As part of the Travel and Hospitality industry, Z Hostel will be coming up with blog posts relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, sourcing from government agencies, to help travelers and the public with relevant travel, arrival, and quarantine information here in the Philippines.
Some good news for the travel junkies! Travel requirements for both international and local travellers to and within the Philippines have eased out. Still, protocols are in place to keep everyone safe and avoid further spread of COVID-19. As per the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 2 (s. 2022), here are the updated guidelines:
FULLY VACCINATED (Foreign and Filipino Travelers)
A pre-departure COVID-19 Test is NO longer required for travelers aged 15 years and older, as long as the 2nd dose in a 2-dose series or a single dose vaccine has been received more than fourteen (14) days prior to the date of departure from their country of origin.
UNVACCINATED or PARTIALLY VACCINATED (Foreign and Filipino Travelers)
For travelers 15 years old or older, a laboratory-based Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) must be taken 24 hours prior the departure time from country of origin (excluding layovers, as long as the traveler has not left the airport premises)
Those who cannot provide a pre-departure negative test will be required to undergo a laboratory-based test upon arrival at the airport. If the traveler will test positive, he or she must abide by the latest quarantine procedures and isolation protocols as advised by the Department of Health (DOH).
Unvaccinated travelers 14 years old and below must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must be able to comply with their entry requirements. Unaccompanied travelers aged 14 years or below must need to follow the testing procedures set for adults.
ALL inbound travelers to the Philippines must register via the eTravel Portal (etravel.gov.ph), and may do so within 72 hours from their scheduled arrival in the country.
Developing News as of Jan 2023
Travelers from China entering the Philippines may face tighter and stricter restrictions due to the recent surge of COVID-19 infections there. There is no final directive yet as of writing, so stay tuned for more updates, or keep updated by looking into legitimate news outlets and Philippine government authority announcements.
You’ve booked the tickets, packed your bags, and started daydreaming about your trip to the tropical paradise that is the Philippines. But what to expect? A whole lot!
As with any other destination, the Philippines will surprise, delight, and disappoint you in many ways. But we’ll make it easier for you to enjoy your time in the country safely and make your holiday one for the books with these handy travel tips:
Smile and strike up a conversation
Filipinos have become known around the world to be some of the most hospitable, warm, and friendly people you’ll ever meet. So don’t pass up on this opportunity to get to know them! All it takes is a smile, and they’ll surely be open to talk to you and help you with directions or anything you need. And don’t be surprised if they’ll offer you to eat or drink with them!
Be polite — especially to the elders
Courtesy is a huge thing in the Philippines. Filipinos usually address people they meet for the first time with “Ma’am” or “Sir” whether you’re in the grocery, restaurant, or any establishment. So try as much as possible to be polite wherever you go, especially when talking to elders.
If you’d like to keep it casual and impress them, address a male Filipino with “Kuya” (it means brother in Filipino) and “Ate” (it means sister) for females.
Be grateful — and tip if you can
Filipinos are not hard to please, a simple “thank you” goes a long, long way for them. So don’t forget to show appreciation to whomever you interact with.
Tipping is optional in the country. But most people working in the service industry — your hotel staff, restaurant servers, tour guides — in the Philippines earn minimum wage, so anything extra will be much appreciated by them.
While ATMs and banks are scattered throughout the main cities in the Philippines, these are less accessible when you visit smaller towns, provinces, and islands. Most establishments, stores, and services outside major cities do not have credit card terminals as well, so make sure you are ready to pay with cash.
Plan carefully and be flexible with your schedule
The Philippines is made up of 7,000+ islands. Visiting both popular and less-travelled destinations may take a lot of time and transfers. So make sure to do a lot of research and choose which places you will visit, and take into account the travel times and options going to each one.
Weather-wise, there’s only two seasons in the Philippines: dry and rainy. If you’re travelling during the dry season, which runs from January to June, expect a lot of sunshine and very occasional rain. But if you’re travelling in the second half of the year, expect a lot of rain and typhoons hitting the country — which means air and sea travel will be disrupted, and could take days or even weeks. So be flexible with your schedule and make room for allowance during these times.
Expect comfortable and convenient transportation
Entering the country, you may most likely land in the country’s capital Manila, and this metropolis is notorious for heavy traffic jams. Be prepared to get stuck on the road for hours when going around. The mass transportation system could use a lot of improvement as well, so expect to ride in mega-packed trains, buses, or jeepneys. If you wish to be more comfortable, book a ride through the Grab app, but expect to shell out more money. Taxi is an option, too, but expect that the drivers will drop the meter when dealing with foreign tourists and offer an exorbitant fixed price (politely say no and choose another option).
