Travelers often refer to the Philippines as an “off the beaten path destination”, an “overlooked paradise” and “underrated vacation spot” among others. And rightfully so. While it is commendable that Philippine tourism has improved in recent years, a lot of international travelers are yet to fall in love with the Philippines experience.
Traveler Australia recently published an article about the Philippines being Asia’s most overlooked paradise, highlighting a “feast of screensaver-perfect backdrops – from dreamy tropical beaches and smouldering volcanoes to mesmerising rice terraces and crumbling Spanish relics”. The article goes on to say that to most Australians, the islands remain to be a mystery they overlook in favor of other destinations in Southeast Asia.
I have met a few Aussie globetrotters in the past and their knowledge about the Philippines THEN seemed to revolve around the swells of Cloud 9 in Siargao, Surigao del Norte. But then we have the waves of Bali, Indonesia to contend with. I’m pretty sure that has changed in more recent years; articles on the Internet about other destinations in the Philippines prove this point. Almost all travelers who decide to give the Philippines a try end up falling in love. Some quite literally, some just enamored enough to plan the next possible escape to the islands.
If you’re one of those travelers seriously contemplating a trip to the Philippines, it is important to think about the practical things first. Like the Philippines entry requirements. Given that not every nationality is required to secure a visa before coming to the Philippines, traveling to the islands is an easy feat. Nevertheless, it pays to be extra careful with these things.
As of this writing, citizens of 151 countries may enter the Philippines visa-free and stay for a maximum of 30 days for business or tourism. Brazil and Israel passport holders are allowed 59 days while Hong Kong and Macau (SAR) passport bearers have 14 days. If you are a British National or if you have a Portugal passport issued in Macau, you may enter the Philippines and stay visa-free for 7 days. If the number of days is not enough to conduct your affairs or explore the islands or both, you may apply for an extension of stay at the nearest Immigration office.
Extensions are given at two months per application and may not exceed a total of two years if you entered the country visa free. If you needed to present a visa upon entry, you’re allowed a month per extension, not exceeding a total of 6 months.
All visitors need proof of onward travel and six months validity remaining in your passports.
In case you plan on staying in the Philippines for longer than the allowed visa-free period, you may choose to apply for a visa beforehand. While this may seem like an unnecessary step for most, securing a visa for a longer stay will prevent an interruption to your vacation when the time comes that you need to apply for an extension in the Philippines. Note that bureaucracy in the Philippines is a known issue and you may have to wait for hours in line to get your extension approved. Trust me, you would not want to stand in line in this tropical heat!
Here are the requirements for a Philippines visa based on the Department of Foreign Affairs website:
- Passport valid for 6 months beyond the intended period of stay
- Completed visa application form
- 2 passport-sized photos
- Proof of bona fide status as a tourist or business person
- Proof of onward travel
- Visa fees
Proof of bona fide status for tourists include means of financial support such as cash or credit cards while business persons require a letter from the sponsoring company in the Philippines or country of origin.
Knowing the Philippines entry requirements and making the right choice for your travels are crucial before you even book your flights. Do you need a visa? Would you need an extension? Is your passport validity compliant with the requirement? These are some of the things you would need answered before you start travel planning. Once you have the answers, go on and make the first step of your trip to paradise! I assure you, you will not regret it. See you around!