the agenda The captivating little island of Boracay with its pristine beach is on almost everyone s itinerary If Boracay s a little too touristy for you try Panglao Island off Bohol the tantalizing beaches and waters of Malapascua off the northern top of Cebu Island or tiny Apo Island near Negros a marine reserve where the only accommodation is in rustic cottages For trekking and climbing make for Mount Kanlaon National Park on Negros one of the country s finest wilderness areas The largest city in the Visayas Cebu City is the arrival point for a limited number of international flights as well as a major hub for domestic flights making it a good alternative base to Manila It s friendly affordable and has a buzzing nightlife scene with great restaurants and live music If you re looking for some serious diving see also Diving in the Philippines head for Puerto Galera on the northern coast of Mindoro Island It also boasts some excellent beaches and trekking through the jungled interior to tribal communities There s more world class diving off the west coast of Mindoro at Apo Reef although you ll have to join a liveaboard boat to get here To the west of the archipelago out in the northern Sulu Sea is the bewitching

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  • When to go to Philippines | Rough Guides
    Northern Luzon Southern Luzon Mindoro The Visayas Palawan Mindanao Shop Ebooks Travel Insurance Hostels When to go Show Related Guides Hide Related Guides The Rough Guide to the Philippines View Guide The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia On A Budget View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City View Guide The Rough Guide to Seoul View Guide The Yangzi Basin Rough Guides Snapshot China View Guide The Rough Guide to Thailand View Guide Central Honshu Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Shanghai View Guide Kyoto and Nara Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Singapore View Guide Philippines When to go The Philippines has a hot and humid tropical climate with a wet season southwest monsoon or habagat from May to October and a dry season northeast monsoon or amihan from November to April The best time to visit is during the dry season although even during the wet season it doesn t always rain torrentially and days can be hot and sunny with short intense downpours at dusk January and February are the coolest months and good for travelling while March April and May are very hot expect sunshine all day and temperatures to peak at a broiling 36 C As well as higher humidity the wet season also brings typhoons with flights sometimes cancelled and roads impassable The first typhoon can hit as early as May although typically it is June or July before the rains really start with July and August the wettest months The southern Visayas and Palawan are less prone to this danger and Mindanao sees less rain during the wet season Read More Things not to miss Explore Philippines Features Gallery Where Next Check out Northern Luzon Book a hostel in Philippines Travel Offers Travel

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  • Getting there | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    fares flying in August low season in the Philippines London Manila costs around 500 return rising to around 650 700 in January From the Republic of Ireland the best fares are around 900 via the UK and the Middle East From the US and Canada Philippine Airlines operates nonstop flights to Manila from Los Angeles San Francisco Las Vegas and Vancouver charging around US 1500 or Can 1500 for the round trip in high season However you can save around twenty percent on this fare if you travel on another airline such as Delta via say South Korea Taiwan or Japan From Los Angeles or San Francisco the flying time to Manila is around eleven hours From the east coast of North America flying via the Pacific the journey will take around twenty hours excluding any layover allow at least 2hr extra along the way If you choose to fly from New York via Paris say expect the journey to take around 24 hours altogether From Australia New Zealand and South Africa Philippine Airlines flies nonstop to Manila from Brisbane twice a week Melbourne five times a week and Sydney five times a week fares online can be as low as Aus 1000 Qantas flies Sydney to Manila nonstop just three times a week and from Brisbane just once a week but fares are always much higher from Aus 1800 in high season If you want to get to Cebu City you can fly via Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur although it s probably easiest simply to change in Manila From New Zealand there are no nonstop flights to the Philippines so you ll have to go via Australia or a Southeast Asian hub such as Singapore or Hong Kong A typical fare is NZ 3000 Auckland Manila via Kuala Lumpur the journey taking 25 to 30 hours From South Africa you ll always make at least one stop en route to Manila and often two Depending on the length of the stop the trip will take from 16 to 26 hours Qatar Airways has