LIST: What to pack when traveling in the Philippines

Pack light and there’s a chance you’ll over-edit your travel essentials. Pack heavy and you’ll have an unpleasant time dealing with your luggage (and very little room for shopping and souvenirs). The key is to pack smart by knowing what to expect at your destination.

If you’re headed somewhere cold, you pack your thermals. If you’re staying somewhere by the sea, you pack your swimsuit.

If you’re traveling in and around the Philippines, here are the essentials you need to take with you. You’re welcome.

Sun protection

Summer or not, beach or city, it’s important to keep your skin protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so make sure to pack some SPF. Here’s a list of local reef-safe sunscreens – that way you protect our coral reefs as you protect your skin.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by MAGWAI Reef-Safe Sunscreen (@magwaiph) on Jul 8, 2018 at 7:12pm PDT

Hat, cap, or umbrella

Aside from that, make sure you wear a hat or a cap to shield your scalp and hair from sun damage as well, or use an umbrella if you’re planning to walk around the city. Float Swimwear has a couple of cute caps that’ll have you proudly proclaiming your love for Manila while you’re at it. 

View this post on Instagram A post shared by F L O A T S W I M W E A R (@float_swim) on Mar 6, 2019 at 7:51pm PST

Breathable clothing

It may be a bad dad joke, but it’s true: There are only two seasons in the Philippines—hot and hot. Even when it’s raining, it’s hot. So make sure to pack and wear lightweight clothing in fabrics that breathe well, like cotton and linen. Loose clothing in light colors are also advisable, especially in the summer, when the heat can get oppressive and the humidity is stifling.


We’re pretty sure the tita and tito days of wearing a t-shirt in the ocean or pool are long gone. Right? Right?! Pack your swimsuits, swim trunks, and rash guards if you’re planning a trip to the beach or you’re taking a dip in the swimming pool.

Rash guards are great at adding another layer of protection against the sun, too.

A light scarf

It’s so versatile! You can use it as a coverup or as a beach towel. You can also wrap it around your shoulders to keep you warm on the plane or by the ocean at night when the sea breeze starts to pick up.

Comfortable shoes 

As a general rule when traveling, you always want to make sure you bring a pair of comfortable shoes. #SOTDs are great for the ’Gram, but if you end up with painful blisters, you have only yourself (and maybe your social media habit) to blame.

Insect repellent

When you’re in a country that’s often prefaced by “tropical islands,” it’s imperative you pack an insect repellent. That’s whether you’re staying on an actual island or in the city, by the way; mosquitos don’t discriminate based on zip code. And dengue is still a real problem in the Philippines, so better safe than sorry.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Messy Bessy (@hellomessybessy) on Oct 5, 2017 at 11:33pm PDT

We especially love Messy Bessy’s Insect Repellent. It’s all-natural, comes in a small, travel-ready bottle that can even fit in your purse, and is not sticky! It smells really nice, too. 

Toiletry kit

Bring a small, compact toiletry kit for all your grooming, skincare, and hygiene essentials. Leave those big bottles and jars at home so they don’t take up so much space in your luggage. Just decant a small amount (only what you’ll need for the trip) into travel-size containers and bring those instead. Remember, you need to leave room in your bag for souvenirs!

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Muji Philippines (@muji_ph) on Aug 12, 2018 at 5:25am PDT

You can head on out to Muji, KIT, or Beabi for all your travel kit and toiletry container needs. 

Medicine kit 

Don’t forget to bring a small medicine kit containing paracetamol, antihistamine, loperamide, cough and cold meds, and motion sickness pills. Bring whatever prescription medicine you need to take as well. You never know if what you need is available locally, so it’s better to be a girl/boy scout about it and come prepared.

Cash and small bills 

You can pay using your credit card in most of the big establishments and restaurants, but it’s best to have some cash, preferably in smaller bills, with you, especially if you’re planning to take public transportation or are headed to some remote island or rural area.

Camera and/or GoPro

Sailing on a paraw in Boracay, lagoon hopping in Palawan, riding an ATV to Mayon, river rafting in Cagayan de Oro — there’s so much adventure to be had in the Philippines, and you need to make sure you have the right tools to capture all the best moments of your trip. Waterproof camera or iPhone cases and GoPros aren’t necessary but are definitely a plus.

Reusable water bottle

Make sure to stay hydrated, especially in the summer, when the heat can really take its toll on you. Go for zero waste and bring your own reusable water bottle. If your tummy is sensitive, fill it up with mineral water from the hotel before you head out for the day.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Kool (@livekool) on Oct 6, 2018 at 4:10am PDT

Check out the Kool collapsible water bottles and cups for options that are light, compact, and stylish. 

Laundry bag

Be neat, clean, and hygienic: Bring a laundry bag with you when you travel to keep your soiled clothes separate from your clean ones. You don’t want your #OOTDs smelling like sweat. It may not show up on your IG feed (luckily smartphones don’t come with smellograms yet), but you don’t want to go around smelling like day-old laundry.

Waterproof bag

If you’re going someplace where there’s a high chance your stuff can get wet, it would be wise to invest in a dry bag. It’s perfect for trips to the beach or when you’re planning to take part in water activities.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Waterproof Travel Outdoor Bag (@tacticswatergear) on Nov 17, 2018 at 1:30am PST


You can get one from Sandbar Adventures or Tactics. 

Travel journal

A travel journal is a fantastic way to keep a record of your trip. Get one that’s light and small. You can write, doodle, sketch, or use ephemera collected on your travel to create a journal that’s unique, and that will help you remember your trip in your own special way!

Travel adapter

Take note that the Philipines uses Type A, B, and C sockets and operate at 220V, so if your gadgets are not compatible with these, you may need to bring your own universal adapter.

Unlocked phone

Here’s another tip for foreigners: Instead of using your international plan, it may be more cost-effective to bring an unlocked mobile phone and buy a local SIM card when you arrive in the Philippines. –

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