After months of being cooped up at home and suffering the impact of a closed economy, there’s finally a little light at the end of the tunnel. The government has announced that from October 21 onwards, Filipino nationals are allowed to participate in non-essential travel. While it’s still advisable to continue staying at home and save travel plans for safer times, there’s no doubt that a vacation may be the cure to the mental impacts of being on lockdown for most of the year.
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The decision to travel is entirely up to you, but keep your and others’ safety in mind by following sanitary protocols, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and the like. Note that travel restrictions are subject to change at any time, so keep in mind that there’s always a risk in jet-setting to a place away from home.
Travel destinations open to Philippine passport holders are still limited–both internationally and locally. But there are still an array of wonderful countries and provinces that are open to Filipinos. Below are some coveted destinations, plus tips to guide you around traveling in the new normal.
Like how eating out, shopping, and going to the doctor in today’s climate is a little different from before, traveling now also involves new processes that were put in place to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Apart from roundtrip tickets, it’s now mandatory for you and all other travelers to provide the results of an antigen test taken from 24-72 hours before departure (depending on your airline and destination), proving that you’re clear of COVID-19.
Ensure that you also aren’t symptomatic, as some destinations will require you to go on isolation or pay for another test upon arrival if you show common symptoms of the virus–all of which can cost you time and money. You’ll also need to provide documents of your travel and health insurance and a form declaring that you acknowledge the possibility of any travel delays. A tracking app is mandatory across airports, both locally and internationally, as a contact tracing procedure. The specific app is dependent on the airport and destination, so get in touch with the relevant parties for a smooth travel experience.
Each destination has an individual list of requirements, which you can search for online. As of now, Filipinos can enter 54 countries and an expanding list of local destinations. However, the availability of travel is dependent on specific airlines.
Ukraine is a hidden gem amid travelers, with a bright, cultural landscape etched in-between tradition and modernity. While it isn’t often at the top of the list for European travel bucket lists, the country’s fairytale-like sights will quickly grow on you–and it may just become one of your favorite places in the world. From sunbathing in beaches that stretch across the edges of the black sea to strolling along Odesa’s whimsical streets filled with 18th-century architecture and taking photos within Lviv’s highly-preserved historical wonder, there’s much to do in beautiful Ukraine.
Ukraine is open to tourists with varying travel restrictions, depending on whether the country falls under the red or green zone. As of November 15, the Philippines falls under the green zone, which means that Filipino tourists can enter Ukraine without a quarantine period. You can enjoy public transport, inter-regional travel through the Ukrainian Railways, and access to hotel and food services. However, keep in mind that Ukraine isn’t part of the Schengen Area, so you’ll have to apply for a separate Ukraine tourist visa through the Visa Application Center in Manila. The Emirates and Turkish Airlines are some airline options with flights from NAIA to multiple points in Ukraine.
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Stories of people across the Nile and of sandy dunes and snake charmers may have captivated you at one point in your life. Egypt has been an iconic destination among lovers of its ancient lore, history enthusiasts, and adventure-seekers alike. You’ll find tombs of ancient rulers in the Valley of the Kings, centuries-old monasteries in the outskirts of Cairo, and an array of majestic sights in a cruise along the Nile. But there’s more to Egypt than meets the eye–its beaches and resorts by the red sea offer a contemporary vacation experience one day, and a dip in the Siwa Oasis will bring you to an otherworldly blast to the past the next day.
Since July, Egypt has been open to international tourists with all services available so you can enjoy a wonderful travel experience with very few limitations. Among those limitations are reduced opening hours and a maximum of 50% of the total capacity for tourist hubs, so you’ll have to plan a tighter itinerary. Tourist groups are also subject to social distancing and headcount restrictions, depending on the area. You’ll need to apply for an Egyptian tourist visa through the Egyptian embassy, with flights available from Emirates and Etihad Airways.
An hour away from Metro Manila is Palawan, where a jeepney ride from the airport will take you to the small town of Coron, a little port town with no signs of glass-and-steel towers and the hustle and bustle of the city. The unsuspecting port, palm trees, and fishermen going about their daily lives offers a breath of fresh air, but open your eyes, and you’ll see sights a thousandfold more beautiful. From island-hopping in the Calamian Islands to taking a dip at the Kayangan Lake, cliff jumping at the Black Island Cave, and sunbathing in the pearly sands of Vivian beach, Coron is a world where the sea and land know no bounds for adventure.
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Coron will be open to local tourists–including Filipino citizens and foreigners living in the Philippines–from December 1 at 50% of its total capacity. Official guidelines on activities and available services will be posted on various channels as the opening day nears. You can check availability from airlines that accommodate domestic flights once Coron is officially open.
One of the most iconic local travel destinations, Boracay has officially reopened for tourists and offers the familiar sights of its sapphire waters, powdery sands, and a portfolio of watersports like no other. There’s a wide range of things to enjoy, from the lovely holiday weather to decadent seafood spreads, jet-skiing by the sea, and fire dancers who never fail to impress. While partying will no longer be the same, the fresh air, the scent of the ocean, and the opportunity to travel will make up for the experience.
There are important things to know before traveling to Boracay. Apart from providing a negative RT-PCR test no more than 48 hours before departure and standard airport requirements, you’ll also need to register online and fill up a form declaring the status of your health. A QR code will be generated and is essential to have at all times as it serves as part of the contact tracing procedure. Swimming is limited from 6 AM-6 PM, and watersports are operated at a limited capacity. Flights to Boracay are available through the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and other domestic airways.
Before applying for a visa and booking a flight, check for the latest updates on your destination-in-mind, as COVID-19 cases can unexpectedly surge. For instance, while the Bahamas is open to international tourists, its number of cases has reached the level 4 warning, so the CDC advises against traveling to the country. Likewise, even after obtaining the necessary documents for a local or overseas flight, you’ll want to keep an open mind and consider canceling a trip if the country or province goes into the red zone, as it’ll increase your chances of contracting and spreading the virus.
Finally, keep in mind that you may be subject to 14 days in quarantine upon returning to the Philippines from an international destination.