flights from around ZAR7000 return in high season from Johannesburg that stop in Doha South African Airways and Cathay Pacific both have daily nonstop flights to Hong Kong from Johannesburg where you can connect with Cathay Pacific on to Manila return fares are much higher in high season costing around ZAR20 000 From Asia You can fly direct to the Philippines from almost every major city in Asia with several budget airlines offering cheap fares Numerous flights make the two hour trip from Hong Kong to Manila via Cathay Pacific Philippine Airlines Dragonair Hong Kong Express Airways and Cebu Pacific with the latter offering rates as low as HK 390 US 50 The Singapore Manila route 3hr 30min is very competitive served by Philippine Airlines Singapore Airlines Airphil Express Jetstar Asia Airways Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific from S 90 US 70 Cebu Pacific also offers cheap flights from Bangkok Jakarta Kota Kinabalu Kuala Lumpur

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  • Getting around | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    on secondary routes within the Visayas Most post schedules and fares on their websites On less popular routes you might have to take your chances with smaller companies which rarely operate to published timetables In rural areas you may have to ask around at the harbour or wharf as to what boats are leaving for where and when Ferry fares and accommodation Ferry fares are very low by Western standards especially if booked in advance for example Manila Cebu from P750 Manila Mindanao for P1150 add on around P1000 for a private cabin Tickets can be bought at the pier up until departure though it s often more convenient to avoid the long queues and buy in advance travel agents sell ferry tickets and the larger ferry companies have ticket offices in cities and towns SuperFerry also offers online ticketing The cheapest accommodation is in bunk beds in cavernous dorms either below deck or on a semi open deck with shared toilets and showers Older ships might have just a handful of cramped cabins sharing a tiny shower and toilet The major operators generally have newer ships with a range of accommodation that includes dorms straw mats in an air conditioned area shared cabins usually for four with bathroom These ferries usually also have a bar karaoke lounge and a canteen serving basic meals By bus Bus travel can be relatively uncomfortable and slow but you ll get a real glimpse of rural Philippine life from the window and meet Filipinos from all walks of life Buses are also incredibly convenient hundreds of routes spread out like a web from major cities and even the most isolated barrio will have a service of some sort You won t go hungry either At most stops local vendors will jump on and offer you various snacks and drinks while on the longer hauls buses stop every three or four hours to give passengers a chance to stretch their legs and buy some food There are some downsides Though the largest bus companies have fleets of reasonably new air conditioned buses for longer routes most rarely have toilets On shorter routes buses can be dilapidated contraptions with no air conditioning and in some cases no glass in the windows You ll also need to have a high tolerance to loud music or Tagalog movies played at full blast throughout the trip Bus fares and timetables Fares are low around P435 from Manila to Baguio and P500 to Naga Roads can be poor and even when the distances involved aren t great the buses will make numerous stops along the way Some bus companies advertise express services but in reality a bus that goes from A to B without stopping is unheard of Buses that have a derecho sign meaning straight or direct in the window usually make the fewest stops Published timetables for most bus companies are nonexistent but departures on popular routes such as Manila to Baguio or Manila to Vigan usually happen every hour or half hour The larger operators Victory Liner w www victoryliner com Philtranco w www philtranco com and Philippine Rabbit allow you to book seats in advance either by telephone be warned the lines are often engaged or at the terminal For a list of bus companies with offices in Manila By jeepney FX taxi and tricycle The jeepney is the ultimate Philippine icon and in Manila Cebu City Davao and Baguio jeepneys are important for city transport with frequent services between important locations in each city In the provinces jeepneys connect isolated barrios to nearby towns and towns to cities but they might run only two or three times a day depending on demand the weather and the mood of the driver There are absolutely no timetables Routes are painted on the side or on a signboard in the window Even so using jeepneys takes a little local knowledge because they make numerous stops and deviations to drop off and pick up passengers There s no such thing as a designated jeepney stop so people wait in the shade at the side of the road and flag one down The vehicles are cramped and incredibly uncomfortable usually holding about