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The Philippines is one of the best travel destinations in Southeast Asia, home to beautiful white sand beaches and paradise islands. Before you can enjoy this amazing country though, you’ll need to do some planning. First up is finalising an itinerary of the Philippines. Next is figuring out what to pack for the Philippines. It can be tough to decide what you actually need to take, but that’s where we come in. This packing list covers the travel essentials you need for the Philippines, saving you the time and effort of putting together packing lists for yourself. If you follow this packing guide then there won’t be any doubts in your mind about what you need to pack for the Philippines – whether you’re going for 2 weeks, 3 weeks or more!
Table of Contents
What to pack for the Philippines
Snorkel – There are some incredible snorkelling spots in the Philippines, so don’t forget to pack a snorkel. Thanks to our snorkels we saw turtles and sea snakes in Port Barton, the amazing sardine run in Moalboal and much more!
Although tour operators often provide snorkels, it’s much more hygienic to have your own that hasn’t been used by over a hundred other people without being properly cleaned!
GoPro – Capture incredible underwater shots from snorkelling and diving trips with a GoPro. One of the highlights of our whole trip in the Philippines was seeing the sardine run, and thanks to our GoPro we were able to take pictures to look back on forever!
Thankfully GoPro’s are versatile , so they’re great for getting just normal holiday photos too if you don’t plan on doing any snorkelling/diving. If you do plan to dive then we recommend getting an extendable selfie stick as well as a good quality underwater casing too!
Underwater phone case – If you want to get some underwater pictures without paying for a GoPro, then an underwater phone case is a great alternative. These underwater cases are extremely cheap and you can find one to fit pretty much any phone! It’s a good budget way to get some great shots while snorkelling!
Dry bag – One of the most useful things to have on your packing list for the Philippines is a dry bag. It’s extremely useful for keeping your valuables dry during snorkelling trips, island hopping tours and more.
We wish we’d had one for our visit to Aguinid falls, which involves climbing through waterfalls. As we didn’t have our dry bag with us it meant we couldn’t take our camera up the waterfalls with us and instead had to rely on our phones.
Camera – If you’re serious about getting good quality photos of your trip then you need to invest in a good camera. Although smartphones can take quite good photos, realistically they’re no match for a proper camera.
Smartphone cameras tend to struggle in a lot of situations, for example when you zoom in to take a photo the image quality drops dramatically. When you compare the range of shots and versatility of a real camera, it’s easy to see that it’s a worth spending the money if you want picture perfect shots!
Without our camera we wouldn’t have been able to get some of our best photos from the Philippines. In particular, there was a stunning sunset in Port Barton that our phones just couldn’t capture, but thankfully our camera did the job perfectly!
A lot of people assume that good cameras are extremely expensive, but that isn’t actually the case. The top of the range stuff obviously costs a lot more, but there are some great quality budget cameras available too!
If you don’t want to spend too much then the Canon EOS M100 is a great option. First and foremost, it takes great quality photos. It’s also easy to use, as well as being nice and small so it isn’t a burden to carry around!
The camera comes with a 15-45mm lens, which means it can zoom a little bit. If you want to take close-up shots of things that are far away then it’s probably worth investing in a zoom lens for the camera too. Fortunately the camera is so reasonably priced that you should hopefully be able to afford another lens!
If you’re happy to spend a bit more then we recommend the Sony a6500. When we upgraded to this camera we were amazed at the difference in quality, so it’s definitely worth it if you have the money to spend!
Despite being much smaller than a DSLR, this mirrorless camera is capable of taking some really amazing photos. It’s definitely the way to go if you want to take your photography to another level!
If you opt to just buy the camera body then make sure to buy a lens or 2 to go with it!
Drone – To get some truly breathtaking photos, consider adding a drone to your Philippines travel list. Being able to see the beautiful beaches and paradise islands of the Philippines from above adds an extra thrill that you just can’t get without a drone. Good quality drones are surprisingly easy to use and will allow you to capture unique shots during your travels!
