Best time to visit Philippines

The Philippines climate is tropical and characterised by high temperatures and high humidity levels throughout the year. The hottest time of the year is usually between March and October, and there is a slight drop in temperatures between November and February. Although the country is geographically spread out, average temperatures are mostly stable throughout, and range between the 20s°C and 30s°C (high 60s°F to mid 80s°F).

Weather in the Philippines

As it happens in other countries with tropical weather, the Philippines only has two seasons: rainy and dry. There are some exceptions to this. For example, while dry and rainy seasons are clearly differentiated in the western Philippines, the south eastern islands barely have a dry season. Generally speaking, dry season runs from November to April, and rain affects most of the country between May and October.

However, the weather in the Philippines is particularly susceptible to climate effects like El Niño and La Niña, which can alter normal weather patterns and bring droughts and flooding respectively. Because this is an unpredictable weather phenomenon, it’s recommended that you do some research before travelling. Bear in mind that La Niña years are more likely to cause travel disruption.

Typhoons in the Philippines

Every year, up to 10 typhoons sweep across the Philippines. Typhoon season lasts from June to September, but some typhoons can hit as early as May. Chances of extreme weather increase during July and August, which are the wettest months of the year in the Philippines.

In addition to the strong winds, the typhoon season usually brings above-average humidity levels, landslides, and high tides. So overall, this may not be the best time to go to the Philippines. Air and road transportation options may be limited during a typhoon, or simply not available at all. Also, people are advised to stay indoors, which may limit your sightseeing.

However, and because the Philippines consists of more than 7,500 islands that are geographically spread out, typhoons don’t affect the entire country equally. These storms usually move from east to west and then head north, so the southern islands are less likely to be hit by a typhoon, or the effect may be weaker.

When is the best time to visit the Philippines?

Choosing the best time to visit the Philippines is pretty straightforward, since the country only has two seasons. Dry season is the best time of year to visit the Philippines. January and February weather is characterised by cooler temperatures, so this may be a good option if you struggle to cope with tropical heat. Keep in mind that it can still rain during the dry season, but showers are usually short lived and unlikely to affect your travel plans.

Having said that, travellers do visit the country during the rainy season too. If you decide to do this, you can consider visiting the areas that receive the least rainfall, which are mostly in the far south. While you’re there, watch out for weather warnings during your trip to see if any typhoons are on the way. Also, bear in mind that monsoon rains usually happen in the late afternoon, leaving the rest of the day free for sightseeing and other outdoor activities.

Another option is to travel during the shoulder months, before heavy rains or peak season arrive. May and November are the main shoulder months and are the second-best time to go to the Philippines.

When to visit the Philippines in winter

Winter weather in the Philippines is mostly dry and warm. The average temperature rarely drops below 20°C (60°F) and chances of rain are low, so this is the best time of the year to visit Philippines.

Winter in the tropics is perfect for hiking, sunbathing, swimming, and all kinds of outdoor activities. This is the ideal time to plan an active holiday in the country’s top natural landmarks, or to explore the Philippines’ cities and their rich historical and cultural heritage.

However, be aware that great weather draws large crowds. Christmas and New Year are particularly busy with locals and tourists alike. During the winter holidays, pretty much all forms of transportation will be full, so booking ahead is essential.

Visiting the Philippines in December – February

The first two months of the year are a great time to visit the Philippines’ capital city, Manila. If this is your first time in the city, make sure to read our beginner’s guide to Manila.

Winter is also a brilliant time to head to Cagayan de Oro, the adventure capital of the Philippines. This southern city attracts outdoor enthusiasts looking for an adventure in the tropics and is a hotspot for white water rafting.

Winter in the Philippines means clear skies, so this season is a prime time to explore the country’s mountain areas. Some destinations you may want to include in your itinerary are the hilltop town of Sagada, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and Mt Pinatubo, the Philippines’ most famous dormant volcano.

Other destinations for winter fun in the Philippines include:

  • Davao, a bustling town known for its museums, night markets, wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Samar island, which has one of the most impressive cave systems in the region.
  • Jungle trekking in the wild forests of Puerto Galera.

When to visit the Philippines in spring

From March onwards, temperatures experience a gradual increase all over the country. Spring weather in the Philippines is mostly dry, so early spring is one of the best times to visit. This is the time to discover the Philippines’ natural landmarks before the rainy season arrives.

March, April, and May are also brilliant months for beach hopping. During these months, stable winds and warm water temperatures create the perfect conditions for surfing, scuba diving, and snorkelling.

However, spring is also the busiest time of the year in terms of visitor numbers. Accommodation in the most popular destinations can get fully booked, so always plan ahead and make reservations in advance.

Visiting the Philippines in March – May

These months are the hottest time of the year in the Philippines. It’s not unusual for daytime temperatures to be in the mid to high 30s°C (mid 90 °F). May is the hottest month, especially in Manila and low-lying areas.

