The following is a guest post by Hannah from Breathing Travel.
Ah, the Philippines, the country of more than 7000 islands and barely anyone has enough time to visit them all. In order to make most of your time in the Philippines, timing is everything, so figuring out the best time to visit the Philippines is key. The last thing you want to be is trapped in your room because you forgot to check when the typhoon season starts – so September and October are a big no if you wish to avoid it.
The Best Time to Visit The Philippines
The main thing you should know about when to visit the Philippines is that no matter how pleasant the temperatures are throughout the year, there’s still a wet and dry season. The dry season in the Philippines lasts from December to May and is the most popular time to visit. If you want to avoid the wet season that lasts from June to November, the definite worst months are, as we mentioned above, September and October because of the typhoon season. But of course you can still visit during the wet season, just expect occasional rain with the sunshine, which is not too bad if you know what to expect and what to do.
So here’s some advice on what to do in the Philippines during the dry and wet seasons!
Dry Season (December to May)
The dry season is, understandably, the most popular time to travel to the Philippines. It’s the best time to enjoy the white beaches and adventures on many of the Philippines’ hiking trails. The hottest months are April and May when the temperatures can go up to 93-94°F (34°C). Sea temperatures vary slightly between the dry and wet season, but you can expect higher sea temperatures between 80-83°F (26-28°C).
Things to do during the dry season in the Philippines
The weather is great, so the possibilities are endless. You can hit all of the beautiful beaches or hike up the mountain, and you most likely won’t be bothered rain. So spend your time visiting the most beautiful places in the Philippines! However, some of the most interesting festivals are also organized during the dry season, for obvious reasons, so don’t miss them either!
Ati-Atihan Festival – January
This is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, held each year on the third Sunday in January in the capital of Aklan, Kalibo. The festival celebrates Santo Niño. It is a lively, colorful festival that lasts for a whole week. Some even call it the Filipino Mardi Gras. While you’re visiting Kalibo for the festival, you can easily pop over to Boracay island and enjoy its white, sandy beaches. (Note: Due to over-tourism Boracay island briefly closed to tourists, and is now only open to a certain number of people to help preserve the island.)
Pangabenga Festival – February
Or if we roughly translate it – the Flower Festival, which lasts for a whole month and is held in Baguio. The festival originally celebrated the blooming of the flora and fauna but is also a tribute to all who fell victim to the earthquake that hit the Luzon region in 1999. It is a festival that celebrates new beginnings and does that in a grand, colorful way inspired by all the flowers of the island.
Holy Week – March/April
As you may know, the predominant religion in the Philippines is Roman Catholic, so Holy Week (the whole week just before Easter) is a big deal. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are national holidays, most of the work is stopped and everybody enjoys the week with their families. Nevertheless, Holy Week became a touristy thing in the Philippines, so there are many options for you to choose what you want to do, such as Visita Iglesia, where you visit the numerous old churches of the Philippines during the Holy Week.
Pahiyas Festival – May
Pahiyas Festival is the most colorful harvest festival you’ve ever seen. It is celebrated in Lucban, Quezon on the 15th of May in the honor of the town’s patron saint – St. Isidore the Laborer. The whole town is decorated with fruits, vegetables and all of the bright colors you can think of. It’s one of the most celebrated festivals in the region and with all of the abundance and color it brings, you’ll be bound to smile throughout the entire day!
Bear in mind – traveling to the Philippines during the dry season can have its drawbacks. The Philippines are becoming increasingly popular, especially during the dry season. Thus, most touristy places you visit will be crowded, which often means prices can be inflated compared to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, there are some areas where there are issues with tourist scams or pickpockets, so prepare by online for any recent scams and consider the best anti-theft backpack that suits your needs and can save you from feeling nervous.
Wet Season (June to November)
If you’re not that big on beaches and don’t mind a drizzle every now and then, traveling to the Philippines during the wet season has its upsides. First of all, you can find better airfares, which can be up to 10% lower during the wet season. This also stands for accommodation prices. So if you’re on a budget but still want to see the Philippines, make the most out of the wet season.
Things to do during the wet season in the Philippines
Even though “the wet season” sounds daunting, having you imagine pouring rain throughout the day, the wet season in the Philippines is not all that bad. Actually, as it is an archipelago, weather conditions tend to vary, depending on the region you’re visiting. Upsides to visiting the Philippines during the wet season are definitely lower prices and less crowded places, so you can really enjoy all the beauty the Philippines has to offer.
Visiting the Philippines during the wet season, means more bearable daily temperatures, allowing you to explore the cities and soak up the culture they offer. Obviously, the first choice is Manila, which will leave you in awe with all of the cultural contrasts it offers. There are many different places to stay in Manila, so you can choose where to settle down and plan the rest of your trip.
Other than Manila, Vigan is a city that is a must-see. It was established in the 16th century and is one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in Asia.
If you’re planning your trip for the later months in the year, consider visiting the MassKara Festival, which is annually held on the 19th of October in Bacolod city, known as the “City of Smiles”.
Go on a rafting adventure
Make the most out of the heavy rainfall – try White Water Rafting in Cagayan River. You’re in for an exciting ride and if you’re not too concentrated on the adrenaline-rush ride, you’ll also have a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding you. All the rivers come to life during the wet season, so while you’re there, consider visiting some of the majestic waterfalls nearby, such as Iligan – the city of waterfalls.
Relax on a beach
But… Wait. Who likes the beach during the rainy season? Well, as it’s already mentioned above, the Philippines have different climate types, and lucky for you, there are parts of the Philippines that don’t have pronounced wet and dry seasons during the year. One of those places is the beautiful Palawan island. So, if you’re set on having a relaxing, white sand beach vacay on the Philippines any time of the year, this is the place. Not only the prices are lower during the wet season, but also the beaches are less crowded and temperatures are more pleasurable for those who can’t stand the hot tropical climate.
The thing is, whatever time you visit the Philippines, you’re bound to have a good time. After all, a country that consists of over 7000 islands that have mountains, volcanos, beaches, and a unique cultural history – is always going to have something interesting and amazing to see!
Want more of the Philippines? Check out:
- 16 of the Most Beautiful Places in the Philippines
- Expat Interview: Island Life – Moving to Boracay, Philippines
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