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Travel Guide > Asia > Philippines

Philippines Good to Know

  
 
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Calling

The country code for the Philippines is 63. The area code for Metro Manila is 2. To make a overseas call, include the prefix 00.

  • Police, Medical and Fire: 117/112/911. 117 may also be texted from cellphones.
  • Motorist Assistance': 136 (Metro Manila only)
  • Tourist hotline: (+63)2-5241728;5241660
  • Immigration hotline: 527
  • Directory assistance: 187 (fee applies)

The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is by using Voice Over Internet Protocol, there are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the most popular is Vodini Telecom

Newspapers

English newspapers are available throughout the country and there are aslo some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune Malaya Manila Standard Manila Bulletin Business World Philippine Daily Inquirer and Visayan Daily Star are some of the English newspapers.

Cell phones

There are three major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks: Globe Smart and Sun Cellular Pre-paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as little as Php30 and provide a cheaper alternative to roaming charges. If your unit is locked to your home service provider, cellphone repair shops in various malls have ways of unlocking (the typical fee to unlock is Php300 but can go as high as Php12,000 for certain units like a Blackberry).

If you don't have a phone to begin with, a complete pre-paid kit with phone and SIM can be purchased for as little as Php1,500. Phones that come with these sot of deals are usually locked to a local network provider, and you would need to have it unlocked before leaving if you plan on using it back home.

GSM mobile phones are in wide use all over the country. 3G technology is available through Globe and Smart, but is poorly implemented and often not properly operational. In most urban locations and many resorts, cell phone service will be available. The usual cost of an international long-distance call to the United States, Europe or other major countries is $0.40 per minute. Local calls range from Php6.50 per minute for prepaid calls (a new law was passed that will eventually require per pulse, i.e. rates per 6-seconds charging) but unlike other countries, you won't be charged for incoming calls. Text messages typically cost as low as Php1 and the Philippines is usually tagged as the "texting capital of the world". International SMS is charged at a higher rate of between Php15-25. Plans for unlimited call and SMS are offered by the networks are but are almost always restricted to those made to parties within the same network.

Reloading pre-paid SIMs is a breeze. Electronic Load (E-Load) stations are everywhere from small corner stores to the large malls where you just give your mobile phone number and the amount you wish to load (Globe, Smart and Sun each have their load denominations to choose from for E-loading). If you have a friend using the same mobile operator as you, you can load as little as a few pesos by letting him/her pass on some of his/her load to you and if you need hundreds of pesos worth of load, you can purchase pre-paid cards which are available in denominations of Php100, Php300 and Php1500 (approximately US$2.20, US$7 and 12 respectively).

Due to the wide use of mobile phones, pay phones are increasingly becoming obsolete. Some malls and public places still do have them and they usually come in either the coin or card operated variety. Globe and PLDT are the usual operators. Phone cards are usually sold by shops which sell cellphone pre-paid loads and cards. Note that phone cards of one company can not be used with the other company's card operated phones.

Internet

Internet access areas of broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Internet surfing rates depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e.g. WiFi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to Php200/hour (approximately US$5) but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as Php15/hour (approximately US$0.35).

Public place WiFi services in the Philippines is provided by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ is likely to cost Php100 (approximately US$2) for up to an hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle's Best as well as malls usually carry WiFi service some are free to use. Certain areas may also carry free WiFi. In addition, you may want to consider buying a mobile broadband modem starting at Php995 where service is also provided by Globe, Smart or Sun. WiFi signals vary depending on available infrastructure on your particular location, but in general Smart has the largest network in the country, followed by Globe, and then Sun. Mobile broadband comes both in postpaid and prepaid variants. "Loads" often cost just $2 an hour for most mobile internet modems.

Mail

Apart from the Philippine postal service, FedEx, UPS, and DHL courier services are also available. Local couriers such as LBC and Aboitiz are also available. Postal mail from abroad is often "lost", so don't send anything valuable.

Electricity

Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 50 Hz mixed with the American and European plug. There is sometimes a ground in some areas. Americans will need a step-down transformer. It's best also to bring such items that work universally such as those electronics marked with a 100V-240V 50/60hz compatibility to avoid voltage concerns. 3-phase voltage is 380v.

Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110 V, but it's also 50 Hz. The airport, for example, is 220V. If staying in the Baguio area, always ask first! If your equipment is 100-127V, merely crossing a street corner can cause it to be damaged or even catch fire. There are no signs in Baguio indicating where 110V ends and 220V begins.

During drought seasons (March to May), most of the power-plants are hydro-electrics (as stated above in the climate section), regular black-outs happen during this time, ask if your hotel owns a generator.

Television and video

Television and video in the Philippines uses NTSC. Region Coded DVDs are Region 3 (SE Asia), though virtually all Tagalog movies are region free. There are two major networks in the Philippines - ABS-CBN and GMA. Cable and Satellite TV are widely available. SkyCable and Global Destiny Cable are the best-known cable operators in the country while Dream is the country's sole satellite TV operator. Almost all hotels and major commercial centres have cable or satellite TV. Channels such as BBC, CNN, Bloomberg. ABS-CBN's News Channel, ANC, provide 24/7 news headlines, updates, travel, business and lifestyle programs, almost always in English.

Embassies and Consulates

Several embassies and consulates are open in the Philippines, for a full detailed list of embassies visit EmbassiesAbroad.com

Essential Places in Philippines

Embassy Argentina Embassy
in National Capital Region
Embassy Australia Embassy
in National Capital Region
 
Embassy Austria Embassy
in National Capital Region
Bank/ATM Allied Bank
They have branches in Araneta St., Libertad and Locsin St.
in Bacolod
 
Bank/ATM Banco De Oro
They have branches in Gonzaga and Araneta St.
in Bacolod
Bank/ATM Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas
in Bacolod
 
Bank/ATM Metro Bank
They have branches in Gonzaga St., Gatuslao St., and BS Aquino drive.
in Bacolod
Bank/ATM Philippine National Bank
in Bacolod
 
Bank/ATM United Coconut Planters Bank
Lacson St., Libertad, San Juan St., and BS Aquino drive
in Bacolod
Internet Café Net.Axs
24 Hours. Offer domestic and international calls/fax in addition to internet access, scanning, printing, photo-uploading (and CD-Burning) along with other cybercafe-related services.
in Bacolod
 
These are just 10 of 12 Essential Places in Philippines. Show more.




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