Health Care Facilities
Hospitals in and around Manila often offer high-quality medical care. However, even the best hospitals may not meet the standards of medical care, sanitation, and comfort provided. Many hospitals outside major urban areas may offer only basic medical care in rudimentary conditions. It is wise to evaluate the standards of medical care at a hospital before contemplating a medical procedure. Most hospitals will require a down payment at the time of admission. Patients are often required to pay their bills before being discharged from the hospital.
Two of the premier private hospitals in Manila are the
Makati Medical Center,
Amorsolo Street, Makati City,
Tel.: (011-63-2) 8888-8999;
St. Luke’s Hospital,
E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City,
Tel.: (011-63-2) 8723-0101.
For a list of licensed government and private hospitals and other health facilities in the Philippines, please consult the Philippine Online Health Directory or the Department of Health‘s Hospital List.
Currency and Banking
The Philippine peso (currency code: PHP) is the official currency of the Philippines. The colorful notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200 (not common), 500, and 1,000 pesos. The peso is further divided into 100 centavos. 1 peso is equivalent to 100 centavos. Coins are available in 5, 10, and 25 centavos, plus 1, 5, and 10 pesos. However, you’ll rarely deal with or encounter these fractional amounts.
Prices in Philippine pesos are denoted by the following symbols:
- “₱” (official)
U.S. dollars are sometimes accepted as an alternative form of payment and work well as emergency cash. Carrying U.S. dollars while traveling in Asia is a good idea for emergencies. If paying a price quoted in dollars rather than pesos, know the current exchange rate.
Tip: While traveling in the Philippines, you’ll end up with a pocketful of heavy coins, usually 1-peso, 5-peso, and 10-peso coins — keep them! Coins come in handy for small tips or paying jeepney drivers.
The Philippine Peso (PHP; divisible into 100 centavos) can easily be changed at money changers at the airport and in one of the nation’s ubiquitous shopping malls. These malls are also chock-full of ATMs, in case you want to withdraw cash from your own ATM-card-equipped bank account instead.
Exchanging money in Metro Manila is pretty convenient. Aside from banks and ATMs, you can find plenty of money changers in major commercial areas and inside shopping malls.
The best place to exchange money in Metro Manila is Mabini Street in Ermita district of Manila. This street houses a large number of forex shops, which are located close to each other. These money changers offer very competitive rates and their rates are always the best in the market.
Majority of the money changers in Quezon City can be found at the Araneta Center in Cubao, which is the central business district. Some of the forex shops are located inside the malls and are open every day.
The list also includes shopping malls that offer currency exchange services. Exchanging currencies in the malls are considered to be safer and more convenient for some travelers.
1) Czarina Foreign Exchange – Farmer’s Plaza branch
Located inside Farmer’s Plaza in Cubao, near Araneta Coliseum
Address: G/F New Farmer’s Plaza, Gen. Roxas St., Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Phone: +63 2 913 3808
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 19:00, Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
2) Czarina Foreign Exchange – Ali Mall branch
Located inside Ali Mall beside SM Mall Cubao
Address: LG018 Lower Ground Floor, Ali Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Phone: +63 2 709 2759
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10:00 – 20:00
3) Emerald Money Changer
Located across Farmers Plaza Cubao, near Araneta Coliseum
Address: G-5, Opulent Building, 65-66, General Roxas Avenue, Socorro, District 3, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila
Phone: +63 2 913 2906
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9:00 – 18:00
4) Core Pacific Money Exchange
Located inside Shopwise beside Araneta Coliseum
Address: Shopwise, Gen. Aguinaldo Ave, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila
Phone: +63 923 391 4664
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 – 23:00*
5) Bamboo City Money Changer
Located at the Kia Theater building, just a short walk from the Araneta Center MRT station
Address: Ground Floor, Sampaguita Building, Araneta Center, Roxas Street, Second District, Cubao, Cubao, Quezon City, 1100 Metro Manila
Phone: +63 2 911 7876
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 – 18:00
Using ATMs attached to banks is always the safest. You stand a much better chance of recovering a card if it is captured by the machine. Also, ATMs in lit areas near banks are less likely to have a card-skimming device installed by thieves. Identity theft is a growing problem in the Philippines.
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Banco de Oro (BDO), and Metrobank usually work best for foreign cards. Limits vary, but many ATMs will only dispense up to 10,000 pesos per transaction, and up to 50,000 pesos per account, per day. You may be charged a fee of up to 200 pesos per transaction (around US $4), so take as much cash as possible during each transaction.
Tip: To avoid ending up with only 1,000-peso banknotes which are often difficult to break, end your requested amount with 500 so that you at least receive one 500-peso note (e.g., ask for 9,500 rather than 10,000).
Traveler’s checks are rarely accepted for exchange in the Philippines. Plan on using your card in ATMs to get local currency.
For additional security, diversify your travel money. Bring a few denominations of U.S. dollars and hide a $50 inside a very unlikely place (get creative!) in your luggage.
Credit cards come in handy for booking short domestic flights and for paying in upscale hotels. You can also pay for diving courses by credit card. For daily transactions, plan to depend on cash. Many businesses charge an extra commission of up to 10% when you pay with plastic.
MasterCard and Visa are the most accepted credit cards in the Philippines.
Tip: Remember to notify your ATM and credit card banks so they can place a travel alert on your account, otherwise they may deactivate your card for suspected fraud.
