17 Top Philippines Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Updated on January 21, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

What to bring on my Philippines trip?

Jungle hikes, stunning waterfalls, white sand beaches, and some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving, are just a few of the incredible experiences the Philippines offers. It’s the perfect destination for any type of traveler, whether you are an adventure seeker, beach lover, looking for some luxury or on a budget.

So when it comes to deciding what to pack for the Philippines, we’ve got you covered no matter what kind of travel experience you are looking for! We have a section on what to wear in the Philippines, what NOT to bring and other frequently asked questions.

What to Pack for the Philippines – 17 Essentials

1) Philippines Power Adaptor – Electricity in the Philippines uses 220 volts so if you want to plug anything into the wall, you will need a power adaptor. It’s great to get a universal adaptor since you can use it in many countries with different voltages. This one pictured is ideal because it comes with a built-in safety fuse in case of power surges. It also has a lifetime replacement guarantee!

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2) Microfiber towel – This towel only takes up a small bit of space and is great to have for the beach or any impromptu cave dips or standing in waterfalls. Also, many places with budget accommodation will not provide towels so it’s good to take a towel with you. The best part of the microfiber towel is that it dries super quick so you can pack it back in your bag after a short time.

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3) Waterproof dry bag sack – With all the island hopping and water activities you’ll be doing, it’s great to have a waterproof bag to protect all your personal belongings. Alternatively, it’s great for storing your wet clothes while on a day trip. The bag is collapsible so easy pack and lightweight to take along with you.

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4) Packing Cubes – This is a game changer when it comes to packing. Coming in a 4-piece set, you can easily organize all your clothes for travel. The set can fit in a carry-on suitcase which ensures you aren’t overpacking. It’s also great when you are backpacking since it’s easy to find what you need. This set also comes with a laundry bag to separate your dirty clothes.

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5) Osprey Farpoint 40L Travel Backpack – The best way to travel around the Philippines is a travel backpack. If you are planning to fly to different destinations it’s easiest with a bag that you can take as a carry-on so that you aren’t wasting your time at every airport waiting for your luggage to arrive and the guarantee of avoiding lost luggage. The Osprey Farpoint is very popular amongst backpackers in South East Asia. You can avoid digging through the bag to find your things by unzipping the side for easy access. There’s also a lot of compartments to stay organized and a lockable main compartment to keep your things safe. If you are looking for something a bit bigger, they also have 55L-80L Farpoint Backpacks with a bonus daypack attached. The price is a bit expensive when you compare to other brands but it does come with a lifetime guarantee.

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6) Outlander Packable Daypack – In the Philippines, you’ll most likely go on day trips and island hopping tours so it’s great to have a daypack. The Outlander daypack is lightweight, water-resistant, with multiple compartments and best of all it’s compact. There are even pockets on the side to put a water bottle and umbrella and also comes with a lifetime warranty.

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7) Lonely Planet Philippines Travel Guide – This is a great resource for trip planning and insider tips while you are in the Philippines. This guidebook has everything you need to know including places to stay, what to eat and things to do. Best of all, there’s plenty of suggestions for off beaten activities and guidelines to cultural norms that you should be aware of while visiting. Also, if you are planning to visit a few countries on a South East Asian trip, you may want to consider Lonely Planet’s South East Asia on a shoestring guidebook. Books are offered in paperback as well as kindle.

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8) Travel Insurance for the Philippines – It’s important, no matter where you go and for how long, to always have travel insurance because you never know what might happen. World Nomads is very popular amongst travelers for a number of reasons. Some of the benefits include being able to purchase the insurance before leaving and during a trip. Coverage also includes over 150+ activities such as scuba diving, bungee jumping, and surfing. Lastly, there’s trip cancellation, emergency medical, dental and evacuation expenses, and covers protection against your travel gear like laptops, cameras and lost bags.

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9) NordVPN – Many countries in Asia will censor and have surveillance on your internet activities restricting the use of websites such as Facebook and Netflix. With NordVPN, you can simultaneously connect on six different devices with security protection and access to any website in the world.

