Best time to visit the Philippines: Is there one?
Travelling around the Philippines can be good or bad depending on the weather. The main reason?
As the country is an archipelago made up of over 7,000 islands, understanding the weather and climate vary across those islands!
As it’s located near the tropics, it’s important to know how many seasons are in the Philippines.
In recent years, typhoon season in the Philippines has wrecked havoc across certain parts of the country.
Needless to say, it wouldn’t be much fun travelling during typhoon season, although it would almost certainly be cheaper!
In this post, I will go through a number of factors that determine exactly when is the best time to visit the Philippines is. The answer will be subjective, but at least it will give you an overview of the best months to visit this amazing country!
Best time to visit the Philippines
Climate in the Philippines
The climate is one of the big factors for the best time to go to the Philippines. Let me explain:
As a tropical country, the Philippines has distinct seasons and is prone to Typhoons during its wet season. The Philippines has four recognised climate types, which affect different parts of the country.
Bearing this in mind, I’ll list the types one by one and the area they affect and what this means for when you should visit the Philippines. This is difficult as the Philippines is an island nation, so these are rough generalisations. The climate in the Philippines can vary from time to time and place to place quite radically!
Type 1: Pronounced wet and dry seasons
This climate mainly affects the North of the country in Luzon and parts of the islands of Palawan and the Visayas. If you’re travelling to Manila during your time in the Philippines, then you’ll be affected.
The weather in this area is very distinct. From November to April it’s the dry season with very little rain. The opposite is true for the rest of the year with heavy rainfall across many parts of Luzon. The worst of the rainfall is from July to September, so it’s only a short spell.
It can be quite cool from December to February in these areas. Though as the Philippines is a tropical country, there won’t be much drop-off in the humidity or temperature!
Type 2: No dry season
The second type of climate in the Philippines is slightly different to the above. In regions on the east of the country, such as Borongan, Eastern Samar, there’s no dry season. Essentially, it is wet in these parts of the Philippines throughout the year.
Peak rainfall is from November to April, with the rest of the year seeing rainfall, but not as heavy. This type of climate only really affects the Eastern seaboard, so if you don’t plan on heading to that part of the Philippines, you don’t need to worry!
Type 3: Seasons are not very pronounced
The third type of climate in the Philippines is one where the seasons are not very pronounced. This means that from November to April it’s relatively dry, whereas it can be quite right for the rest of the year.
This type of climate is found in a variety of places in the Philippines. Cebu is one area that has this climate, as well as a lot of places in the Visayas, such as Boracay. It also extends to a few areas in Luzon, Palawan and Mindanao.
Type 4: Evenly distributed rainfall
The fourth type of climate in the Philippines involves rainfall. In these areas, rainfall is more or less distributed evenly through the year. The temperature doesn’t vary too much during the year either, rarely dipping below 20 degrees.
This type of climate is found in Mindanao, the Eastern part of Luzon and some islands in the Visayas as well. General Santos is an example of a city with this type of climate.
I can’t write a post about the best time of the year to visit the Philippines without mentioning typhoons.
Recently, typhoons have wreaked destruction across parts of the Philippines, most notably Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which caused untold amounts of damage. Parts of the country are still recovering from this, nearly four years later!
The typhoon season is from July to October, which sits out of the tourist season. This can vary from year to year, with the season starting and finishing earlier or later at times. If you want to see some sun while you’re travelling in the Philippines, it’s best to avoid the typhoon season!
So, let’s break this all down to let you understand the best time to travel to the Philippines.
The weather can dictate when backpacking the Philippines is best. Certainly, the best months are from December to April, when it’s dry season for the majority of the country. This is also the peak tourism period, so prices will be more expensive than the rest of the year.
The months of May and November are known as the shoulder season, as tourism starts to decline and increase respectively. If you want good weather and cheaper prices this might be a good time to visit the Philippines!
Perhaps the worst time to visit the Philippines weather-wise is from June to September. This is the wet season for most of the country and typhoon season as well. The one bonus is that prices are a lot cheaper than during the rest of the year.
So, it might be worth visiting the Philippines during this period if you’re on a budget!
Flights to the Philippines
One of the more important barometers for finding the best time to go to the Philippines is when the flights are cheap. It’s the same with every destination, it can often be more expensive to fly in peak season than off-season.
The main port of call in the Philippines is the capital Manila. This is where all the major international carriers fly into and it’s inevitable you’ll end up travelling around Manila once you’re there. The question is, though, is there a time of the year where flights are cheaper?
Well after searching on Skyscanner it appears that between January and June are the best months for flights to the Philippines. The prices were constant at around £131 until July, when they increased to £178.
Bear in mind that prices can and will fluctuate, but this is a rough guide to give you an idea of when it might be cheaper to visit!
Festivals in the Philippines
As an extremely religious country, most of the festivals in the Philippines revolve around the Christian calendar. This can affect the best the time to travel to the Philippines. During Easter week, the country grinds to a halt, so it’s not the best time to plan a trip to the Philippines!
Below are a few popular festivals in the Philippines that are held throughout the year!
The Aliwan Fiesta is held on the last weekend of April and is more of a dance competition than a festival! Held in Pasay City, Manila, tribes from across the country showcase festivals and culture from their part of the Philippines. It’s an interesting event, to say the least!
This festival is held in Kalibo on the third weekend of January. It’s one of the oldest religious celebrations in the country and features face-painted locals and lots of indigenous costumes and apparel. It’s known as the Filipino Mardi Gras, so if you’re in the area you should check it out!
Held in Ilolio City, Visayas on the fourth weekend of January, this festival is essentially a massive street party. Streets are closed off and there’s lots of food and drink as well as a lot of music. There’s also a dance competition, where groups representing the different barangays (neighbourhoods) compete against each other!
Flores de Mayo
Flores de Mayo is held in May and celebrates the Virgin Mary. The festival can last the whole month and events vary from place to place. It normally includes parades, floats and a lot of singing and dancing!
As a fiercely Catholic country, Holy Week is the biggest festival in the Philippines. The whole country shuts down for the week to celebrate this religious festival. Celebrations vary across the country, but there are normally parades and open-air celebrations, even mock crucifixions in some parts!
Kadayawan is one of the biggest festivals in Mindanao. Held in Davao City on the third week of August, it’s a celebration of everything about Mindanao. There are street dancers, floral floats and lots of fireworks throughout the week.
MassKara is held on the 19th of October in Bacolod City in the Visayas. It involves street dancing and performers in face masks. A lot of the people here will be wearing masks with a smile as Bacolod is known as the “City of smiles.”
This festival is held in Baguio City in February. Pangabenga celebrates the blooming of flora and fauna and there are giant floats parading through the city emphasising this. Be sure to book in advance if you to attend this festival, as it’s very popular!
Sinulog festival is held in Cebu City on the third weekend of January. It’s held in honour of Santo Nino and is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines! There’s a lot of street dancing, sports and a big rave as well!
Is there a best time to visit the Philippines?
The best time to go to the Philippines comes down to a number of factors. Those are primarily where you go and what time of the year you travel to the Philippines.
It seems quite clear that if you want good weather then you should visit the Philippines from December to April. You might pay a bit more, but you’re almost guaranteed great weather!
If you want to pay a bit less, but risk getting bad weather, then travelling during the rest of the year is the other option. Flights to the Philippines don’t vary in price too much, but they are periods when they are more expensive.
It really does come down to what you want to get out of your trip to the Philippines. If you want to travel to El Nido and other similar great places, then it might be best to go when the weather is best! The best time of the year to visit the Philippines is dependent on the weather and your own travel plans.
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