General Information about the specific region Visaya and the whole country of the Philippines:
More than 7,100 island are forming the archipelago of the Philippines. It is located in Southeast Asia, further north of Borneo, Malaysia and further east of Vietnam. The population of the Philippines are up to 90% Christians and the other 10% are Muslim, living close to the Malaysian border in the south of Mindanao. Nearly everyone knows how to speak English, which is very helpful for all tourists, the national language is Tagalog, but the Visayan have a different accent, Cebuano it´s called.
The two most common international airports are in Manila and Cebu City (Mactan). From here you can take domestic flights, ferries or cars to your final destination.
The Central Visayas, also called the heart of the Philippines include the island of Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor and offer some of the best and most diverse tourist destinations in the country. Any of these mentioned islands can be reached easily from Cebu City by different ferries.
The time difference to the central European time in summer is +6 hours and in the winter times it is +7 hours.
ENTRY AND VISA:
151 different nationalities can enter the Philippines and get a visa on arrival for a maximum of thirty (30) days. The passport has to be valid for another six (6) month beyond the planned exit of the Philippines. Another requirement is a valid flight ticket out of the Philippines, which needs to be shown on arrival at the immigration.
MONEY AND CURRENCY:
The Philippine have their own currency which is the Philippine Peso (PHP). It is very strong depends on the USD how strong the Peso will be. Especially Euros and US Dollars can be easily changed in any exchange office. Other currencies are often welcome as well. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted in many shops, resorts and dive centers. Normally a service charge will be put on top of the bill, which is depending where 3-3.5%.
Anyway, no service charge will be added from Sea Explorers Dive Center or Pura Vida Cabilao or any other Vida resorts. In all major cities ATM machines are available. A big problem in the Philippines are small notes. Most shops, taxi drivers or other stores do not have change. The Philippine Peso comes in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 PHP notes, please make sure you have enough small notes when you travel. Cabilao has no ATM machine, everything needs to be paid in cash or with credit card.
The Tetanus vaccination should be updated as well. Please contact your medical doctor for any questions you might have.
So far there are no requirements for any vaccinations in the Visayas. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended in different parts of the Philippines like Palawan or Mindanao but not required. A common thing to have is a prophylaxis for typhus and hepatitis, like in all other tropical countries around the world, as well as a vaccination for tetanus. In any case, please contact your local doctor or your tropical institute if you have more questions regarding traveling in the Philippines.
FOOD AND DRINKS:
Every resort offers a variety of different international as well as local Filipino or asian dishes. Very common are pizza, burgers, French fries and other fast food. The Filipino specialities go over fish, grilled or raw to all other different kind of seafoods. The highlight for every fiesta or occasion to party is a whole grilled pig, called “lechon baboy”.
Mango is the fruit which is most famous in the Philippines and one of the products which get exported most. A huge variety of different other tropical fruits, like pineapple, watermelon, bananas and different kind of mangoes and many more are available at every corner.
Depending on the region where you are in the Philippines, the tap water can be slightly salty. It depends how far away you are from the beach and therefore from the sea. Tap water is nowhere drinkable, but can be used to brush the teeth. Mineral water is available everywhere and it does not cost much.
Many different fruit juices and shakes are available. One of the most healthy drinks, coconut water, here it is called “Buko Juice” is available as well. For beer enthusiast, San Miguel the local brew is known everywhere and the local people always like to share a glass with you.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING:
The Visayan only have a nice tropical climate where the temperature is between 28-35 degrees Celsius. We don´t have a precious rainy season as it is in other different countries in Southeast Asia. The best weather conditions can be found between December and June. Sometimes even until July. Sufficient clothes are normal shorts and t-shirts, light dresses and everything which lets air through is a good recommendation. It always good to have a sweater, pair of jeans and a light jacket with you, air-conditioning in the planes can be very cold sometimes. As well on the ferries or sometimes during the night it is just nice to have.
LEAVING THE COUNTRY
The day will come when your holiday comes to an end. Please be advised that an airport tax will be collected at any airport in the Philippines. In Dumaguete it is around 100 PHP while you have to pay a bit more when you are leaving Cebu / Mactan International Airport. If you fly out of Cebu / Mactan or manila on an international flight – 750 PHP (200 PHP on domestic flights) will be collected at the airport after check in. Please be advised that any tax at any airport needs to be paid in cash and in Philippine Peso.