When in smaller towns or provinces, there are no Grab cars or taxis available. Be very willing to rough it out and ride local jeepneys, tricycles, or better yet, rent a motorbike.
Show off gadgets, jewelry, and other valuable items
Dress simply and avoid being flashy when going out to busy streets or crowded places. Keep your bags in front of you and always be vigilant with your surroundings. The Philippines is a relatively safe place to go around, but instances of theft and pickpocketing will always be there. If possible, always walk in groups and avoid going to unfamiliar streets and corners by yourself, especially at night.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of beggars and homeless people around, and they’ll most likely come up to you to ask for money. Politely refuse or offer something else like food or water instead.
Drink tap water or eat street food
Unlike our neighbour Singapore, tap water is not safe for drinking in the Philippines. Always make sure to bring your reusable water bottle and refill it with mineral or distilled water — most hotels and restaurants will have water dispensers for free. When eating in carinderias (popular small eateries throughout the country), make sure to ask if the water they are offering for free is not coming from the tap. Otherwise, buy yourself a bottled water.
Sampling street food is always part of the adventure when visiting a new country. But it’s always good to go on the safe side. Street food in the Philippines may not be the most sanitary, so pass up if you tend to get upset tummies. But if you’re the ultimate foodie, just be ready with some probiotics or loperamide tablets, which you can easily get over-the-counter.
Get stuck with the popular destinations
Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu may be on your itinerary already and it’s easy to understand why. These are the most popular destinations in the country blessed with incredibly white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and other natural attractions. But if you have more time to spare, don’t pass up on these equally mesmerizing yet less-traveled places:
Marinduque – known as the “heart” of the Philippines due to its geographic location
Romblon – the “Marble Capital of the Philippines” with idyllic islands
Dumaguete – the “City of Gentle People” with a laid back vibe
Siquijor – small island packed with waterfalls and spellbinding beaches
Zamboanga – “Asia’s Latin City” rich in cultural attractions
Travelling in the Philippines requires a lot of planning and patience, but dare we say that it is going to be more than worth it! With stunning beaches and islands, jaw-dropping landscapes, and an incredibly hospitable people, the country is a treasure trove of exciting adventures that will stay with you for life.
Attention Poblacion regulars! Save the date as the Z Hostel group, in collaboration with the team behind Kampai, is geared up once again with their awesome street party events! On October 31, fun will fill up the streets of this beloved neighborhood for “Ready Poblacion One: A Z Street Halloween Special powered by Budweiser.” The event will feature live bands and DJs, food booths, a Parade of Costume contest, and many more surprises!
It has been 2 years since the whole world came to an unexpected halt due to COVID-19. But this is it — we are finally fully OPEN once again to welcome all of you our loyal Z Hostel friends, beloved guests, and first-time visitors and travelers!
Many destinations around the Philippines are also opening up to tourists again, with eased out restrictions and requirements. With Manila as the country’s main landing destination from other countries, make Z Hostel your home before jumping off to our other breathtaking islands, beaches, and cities.
Safe, secure, social
Since the start of the pandemic, Z Hostel has fully committed to the government’s mandates on health and sanitation protocols. Our staff and long-term guests’ safety was utmost priority. Now that several restrictions have been lifted, Z Hostel is fully opening our doors, rooms, and social spaces for unlimited good vibes — just as we have always done over the years.
Choose to stay in our spacious and well-sanitized accommodations: private rooms ideal for an intimate and comfortable stay, or mixed dorms (with an all-female option, too) perfect for those who have missed meeting wonderful souls on the road and potential travel buddies.
Our common areas built for socialization are also back in full swing. Nothing beats sipping on our signature cocktails and jamming to our guest DJ’s and bands while soaking up the jaw-dropping Makati skyline up at our Roof Deck. We have also opened the Sun Deck, with a gorgeous 360-degree view of the city — perfect for a sunset session with friends or chilling under the stars!
Travel and entry requirements
All fully-vaccinated travelers from non-visa-required countries are no longer required to provide negative COVID-19 test results, but must be able to present proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination and at least one booster shot, administered at least 14 days before departure from origin. Additionally, no quarantine upon arrival is required anymore for fully-vaccinated visitors.
Start packing your bags, make that bucket list, and get ready to fly! We can’t wait to have you back at Z Hostel shower y’all with good vibes! Book through our website or send us a message through [email protected].
Some great news for fully vaccinated local tourists in the Philippines! If you have been itching to finally see the outdoors and experience what it’s like to travel to the country’s beautiful destinations again, then thank yourself for getting jabbed against COVID-19!
Start planning your trip (and packing your bags!) to these top destinations and provinces in the Philippines that don’t require RT-PCR tests anymore, and are open for the fully-vaccinated individuals*.