twenty passengers inside and any number of extras clinging to the back or sitting precariously on top It can be a hassle to get luggage on and off small items might end up on the floor but larger items will go on the roof At least jeepneys are a great social equalizer you ll soon find yourself involved in jolly conversations with the rest of the passengers about your nationality destination and marital status Fares are low in the provinces they start at P7 for a trip of a few kilometres rising to P50 for two or three hour drives In the cities a trip of a few hundred metres costs around P7 rising to P25 on longer routes To pay hand your money to the passenger next to you and say bayad po pay please If you re not sitting close to the driver the fare will be passed down the line of passengers until it reaches him he will then pass back any change FX taxis Not unlike jeepneys in the way they operate FX taxis are air conditioned Toyota minivans with signs in the window indicating their destination They made their debut in Manila in the late 1990s and now operate in other cities and on some popular inter city routes However routes are often not set so it takes a little local knowledge to know where to catch the right vehicle The vans can be a little claustrophobic the driver won t even think about moving until he s got ten people on board three more than the vehicle is designed for In Manila most of these vehicles are often labelled GT Express and usually charge P2 per kilometre Tricycles The cheapest form of shared transport tricycles habel habel are ubiquitous in the

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  • Accommodation | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    The terms hotel and beach resort cover a multitude of options in the Philippines A hotel can mean anything from the most luxurious five star establishment to dingy budget pensions or guesthouses with bars on the windows Beach resorts in turn range from sybaritic affairs on private atolls with butlers and health spas to dirt cheap rickety one room cottages on a deserted island Resort hotels are a mid range or top range hybrid of the two sometimes with their own area of private beach Many hotels and beach resorts accept credit cards although there are exceptions such as in rural areas where electricity supply is not dependable and also in the cheapest budget accommodation where you must pay cash It can be worth checking that the air conditioner where available isn t noisy Rooms on lower floors overlooking main roads are best avoided as they can be hellishly noisy always go for something high up or at the back or both Budget Budget hotels offer little more than a bed four walls and a fan or small air conditioning unit although if you re by the beach with a pleasant sea breeze blowing and the windows open air conditioning isn t really necessary If you do get a private bathroom it will only have cold water and the shower is sometimes little more than a tap sticking out of the wall producing a mere trickle of water Breakfast is unlikely to be included in the rate though there may be a canteen or coffee shop on the premises where you can buy food At the higher end of the budget range rooms are usually simple but can be reasonably spacious perhaps if they are on or near a beach with a small balcony Mid range There are plenty of mid range hotels mostly in towns and cities The rooms typically have air conditioning and a private bathroom with hot water but they may not boast a TV or other frills Beach cottages in this bracket are usually quite spacious and will often have a decent sized veranda too Most mid range accommodation will feature a small coffee shop or restaurant with a choice of Filipino and Western breakfasts that may be included in the rate if it s not expect to pay around P100 150 Top end In Manila and Cebu as well as the most popular beach destinations such as Boracay you can splash out on five star comfort at hotels and beach resorts owned and operated by international chains The cottages at the most expensive resorts are more like chic apartments often with a separate living area Many of these establishments include a buffet breakfast in the rate and sports facilities and outdoor activities are on offer though you ll have to pay extra to partake Campsites hostels and homestays Campsites are almost unknown in the Philippines A small number of resorts allow you to pitch tents in their grounds for a negligible charge but otherwise the

