Written by Dezza, 15 March 2022.
G’day all and welcome to my first blog for more than one year. As you can all appreciate, there hasn’t been much to write about due to the pandemic that has swept the world and unfortunately, brought the best places to visit in the Philippines, and the tourism industry in general, to its knees.
I have a number of friends, both Filipino and expats, connected either directly or indirectly to the Philippine tourism industry, that have been totally wiped out. It has been such a shame to see. Some of these people have been in business for decades and within the space of a few short months, have been absolutely decimated, some losing everything. It was estimated that in 2020 alone, the Philippine tourism industry lost more than USD8 billion! That is a huge amount of money in any man’s language.
However, things are now looking up as travel bans worldwide are slowly being eased which means that the Philippines can hopefully start recovering from this awful pandemic and the financial devastation it has caused. The only way is up for this absolutely beautiful country!
The Philippines reopened to international tourists in February after being completely closed to international tourists for more than two years during the pandemic. Tourists are now welcome as the Philippines pushes ahead on the path to economic recovery. The income from tourism is of vital importance to both locals and the government so the lifting of travel bans is a welcome change as we try to move towards the “new normal”.
After two long lonely years in some form of lockdown and isolation, are you looking to get away to the tropics and enjoy the warm sun on your skin? Or sip some cocktails by the pool with the family or friends? Do you have a dream destination in the Philippines you’ve always wanted to visit? If so, then there are some questions you need to ask as you plan your visit. Some of the questions include:
In a raft of changes to entry requirements, the Philippine government has simplified the entry requirements as the country moves towards normalising its tourism sector and driving growth in the economy. The government has temporarily halted the Covid-19 risk classification system of countries into “green”, “yellow” and “red”. The government used this risk classification to ban travellers from countries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, to gain entry into the Philippines without quarantining first, tourists must be fully-vaccinated and provide sufficient evidence as proof of vaccination under the IATF regulations (except for children under 12 years). Some acceptable means for proof of vaccination include World Health Organisation International Certificates of Vaccination and Prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, and State/National digital certificates of the country of origin if they accept VaxCertPH based on a reciprocal agreement.
Additionally, you need to produce a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before departing from your country of origin. Travellers should also have travel insurance for Covid-19 treatment with a minimum coverage of $35,000. All travellers must also register for the One Health Pass with the Bureau of Quarantine and save the transaction number as you’ll need it on arrival in the Philippines.
Aside from the Covid-19 specific requirements, there are also long-standing entry requirements travellers to the Philippines must meet. For travellers from 157 countries with visa-free arrangements, there is no need to apply for a visa. Travellers from a visa-required country of origin should secure a visa first. All travellers should have a return ticket or ticket for an onward destination.
Finally, travellers should ensure their passport is valid at least 6 months from the arrival date in the Philippines. This is something that is often overlooked and I have friends who have been stuck in this situation, so please check the validity dates on your passport!
For the fully vaccinated tourists with a PCR negative test result, there is no requirement to quarantine on arrival. This means that fully vaxxed tourists from the 157 countries with no-visa arrangements with the Philippines can gain entry into the country without having to check into a quarantine centre which has been the requirement for the past two years. However, tourists and citizens who are not fully vaxxed are required to check into a quarantine centre and quarantine for two weeks.
From 10 February 2022, travellers from no-visa required countries to the Philippines, whether they travel on business or tourism and leisure can stay in the country for up to 30 days without a visa. However, if your stay is going to be longer than 30 days, you can apply for an extension.
However, foreigners from non-visa countries can request to extend their stay with the Bureau of Immigration when they arrive. Alternatively, they can secure an extension by securing an endorsement from the appropriate agency of the Philippine national government.
The Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) has a requirement that all passengers travelling locally by air should present a DOH-issued Vaccination Certificate or a Vaccination Card. This is in addition to the normal identification documents you require to travel. If you are fully vaxxed and have sufficient evidence for the double vaccination, you also need to present this and a negative PCR test.