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10) Underwater Camera and Video – Nothings better to show off your experience than to have it all on camera and video. If you plan on snorkeling or scuba diving you’ll want to capture all the sea life like whale sharks, sea turtles, and giant mantas. With the GoPro you can capture all underwater activities in photos and video. It’s also great for filming your island hopping boat rides, learning to surf, zip lining, hikes, exploring caves and scootering around.

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11) Mosquito Repellent – In the Philippines mosquitoes pose the threat of malaria and dengue fever so it’s important to protect yourself and wear mosquito spray.

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12) Flipflops – an essential to traveling the Philippines! Crocs unisex sandals are great because they are super comfy, lightweight for packing, and good grip on the bottom.

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13) Sunscreen – It’s hot and sunny in the Philippines yet often difficult to find sunscreen unless you are in heavily touristy areas like Boracay where foreigners are the only ones using it and getting overcharged.

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14) Snorkel & Mask – The Philippines is renowned for their diversity of marine life which you won’t want to miss. While there are many places that you can rent a snorkel and mask from, I’ve seen them clean the gear by dunking it in a bucket of soapy water and then handing it to the next tourist so bring your own!

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15) Melatonin – Getting to the Philippines can be a tiring, long-haul flight. Melatonin is a natural nighttime sleep aid that will help quickly adjust and reset your sleep cycle so you aren’t feeling jet lagged for long.

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16) Wet Wipes – Whether you want to refresh yourself during a flight or too tired after a day of exploring for a shower, wet wipes are a handy item to have while traveling.

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17) Water Bottle – You can’t drink tap water in the Philippines so it’s important to have a water bottle to keep hydrated throughout your trip. Get one that’s collapsible for easy packing.

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Other Philippines packing list items to consider bringing

What Should I Wear in the Philippines?

The Philippines is a tropical climate so you want to wear light, breathable clothing. It can cool down in the evenings though so a light sweater and a pair of pants are good to have on hand.

Beach towns are spread across the Philippine islands with a relaxed and casual atmosphere so flip flops, shorts, tees, tanks, beach dresses and bikinis are the norm.

You’ll get a lot of sun in the Philippines so make sure to protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke. Pack plenty of sunscreens, a hat, and sunglasses.

If you are looking for a trip that goes beyond staying in a resort, you’ll want to pack some comfortable and sturdy shoes. There’s a lot of great hiking routes filled with rice patties, jungles, and waterfalls so shoes are necessary. Also, if you are planning to get around by scooter, shoes are the best way to go.

The Philippines has an abundance of marine life with opportunities to go snorkeling with sea turtles and spotting whale sharks while scuba diving so you’ll want to have water gear. A snorkel, mask, and GoPro are the basic essentials to bring. Also, many areas have sea urchins around and other things that may hurt your feet so it’s good to wear water shoes.

Lastly, torrential downpours can occur between June to September so it’s good to have a light rain jacket and umbrella.

DRY SEASON: November, December, January, February, March, April, May

January and February are the coolest months and May is the hottest month. Make sure to pack light-colored and breathable clothing. You’ll get lots of sunshine so also bring sunscreen and a hat. The dry season average ranges from a low of 75°F to a high of 88°F.

RAINY SEASON: June, July, August, September, October

Don’t be afraid to visit during this time though because the weather can still be hot and sunny during the day with short downpours normally occurring at dusk. During the rainy season bring a light rain jacket and umbrella. It can get very humid so you will want quick-dry clothing to keep you cool and comfortable. The wet season average ranges from a low of 79°F to a high of 88°F.

