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Country Guides for Asia


Philippines The Philippines were ceded by Spain to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. They attained independence in 1946 after Japanese occupation in World War II. The 21-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. The Philippines has had two electoral presidential transitions since the removal of MARCOS. In January 2001, the Supreme Court declared Joseph ESTRADA unable to rule in view of mass resignations from his government and administered the oath of office to Vice President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO as his constitutional successor. The government continues to struggle with Muslim insurgencies in the south.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of Southeast Asia, should take an antimalarial drug.

Dengue, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in certain areas of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, and Thailand to avoid infection with schistosomiasis.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.

There is no risk for yellow fever in Southeast Asia. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months in the region, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Japanese encephalitis, only if you plan to visit rural areas for 4 weeks or more, except under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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SAFETY/SECURITY: The terrorist threat to American citizens in the Philippines remains high, and the Embassy continues to receive reports of ongoing activities by known terrorist groups. Americans traveling or residing in the Philippines are urged to exercise great caution and maintain hightened security awareness. A number of security-related incidents highlight the risk of travel in certain areas due to incidents of kidnapping, bombings, and other violence and criminal activity.

The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless, rebel activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still pose security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People's Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country and are specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.

In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings, violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many areas. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners for ransom. The Abu Sayyaf Group continues to issue public threats against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines.

Americans should defer non-emergency travel to the island of Mindanao due to recurring bombing incidents and threats of other violence and criminal activity, including kidnapping. Americans should avoid all travel to islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo located in the Sulu archipelago in the extreme southwest of the Philippines due to kidnappings and other criminal activity.

In October 2002, the United States Government designated the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) a Foreign Terrorist Organization. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

As a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, U.S. citizens and interests may also be at increased risk of terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel, public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The U.S. Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The State Department reminds all Americans traveling or living abroad of the need to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues and to always follow some very basic and important security countermeasures: do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include possible surveillance, to the Philippine Police and the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Travelers are also encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila at tel. (63) (2) 523-1001 for an update of the current security situation, especially if planning to travel outside the Metro Manila area.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquires on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

CRIME INFORMATION: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of thumb, Americans are advised to exercise good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers even if they appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also been reports of vehicles with foreign passengers being robbed by gunmen while driving to and from the international airport.

Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation; however, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted another passenger, and request that the meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys" should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents; U.S. Government Printing Office; Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Source: U.S. Department of State

tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Philippines's electrical current is 220/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

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ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens may enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, which must be valid for at least six months after entry, and a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival, immigration authorities will annotate the U.S. passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation; Magallanes Drive; Intramuros, Manila, Philippines ( Persons who overstay their visas are subject to fines and detention by Philippine immigration authorities. American citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in the Philippines and to follow immigration laws and regulations strictly.

There are special requirements for the entry of unaccompanied minors. A Passenger Service Charge, currently 550 Pesos (approximate USD equivalent $11.00), must be paid in Philippine Pesos when departing the country from international airports. For further information on entry/exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Philippines at: 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20036 (telephone: (202) 467-9300), or via the Internet at

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Philippines is 8 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Philippines would be 1:00 am

The unit of currency in Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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Other Travelers' Experiences in Philippines

"Such wonderful people and the food is good - however, make sure to carry tissues/toilet paper with you as the public restrooms rarely are supplied. Make sure you take a ride on their jeepneys!"