The Philippines is in Southeast Asia and is the second largest archipelago in the world. It stretches from the south of China to the northern tip of Borneo.
It is composed of 7,107 islands: Its length measures 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles), starting from the point near the southern tip of Taiwan and ending close to northern Borneo. Its breadth is about 965 kilometers (600 miles). The Philippine coastline adds up to 17,500 km (nearly 11,000 miles). Three prominent bodies of water surround the archipelago: the Pacific Ocean on the east, the South China Sea on the west and north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. This position accounts for much of the variations in geographic, climatic and vegetation conditions in the country.
The topography of the bigger islands - particularly Luzon and Mindanao - is characterized by alluvial plains, narrow valleys, rolling hills and high mountains. The highest mountains are found in Mindanao and Luzon, with the altitudes varying from 1,790 to 3,144 meters. Most of the smaller islands are mountainous in the interior, surrounded by narrow strips of discontinuous flat lowlands which constitute the coastal rims. The shorelines of both large and small islands are irregular.
The Philippines' fertile land accounts for the more than 900 species of orchids representing 100 genera that have been found. The sampaguita is the national flower.
Among the country's fauna are some endangered species like the Philippine eagle, the tarsier, and the mouse deer.
The country is marked by a blend of cultures; truly in the Philippines, east meets west. The background of the people is Indonesian and Malay. There are Chinese and Spanish elements as well. The history of American rule and contact with merchants and traders culminated in a unique blend of East and West, both in the appearance and culture of the people of the Philippines (Filipinos).
Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their Western visitors. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life, in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.
The Philippines offers a wonderful diversity of under-water life, both large and small and a profusion of wrecks. Its reputation in the diving-world is attracting even the most seasoned of divers who is seeking new experiences and adventures - Be one of those divers and contact us today to begin your journey.
What to Expect in the Philippines:
- Normal banking hours are from 9:00a.m to 3:00p.m Monday to Friday with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
- International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard, and American Express Card are accepted in major establishments
- While banks and ATMS are plentiful in main towns they are less so in rural areas – the best way to avoid problems is to make sure you have plenty of cash before visiting more remote destinations.
- The unit of currency is the Philippines Peso (PHP): USD1 is roughly equivalent to 42 PHP using mid April 2008 conversion rates.
- Philippines money changers are able to offer the latest official guiding rates and are located at the airport, local banks, and other authorized foreign exchange dealers in commercial establishments.
- March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy (the typhoon season is normally between June and September).
- November to February is cooler. Average temperatures: 78F to 90F: humidity 77%.
- An international departure tax of 550 PHP is payable when checking-in for your return flight - this is payable in dollars or local currency.
- A departure tax of 100 PHP, paid in Philippine pesos only, applies for local flights within the Philippines.
- Travelers are advised to check with airport or tourist information counters as airport departure fees may change without notice
- While water in metropolitan Manila and in key cities and towns is potable and considered safe for drinking we recommended you boil all drinking water or drink only bottled water. Bottled water is available in many hotels, restaurants, resorts, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
- A driver’s license from your home country is accepted for a period up to 90 days.
- You are normally required to produce an International Drivers Permit for any period in excess of 90 days.
- Terms and conditions for hiring a car vary widely. We therefore advise you to check with one of our agents when booking a vacation so that we can advise you based on your particulars and preferences.
- Mostly 220 volts, 50 to 60 HZ; Plugs are of the flat two-pin U.S type.
- Exceptions are Baguio (110 volts) and some top end hotels which offer both 220 and 100 volt outlets.
- Travelers should check with their hotel reception to confirm what voltage applies.
- Most visitors including those from the U.S may enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for onward journey and a passport normally valid for six months beyond their intended stay.
- Visitors seeking to visit longer than 21 days should consult their nearest Philippine embassies and consulates for details of conditions and associated costs.
- While diving is possible all year round, the optimal season is generally from November to May in line with Philippine’s “dry” season.
- Visibility normally peaks about April/May time.
- Christmas and New Year periods are very popular with divers, consequently hotels are extremely busy.
- No specific vaccinations are necessary unless you have visited a yellow fever zone within six days before entering South-East Asia. However, we always suggest that you speak to your family physician or specialized travel clinic for a personal recommendation before visiting any tropical destination.
- As most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they are given, allow sufficient time for consultation before departure.
WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS:
- A balmy 72F to 77F during the cooler months of December to March: 77F to 82F during the warmer months of April to November.
- Most divers should be comfortable in a 1mm - 3mm wet suit, depending on the season and the individual.