If you’re serious about getting a drone, we recommend getting one made by DJI. They make some of the best drones on the market, which are easy to use and capture incredible photographs and video.
We took a DJI Mavic Pro to the Philippines as it’s lightweight and compact, which is very convenient when you’re travelling! It easily fit into our hand luggage and allowed us to get some incredible photos whilst island hopping in Siargao.
DJI have since released the DJI Mavic Pro 2, so we’d recommend going for that as it’s a newer model. We haven’t personally tried the new version out but we’re sure it’s even better and well worth the money!
If you want something a bit cheaper then we recommend the DJI Mavic Air. It’s even smaller than the Mavic Pro, which makes it even more convenient for travelling with! Although it’s smaller and cheaper, it’s still more than capable of getting some amazing drone photography and video!
Extra memory card – Don’t get caught without enough space to take all the pictures you want on your trip! It’s easy to fill memory cards pretty quickly these days, so it’s worth having at least one back up. That way you can take as many pictures as you want without worrying about running out of space.
Powerbank – Unless you have a brand new phone, it’s likely you’ve been left frustrated multiple times when your phone has run out of charge. It’s even worse when you’re travelling and can’t take photos of the amazing places you’re visiting!
Buying a powerbank is an easy solution to this. We first got a powerbank before our trip to Asia in 2017 and we haven’t travelled without one since.
They’re incredibly useful for making sure you don’t run out of battery on a day trip so that you can get all the pictures you want. Not only that, but powercuts are fairly common in the Philippines so you’ll be able to stay charged even if your accommodation doesn’t have power!
It’s worth paying a bit more for a good quality powerbank that will last longer. We’ve tried out quite a few and in our experience Anker make the best powerbanks by far. Other powerbanks have been unreliable but our Anker one has a great battery life and charges our phones much faster!
Refillable water bottle – Plastic waste has become a real issue – with reports that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It’s easy to do your bit to combat unnecessary plastic usage by taking a refillable water bottle on your trip.
We travel with refillable insulated water bottles that keep our water cold all day when we’re out on day trips. It’s so convenient to have cold water readily available on-the-go, especially in hot countries. To avoid using plastic we try and stay at accommodation that have cold water dispensers available so that we can fill up our bottles.
These refillable bottles are cheap and are a great way to make sure you have access to cold water throughout the day. They’re capable of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, as well as keeping hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours! What more could you want?
Flashlight/Torch – You’re likely to experience at least a couple of powercuts when travelling to the Philippines. If you don’t fancy sitting in a dark room for hours waiting for the power to come back then make sure to pack a torch.
It’s still worth packing a torch even if you have one on your phone, as then you can save your phone battery. The streets can also be pretty dark at night as streetlights aren’t common, so a torch will come in handy there too!
Umbrella – Although you’re visiting the Philippines for the sun and beaches, it’s definitely worth taking an umbrella – particularly during rainy season. That way you can still head out for dinner even if the heavens have opened up!
Travel Essentials for the Philippines
Travel insurance – One of the most important things to do before you travel to the Philippines is arrange good travel insurance. It may seem expensive, but it’s nowhere near as expensive as having to cover your own expenses or medical bills if things goes wrong.
Without insurance we would have had to spend thousand of dollars on medical bills on previous trips due to Natalia’s struggles with endometriosis. It may seem like you can save a bit of money by not paying for insurance, but if anything goes wrong you’re bound to regret it!
World Nomads offer brilliant travel insurance policies, offering various levels of coverage depending on how much you want to spend. If you don’t want to spend so much then you can pay less for a lower level of coverage. Either way, it’s definitely worth being covered for any potential medical expenses!
Don’t forget to take your travel insurance details with you, as you’ll need to contact them as soon as you can in case of an emergency!
Bag/backpack – An essential item for any trip is a good backpack. If you want to see a lot of the Philippines, it’s going to involve plenty of travel getting between the islands. For this reason, you need to make sure you have a backpack that you’re comfortable with.
