Philippines Tourist Visa: Everything You Need to Know

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Let’s talk about something that can make or break your Philippine adventure: tourist visas. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of the tourist visa system to make the most of your stay.

First things first: if you’re a citizen of one of the countries on the Philippine visa waiver list, you can enter the country without a visa and stay for up to 29 days. This includes citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, and many European countries.

Now, let me tell you – those 30 days can fly by faster than a jeepney on the streets of Manila. So if you’re planning to stay longer than 30 days, you’ll need to apply for a tourist visa extension once you’re in the country.

To extend your tourist visa, you’ll need to head to the Bureau of Immigration, which has offices in major cities throughout the Philippines. You’ll need to bring your passport, your departure flight details, and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay in the country (usually about $1,000 USD).

A potential problem with that is you can’t visit the Bureau of Immigration until after you’re in the country. Technically, you can’t get into the country without proof of a return flight or an “onward” flight within 29 days.  Many experienced travelers and ex-pats just buy a “throw-away ticket” that leaves the Philippines before the 29 days are up without ever planning to use the ticket.  The idea is to show the immigration officer (and the airline) your onward ticket booking and then throw it away once you’re in the country.  

You’ll then need to fill out an application form and pay a fee for the visa extension. The fee varies depending on the length of the extension, but expect to pay around 3,000 pesos (about $60 USD) for a 29-day extension.

Once you’ve submitted your application and paid the fee, you’ll need to wait for your visa extension to be processed. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how busy the Bureau of Immigration office is.  

Now, here’s a pro tip for you: don’t wait until the last minute to apply for your visa extension. The process can be slow and bureaucratic, and you don’t want to find yourself overstaying your visa and facing a hefty fine or even deportation.  Having said that, you can pay extra to have the extension expedited, and I’ve been able to get mine immediately on the spot. That was in Tacloban, which is a small office that wasn’t very busy.  Your mileage may vary, especially if you are in one of the bigger cities.  

So how do you make the most of those precious 30 days on your initial tourist visa? Well, the Philippines has so much to offer that you won’t have a hard time filling up your itinerary.

If you’re a beach lover, head to some of the country’s stunning island destinations, such as Boracay, Palawan, or Siargao. If you’re a history buff, explore the rich cultural heritage of places like Vigan, Intramuros, or the Banaue Rice Terraces.  And of course, don’t forget about the food. From the fresh seafood to the crispy lechon, the Philippines has a culinary scene that’s not to be missed.

But even with 30 days or more, you won’t be able to see everything this amazing country has to offer. So make sure to prioritize what’s most important to you and plan your itinerary accordingly.

And remember, the most important part of any travel experience is the people you meet along the way. The Philippines is home to some of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world, so take the time to get to know the locals and immerse yourself in the local culture.

So there you have it, folks – everything you need to know about tourist visas in the Philippines. While the visa extension process can be a bit of a hassle, it’s worth it to be able to stay in this beautiful country for as long as possible.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to book my next flight to Cebu. I hope to see you there, raising a cold San Miguel and enjoying all the wonders that the Philippines has to offer. Cheers!

No passport yet? Find out how to get one.

Looking for cheap flights to the Philippines? Check out my strategy.

Rumor has it that you will soon be able to process some things online.  Check the BI website for current details.

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