Written by Jessica Craig

The Philippines is an exciting destination full of contrasts. From bustling megacities to dramatic volcanic landscapes and lush green rice fields, there is something for everyone in this adventure-packed country. It’s also known for its smiling locals, so if this sounds like your sort of trip, there’s no reason not to choose the Philippines as your next travel destination!

The capital, Manila, mixes modern skyscrapers and historic churches from the Spanish colonial period. Manila is lively and vibrant and, as the most densely populated city in the world, offers so much to see and do! However, if you want to escape the city rush, the Philippines has plenty to offer nature-lovers. You can find the world’s second smallest primate, the striking Philippine tarsier, by visiting a registered sanctuary. If it’s marine life you’re looking for, Apo Island offers great snorkelling – look out for giant sea turtles as you swim!

While around 154,000 Brits visited the Philippines in 2015, mostly trouble-free, having a good knowledge of local laws and customs and any possible dangers you might encounter can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Tourists should be aware that there is a high level of violent crime, including street crime such as robbery. Some criminal gangs in the Philippines have engaged terrorist tactics such as explosions and kidnappings, usually in the country’s larger cities. While British nationals are not usually targets, it is possible to get caught up in these incidents. To avoid becoming a victim of a random crime, tourists should use official taxis and avoid accepting drinks or confectionary from strangers, as these may be spiked. Always share your travel plans with friends and family so they know where you plan to be, in case of an emergency.

You can enter the Philippines without a visa for up to 30 days or apply for a tourist visa from the Philippine Embassy before travelling, which permits you to stay for 59 days. Overstaying without authorisation can result in detention until the relevant fees are paid and you should consult the Bureau of Immigration to extend your stay. Tourists should always carry identification and be able to show this on request by the police – a copy of your passport should do.

The Philippines is generally tolerant of the LGBT community, but while same-sex relationships are not criminalised, overt displays of public affection may be viewed as a ‘grave scandal’ under the Revised Penal Code and can result in imprisonment of up to six months. You should consult The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice for LGBT travellers before travelling if you have any concerns.

Breaking local laws can result in detention in a local prison, where conditions are far below UK standards. The penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are severe and possession of small amounts of illegal drugs can carry mandatory prison sentences. Those arrested in the Philippines may be detained for a long time until a court hearing takes place. You can consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guide for British nationals detained in the Philippines for more advice on dealing with arrest and imprisonment and for further information on the Philippine judicial system.

Researching your destination before you travel can help alert you to any possible dangers and give you an awareness of local laws and customs that will allow you to have a memorable and incident-free experience. You should also ensure that you purchase appropriate travel insurance for the activities you plan to take part in during your trip. For more information, visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Aware website and sign up for alerts and tips.

Have a look at the Philippines: in focus