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  • Food and drink | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    and dominated by Nescafé though local Malaysian and Indonesian brands are also available Where brewed coffee is served it s often local and very good Desserts and snacks The only difference between lunch and dinner is that the latter is more likely to be followed by a dessert Traditionally this would be a sweet cake containing coconut though these days dessert could mean fresh fruit caramel custard halo halo buko pie or brazos a cream filled meringue log cake Filipinos also eat a huge amount of ice cream in a unorthodox range of flavours including ube purple yam jackfruit corn avocado and even cheese For a snack in a packet try salted dried fish like dilis which can be bought in supermarkets and convenience stores Dilis are a little like anchovies and are eaten whole sometimes with a vinegar and garlic dip they re often served along with other savouries under the collective name pulutan during drinking sessions Salted dried pusit squid is also common Filipino fruits The Philippines is justly celebrated for its variety and quality of fresh fruit especially its mangoes which are ubiquitous throughout the islands and always juicy and delicious The below list is just a selection Atis custard apple or sugar apple Pine cone shaped and about 10cm long with green scaly skin the ripe flesh of the atis is gloriously sweet and soft it might look a bit like custard but it tastes like a combination of banana papaya and strawberry or more prosaically bubble gum With black pips scattered throughout it can be messy to eat The main season is late summer to October Bananas saging Bananas are a staple crop in the Philippines with a remarkable range of size and types grown in Mindanao and the western Visayas throughout the year the country is one of the largest exporters of bananas in the world Calamansi Little green lime that is squeezed into juices hot tea over noodles fish kinilaw and into numerous dipping sauces Coconut buko Another Philippine staple grown throughout the archipelago year round harvested casually by villagers as much as by commercial plantations for its refreshing juice and nutty white flesh Used to make buko pie and a variety of desserts Durian The king of tropical fruit is spiky heavy and smells like a drain blocked with garbage but its creamy inner flesh tastes like heaven Rich in protein minerals and fat the durian is one of the more expensive fruit in the Philippines though in Davao the centre of production you can buy whole ones for P50 Jackfruit langka The largest tree borne fruit in the world it can reach 40 kilos is also one of the most delicious with an interior of large yellow bulbs of sweet banana and flowery flavoured flesh Lanzones Small round fruit grown mostly on southern Luzon especially in Laguna and available October to December It s also grown in northern Mindanao and especially Camiguin where there is a festival in its honour It tastes a bit like a combination of grape and sweet grapefruit Mangoes mangga Eat as much mango as you can in the Philippines you won t taste any better Most grown on the islands turn from green to yellow as they ripen and are always very sweet The main season runs June through August Mangosteen Nothing like a mango this sumptuous fruit the size of a tangerine has a thick purplish skin and creamy white flesh the season also runs June through August Marang If you travel in Mindanao look out for this special fruit a bit like a breadfruit a cross between jackfruit and atis but with a taste all its own Papaya You ll see papaya plants growing in gardens and along roadsides all over the Philippines and it s one of the cheapest fruits Some 98 percent of the annual crop is consumed locally and it s extremely nutritious Pineapple piña The Spanish introduced the pineapple to the Philippines and thanks to the huge plantations run by Del Monte and Dole both in Mindanao it s one of the nation s biggest export earners Santol The santol is an apple sized fruit with a white juicy pulp often eaten sour with some salt It s also popular as a jam or a bitter marmalade Where to eat The choice of places to eat ranges from bewildering in Manila to extremely limited in the provinces In the latter it will almost always consist of straightforward Filipino dishes such as grilled fish or chicken and rice followed by mango If you re staying in a small resort the staff will often ask you in advance what you want for dinner and then buy it from the market or straight from a returning fisherman As long as you don t mind simple food this can beat the big city for taste hands down The final bill you get in a restaurant usually includes VAT of twelve percent and a service charge of ten percent adding 22 percent to the price shown on the menu Fast food You ll find McDonald s in almost every big town but the Philippines has its own successful chains fashioned after the US giant with hundreds of branches of Jollibee Chowking Mang Inasal with unlimited rice and Max s for fried chicken throughout the country indeed the corpulent jolly bee mascot is more ubiquitous than Ronald McDonald Western style sandwich bars are starting to appear too Most shopping malls also have food courts indoor marketplaces that bring together dozens of small stalls serving Filipino Japanese Chinese Thai and Korean food Here you can get a decent lunch for under P250 including a soft drink In many provincial cities look out also for ihaw ihaw grill restaurants usually native style bamboo structures where meat and fish are cooked over charcoal and served with hot rice and soup Street food Though not as common as it is in Thailand or India street food still has a special

