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What Should You Pack for Travel in the Philippines?

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At the mention of travel to the Philippines, days on the beach with azure waters immediately come to mind. The country is known as some of the best islands in the world, after all.

You also think of traffic in Manila, great food anywhere you look, and exciting adventures in the country’s natural attractions. You’ll find yourself with plenty of things to do and you need to prepare for these activities.

So what should you pack for travel to the Philippines? You should not forget your passport, return tickets, summer clothes, camera, and personal essentials. You can find everything you will need for your trip in the country so there is really no need to overfill your luggage. A backpack with your essentials should suffice.

Having said that, there are things you just cannot do without when you travel. We’ve come up with a list of the most important things you need to stash in your bags before you hop on that plane to paradise.

International Travel Essentials

Passport and Return/Onward Tickets

The Philippine government requires that your passport has at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport counting from your planned date of departure from the islands. Consequently, you need to provide proof of onward travel (return ticket or tickets to your next destination). Make sure your passport has enough validity left to avoid issues when you arrive.

Visa

Citizens of over 150 countries may enter the Philippines visa-free and stay for 30 days for tourism, business, and health purposes. If you are from a country that is not part of the Philippines’ visa waiver program, you need to obtain a visa prior to your trip.

Vaccination record

Since you will be traveling to a tropical country, you need to safeguard your health against threats that come with the heat and environment. The CDC and WHO recommends that you get inoculated against the following before traveling to the Philippines. Bring proof of vaccination in case you need it.

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • typhoid
  • yellow fever
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • rabies
  • meningitis
  • polio
  • measles mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • chickenpox
  • shingles
  • pneumonia
  • influenza

Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and Japanese encephalitis are present in the Philippines. Chances of contracting these diseases increase during the rainy season when water becomes stagnant in containers and become breeding places for mosquitoes.

Tuberculosis is still prevalent in the country especially in the slum areas where sanitation is poor. If you feel that you have been exposed, immediately seek medical attention.

Travel Insurance

Things may not always go as you expect and travel insurance can be a life and wallet saver in cases like this. Your luggage may get lost, you might fall ill or run into an accident. Travel insurance also covers flight cancellations and in some cases, medical evacuation. Your travel insurance documents are definitely one of the most important things you must pack for travel to the Philippines.

Clothing and Accessories

The Philippines has two seasons: wet and dry seasons. It is warmest from March through October and temperatures temper down from November through February. Average year-round temperatures range between 26 °C and 28 °C so even during the wet season, it can still get pretty warm.

With this in mind, leave the fleece and heavy coats home and pack light clothes. If you’re planning on spending most of your time on the beach, bring swimwear, coverups, and a lightweight quick-drying towel. Most resorts provide towels but based on experience, they’re not always desirable quality.

Basically, pack comfortable clothes that you’d wear in summer. Flipflops and sneakers are great for frolicking in the sand and walking around. A pair of sunglasses will also save you from the glaring tropical sun.

If you’re planning on going to the mountains, a light parka or trek jacket should be enough to keep you warm. Trails in the Philippines can be treacherous so pack appropriate footwear for your safety. Trek pants will also keep insects at bay.

A cross-body satchel or a fanny pack to lug your essentials around is also ideal. Backpacks may be convenient but it makes you a magnet for thieves and pickpockets. If you do decide to carry a backpack around, have the zippers locked or opt for anti-theft models. Locks are too cumbersome, of you ask me.

Toiletries

Unless you are attached to a specific brand of skincare and other self-care products, there is really no need to pack toiletries for your trip to the Philippines. It will be easier and often cheaper to simply buy what you need locally. After all, most brands are available in drugstores and if you’re looking for high-end brands, specialty stores in malls are likely to have them on their shelves.

Also, most hotels and resorts provide basic toiletries like bath soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. If you’re not too keen on brands, you will only need to buy the following:

  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • after-sun cream
  • deodorant
  • mouthwash

First Aid Kit and Medication

A handy first aid kit is always recommended when you travel because you’ll never know when accidents happen. There are plenty of hospitals in the Philippines but only a few are located in remote areas, which, unfortunately, are where you’ll find the best adventures. You can bring your own first aid kit or assemble one when you arrive in the Philippines. Again, local drugstores like Mercury Drug and Watsons will have everything you need.

Make sure you have the following:

  • antiseptic
  • bandages, gauze, and plasters
  • headache medication
  • antacid
  • sterile gloves
  • tweezers
  • alcohol wipes

If you have any maintenance medications for existing conditions, make sure to bring enough to last your trip and bring a physician’s prescription in case questions arise or you run out. If you have any special conditions, bring a medical certificate from your doctor back home in case you need to seek medical attention.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you also need to secure face masks, preferably medical-grade ones. There is no shortage of PPEs in the Philippines so you can buy a box of surgical masks to last for your entire trip. Face shields are also required when entering public places.

Other Essentials

The Philippines is a beautiful country and of course, you will take breathtaking photos. Your phone should do the trick but a good camera will ensure that you don’t run out of battery on your phone while you’re out and about. I personally bring a separate camera when we travel because I use my phone for apps like Google Maps.

Here are other things you must pack for travel to the Philippines:

  • phone charger and power bank
  • dry bag
  • waterproof phone case
  • underwater camera
  • reusable water bottle
  • hat or any headgear
  • sim card with international roaming
  • laptop and extra storage for photos
  • enough funds to last your trip and have a good time

Ultimately, what you should pack for travel to the Philippines depends on what you plan on doing during your trip. What I’ve come up with are just the basics that you will need. If you have any more to add, please leave them in the comments section so we can add them to the list. See you around!