The Philippines is an amazing country to travel, with so much to see and enjoy. And indeed, thousands and thousands of tourists and travelers visit this country. Some of them just go to one or two most popular destinations, like Boracay or El Nido. Others prefer large cities like Manila and Cebu. But some want to explore as much as possible of this amazing place. And to fully enjoy what the visited destinations have to offer, they need to bring proper things in their luggage. So, here is our basic packing list of the specific for certain kinds of destinations for those who travel to the Philippines to explore the country.
About the Philippines packing list
Here I would not come into detail about the basic and necessary things that everybody has to bring, no matter where he or she is going to travel. Daily things like pants, shirts, underwear, toilet accessories, etc. are a common part of your packing list. However, the problem is that these things can fill a large amount of volume and weight of your luggage, and it creates a limit for the other things that are specific for the Philippines (and the same kinds of places in other countries).
Don’t forget that the only way to reach the Philippines is by plane (unless you travel by yacht). So the air companies have set various weight limits for the basic luggage. Yes, it can be overweighted, but the additional tax (which is usually not cheap) is not the only problem. When you explore the Philippines, you have to often change various kinds of transportation, some of which quite crowded, or just not allowing enough space for big luggage. And in general, bearing a super heavy backpack or case is not the highest pleasure during a trip.
So, you have to find a good balance in your packing list between the basic necessary daily things, and the additional specific things for exploring the specific places in the Philippines. And it highly depends on your itinerary, length of travel and what would you like to do.
What kind of destinations and activities can you find in the Philippines
The Philippines offer a lot of things to do, and since it is a tropical island country, most of the activities are related to hot weather and sea. But there is more than this. The country is well known for its caves, waterfalls, volcanoes, and mountains. So, let’s see more about it in detail.
Relaxing on the beaches
The beaches in the Philippines are everywhere. Some beaches are long and wide, some are small and hidden in a jungle. Some are deeper, with high waves (usually coming from the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea), some are quiet and shallow. There are also a lot of sandbars or rock formations along the sand. And almost everywhere the seawater is crystal clear and transparent.
Most of the people like relaxing on the sand, getting a tan, or just playing in the water. For such activities usually, they just need swimsuits and some sun protecting creams. But I would recommend another important thing: waterproof sandals. On some beaches, there are sea urchins, and pricking by its needles can be quite painful. Also, there are sharp corals and other stones that may wound your foot and it can be infectious. So, let’s take a look at some waterproof sandals below:
Of course, you don’t need to wear these sandals always while you are on the beach. The good thing is that the seawater is enough transparent so you can see where do you step (for example, the beach in Boracay is very clean and safe). But if you see that the bottom is full of some dark things, many of them unclear, I would recommend you to wear your waterproof sandals. Fortunately, they are designed so that they can be a part of your basic luggage- you can wear them everywhere while you travel, so you don’t need other sandals for your trip.
Diving on beaches, lagoons and coral reefs
If you want to explore the Philippines, I strongly suggest you try something more than just relaxing or playing on a beach. The tropical sea around the islands is so pure and full of marine wildlife. You can dive into another world with unearthly landscapes. Would you like to skip this beauty? Yes, you can say: “I can’t swim, I am afraid, it is not for me.” But in many cases, in fact, you don’t need any swimming skills. You don’t need to be a diving professional. Touching and experiencing this underwater world is one of the essential activities in the Philippines.
So, the only thing you need is to bring some diving accessories. The basic of them is a diving mask or glasses, and a snorkel. Usually, the diving masks and snorkels are combined in a set. And even if you don’t bring anything else, this set is a must, because at least you have an opportunity to see “the edge” of the underwater world. So, let’s take a look at some basic diving sets below:
There are also sets including swimming fins, which can be more convenient:
In general, that’s all you need to touch and experience the underwater world around the islands of the Philippines. And it is not difficult. Everybody who is in just normal health and is not afraid of the water can do it, no matter whether he or she is a child or an adult. You don’t need to be professional, or an experienced diver, don’t need any special course or training.
The only problem is that you can see only “the edge” of this beauty. If you want to go deeper, in the underwater caves, canyons, through the corals and the “clouds” of the fish shoals and schools, you need more gear, as well as some trained skills. This is called scuba diving, and it is an entire new level of exploring the underwater world. Particularly for the Philippines it is really worth, but for more information take a look here.
The Philippines is a tropical country, in the wet tropical geographic zone. So, rainforests are common for this zone, and a lot of islands are covered by such forests. But they are no such thick and deep like the forests in Amazonia, Congo or Papua- the country is not on the equator. So, trekking through the Philippines rainforest is easier than through the equatorial jungles. In fact, many of the forests consist of coconut palms. I would suggest trying trekking in such a forest on an island- the “Robinson Crusoe experience” is really worth it!
For such an activity, If it is short, for an hour-two only, you don’t need too much. If there is a small path, you can even walk just wearing your sandals (but still have to be careful, of course). But if you want to penetrate deeper into a jungle, without a path, you have to be better prepared. There can be snakes, various insects, some of them venomous, or just thorns. In general, you would need hiking shoes, and at least long pants. Besides, you would need some other accessories like first aid kit, a knife, and a headlamp.
