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 it’s well worth packing 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. It’s a great way to make the memories last even longer and to be able to share some of the best bits of your trip to the Philippines with your friends and family! GoPro’s aren’t just solely underwater cameras either, so you’ll be able to capture shots throughout your holiday too. We recommend getting an extendable selfie stick as well as a good underwater casing if you’re going to be doing some deep dives on your trip!
Underwater phone case – If you want to get some underwater pictures without paying for a GoPro, get yourself an underwater phone case. These cases are great bits of travel gear as they keep your phone safe and allow you 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 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 – Although smartphones can produce some pretty good photos nowadays, one of our main travel tips is to get yourself a proper camera. The range of shots and versatility just can’t be matched by a phone, and so it’s a worthy investment to get those picture perfect shots. Obviously, camera gear can range in price quite dramatically so what you can get will depend on your budget.
If you’re not looking to spend too big then you can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS M100. It’s easy to use, takes great shots and doesn’t take up a lot of space – and to top it off it’s great value! It comes with a 15-45mm lens, which can capture some great shots but if you want a good zoom then you’ll also want to invest in another lens too. Fortunately the camera is such a good price that you should hopefully be able to afford a second lens as well!
For those of you considering spending a bit more, the Sony a6500 is a great investment. We upgraded to this camera and could instantly tell the difference in quality – so it’s well worth it if you have the money to spend. If you’re buying 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 have a DJI Mavic Pro and it’s perfect for travelling with as it’s lightweight and compact – meaning it easily fits in your hand luggage! Our DJI Mavic Pro allowed us to get some incredible photos while island hopping in Siargao. It’s always a good idea to get the latest model, so we recommend getting the newly released DJI Mavic 2 Pro if you want a drone for your trip!
Another great option if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper is the DJI Mavic Air. It’s smaller than the Mavic Pro so it’s great for travelling with too, and will also be able to capture brilliant photos from above!
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 – You won’t have to worry about your phone running out of charge if you have a powerbank. We got our first powerbank before our trip to Asia in 2017 and we wouldn’t travel without one again. 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!
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. If you opt for a bottle which includes a water filter you can end up saving a fair bit of money too. These bottles are specifically designed to remove 99.99% of bacteria, meaning that although the tap water isn’t normally safe to drink in the Philippines, you are able to drink it if you use the bottle to purify the water first. It’s a great way to save money and save the world at the same time!
Torch – You’re likely to experience at least a couple of powercuts when travelling 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 – Make sure you have travel insurance for your trip to the Philippines. Although it can seem expensive, it can end up saving you a lot of money as you’ll be covered in potentially costly scenarios. Without insurance we would have had to spend thousands of dollars on medical bills on previous trips – money which we just didn’t have at the time! It may seem like not getting insurance is a good way to save a bit of money, but if something goes wrong on your trip then you’ll almost certainly regret it.
World Nomads offer great travel insurance policies, allowing you to choose between different levels of coverage. That way you can make sure you’re covered in every possible scenario if you want, or if you’d prefer you can pay a bit less for lower coverage. Whatever you decide, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
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 one of the best travel items. They dry much quicker than ordinary towels and take up a lot less space in your bag.
Eye mask – Don’t rely on your accommodation having curtains that keep the room dark after sunrise, especially if you’re staying in budget places. To make sure it isn’t an issue, we recommend packing an eye mask. That way if you want a lie in you won’t be woken up at the crack of dawn
Travel Card – If you use your everyday debit or credit card abroad you’ll normally end up with foreign transaction fees. While this is ok every so often, it quickly adds up and is completely avoidable. There are some great travel cards which give a great exchange rate on transactions – almost always better than the rate you’d get at a currency exchange! The cards also allow for withdrawals at foreign ATMs without a fee up to a set limit per month.
A travel card available for both UK and US residents is Revolut. We’ve used Revolut since 2016 and never had any problems using it anywhere in the world – from Colombia to Iceland! You’ll need to sign up a while in advance of your trip in order for the card to get delivered in time. It’s also potentially worth ordering a card in a family member’s name too so you get double the free withdrawals if you take their card with you!
Sun cream – Pretty self-explanatory really, but one of the must have items on your packing list for the Philippines is sun cream. 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 sun cream, 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 sun cream – If you’re planning on going snorkelling or diving in the Philippines, we strongly recommend getting some reef friendly sun cream. Normal sun cream is damaging to the environment and reefs if it gets in the water. Although reef friendly sun cream 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 not only great because it conveniently keeps your toiletries altogether, 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.
Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve visited a hot country, you may need to stock up on a new set of clothes. It’s hard to say exactly what clothes to pack for the Philippines, but ideally you’ll need plenty of singlets, shorts and some swim shorts if you’re a guy, or dresses, shorts and bikinis if you’re a girl. You may also want to get flip flops, a hat to protect you from the sun and a rain jacket just in case!
It can be a bit of a scary thought to fork out for an entirely new wardrobe, but thankfully Zaful have a great selection of clothing at brilliant prices. Better yet, they offer free worldwide shipping – just make sure to order in plenty of time for it to arrive before your trip!
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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