We recommend using a backpack instead of a suitcase when in the Philippines. In particular, suitcases can be hard to get on to ferries and down unpaved roads. For this reason, we believe a backpack is the best luggage for travel to the Philippines.
Adapter – There are 3 different plug types used in the Philippines, so we recommend buying a universal travel adapter. That way you should be able to use plugs around the country without any issue.
Extension lead – When we were travelling in the Philippines we found that a lot of the accommodation only had one or two plug sockets in the rooms. Unfortunately that’s not enough if you need to charge a number of laptops, phones, cameras etc at once.
If you take an extension lead on your trip you won’t need to worry about a lack of sockets at all. Better still, you’ll only need to buy one adapter too!
Microfibre towel – Microfibre towels are incredibly convenient for travelling as they dry a lot quicker than ordinary towels and take up a lot less space in your bag. A lot of the time you won’t necessarily be given a towel by your accommodation, especially if you’re staying in dorms.
If you’re staying in a private room or hotel then you probably will be given a towel to use, but most of the time properties don’t like you taking their towels to the beach. In that instance, just take your microfibre towel to the beach and there’s no issue!
Eye mask – We found that a lot of accommodation options in the Philippines had curtains that failed to keep the room dark after sunrise. If you’re a light sleeper then an eye mask is essential to avoid waking up at the crack of dawn every day.
Eye masks are also really useful for getting some shut eye on long haul flights. Considering they’re so cheap there’s really no reason not to get one for your trip if you value your sleep!
Travel Card – Fed up of foreign transaction fees and bad exchange rates when you use your debit or credit card abroad? Get the best exchange rate and avoid unnecessary fees by signing up for Revolut!
We’ve been using Revolut cards on our travels since 2016 and have used them in every country we’ve been to since, from Colombia to Iceland! Using Revolut allows you to pay by card and make cash withdrawals around the world whilst getting a great exchange rate – almost always better than the rate you’d get at a currency exchange.
If you want to save money when travelling then it’s definitely worth signing up. Still not convinced? We love Revolut so much we wrote a whole article about how good it is. Click here to check it out!
Alternatively, if you’re ready to save money then you can get your first card delivered completely free if you sign up via our link below!
Sunscreen – Pretty self-explanatory really, but one of the must have items on your packing list for the Philippines is sunscreen. It isn’t as cheap as you might hope once you’re in the country, so you’re best off just buying it in advance!
Aftersun – Much like sunscreen, aftersun isn’t that cheap in the Philippines so we’d recommend buying some in advance. If you order it from Amazon it can often work out cheaper than buying at a shop or pharmacy in person!
Reef friendly sunscreen – If you’re planning on going snorkelling or diving in the Philippines, we strongly recommend getting some reef friendly sunscreen. Normal sunscreen is damaging to the environment and reefs if it gets in the water.
Although reef friendly sunscreen is more expensive, you’re helping do your bit for the environment and protecting the underwater world for others to enjoy!
Mosquito repellent – As you’d probably expect, mosquito repellent is one of the travel essentials for the Philippines. Mosquito-borne diseases in the Philippines include Dengue fever, so it’s important to stay protected.
Mosquito bite cream – Unfortunately, you may still get bitten by mosquitos even if you use repellent. It’s important to pack some mosquito bite relief cream in case this happens to you. The bites can be extremely itchy, but generally these creams should reduce the itchiness. That’s why mosquito bite cream is one thing you simply must bring to the Philippines!
Wash bag – A wash bag is great for conveniently keeping all of your toiletries together, which helps make packing your bag much more manageable. Not only that, but it also contains the mess in case of any spillages.
It seems that at least once every trip one of Natalia’s shampoos will explode in her bag, but fortunately the majority of her stuff is fine and it just affects the wash bag. If that wasn’t the case it would be a much bigger clean up job, so we recommend having one just to be safe!
Toiletries and Medicine – It’s well worth planning ahead and packing toiletries and medication to take to the Philippines. That way you have whatever you need even if there’s no pharmacy nearby or if the pharmacy is closed.