So with all this out of the way, where are the best places to visit? For those that don’t know, the southeastern Philippines was smashed by Super Typhoon Odette in December which has had a massive impact on some of the Philippines’ most notable tourist locations, namely Siargao, Cebu, Bohol and Leyte. So in the interest of trouble-free travelling, it might be best to avoid these areas if you are on a tight schedule.
So with all this in mind, here are the places I would recommend visiting to help you break the lockdown shackles that have enslaved the planet for the last two years:
Boracay is an island of pristine powdery beaches that epitomise the essence of a tropical paradise. Before the pandemic, Boracay was a tourist favourite and a huge drawcard for the Visayan region. You can spend your days exploring world-renown beaches including Magic Island, Crystal Cove Island, Puka Beach, Piknikan Island, Hinugtan Beach, Carabao Island, and Crocodile Island.
Fully vaccinated tourists from no-visa required countries are allowed to visit Boracay Island from February 10 without having to go through the Covid-19 swab test as was the case previously. However, tourists are required to present a vaccination card and RT-PCR before gaining entry to the island.
What more needs to be said about the beauty and majesty of Palawan that hasn’t been said before? So as far as getting there is concerned, there are several Covid-19 specific entry requirements international tourists should meet as established by the Bureau of Quarantine.
For instance, tourists should have proof of vaccination based on IATF guidelines. They should also have a negative RT-PCR test result within 48 hours of departure from the country or port of origin. On the travel insurance front, tourists should have a cover with a minimum coverage of $35,000 to cater for possible Covid-19 treatment.
Other requirements include:
3). Puerto Galera
The best part about Puerto Galera is that you don’t need to organise any flights, it’s just a boat ride away from Batangas in Southern Luzon. International tourists from no-visa required countries can enjoy the laidback white beaches that Puerto Galera has to offer without having to go through quarantine or having to present a negative Covid-19 test. However, if you plan to visit other parts of the Philippines, you need a negative RT-PCR test.
4). Banaue Rice Terraces
Just like Puerto Galera, the great thing about the Banaue Rice Terraces is you don’t need to fly there. You can travel there by bus or hire a vehicle if need be. And this is the best time of the year to go. Being at 2,500 metres above sea level, the air is beautiful if you want to escape the heat.
Aside from the requirements to gain entry into The Philippines, there are also some specific requirements you need to meet before you gain entry into Banaue and the Banaue Rice Terraces. On the latest Banaue Travel Requirements, tourists must register as either Stay-In Tourists or Day Tourists.
Additionally, tourists must have an electronic or printed copy of the travel booking confirmation from the Banaue Tourism Office and must have a vaccination certificate or vaccination card. Finally, every tourist needs to pay 50 pesos ($1) environmental fee to the Municipal Tourism Center.
For the most part, there are no major hurdles to visiting and enjoying the Philippines. You can enjoy the very best of the Philippines, without having to worry about quarantine restrictions, especially if you’re visiting from a non-visa country including the US, UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, and Malaysia. As long as you’re fully vaccinated and test negative before departing your country of origin, the Philippines will welcome you and your holiday party.
The four places mentioned above are what I believe will be the easiest to visit and are split between places you need to fly to get to and those you don’t. There are obviously numerous other places to visit in the Philippines but you will need to make sure they aren’t places that were affected by Super Typhoon Odette in December, and that may still have limited flights and transport to and from the location. Therefore, make sure you do your research first!
So if you’re looking for a tropical getaway after what has been a very challenging last two years, come to the Philippines and enjoy this amazing country and help the locals to kick start their businesses and the tourism industry here in the Philippines once more.
Please like and share this article with friends and family or if you want to leave any comments or share your experiences, please leave your comments below. And please don’t forget to check out my related articles and videos below.
Please note that I believe all of the information above is correct at the time of publishing and to the best of my knowledge, based on the resources I have linked to throughout the article. This can change at any time so please do your own research before making any commitments or bookings when travelling to, from and within the Philippines.