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Packing-phobes can breathe a sigh of relief; packing for the Philippines couldn’t be much easier! It’s also relatively easy to find anything you might have forgotten, so there’s no need to stress if you realise you forgot to pack your deodorant or bikini at 30,000 feet – there will be plenty of options waiting for you when you land on the other side of the Earth.
Although packing for the Philippines is easy, like anywhere, a little preparation and some sensible packing can make the difference between a good trip and a GREAT trip. Here are the things you’ll use most while travelling the Philippines – and the things you can definitely leave at home.
What to wear in the Philippines
The average temperature in the Philippines is pretty consistent all year round, which makes choosing what to wear in the Philippines straightforward. When it comes to clothing, these are the only things you really need to bring to the Philippines:
1 – Swimwear
Given that the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands, you can probably guess that the main item of clothing you’re going to want to pack is… swimwear! Clothing dries very quickly in the Philippines so you could easily get away with packing just one swimsuit, but I took a couple so that I had options.
Women may want to pack both a swimsuit (to wear on boat trips and while diving/snorkelling/jumping off things) and a bikini (to wear on ‘land’ days just in case of spontaneous beach trips).
It’s always great to have something you can throw over your swimwear and don’t mind getting dirty, too. Many of the boats trips – especially the boat tours in Palawan – involve multiple diving, snorkelling and swimming stops, so you could be in and out of the water a lot.
2 – Shoes
For footwear, you’re not going to need much more than a pair of flip-flops and a pair of walking/running shoes. In fact, you could probably spend a lot of time barefoot, if you wish.
Formal doesn’t really happen in the Philippines – most likely because of the tropical climate! If you really can’t be without some extra inches, bring a pair of beach-worthy wedges rather than tiny heels.
And if you really love shoes – or variety! – and have the extra space, you may want to add some slip-on sandals, casual trainers or even a second pair of flip-flops. Leave anything fancy at home and choose comfy shoes that you’ll be able to explore in instead.
Otherwise, you can enjoy keeping your luggage well under the weight allowance. Phew.
Stay connected wherever you go with SkyRoam pocket WiFi. This handy little device will give you unlimited data for your trip to the Philippines, so you’ll never be without maps, emails and a way to contact home.
3 – Clothing
How often does clothing come this far down the packing list?
I guess that should tell you about what to expect from your trip to the Philippines! The Philippines is one of few countries where your swimwear and footwear are much more important than your everyday clothing.
So what clothing should you pack for the Philippines? When it comes to your tops/bottoms/dresses, feel free to pack whatever you’re most comfortable in – just remember that it will be hot! Since you’ll most likely be exploring islands and spending a lot of time on the beach/boats, I’d stick with clothes you don’t mind getting wet.
The one item of clothing you’ll definitely want to pack for the Philippines is a rain-jacket. When it rains in the Philippines, it really rains, and you’ll want to be prepared (especially if you have camera gear like me!). Pack a lightweight, fold-able jacket or poncho for when the downpour inevitably strikes.
Philippines dress code
For the rest of your Philippines wardrobe, it’s one of those countries where anything goes. You don’t need to worry about dressing conservatively, but loose, comfortable clothing will be your best bet in the heat.
Evenings are fairly casual and you can simply keep the flip-flops on, but feel free to dress up a little if you fancy it. Just leave the heels at home – the streets aren’t the easiest to walk in with an extra 5 inches!
RELATED READ: Welcome to Siargao, a different kind of Filipino island
Summer in the Philippines
Although Filipinos will tell you that the Philippines has different seasons – with summer being the hotter months of April, May and June – most visitors will feel like it’s summer in the Philippines all year round.
The Philippines has two main seasons: wet season and dry season. And guess what? Both of them are hot!
Whatever time of year you choose to visit the Philippines, you’ll want to bring your summer outfits with you, along with a rainproof jacket (especially in the wet season from May to October), beach clothing and perhaps a warm layer for cooler mornings.
What to pack for the Philippines
Now you know what to wear in the Philippines, what about the rest of your suitcase? There aren’t many things you can’t buy when you arrive, especially in Manila, but these are the things you’ll definitely want to bring and leave at home.
What to bring to the Philippines
Wherever you’re heading in the Philippines, you can be sure the following things will come in useful:
- Slip on shoes. Flip flops will see you through most of your Philippines trip. If you want to bring other shoes, slip-on shoes that you can slide off when you enter your hotel or guesthouse are your best bet. I recommend some lightweight espadrilles like these or some comfy go-with-anything Birkenstock sandals like these.