If you’d rather avoid the tropical heat, northern Luzon is a good choice. The Cordillera region is packed with interesting sights and blessed with cooler weather in the months before typhoon season. Baguio, which due to its altitude is usually cooler than other cities, is often dubbed 'the summer capital of the Philippines', and for good reason!

Other attractive destinations with cooler weather are Cagayan Valley and the Banaue rice terraces. Located at 5,000 feet above sea level, they display the most intense shades of green during April and May. You can also breathe cool and fresh air in Sagada, Mt Pulag National Park, and Kaparkan Falls.

If your idea of a holiday includes relaxing on tropical beaches, make sure to check our itineraries for beach and watersports lovers in the Philippines.

When to visit the Philippines in summer

Summer brings the start of the typhoon season to the Philippines. Average temperatures are in the high 20s°C (80 °F), but on the plus side, cloud cover offers a break from the intense tropical sun.

The effects of typhoons are at their strongest in northern Philippines, especially in Luzon and Bicol, as well as in the Eastern Visayas. Flexible travel plans are a must if you visit these areas, particularly if they involve island hopping, since at this time of the year boat schedules are altered and some trips are cancelled.

On the other hand, the areas least likely to experience disruptions are Palawan and the Central and Southern Visayas.

Visiting the Philippines in June – August

Summer is a great time to discover the Philippines extraordinary gastronomic heritage. Foodies will not want to miss a trip to San Fernando Pampanga, nicknamed the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Located approximately 70 km (43 miles) north of Manila, this town is easy to get to even in the rainy season.

Also within easy reach of Manila is Tagaytay. Here you can enjoy the views of Lake Taal and the majestic volcano that carries the same name. The area is also known for its cuisine, so it’s ideal for a gastronomic food-venture.

If you’re after a beach holiday, Siquijor is a good option during the rainy Filipino summers. Although it does rain in the island between June and August, rains are often short-lived and leave plenty of hours of the day clear and sunny.

Summer is the best time to visit Palawan, since typhoons rarely affect the area. This tropical paradise is best explored during the low season, as top destinations like El Nido are overrun with tourists at other times of the year. Aim to visit in June, because humidity and temperatures peak in late summer.

One last recommendation is Siargao, which experiences significantly lower rainfall than other islands. Here, the dry season lasts until October, and since this is the surfing capital of the Philippines, summer is a good time to head to the beaches and catch some waves.

When to visit the Philippines in autumn and fall

The rainy season extends over the first few months of autumn and fall. Typhoons and heavy downpours begin to tail off in mid to late October. To avoid last-minute cancellations or travel disruption, it’s best to avoid visiting the northern islands at this time of the year.

The weather begins to improve in November, which is one of the best months to visit the Philippines. Transport connections become reliable again, and average temperatures stay at a pleasant 25°C (77°F), and humidity levels are lower than in the stifling summer months. On the other hand, prices for accommodation and guided tours increase the closer you get to peak winter season.

Visiting Philippines in September – November

If you’re in the Philippines in early autumn or fall and want to avoid the end of the rainy season, Cebu is one of the safest bets. Cebu City itself has plenty of attractions to keep you busy for a few days and is a great destination for all types of visitors, from solo travellers to families with young kids. Using the city as a base, you can easily arrange day trips to Danasan Eco Adventure Park, Kawasan Falls, or Mactan Island.

The islands near Cebu are a guaranteed hit if you’re looking for an unforgettable tropical holiday. Our suggestions? Bantayan, Panay, and Dinagat, because they all offer an attractive mix of relaxing and active outdoor pursuits.

Alternatively, consider Camiguin, a short flight away from Cebu. Its small size makes it easy to explore everything this wonderful island has to offer: from postcard-perfect beaches and islands to volcano climbs and jungle treks.

Festivals and holidays in the Philippines

Festivals and celebrations are an important part of Filipino culture. No matter when you visit, you’re likely to come across a festival, but especially so during the first half of the year – which is also the best time of the year to visit Philippines weather-wise!

The February events calendar is packed with Carnivals and Mardi Gras-like parades. The most remarkable are Suman Festival in Aurora, and Ati-Atihan in Kalibo (Panay).

Spring is celebrated with important events, such as Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (in April), and Flores de Mayo, which celebrated all over the country in May.

Summer events like Pintados and Tinalak honour the country’s tribal culture and ancient traditions. And since Philippines is a Catholic country, Christmas, New Year, and Easter are widely celebrated too.

Every community in the Philippines – from small barrio to busy metropolis – has at least a couple of festivals a year in honour of a patron saint, to give thanks for a good harvest, or to pay respects to a biblical character. It’s well worth timing your visit to see one of the major events; the main fiesta months are from January to May, but exact dates often vary. Everyone is in a hospitable mood at these events. The beer flows, pigs are roasted, and there’s dancing in the streets for days on end.

Major mardi-gras-style festivals include the Ati-Atihan in January in Kalibo, and the Sinulog in January in Cebu. One of the biggest nationwide festivals is the Flores de Mayo, a religious parade held across the country throughout May in honour of the Virgin Mary.