We recommend packing some painkillers, immodium (just in case!), dramamine (motion sickness tablets), wet wipes, plasters, shampoo, toothpaste and a hairdryer if necessary. For women it’s worth packing tampons too as they’re surprisingly hard to get in the Philippines.
As with any trip, the majority of what you pack is going to be your clothes! Exactly what you need to pack depends on how long you’re visiting for, the time of year you’re visiting and the places you’re going to visit.
Whatever you decide you need, it’s likely you need to buy at least a few new things to wear. We personally recommend buying new clothes online through Zaful as they have a great selection at very reasonable prices!
Assuming you’re visiting for around 2 weeks during the dry season we recommend packing something along the lines of the below:
3 bikinis/swimming costumes – Click here to check out the selection available on Zaful!
2 or more dresses – Click here to check out the great dresses available from Zaful!
3 or more skirts (or shorts if you prefer) – Click here to see the skirts available on Zaful’s website!
7-10 tops or t-shirts – Click here to see the great range available on Zaful!
3 pairs of swimshorts – Click here to check out the swimshorts available from Zaful!
3 or more pairs of shorts – Click here to find great value shorts on Zaful’s website!
7-10 tops, t-shirts or singlets – Click here to check out the great range of tops available on Zaful!
It’s also worth packing some flip flops, a hat to protect you from the sun and a rain jacket just in case. If you end up not having everything you need then clothes are relatively cheap from local shops and markets.
If you find yourself running out of clean clothes on your trip then you should be able to find somewhere that does laundry. It normally costs around 50 pesos per kilo, which is pretty good value and saves you doing it yourself once you get home!
Sunglasses – It’s always worth having a pair of sunglasses for a visit to the Philippines. If you’re looking to grab a bargain, we recommend buying them from Zaful. They have a great selection of sunglasses at great prices – so it’s easy to bag yourself a bargain!
Trainers – One thing not to miss off your packing list for the Philippines is a comfortable pair of trainers. If you’re planning on exploring and getting a bit off the beaten path, then you’ll want a good pair of trainers to see you through. We both wear Nike Air Max’s as they’re extremely comfortable as well as being great for hiking and walking long distances in!
Water shoes – If you want to protect your feet when venturing into the sea or visiting Kawasan falls, then water shoes will do exactly that. They have grip on the soles, as well as protecting your feet from any sharp objects underwater!
Cloud Storage – If you’re planning to take lots of photos on your trip to the Philippines, it might be worth investing in cloud storage. That way you can upload photos throughout your trip, meaning it won’t take up loads of space on your laptop or memory cards. It’s also way more convenient than having an external hard drive as that takes up space in your bag!
We recommend using pCloud for cloud storage. You can either pay monthly or pay a one off fee for lifetime cloud storage.
Other electronics – We packed plenty of electronics for our trip to the Philippines, but generally what you need is dependent on what you actually want. You may want to pack any number of the following: laptop, tablet, phone, kindle, headphones, chargers and whatever else you can think of!
Playing cards – Playing cards are great if you want a chilled out night or a way to pass the time while waiting at the airport. Card games are a great way to meet people in hostels too, so are still a great thing to take even if you’re backpacking solo in the Philippines.
There are countless different cards to choose from but we recommend a pack of standard playing cards and Monopoly Deal – a quick card game version of Monopoly which is great fun!
Travel pillow – If you have the space in your hand luggage, we fully recommend taking a travel pillow. They provide a lot more comfort on long plane journeys than the free pillows provided, and can also be used on any bus journeys you have too. As they’re relatively inexpensive, it’s well worth the money to get a much better rest on your travels!
Packing Cubes – As there are so many different islands to visit in the Philippines, you’ll be doing a lot of packing and unpacking of your stuff. It’s a lot easier to pack and keep stuff organised if you use packing cubes.
With packing cubes you’re able to keep things in separate sections within your case, making it easier to access what you need when you need it. That way you don’t have to empty out your whole case only to have to repack it a few days later!
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