Travel Tips from San Francisco, USA to Manila, Philippines | February-March 2022

Bought our ticket November 2021. Not knowing if the quarantine will stay, we didn't tell a lot of people until 2 weeks of our arrival where Philippines announced that they'd open the country to tourists without quarantine requirements as long as you're vaccinated AND have RT-PCR Negative results 48 hours prior your departure. Let's just get into tips from USA to Philippines:

  1. Finish the One Health Pass form. This must be done 3 days prior your arrival date in the Philippines. If you are vaccinated, upload a photo. Once you have your RT-PCR results, upload it too. You must have a copy that's easy access (thru email or photos) to show while checking in and when arriving for a smooth process.
  2. Get vaccinated and don't get Covid19. Yes, I know. This is debatable. But our trip was easy because we were complete with boosters and fortunate enough to not get the virus.
  3. Plan your RT-PCR test carefully. Our flight was originally at 2130 and the test needs to be done within 48 hours of your departure So in this case, I had it booked the day before at 1740. If I was too naïve and booked it 2 days prior, they might not accept it since it exceeded the 48 hour rule. But then, our flight was moved to the next day at 1130 departure. Good thing, whatever we did was still valid ;) We did our at Richmond, CA for $200 each (yep, pricey AF) and got the results around 0824 .
  4. Beware of Travel Insurance requirement. We flew with Philippine Airlines and before we check in, everyone have to show proof of travel insurance. Last time we flew internationally was 2018 and not even then a travel insurance is required. It does make sense to have it as a requirement due to the pandemic that started in 2020 but nowhere in the booking site, nor the email sent to us says anything about this. Also, we called the customer service plenty of times and not once it was mentioned to us. Good thing we were 5 hours early into the departure time and date connection was good at SFO so we ordered it using our iPhone. Our ticket costs $1,178.27 each (roundtrip) and the travel insurance totaled to $71.66.
  5. Always bring Cash. This is the Philippines. If cards are accepted, always have Visa and Mastercard. Discover are accepted partially, mostly on malls (SM Bacoor and SM Mall of Asia in my experience). Track your cash at the end of everyday. I get uncomfortable if I didn't know where the money went to. Whatever helps for your peace of mind, do it.
  6. Put your bag/purse in front at all times. Self explanatory. Third world country.
  7. Less on the PDA. Again, this is debatable but here me out.. We were in Mt. Samat as a quick date and on their briefing, they literally said that it's not a dating place - no kissing or whatsoever or you will be fine. Philippines is a 'conservative-ish' county even in 2022. There was another time we went to a wet market in Bataan, I was hugging my husband from the side and looks (and I mean at least 3 people) were  happening on our backs. I always say spread the love but when in this country, minimize it LOL.
  8. Always bring extra face masks and sanitizers and/or alcohols (this applies to anywhere in the world).
Now from Philippines to USA:
  1. Repetitive but get a test prior to your flight. I got mine here for 2,650 PHP.
  2. No travel insurance required. But I had a copy of the original from USA just in case.
  3. Have enough time (3 hours at least). Three X-ray/security walk thru before sitting down to wait on your boarding. And.. if you need to go to the bathroom? You will have to repeat the last one - to get in line, put your stuff to be scanned and walk thru. Before checking in, they open ALL your luggage and/or boxes that will be checked in, swab something for security purposes and then you can proceed to check in once cleared.
  4. Beware of Travel Tax. I did not have to pay this but just in case, at this time of writing, search engine shows 1,620 PHP for economy class.
  5. Do not bring water into your flight. Unlike in USA, when after the last security check, you can refill your empty flask for free - not in Terminal 2 in NAIA. No outside water will go with the passengers into the plane. I had to finish 2 bottled waters before boarding. There is a refill station near the bathroom, so just get what you can finish before flying.
Stay safe folks!

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