If you’re an adventurer, water sports enthusiast and an island aficionado – you can’t get much better than backpacking through the Philippines. With over 7,000 islands, there is one for everybody!
But with so many islands and so much to do in the Philippines, you may be confused about what and how to pack. If you are wondering what to bring to the Philippines then you have come to the right place.
So get comfortable, read on and equip yourself with all your pre-travel material. Then, you get to focus your energy on the good part – your epic Philippines backpacking adventure!
So, let’s get to it…
The Ultimate Philippines Packing List
The weather in the Philippines is tropical and mostly hot. However, there is some climatic differences between regions and there is a monsoon, wet season that you absolutely have to be mindful of. Let’s check out the Philippines packing essentials.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Philipines, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Philippines checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase. The Nomatic is a great for packing for the Philippines.
The Ultimate Philippines Packing List
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For The Philippines: Personal Gear
In terms of clothing, you can get pretty far with standard backpacker gear and many of the locals live their entire lives in shorts and t-shirts! If you are going into the jungles, trekking or camping though, then some proper gear is a must.
When deciding what to bring to the Philippines, first research if you are going to hit a rainy season. Then, try to decide what activities you intend on doing as this will make the checklist a whole lot more useful to you.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Visitors to the Philippines have a tendency to underestimate the amount of walking that is part the experience. But it is not all beaches and hostel life. Some of the cities are bloody huge, the trekking opportunities plentiful and the sheer amount of ground the average visits covers commendable! Therefore you need good shoes!
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. If you rent a bike or scooter, it is always a good idea to wear proper closed shoes when riding it,
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! If you are visiting the Philippines in June to October, then it is the wet season which can see intense rains fall most days.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
Any time of the year there is a beach, pool or jacuzzi waiting with your name on it in the Philippines. I mean, a country of 7000 islands boasts an insane amount of ocean. Whether you go diving, surfing, snorkelling or just paddling in the waves, your swimwear will get plenty of use.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
Whilst the Philippines is a fairly safe country, accidents can happen to backpackers – scooter crashes and surfing injuries are not unheard of. Tropical disease is also a risk. In case you do need to visit a hospital, the bills can quickly add up so it is a wise investment to get good travel insurance just in case something does go wrong.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Philippines packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for the Philippines may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Sandals: OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops
Circling back to the footwear question, now we are going to talk about sandals. Chances are that a lot of your Philippines trip will be spent beachside or hanging around you hostel where “proper” shoes may feel like overkill.
Your feet will be tired and sweaty from those long days wearing shoes so do yourself a favor: pack sandals and give your feet some well-deserved cushion and fresh air. These Olukai flip flops are ultra-comfortable, well-made, and come in a variety of colors.
Check out the women’s OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
You will need a passport to enter the Philippines so make sure you bring yours and also check that it has 6 months left on it.
We always recommend bringing a few copies as well and keeping them about your person.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst the Philippines is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, camping or day then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. Whilst you should not drink the tap water, you can but big, reusable water bottles and fill this each morning.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Philippines trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba 2p
There are some awesome camping possibilities in the Philippines. Not only do you get outdoors but you can save a few bucks here and there by sleeping inside your tent.
This is more the choice for those in the market for budget backpacking gear. It’s got all the perks of a top-notch backpacking tent without all the freakishly high numbers on the price tag.
Yeah, it may not quite make the cut as ultralight backpacking gear but think of what you’re getting! The MSR Hubba Hubba 2p is mega-roomy and has multiple of pockets for keeping your self organized when settling in for the night.As far as budget backpacking tents go, this is one of the best. It’s a happy medium between the ‘prepared for anything’ mode and the ‘I wanted to go for a trek so I bought this for 2000 rupees’ afterthought.
Headlamp – Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Headlamps are great for traveling for many reasons. Firstly, they are useful as hell if you go camping or on an early sunrise mountain hike. Then, they come in useful for finding your way to your hostel bed at 3am without having to turn the lights on. They are also a Godsend if there is a power cut (pretty common in India, Nepal or Venezuela) and great for navigating darkened alleyways in Turkey & Spain.
Not all headlamps were created equal and this is one of the best. The Petzl Actik Core comes with a USB rechargeable battery (full recharge in 3 hours or less); however, it is compatible with AAA batteries. Water-resistance is another critical feature. This product can withstand splashing; but keep in mind, water-resistant does NOT mean waterproof.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 panic is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
The Filipino government enforced some heavy lockdowns and put some firm rules in place reading masks and social distancing.
It is absolutely essential that you pack the following items for your trip to the Philippines to ensure you keep yourself and the people you will be coming into contact with safe from spreading COVID around like wildfire.
- Bring a Mask.
- Bring Hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Philippines
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for your trip:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for the Philippines
All right, friends – there you have it! Your ultimate Philippines survival guide packed with all you need to know about what to pack for the Philippines. You have your top-23 needs packing list, a detailed look at seasons and weather conditions with tips on how to pack for each, special packing recommendations for men and women, and what NOT to pack to save yourself some space.
Just follow the tips laid out here and focus on the essentials to keep you safe and comfortable. No need to sweat the small stuff once you’re there – just go with the flow and enjoy the adventurous ride.
And, be happy because – guess what? You’re going to the Philippines!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
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