There are two official languages - Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English, also widely used, is the medium of instruction in higher education.
GMT + 8 hours
A valid passport is required for travel to the Philippines. Except for stateless persons and citizens from countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without visas and stay for a period of up to 21 days, provided they have tickets for an onward journey. Holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan passports must obtain special permits from the Philippine Embassies/Consulates.
The Philippines' monetary unit is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotels, major department stores, banks, and authorised money-changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Americard, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted in major establishments.
It is extremely easy for the happy shopper to get lost in Metro Manila's treasure trove of malls, flea markets, bargain centres and antique shops. Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, handwoven cloths, embroidered fineries, terra-cota, porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories, among many others.
Big malls are located in Manila, Makati, and EDSA, while handicraft, antique, and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila. Duty-Free Philippines near the NAIA is the country's largest duty-free outlet.
Tipping is expected for most services, with standard practice at 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
- Banks and Government offices:
In general, banks open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm and government offices either from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm or 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Most offices open from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm daily
- Shops (Hours vary):
Shops generally stay open from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Sunday.
Metro Manila tempts gourmets with a cosmopolitan range of cuisine. Filipino specialty restaurants are plentiful, enticing visitors with their wide range of island flavours from the different regional kitchens of the country. Bistros, patisseries, steak houses, diners, seafood grilles and noodle houses vie for patronage along busy restaurant rows in Ermita, Malate and Roxas Boulevard (Manila), on Makati Avenue, Jupiter Street, Pasong Tamo and Pasay Road (Makati), and on Timog, West and Quezon Avenues (Quezon City).
Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide, although jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways of getting around most places.
In Metro Manila, the fastest way of commuting is via the railway system. LRT connects Monumento on the north to Baclaran on the south. MRT traverses the length of EDSA from North Avenue to Taft Avenue.
Telephone Service is modern and you can direct dial to anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful and require a minimum of two one-peso coins for a local call.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travellers journeying from infected areas. Children less than a year old are exempted but may be subjected to isolation when necessary.
220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used.
New Year's Day, EDSA Revolution Day (People’s Power Day), Day of Valour, Labour Day, Independence Day, Manila Day, National Heroes Day, All Saints' Day, Bonifacio Day, Christmas Day, Rizal Day