*Based on government guidelines, an individual is considered fully vaccinated if he/she has received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (or a single-shot vaccine) after at least 2 weeks.
Widely known for its cool climate, winding roads with sweeping views, and lush greenery, Baguio City is one of the country’s well-loved tourist destinations, especially those coming from the busy Metro Manila and wanting to have a down time up in the highlands. The Philippines’ “Summer Capital” is home to popular attractions such as Burnham Park, Mines View Park, and the BenCab Museum.
Vaccination card or certificate
Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated adults are not allowed. For unvaccinated or partially vaccinated minors aged 12 to 17, a negative antigen or RT-PCR test result taken 72 hours before arrival is still required
A small island off the Visayas region yet packed with so much natural charm. From the world-renowned geological wonder Chocolate Hills, pristine Loboc River, century-old stone churches, the charming Philippine tarsier, and glistening white sand beaches, there is no shortage of attractions for tourists to enjoy in Bohol.
Vaccination certificate obtained from VaxCertPH *An announcement made last October 30 informs the public that vaccination cards are accepted until VaxCertPH is fully in operation
A cultural treasure, gastronomic hotspot, and industrial hub all rolled into one — that’s Cebu City for you! It comes as no surprise that it has long been hailed as the Queen City of the South, with top attractions including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, Magellan’s Cross, and some of the biggest leisure malls the country has to offer.
Local vaccination card or a vaccination certificate obtained from VaxCertPH
Cebu City is already a destination on its own, but exploring the larger island province of Cebu treats visitors with exhilarating sights and activities including canyoneering in Badian, the famous sardine run in Moalboal, a chance to swim with whale sharks in Oslob, and frolicking in the glorious beaches of Bantayan and Malapascua islands.
Indeed, this laid-back town is the City of Gentle People. Dumaguate has this unassuming and quiet charm to it that extends to how friendly the locals are. Take a stroll down Rizal Boulevard, visit Silliman University, or take a side trip out to Apo Island for a great Dumaguete experience.
Vaccination card or certificate
Negative antigen test (48 hours validity from release date)
Formerly a US Navy Facility, Subic Bay has become a wonderful weekend getaway spot for those coming from Metro Manila and nearby provinces for its numerous attractions including the Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure, Funtastic Park, and Tree Top Adventure Subic. Add to these a wide selection of hotels and vacation homes for rent and you’ve got a destination perfect for the entire family!
Intrazonal and interzonal travelers of ALL ages are welcome
Vaccination cards are required for interzonal travelers coming from a higher quarantine/alert level, persons over 65 years of age, those with comorbidities or health risks, and pregnant women
It was almost like an established ritual and a clear schedule: one starts off with patiently looking for a parking space down Kalayaan or in the inner veins of what once was a sleepy neighborhood in Makati; choosing a spot to devour Mexican tacos, vegan fare, or a plateful of fresh oysters; and then heading up to one of many roof decks or bars in the area to drink and dance the night away.
But in a blink of an eye, doors were shut, streets were emptied, and upbeat music was replaced with deafening silence. It was not just the hip district of Poblacion that saw the drastic and somber change — but the rest of the world. The entire travel and tourism industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as borders were closed and all of us were told to stay safe at home.
The doors of one of the neighborhood’s most well-loved places — and which paved the way for Poblacion’s transition into a dynamic lifestyle hotspot — fortunately remained open, albeit with striking differences from what it used to be pre-COVID. Z Hostel was faced with the same questions as most leisure and tourism establishments had to deal with: to take an indefinite rest or to rise up to the challenges?
The First Wave
For Z Hostel, and many other tourism accommodations, hitting occupancy rate targets or even booking out a few rooms were impossible. As the virus broke out, most incoming international and domestic flights were stopped, and government regulations ordered the tourism and leisure industry establishments to pause normal operations.
The owners had to think on their feet, as there were still checked-in guests staying in Z Hostel who could not leave the country. Long-term stay on special rates were offered, but still with the same brand of hospitality and personalized service that Z Hostel has been known for through the years — six to be exact. The hostel also offered long-term packages for company employees around the area, who needed a safe and convenient place to stay, especially when public transportation was very limited.
Safety and sanitation protocols were also strictly implemented inside the hostel, including temperature check (CHECKS) at the entrance, social distancing in all areas, contactless check-in and payments, deep cleaning of rooms and linens, and regular sanitation of the entire establishment.
Rising up to the challenges
Gatherings inside indoor establishments were also frowned upon and discouraged, so Z Hostel initially turned to take-out and delivery of their Cafe’s signature dishes such as Adobo Flakes, Sisig, and sumptuous sandwiches.