What NOT to take to the Philippines

1) 🚫 DON’T ARRIVE with a one-way ticket – In the Philippines, you may not enter without proof of onward travel. Without proof, you may not even be able to board your flight.
2) 🚫 DON’T BRING a suitcase – The Philippines is not full of paved and smoothe sidewalks like Europe. Instead, there may not even be a sidewalk and/or bumpy, unpaved roads. The best way to travel in the Philippines and the rest of South East Asia is with a backpack.
3) 🚫 DON’T PACK too many clothes – You’ll be carrying everything on your back so make things easier for yourself and pack light. Packing cubes will be a great help to stop you from overpacking.
4) 🚫 DON’T TAKE anything valuable – Theft does happen so leave your nice jewelry at home where it will be safe.
5) 🚫 DON’T PACK soap and shampoo bottles – This only weighs down your luggage. You can easily purchase these items in grocery stores and pharmacies.
6) 🚫 DON’T BRING lots of makeup – It’s a tropical climate and you don’t want your face to be melting off! Take a hint from the locals and keep minimal.

10 Frequently Asked Questions about travel in the Phillippines

1) Why visit the Philippines?

With over 7,000 islands there’s plenty of things to see and do in the Philippines. Best of all the locals are very friendly and welcoming to their country.

2) Are the Philippines safe for travelers?

The majority of the Philippines is a welcoming place for tourists with minimal danger. Currently, the biggest risk is terrorism which is limited to a small area of the Phillippines in the areas of Mindanao, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Sulu Archipelago which is very dangerous. To get up to date information on the Philippines, check your local government travel advisory and sign up for e-mail alerts which will be sent to you if there’s anything you should be aware of during your trip.

3) Do I need a visa?

Many countries including the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia are allowed free entry into the Phillippines for 30 days without a visa. If you are planning to stay longer, you can extend a tourist visa for a fee. All you need to bring is a passport valid for 6+ months and an onward ticket.

4) What immunizations do I need?

Visit a travel clinic at least six to eight weeks before your trip for full information on the specific vaccinations you will need. It often takes a couple weeks for the vaccination to provide full immunity so this is why you need to go far in advance. The only required vaccination is yellow fever if you’ve visited a country that is in a yellow fever zone, six days or less prior to entering the Philippines. Other common vaccines to get include Diptheria, Tetanus & Polio and Hepatitis B but it is important to consult with a doctor who can properly determine what vaccines you need specific to your trip.

5) When is the best time to visit?

High season runs from December to April when there is little rain and cooler temperatures. Prices are at its peak though where resorts can cost 3X especially at Christmas, New Year, and Easter. Low season with the cheapest prices are June to September but there is a risk of passing typhoons. The shoulder season is in May and November with a hotter climate and some rain but prices are much cheaper.

6) Where should I go?

If you want a beach vacation with little worries and no fuss, you may want to stick to the resorts on Boracay. If you are looking for adventure, check out the unique geological formations and world’s smallest primate on Bohol. For island hopping tours, abundant sea life with a backdrop of limestone cliffs, visit El Nido. Lastly, for stunning rice terraces visit Banaue.

7) Can I drink the water?

Drinking tap water can cause you to have stomach problems and should be avoided. However, you can use it to brush your teeth and wash dishes. Most accommodations will have a water filling station so bring a water bottle with you.

8) Should I learn some phrases in Tagalog?

Tagalog and English are the official languages so it’s very easy to communicate with the locals. Filipino’s will appreciate it though if you learn a few phrases like Salamat (Thank you), Magkano? (How much?), Magandang araw (Good day) and Paalam (Goodbye).

9) How can I get around?

For an authentic experience in the cities and towns, ride a jeepney which is the most popular mode of transportation amongst locals. After WWII, the surplus of American jeeps was converted into colorful transportation for Filipinos. Scooter rentals are also widely available. If you are looking to travel between islands, you can find a few great budget airlines or boats (known as bangkas) and ferries to get around.

10) How much money and what currency should I bring?

The currency used in the Philippines is the Philippine Peso. ATMs are available in major cities but often difficult to find on less touristy islands so it is good to have cash. One of the best things about traveling to the Philippines is how cheap it is compared to many other countries including those in South East Asia. If you are budget traveler you can easily get by with $35 a day. A midrange budget will between $35-$100/day and luxury travelers expect to spend $100+ every day.

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