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  • Health | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    UK where many attend medical school For a full list of hospitals in the country and a searchable database of doctors by location and speciality check w ww rxpinoy com There are pharmacies on almost every street corner where you can buy local and international brand medicines Branches of Mercury Drug the country s biggest chain of pharmacies are listed on w www mercurydrug com If you are hospitalized you ll have to pay a deposit on your way in and settle the bill either in person or through your insurance company Stomach upsets Food and waterborne diseases are the most likely cause of illness in the Philippines Travellers diarrhoea can be caused by viruses bacteria or parasites which can contaminate food or water There s also a risk of typhoid or cholera occasional cases are reported in the Philippines mostly in poor areas without adequate sanitation Another potential threat is that of hepatitis A The authorities in Manila claim tap water in many areas is safe for drinking but it s not worth taking the chance stick to bottled water Mosquito borne diseases Dengue fever a debilitating and occasionally fatal viral disease is on the increase across tropical Asia Many cases are reported in the Philippines each year mostly during or just after the wet season when the day biting mosquito that carries the disease is most active There is no vaccine against dengue Initial symptoms which develop five to eight days after being bitten include a fever that subsides after a few days often leaving the patient with a bad rash all over their body headaches and fierce joint pain The only treatment is rest liquids and paracetamol or any other acetaminophen painkiller not aspirin Dengue can result in death usually among the very young or very old and serious cases call for hospitalization In the Philippines malaria is found only in isolated areas of southern Palawan and the Sulu archipelago and few travellers bother with anti malarials if they are sticking to the tourist trail If you are unsure of your itinerary it s best to err on the safe side and consult your doctor about malaria medication Anti malarials must be taken before you enter a malarial zone and note that resistance to chloroquine one of the common drugs is a significant problem in Mindanao and Palawan To avoid mosquito bites wear long sleeved shirts long trousers and a hat Use an insect repellent that contains DEET diethylmethyltoluamide and unless you are staying in air conditioned or well screened accommodation buy a mosquito net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin In the Philippines mosquito nets are hard to find so buy one before you go If you are unable to find a pretreated mosquito net you can buy one and spray it yourself Leeches and rabies If you re trekking through rainforest especially in the rainy season there s a good chance you ll encounter leeches blood sucking freshwater worms that attach themselves to your

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  • The media | About Philippines | Rough Guides
    also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist with many killed every year If you re looking for news from home most cities and tourist areas now have cable TV with CNN and possibly the BBC Foreign news publications are harder to find The best bet is to visit a five star hotel where lobby gift shops sometimes stock the International Herald Tribune Time Newsweek and The Economist Newspapers and magazines Major English language daily broadsheet newspapers include the Philippine Daily Inquirer w www inquirer net the Philippine Star w www philstar com and the Manila Times w www manilatimes net There are dozens of tabloids on the market all of them lurid and often gruesome Most of these are in Tagalog though People s Tonight w www journal com ph is largely in English with Filipino thrown in where the vernacular better expresses the drama such as in quotations from victims of crime and from the police Some of the most trusted reporting on the Philippines comes from the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism w www pcij org founded in 1989 by nine Filipino journalists who wanted to go beyond the day to day razzmatazz and inanities of the mainstream press Journalists working for the PCIJ were responsible for the exposé of former President Joseph Estrada s unexplained wealth which led eventually to his downfall Television and radio Terrestrial television networks include GMA w www gmanetwork com and ABS CBN w www abs cbn com offering a diet of histrionic soaps chat shows and daytime game shows with sexy dancers Cable television is now widely available in the Philippines with the exception of some of the most undeveloped rural areas Most providers carry BBC World CNN and Australian ABC At weekends during the

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