- A dry bag. You can buy a dry bag in the Philippines, but they only cost a couple of dollars and I wouldn’t trust them for long. I used mine to get on and off the boats (you usually have to walk about waist-deep into the water) but I wouldn’t have swum with it or taken it underwater. If you want a bag you can pack camera gear in to take into hidden beaches and lagoons, buy a decent dry bag before you go.
- Walking shoes. Yes, you’re going to be spending lots of time on boats and in the water, but the Filipino islands also have some fantastic hikes. And you wouldn’t want to miss out on those, would you? Pack a pair of running shoes that will dry quickly if they get back but will also support your feet.
- Underwater camera. One of our friends used underwater casing for his DSLR and got some amazing photos and videos, but a GoPro or this cheap waterproof camera is a good option if you’d be too scared to risk your expensive gear!
- Toiletries. As you might expect in a sunny destination, picking up sun screen is easy (and often cheaper than at home!). The toiletries you might want to pack are makeup, deodorant, any specialist skincare or hair care (e.g. for allergies, sensitive skin or colour-treated hair), mosquito repellent and hand sanitiser. You may also want to pop a couple of packs of tissues in your bag as toilet paper isn’t always readily available.
The other thing you’ll need
Even though you hope you’ll never need to use it, travelling with insurance will make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong. I use World Nomads because it’s the most comprehensive cover I’ve found – they even cover the more adventurous activities that other insurers won’t, which is super helpful when you want to go diving, surfing and snorkelling in the Philippines. Find out more about them in this post or get a quote right here:
What NOT to bring to the Philippines
As I already mentioned, you can buy pretty much anything you need in the Philippines once you get there. If you want to enjoy your trip (and keep your luggage weight down) leave these things at home and when in doubt, under pack!
You definitely don’t need to bring
- Valuable jewellery. You won’t wear it and there are just too many chances for it to slip off.
- Snorkel and flippers. The Philippines is an amazing spot for snorkelling, but the gear can be heavy and bulky. Leave yours at home and just hire some kit while you’re there. The one exception is if you’re a serious diver and want to use your own kit.
- Water shoes. Unless you already own a pair or think you’ll use them again, don’t waste money on buying water shoes. You can hire them there cheaply and easily.
Packing list for Philippines: What to pack for 2 weeks in the Philippines
Now it’s time to pack! Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need to enjoy your trip to the Philippines.
This Philippines packing list covers everything you’ll need for a 2-week trip to the Philippines, but it’s pretty much the same as you’d need for any trip length. In other words: you don’t need much!
This would also be a good amount to to pack for more than 2 weeks, if you’re lucky enough to spend more time in the Philippines. It’s easy and cheap to do laundry in the Philippines, so always under-pack when in doubt.
If you’d like a free, downloadable Philippines packing list, just pop your details in the box below:
Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
- 2-3 lightweight t-shirts
- 4-5 lightweight tops
- 1-2 dresses (women)
- 1-2 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of loose long trousers
- Flip flops
- Sandals (optional)
- Walking shoes or trainers
- 1-2 swimsuits
- Rain jacket
- Lightweight scarf or jacket – For cooler mornings and overly enthusiastic air conditioning.
- Sunglasses – Make sure you bring a good pair because the Filipino sun is BRIGHT.
- Hiking bag
- Sun hat or cap
- Coin purse – You’ll be paying for most things in cash.
Toiletries & Cosmetics
- Sun screen – Unless you’re happy to buy it there.
- Insect repellent
- Lip balm – my lips got SO dry in the Philippines!
- Makeup and makeup remover (optional)
- Hand sanitiser
- Camera or GoPro
- A camera – if you need to buy one, this is the camera I recommend for travel
- Underwater casing for DSLRs
- Adapters – There are three different plug sockets in the Philippines (American style and European style) so an all-in-one adapter is your best bet.
- Portable charger/power bank – For long day trips and when the electricity goes out. I always use Anker.
- Pocket WiFi – SUPER useful when the WiFi doesn’t work! (Use code ALAJODE to save 10% on SkyRoam portable WiFi)
- Head torch – If you have a head torch or other small light, it may come in useful. We had a couple of instances where the electricity in town went out for a few hours.
- Dry bag – keep those valuables safe!
- A copy of your onward/return ticket – Many countries never ask to see this but the Philippines is one country where you may get stopped. Print your outbound flight to be safe.
- Travel insurance – I always use World Nomads, who are a little bit pricier but cover all the outdoor activites that other companies won’t.
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