Festivals and holidays calendar for the Philippines by month

Listing all Filipino festivals below is impossible. Those included here are larger ones that you might consider making a special trip for, at least if you happen to be in the area.

    Festivals and holidays in January and February

  • Feast of the Black Nazarene (Jan 9) Quiapo, Manila. Devotees gather in the plaza outside Quiapo Church to touch a miraculous image of Christ.
  • Sinulog (Third Sun in Jan) Cebu City The second city’s biggest annual event, in honour of the Santo Niño (an image of Jesus as a child). Huge street parade, live music, plenty of food and drink.
  • Ati-Atihan (Variable, usually second week of Jan) Kalibo, Aklan province. Street dancing and wild costumes at arguably the biggest festival in the country, held to celebrate an ancient land pact between settlers and indigenous Atis.
  • Dinagyang (Fourth week of Jan) Iloilo Relatively modern festival based on the Ati-Atihan and including a parade on the Iloilo River.
  • Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (Feb) Clark, Pampanga Balloon rides, microlight flying, skydiving and aerobatics displays.
  • Pamulinawen (First two weeks in Feb) Laoag City. City-wide fiesta in honour of St William the Hermit. Events include street parties, beauty pageants, concerts and religious parades.
  • Panagbenga (Baguio Flower festival) (Third week in Feb) Baguio City. The summer capital’s largest annual event includes parades of floats beautifully decorated with flowers from the Cordillera region. There are also flower-related lectures and exhibitions.
  • Suman festival (Third week in Feb) Baler, Aurora. Another mardi-gras-style extravaganza featuring street parades, dancing and floats decorated with the native delicacy suman, sticky rice cake rolled in banana leaves.

    Festivals and holidays in March and April

  • Moriones (Easter weekend) Marinduque. A celebration of the life of the Roman centurion Longinus, who was blind in one eye. Legend says that when he pierced Christ’s side with his spear, blood spurted into his eye and cured him.
  • Arya! Abra (First or second week of March) Bangued, Abra. Highlights include hair-raising bamboo-raft races along the frisky Abra River and gatherings of northern tribes.
  • Bangkero festival (First or second week of March) Pagsanjan, Laguna. Parade along the Pagsanjan River.
  • Kaamulan festival (First week of March) Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao. Showcase of tribal culture and arts.
  • Pasayaw festival (Third week of March) Canlaon City, Negros Oriental. Thanksgiving festival to God and St Joseph, with twelve barangays competing for honours in an outdoor dancing competition. The final “dance-off” is held in the city gym.
  • Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (April) Boracay, A local version of Hong Kong’s dragon-boat races, featuring domestic and international teams competing in long wooden canoes on a course off White Beach.
  • Allaw Ta Apo Sandawa (Second week of April) Kidapawan City, North Cotabato. Gathering of highland tribes to pay respects to the sacred Mount Apo.
  • Turumba festival (April & May) Pakil, Laguna. Religious festival commemorating the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary. The festival consists of seven novenas, one for each sorrow, held at weekends.

    Festivals and holidays in May

  • Flores de Mayo (Throughout May) Countrywide. Religious procession celebrating the coming of the rains, with girls dressed as the various “Accolades of our Lady”, including Faith, Hope and Charity. Processions are sometimes held after dark and lit by candles, a lovely sight.
  • Carabao Carroza (May 3–4) Iloilo, Panay Island. Races held to celebrate the humble carabao (water buffalo), beast of burden for many a provincial farmer.
  • Pahiyas (May 15) Lucban, Quezon; also celebrated in the nearby towns of Candelaria, Tayabas, Sariaya, Tiaong and Lucena. Colourful harvest festival which sees houses gaily decorated with fruits and vegetables. It’s held in honour of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.
  • Obando Fertility Rites (May 17–19) Obando, Bulacan. On the feast day of San Pascual, women gather in the churchyard to chant prayers asking for children.

    Festivals and holidays in June to September

  • Kadayawan sa Davao (Third week of Aug) Davao City Week-long harvest festival with civic parades, military parades, street dances and horsefighting.
  • Peñafrancia Fluvial festival (Third Sat in Sept) Naga, Camarines Sur. A sacred statue of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patron saint of Bicol, is paraded through the streets, then sailed down the Bicol River back to its shrine.
  • October to December
  • Kansilay (Oct 19 or closest weekend) Silay, Negros Occidental. Modern festival commemorating Silay’s charter day. Eating and drinking contests, beauty pageants and an elaborate street parade.
  • Ibalong (Third week of Oct) Legaspi and throughout Bicol. Epic dances and street presentations portraying Bicol’s mythical superheroes and gods.
  • Lanzones festival (Third week of Oct) Lambajao, Camiguin. Vibrant and good-natured outdoor party giving thanks for the island’s crop of lanzones (a tropical fruit).
  • MassKara (Third week of Oct) Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Festivities kick off with food fairs, mask-making contests, brass-band competitions and beauty pageants, followed by the climax – a mardi-gras parade where revellers don elaborate mask and costumes and dance to Latin rhythms Rio de Janeiro-style.
Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 17.05.2021

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