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Blick auf die Skyline von Manila, Bild: Joseph Oropel / shutterstock

Philippines – Rice terraces as stairways to heaven

He must have had a lot of staying power when he counted the islands of the Philippines. There are said to be exactly 7,641 – and almost all of them are tropical paradises. The island world of this Far Eastern country resembles a huge botanical garden. Only 880 of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines are home to humans – on all the others, at best, the legendary Robinson gets lost. The wonderful beaches are bathed by several seas. The north with the capital Manila from the South China Sea and on the opposite side from the Pacific. The south between Palawan and Mindanao from the Sulu Sea. “Hey Joe,” almost every guest is greeted in the Philippines, and a smile always flits across the lips of the locals. When earlier astronauts looked at the islands from far above during their orbits of the Earth, they spoke of “glittering diamonds” in the azure blue sea.

Always a fascinating sight: rice fields in the Philippines, Image: R.M. Nunes / shutterstock
A Spaniard with the difficult name Ruy López de Villalobos is considered the “discoverer” of the Philippines. He was looking for the legendary Spice Islands when he anchored first off Palau and then off Luzon in 1543. And because he liked the area so much, he named it “Las Islas Filipinas” in honor of his King Philip II. For centuries, the country was under the rule of foreign powers, and it was the Spaniards in particular who left their mark on the Philippines with their missionary work. This is the largest Asian country that professes Christianity – mostly Catholicism. For most travelers, Manila International Airport is the first point of contact with the Philippines. And it is the starting point for an adventurous and varied island hopping. The mega-metropolis on the large island of the north with its modern high-rise buildings and hotels, but also with its many job-seeking people, is the counterpoint to the other rural regions of the island kingdom. Anyone who entrusts themselves to local guides in the traffic chaos of the capital will discover a number of testimonies of the past. For example, the mighty cathedral, which was built thanks to the financial help of the Vatican, and the church of San Augustin, which can be found on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Fort Santiago is the memory of the Filipino folk hero Jose Rizal, who was imprisoned in the prison there before his execution.
View of the skyline of the capital Manila, Image: r.nagy / shutterstock
If you head north from Manila , you will reach the impressive rice terraces of Banaue, which have gained worldwide importance as “stairways to heaven”. The oldest are almost two thousand years old and the admirable work of the people of the Ifugao tribe, who paid homage to around 1,500 gods in their heyday and whose death cult has survived to this day. In the era of the American invasion of the Philippines, the Ifugao acted as headhunters. The islands of the Philippines are full of surprises. On Palawan, for example, it presents itself with a dense rainforest, where the so-called “Monkey Trail” winds through a national park and where the primates in the crowns of the trees are the companions on the way to the famous stalactite caves. Holidaymakers can expect a very good infrastructure on Cebu, where there are impressive underwater gardens for snorkelers and divers directly in front of the beaches. A geological feature is the island of Bohol, which is blessed with its “Chocolate Hills”. Divers find unusual areas throughout the year on the islands of the Philippines with water temperatures around 25 degrees. All coral reefs were declared protected areas some time ago. They cover a total area of about 34,000 square kilometers. A magnificent seascape can also be found on Mindoro, 150 kilometers from Manila. Boracay enchanted over a long period of time with an exotic dream setting, but the island has lost its former charm – especially due to the flood of Japanese holidaymakers – even if the hotel complexes are still the lonely top of the country.

Travel information Philippines

Capital Manila
Form of government : Republic, presidential democracy
Currency Philippine Peso (PHP)
Area approx. 343,448 km²
Population 106,512,000 (2018)
Languages Filipino (national and official), English (official)
Power supply 220 volts, 60 Hz
Calling code +63
Time zone UTC+8

Important telephone numbers

  • Emergency number (police, fire brigade, ambulance): 911
  • Police: 117
  • German Embassy in Manila: +63 2 8702 3000
  • Tourist Police (Manila): +63 2 524 1660

German Doctors

  • Dr. Wolfgang Oertel: Makati Medical Center, +63 2 8888 8999
  • Dr. Hans Peter Reiss: St. Luke’s Medical Center, +63 2 789 7700

The most important words with translation

  • Hello – Kumusta
  • Thank you – Salamat
  • Please – Pakiusap
  • Yes – Oo
  • No – Hindi
  • Sorry – Paumanhin
  • Where is…? – Saan ang…?
  • How much does it cost…? – Magkano ito?
  • Emergency – Emergency
  • Doctor – Doctor
  • Hospital – Ospital


  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Good Friday: variable (March/April)
  • Easter Monday: variable (March/April)
  • Labour Day: 1 May
  • Independence Day: June 12
  • National Heroes’ Day: last Monday in August
  • All Saints’ Day: November 1
  • Bonifacio Day: November 30
  • Christmas: December 25
  • Rizal Day: December 30

Opening hours

  • Shops: Usually Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 21:00.
  • Supermarkets: Usually daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Restaurants: Lunch from 11:00 to 14:00, dinner from 18:00 to 22:00.
  • Banks: Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


  • Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL): The main airport in Manila, the largest airport in the country.
  • Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB): The second busiest airport in the Philippines.
  • Clark International Airport (CRK): Near Angeles City, about 80 km northwest of Manila.


  • Not allowed: Nudism is not common in the Philippines and is considered offensive.
    There are no official nudist beaches.

Post / Stamps

  • Post offices: In all major cities and towns. Main post office in Manila. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Stamps: Available at the post office and in some kiosks and supermarkets.
  • Costs for letters and postcards to Germany: Standard letter up to 20g: approx. 40 PHP (approx. 0.70 EUR); Postcard: approx. 30 PHP (approx. 0.50 EUR)


  • Crime: The Philippines is a popular tourist destination, but there are some areas that are considered unsafe.
    It is advisable to check current travel advice and observe common precautions, especially in larger cities and tourist areas.
  • Emergency number: 911


  • Voltage: 220 Volts
  • Sockets: Type A, B and C (adapters for European plugs are necessary)


  • Restaurants: 10% of the bill amount is customary if a service charge is not included.
  • Taxis: Round up the amount
  • Hotels: PHP 20-50 per day for cleaning staff


  • Allowances: Personal belongings are duty-free.
  • Alcohol: Travellers are allowed to carry 2 litres of spirits or wine.
  • Tobacco: 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
  • Other items: Goods with a total value of up to PHP 10,000 (approx. EUR 170) duty-free.