Frequently asked questions

Philippines

Before Your Trip

As of 1st September 2017, a new memorandum has been put in place by the authorities in the Philippines, who operate the permits on Balicasag Island. This area forms a small part of the Southern Visayas and Tubbataha and More itineraries. In order to comply, we must provide a copy of dive certificates/license for every diver booking onto this itinerary. Please ensure that you send a scanned copy of your certification once you have confirmed a booking. Without a scanned copy of guests’ certifications, there is a strong risk that the authorities will not issue the permit. This would result in the whole boat being refused dive permissions for Balicasag Island.

Please ensure that you provide us with the following information no later than two weeks prior to the start of your cruise for us to be able to obtain the required permits from the Tubbataha National Park Authorities.

- Guests' full names
- Permanent address
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Nationality
- Email address
- Phone number
- Number of logged dives

Please note that the Philippines Office for Transportation Security includes 'scuba equipment' on a list of blunt instruments that are not to be carried in hand luggage on flights originating in the Philippines. We advise that all Siren guests carry all dive related equipment in their check in rather than their carry-on luggage.

Travel

The Philippines borders are currently closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Visa Information

Most visitors to the Philippines are allowed to enter without a visa, for stays of up to 30 days. To find out if you need a visa to enter the Philippines, please visit the Philippines Government Department of Foreign Affairs website: https://dfa.gov.ph/

Passport validity

Please make sure that your passport is valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the Philippines.

Visa and passport regulations differ per country; therefore, we advise our guests to check for any updates or changes of visa procedures and requirements with their nearest Philippines embassy/consulate.

Proof of onward travel

Entry into the Philippines may be refused if you are unable to produce evidence of return or onward travel - for example an onward or return air ticket.

Airport Taxes

Airport Terminal Fees apply to all departing domestic and international flight passengers. In some cases the fees may already be included in the price of your flight ticket, depending on the airport that you are departing from. Where they are not, they need to be paid in cash, at the airport, in Philippine Peso (PHP).

International departure: 750 PHP
Domestic departure: 200 PHP

No specific vaccinations are required for entry into the Philippines unless you are coming from or passing through contaminated areas*. However, we strongly advise that you check with your nearest travel clinic for the latest information and recommendations, and ensure that your standard vaccinations (tetanus, polio, MMR, etc.) are up-to-date.

Please make sure you use insect repellent and cover exposed skin to reduce the risk of Dengue Fever and other insect borne diseases.

*Yellow fever certificate requirements

Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers who have transited for more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Country Information

UTC+8

There are over 170 different languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines, however, Tagalog (aka Filipino) is the most widely spoken language in the archipelago. Nearly all Filipinos who work in the tourism industry speak good English, and English road and street signs are found nationwide. Almost 90% of the population is Christian. The largest religious minority is Muslim, and they make up about 5% of the population.

The local currency is the Philippine Peso (Php). The vast majority of all hotels, resorts, shops and restaurants will accept a wide range of credit and debit cards. Please note that in some cases away from the major cities you may be asked to pay a service charge for credit card handling. This can range from 3.5 – 6.0%. ATM’s are easily found throughout the Philippines in airports and in any major centre of population (Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, Puerto Princesa, Boracay etc). Normal banking hours are 09.00am – 15.00pm. Traveller’s cheques are not very popular as they are not very easy to exchange so most guests prefer to carry cash and / or use credit cards. There are also money changers at airports and in the cities.

The Philippines has excellent mobile phone coverage and telephone system, however, in less populated areas; you may find that there is no mobile coverage.

The Philippines is a tropical country and the weather is fairly even all year round. The year is roughly divided into two seasons; ‘rainy’ and ‘dry’. The rainy season generally begins in early June and can extend through to November. In general the months with greatest rainfall tend to be July and August. The rainy season often brings days of uninterrupted sunshine punctuated by occasional thunderstorms and rain. The dry season runs from November through to May but there is always the chance of light rainfall during this period. The warmest months are usually March through to May and the highest humidity is in June, July and August. Year round coastal and inland temperatures range from 27°C – 28°C, up to 33°C – 34°C, with an average of approximately 31 °C. Evenings are marginally cooler.

Health standards vary throughout the country depending on location. In some cases they do not meet Western Standards but in some cases they exceed them. Manila and Cebu have international class hospitals whilst the hospitals in other parts of the country will ensure that you receive more than adequate care. All major towns have hospitals and doctors available. However, it is advisable to obtain Travel Insurance in addition to Health Insurance before you travel. We advise all guests to ensure that vaccinations are up to date. We recommend that travelers follow normal precautions with food in order to prevent stomach upsets, and be sure to drink either boiled or bottled water only. Please consult your doctor or nearest health authorities for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure.

Currently there are re-compression facilities in Batangas, Manila, Cebu and Subic. Generally private emergency air evacuation is needed to access these facilities in the unlikely event of an accident. We strongly urge that all guests dive well within recognised limits, follow Dive Guides advice and purchase adaquete dive insurance before their trips.

During Your Trip

Water temperatures are broadly similar throughout the region; the coolest waters are usually to be found in January – March with an average of approximately 24 C – 26 C. Warmer waters are common in May – July with averages of approximately 26 °C – 28 °C. Most guests find that a 3mm shorty and possibly a rash vest is suitable for the water temperature in the warmer months, and 3mm – 5mm long for the rest of the year. However, for guests who feel the cold easily, especially with repeated diving, then we recommend to bring an extra vest / hood. In short bring what you feel most comfortable in.

The vessel is fitted with universal power outlets in the common areas (fitting most of the plugs) and the cabins have Type C outlets (European 2-rounded plugs). Please ensure you pack adaptors if needed.

There is NO guest internet available on board. We have satellite connection for emergencies only. Mobile ‘phone Signal strength varies throughout each cruise but is typically stronger when in close proximity to major islands, such as Cebu, Negros or Palawan.

Prohibited Items
For Tubbataha itineraries, gloves, reef hooks, tank bangers or pointers are not allowed.
The use of gloves and other implements such as pointers, tank bangers and reef hooks can modify the behaviour of sea life and animals, or harm corals, therefore these items are strictly prohibited for use in Tubbataha Marine Park.
The use of drones in Tubbataha Marine Park is prohibited unless the operator has applied for, and been granted a permit to do so.
∗∗A permit to use a drone in Tubbataha needs to be obtained from Tubbataha Management at least 2 weeks in advance via tubbatahareefs.org/downloads/
Plastic Bottle Free
Tubbataha Marine Park Authorities are now requesting guests to bring their own reusable drinks containers, as part of their ‘Let’s make Tubbataha plastic bottle free’ campaign. Alternatively, you can purchase an Eco Tumbler onboard.

Any park fees, merchandise, services and alcoholic beverages purchased on board should be settled at the end of your cruise. All prices are in USD, however guests may choose to pay in Euro, GBP, US$ or Philippine Peso. Credit card payments are also accepted however a fee will be levied to your final bill.

Please be aware that guests are NOT permitted to use strobes and/or flash when using their cameras at dive sites in Oslob (diving with whale sharks) and Monad Shoal (diving with thresher sharks).