As regulations slowly eased over the months, Z Hostel started welcoming guests again to their popular Roof Deck, rearranging the set-up like a restaurant. Following social distancing rules and limited seating capacity, guests can now safely enjoy munchies and drinks in the lovely outdoors — all while soaking in the sweeping views of the Manila skyline.
Z Hostel’s scene is never without good music. And while the rest of us chose and still choose to stay at home, the fun never ends. The hostel has been hosting live streaming of music performances by local artists and international DJs — virtually clinking glasses with each other through Zoom and dancing inside our bedrooms while tuning to Z Hostel Radio.
And at a time when strengthening our immunity is more important than ever, Z Hostel launched its own line of organic juices and all-natural beverages. It could not have been offered at a better time: Vitamin Z boosts you up with vitamins from its concoctions using carrots, apple, cabbage, ginger, and other vegetables, while keeping you refreshed in these stressful and turbulent times.
Towards Better Days
While tourist arrivals are at an all-time low, Z Hostel is taking advantage of its outdoor spaces to accommodate guests and patrons for now. If you have been feeling tired with your Work From Home set-up, how does Work From Hostel sound? Z Hostel Roof Deck will soon serve as an option for workers and freelancers to have a change of environment when working, complete with power sources and charging stations, safe seating arrangements, and snacks and drinks in between your meetings. Plus, you’ll have stunning skyline views as your Zoom background.
At the helm of the kitchen is Chef Jerome Valencia, Vice President for LTB Philippine Chefs Association and Culinary Lecturer at LPU Manila in Intramuros, who refreshed the hostel cafe’s menu with sumptuous additions like Double Fried Chicken and Street Ramen choices. More selections are lined up once the hostel can welcome more guests again.
The hostel’s Sun Deck, located on the topmost area of the building (yes, higher than the Roof Deck), is also in the works. It will be adorned with lounge chairs, bean bags, and a music deck for an ultimately elevated kind of fun, with unobstructed views of the city.
It might take awhile before things go back to normal, if they ever will be. None of us knows when we are going to be able to high-five or hug each other again, when we can dance shoulder-to-shoulder during weekends again, when Poblacion’s streets will be filled up with scores of people enjoying a fun Halloween or Independence Day party again. But one thing remains: Z Hostel will always be open for good vibes. And we will never cease to hope for better days.
As part of the Travel and Hospitality industry, Z Hostel will be coming up with blog posts relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, sourcing from government agencies as well as personal experiences, to help travelers and the public with relevant travel, arrival, and quarantine information here in the Philippines.
Donatello Montrone, an Italian entrepreneur who has been living and working in the Philippines for a couple of years now, arrived in the Philippines from Italy last August 19, 2021. He is sharing a glimpse of the process in arriving in the country — from planning, arrival, quarantine, until reaching his home — during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is non-Filipino national, with a 9g Visa (Philippine working visa for foreigners), who took a trip back in his home country for a few weeks.
Planning and Departure
What were the first and most important things you had to consider and prepare for this trip?
Hotel confirmed booking at accredited quarantine hotel/facility
Arrival in the Philippines
When did you arrive in the Philippines? Which terminal?
I arrived August 19 early in the afternoon at NAIA Terminal 3.
Walk us through the process when you arrived.
Once I arrived, I was escorted first to the Bureau of Quarantine, here they verify the documents you have such as the RT-PCR test and also the hotel confirmation. After verification you are then asked to book a RT-PCR test on the 7th day of your quarantine stay. I had to quarantine for 10 days since I came from a non-green zone country which was Italy (for a list of the Green Zone Countries, see our blog post here).
After that, they released me and then I went to Immigration where they checked my visa (working visa). Before leaving the airport, they also made sure of my car service arrangements from the airport to the hotel. I got a white taxi (they are the accredited ones at the airport).
Where did you quarantine and for how long?
Yes, I did it in Z Hostel, 10 days. 10 days is for the fully vaccinated and 15 days for non vaccinated.
Did you take an RT-PCR test during this time?
Yes on the 7th day.
How would you describe this entire experience of coming home to the Philippines during this COVID-19 pandemic?
It wasn’t that bad, except for a few problems. One is to wear a mask in a long flight, I had to wear the mask for 18 hours straight,
I also noticed that there were no clear directions at the check-in counter in Rome, especially on the documentations needed. For example, the Emirate’s website said there was no need for RT-PCR, but the embassy said you need it. There is still a bit of confusion.
Any tips and/or stories you may want to share for all those planning to come home / travel to the Philippines during this time?
Since you’ll be quarantined for 10 days, make the necessary preparations. I was able to make my space more comfortable because I was able to request certain things to be brought over at the quarantine hotel upon my arrival from my wife.