Acquiring and hoarding small change is a popular game in Southeast Asia that everyone plays. Breaking large 1,000-peso notes — and sometimes 500-peso notes — fresh from the ATM can be a real challenge in small places.
Build up a good stock of coins and smaller denomination bills for paying drivers and others who often claim not to have change — they hope you will let them keep the difference. Using large denomination notes on buses and for small amounts is considered bad form.
Always try to pay with the largest banknote that someone will accept. In a pinch, you can break large denominations in busy bars, fast food restaurants, some minimarts, or try your luck in a grocery or department store.
Haggling is the name of the game for much of the Philippines. Good negotiation skills will go a long way to helping you to save money.
Unlike the etiquette for tipping in much of Asia, the rules for tipping in the Philippines are a little murky. Although gratuity generally isn’t “required,” it is greatly appreciated — sometimes even expected — in many circumstances. In general, try to reward people with a small token of appreciation who go the extra mile to help you out (e.g., the driver who carries your bags all the way to your room).
It is common to round up fares for drivers and maybe even give them a little something extra for friendly service. Don’t tip taxi drivers who initially balked at your request to turn on the meter. Many restaurants tack a 10 percent service fee onto bills, which may or may not simply be used to pay the staff’s low salary. You can leave a few extra coins on the table to show thanks for great service.
Food and Drink
The vibrant Quezon City (QC) is the largest and most populous city in Metro Manila that offers many attractions for travelers of all ages. It has a rich cultural heritage where you will discover many exciting places, exciting things to do, and delicious food to eat.
Quezon City has become a food haven where you will find every type of cuisine imaginable. There’s no unique local cuisine in Quezon City because there is a diverse set of food choices available for anyone. What Philippine food lacks in spice and nuance, it makes up for in heartiness and freshness. Make sure to bring cash though, as some might not accept card transactions due to it being in a public space.
(MISLATEL) to start in 2023.
The Philippines has long been notorious for having one of the slowest internet connections in the world and mobile internet is no exception. Overall, a report suggests that download speeds are at average 7.0 Mbps download and 2.2 Mbps upload. Specifically, as at March 2019, Smart has much higher speeds at 9 Mbit/s DL and 3.2 Mbit/s UL compared to Globe with 5.5 Mbit/s DL und 1.7 Mbit/s UL on average.
2G covers all inhabited islands but is practically useless for data transmission (even for WhatsApp) because of congestion. On 3G you only get data speeds comparably to other southeast Asian countries in Manila and a few provincial capitals. Generally, the 3G coverage is somewhat patchy and speeds are often quite poor. 4G/LTE coverage isn’t nationwide and mostly exists in greater urban areas so far. In fact, Open Signal writes that 4G is only available to 72.4% of the country. Both Globe and Smart have pledged to cover 95% of population with 4G/LTE by the end of 2018.
In the Philippines, there is a constant dispute, which network is better: Globe or Smart? By international or regional standards, both of them remain pretty bad. The problem is: you never can tell. On most places (outside of Metro Manila) only one network is useable for data and this changes regionally. For instance, on Boracay, Philippines’ premier summer vacation spot, it’s Smart. While on Baguio City, the country’s summer capital, it’s mostly dominated by Globe and Smart’s signal is weaker.
If you need data at one particular spot, ask locally which one to choose. But don’t ask anyone attached to a provider in a phone shop, they just want to sell their own product. It’s better to count the numerous sales outlets instead: the provider with more outlets is likely the better at this location.
In the meantime, travelling through the Philippines you may think of getting two SIM cards like locals do. The start-up price is minimal and you can always try which operator works (better) at your place. This leaves you with the problem which SIM card to load up for data.
As it stands, there are still no formal requirements for anyone to provide confirmation of their identity when buying a prepaid SIM card, but be prepared that you will need to show a form of ID (or passport) and fill out some papers at the point of purchase from 2018.
The easiest way to reload (top-up, recharge) your credits is to proceed to sari-sari stores and retailers that offer a reloading service, provide them your number and a certain amount you want to top up and they will send you credit within a few minutes. These are ubiquitous and as long as you provide them the correct mobile phone number, your credits are good to go.
Alternatively, reloading cards starting at P100 are available at sari-sari stores and major retailers. You scratch off a code and depending on the provider either text or dial it and send it to a designated number.
Since major establishments accept credit cards, you can withdraw directly without getting your money exchanged at a money changer. You can also pay via credit card on most establishments. However, it’s better to bring some Filipino peso (PHP) with you, and smaller bills such as 50 pesos (PHP) and 100 pesos (PHP) for a hassle-free transaction.
Most locals in Quezon City use Tagalog when communicating, and the majority of them are fluent and can understand English. Make sure to greet the locals with a simple “Hi/hello” first to initiate a conversation. Don’t worry, they’re friendly and can accommodate most of your questions.
Watch out for pickpockets when commuting and keep your valuables safe, especially in crowded areas like Cubao Expo and Farmer’s Market dampa. If you’re planning to walk alone at night, make sure to keep your bags close to you. And, just like in any other country, always be aware of your surroundings.
Wear light clothing when going to nature parks and bring lots of water. It’s best to bring a jacket or umbrella with you in case of rain. Also, don’t forget to bring a small bag when you’re going on a sightseeing trip! It will lessen the hassle when you’re walking along the roads, especially if you plan to shop.
If you’re staying in Quezon City longer and riding the bus and MRT, get a Beep card for your convenience. It is the train passcard used in Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) and Light Rail Transit (LRT1/2) stations. It’s much cheaper than riding a taxi or motorcycle.