Last July, we traveled to the Philippines via Philippine Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Clark. Since my husband was assigned for temporary work only, we were categorized as non Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) travelers. We both carry our Philippine passports. If you want to check the latest updates on who can enter the Philippines, you may see the travel restrictions page of the Deparatment of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Because we experienced traveling to the Philippines during the covid 19 pandemic first hand, I decided to make a list of travel tips for those who have upcoming or planned trips to the Philippines.
1. Book your quarantine hotel in advance if you can
The Department of Health (DOH) requires all travelers to the Philippines to do hotel quarantine until they receive the result of their swab test. The DOH has a list of accredited hotels for stringent and mandatory quarantine. Check their News and Events page from time to time for updates. Also, here’s a list of accredited hotels if you’re arriving in Clark. We were originally booked for 3 days and 2 nights. However, we had to extended our stay to another day since we haven’t received our swab test results and clearance. Swab test results have a 72 hour lead time.
2. Regularly check travel advisories and quarantine announcements
Our travel to the Philippines was through Philippine Airlines. Our flight was originally from London Heathrow to NAIA Terminal 2. A few days before the flight, we received a notification that our arrival airport will be moved to Clark. PAL said that it was because of quarantine processing limitation in Manila. Because of that, our hotel booking needs to moved as well from Manila to Clark. Sometimes, they release travel advisories a day before your flight. Don’t forget to fill up your Red Cross e-CIF prior your flight. Equally important, familiarize yourself with the Philippines’ levels of community quarantine.
3. Minimize your hand carry luggage
It’s a generic tip when traveling. I personally have a hand carry trolley, a laptop bag, and a handbag. I do suggest to have at most 2 bags with you to easily move between the stations that you need to go to at the airport. Carrying a lot of stuff will be very much of a hassle. We were required to leave some of the bags on one side or sometimes on the ground especially during the swab test. The less items you hold, the easier you can maneuver through the quarantine processing stations.
4. Wear your face coverings
As of this writing, the Philippines is requiring people to wear both a face shield and a face mask. You can check this advisory from the Philippine Airlines and this article from Manila Bulletin. During our July flight, we were only required to wear face masks. We removed our face masks during meals but wore it all throughout the flight.
5. Pack four to five days of clothes in your had carry luggage
Pack your clothes for your hotel quarantine in your hand carry luggage to avoid opening the bigger ones. This is to minimize contact to your stuff since you have been exposed at the airport. We were luck that Quest Plus Hotels sanitized our bags for us. Having your change of clothes in your hand carry luggage will also make it easier to pack before leaving. We had to clean up the room, pack our things, and be ready to leave within an hour after the advice that our clearance is on its way.
6. Bring disposable utensils
The hotel gave us one set of utensils only for the whole duration of our stay. I think they do not collect the utensils every after meal to lessen contact. I remember how this simulation showed the covid-19 virus spread through utensils from the buffet. You can either bring disposable ones or your own dish washing liquid and sponge.
7. Pack ready to eat snacks
Once in hotel quarantine, you won’t be allowed to have food delivered to your room from outside of the hotel. Only buying food from the hotel is allowed. Of course, we all know that it’s going to be pricey. This is why we brought biscuits, candies, and chocolates with us during our hotel quarantine. I know they’re not the best snacks (hehe) but they help you avoid an empty stomach. Plus, having something to munch on can help pass time too. 😀
8. Have cash on hand
In Clark International Airport, the swab test payment was P3,785.00 each and we paid in cash. There weren’t any automated teller machines present but a money exchange booth is open. For emergency purposes, bring cash for currency exchange if you do not have enough peso bills with you.
I hope the list above helps you prepare for any upcoming trip to the Philippines given the covid-19 guidelines. You can also check out my silent vlog for the full video experience from flight, hotel quarantine, and travel back to Manila. Got questions? Let me know in the comments section below.
Stay healthy and safe wherever you are!