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Travel in the Philippines

How to Plan a Trip to the Philippines
By:Karen Ellis

You’ve heard of the natural beauty of the Philippines and just know it would make a “once in a lifetime” kind of vacation. But, with 7,107 islands in this southeast Asia country, where do you start? Where are the best spots to see on your first trip to the Philippines? There are four seasons, some overlapping, in the Philippines, Tag-init (from March to May, the summer), Tag-ulan (from June to November, the rainy season), Habagat (from May to October, southwest monsoon) and Amihan (from November to April, dry winds of northeast monsoon). It will be hot and humid and will take you a day or so to acclimate to the weather. What ever time you decide is the right time for you to visit, it is good to know, if you are English speaking, that both Filipino and English are official languages on the islands.

You will find there are various flights into Manila and Cebu, although many of them have stopovers at other locations. Lufthansa Airlines is the only one with a direct flight into Manila. However, they are on the more expensive side. Budget air travel would be through the Arabic or Malaysian airlines.

When your flight details are in place you can choose a hotel or resort. You can find many locations on the Internet and can book directly. Even if you don’t know exactly where you will want to stay, it is best to reserve the first night in order to make sure you have some relaxation time after the long flight.

Money is a consideration. Travelers checks and credit cards are not accepted outside of Manila or major tourist locations. It’s best to bring some cash and exchange your travelers checks in Manila where you will get the best rate. But, remember you are not allowed to bring in more than $3,000 with out declaring it on arrival.

Traveling in the Philippines is done by bus, taxi or jitney. Taxi is probably your best choice within Manila. You can rent a car, but it is not advised as driving is a nightmare and it is said the police will always have their eye on you. Renting a car with a driver is an option if you want freedom of travel. Reservations for this can be made on the Internet ahead of time.

Different cultures behave by different rules. In order to be culturally acceptable, it’s best to do some studying ahead of time. “Culture Shock Philippines” is a good book choice to learn what you need to know before stepping off the plane.

It’s best to see your physician before your trip to make sure you have all of the inoculations necessary. The most common ones are Malaria and Hepatitis B. Also, check with your health insurance to make sure your medical needs, if such arises, are covered in a foreign country.

Packing doesn’t have to be difficult. Of course, you will pack a hat, mosquito repellent, sun block, light clothing, passport and any travel guides and maps. Bring lots of little presents representative of your country. People, of all ages, in the Philippines love to receive mementos from your home. Pick up some red, white and blue ink pens or tiny flags.

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