Now let’s take a look at the shoes for jungle trekking. It would be hot, maybe wet and muddy. So the shoes don’t need to be high, but the protection above them would be made by long pants.
Jungle hiking shoes for men:
Jungle hiking shoes for women:
As for the pants, again, it would be hot. Everybody would prefer short pants. But in the jungle it would be not always a good idea. So, you need long pants which however could not make you feel hot. Think about convertible and thin pants, which however could provide good enough protection. Let’s see some examples below:
Jungle hiking pants for men:
Jungle hiking pants for women:
Mountain hiking in the Philippines is different than just jungle trekking. Yes, it can be combined (in the lower altitude areas), but here I mean hiking in the high mountains of the country. There are many mountainous areas, mainly in the largest islands of Luzon and Mindanao. These mountains are covered mostly by subtropical pine forests, and in their highest zones- with grasslands. The highest peaks, such as Apo, Pulag, and Dulang-Dulang reach 2800-2900 m altitude, and it can be cold at night, especially in winter, from December to March (yes, there is winter in the highlands!)
Some of the mountains are volcanoes, and some of the volcanoes are active. It can cause another danger, if not of direct eruption, at least of poisonous gases or earthquakes. A good example of this is Mt. Mayon near Legazpi. There are hikes to its top, but it has to be considered with the volcanic activity forecast.
So, if you want to hike the mountains of the Philippines, you would need the main classical accessories for hiking, such as hiking shoes (or boots), clothes for cold weather, raincoat and proper backpack. Besides, you may need a tent, hiking poles, headlamp, cooking set, etc. Let’s take a look at the most important accessories for mountain hiking in the Philippines:
Hiking boots (for men and women):
Waterproof jackets (for men and women):
And one of the largest and heaviest of all accessories is the tent. For the conditions in the high mountains of the Philippines, it has to be with good waterproof features. 3-seasons tent is enough- it can be cold, but not freezing. Concerning the wind, there are not too strong winds in the mountains, unless there is a passing typhoon. So, let’s see some examples below:
The most important problem with all these accessories is their volume and weight. Because, if you go to the Philippines to explore the country, mountain hiking would be no more than 15-20% of your activities. But these accessories would occupy about 60-70% of your luggage. A possible solution is just to travel to the Philippines with heavy luggage and pay the tax for overweight. Then, when you arrive in Manila, Cebu or Davao, to send the mountain hiking accessories by courier to an address which can be your starting point of the hike. And after the hike, to send them to your last hotel before you leave the country, then again to pay the overweight tax.
A better solution could be to adjust your itinerary, so the starting and ending point to be Manila. Then, when you arrive in Manila, rent a car and put your mountain hiking accessories inside. Take them out only for the hiking, then again put them in the car. And if you leave Luzon Island, when you back the car, just put the accessories in your hotel in Manila- they can wait for you until you back to leave the Philippines.
There are many other activities in the Philippines which don’t require any special gear. For some of them, you can just use the gear for hiking or scuba diving. And for others, you don’t need anything special. Let’s see some of them.
There are a lot of caves in the Philippines. Many of them are arranged for tourists, so you don’t need to bring anything special. We explored Sumaguing Cave in Sagada. It is natural and dark inside, but we had a mandatory guide with his lamp (as everyone else), so we just followed him.
But there are some hidden caves which are wild. So you would need some cave gear. Basically, if you are not a caver, I would not advise you to penetrate inside such caves. Just choose well-arranged caves for tourists. They are not less beautiful than the wild ones.
It is another must-experience activity in the Philippines. There are countless waterfalls on every island, with various forms. Some are high, some are short and wide. And there is usually a pool below them, as a part of the whole site.
For a waterfall, you just need your swimsuit, and as optional- your basic scuba diving accessories. Maybe you have to walk on a muddy path to reach the waterfall- wearing your waterproof sandals would be enough.
Island hoping or shark whale watching
It is another exciting activity. You float to several islands by a local Bangka boat (a typical Filipino outrigger boat). And during the cruise you can dive to watch whale sharks, dolphins, or just to enjoy swimming in the crystal clear water. Again- for this you don’t need more than your basic scuba diving gear.
Exploring museums, historic sites or other tourist attractions
If you want to explore the Philippines in detail, you must visit such places. And of course, you don’t need anything special for that. Maybe the only thing that you would need is a hat to protect you from the sun, but even this is not everywhere.
Wave surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing
That’s a great activity, and there are a lot of surfing spots in the Philippines. But again, the only thing you need is your swimsuit. The surfing board itself can be hired from any hotel or training center around these spots, so you don’t need to bring it from home (which would be enough inconvenient). It is the same with kites and windsurfing.
Life in the Philippines, as everywhere in the world, has its happy and sad sides. But when we talk about its happy side, the Filipinos know how to entertain themselves. It is full of night clubs, karaoke, bars or beach parties everywhere, especially in the resorts. Of course, you don’t need to bring anything special for that. Except maybe something for your health if you feel uncomfortable in the morning.
So, if you want to explore the beauty of the Philippines, don’t hesitate to prepare some special accessories. In fact, almost all of them you can use not only during your Philippines trip but later too, while you not necessary would have too many opportunities to explore this amazing country again.
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