Money in Philippines
The Philippine peso (₱) is the official currency and in almost all cases the only currency used for normal transactions. In extreme cases, US dollars and euros are also accepted, and their daily exchange rate is widely known. In April 2015, one US dollar traded at 44.4 ₱; the rate has fluctuated a little in recent years but has always been in the low 40s.
Peso notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. One peso is equal to 100 centavos and coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavo varieties, in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins. There are 2 versions of each note, with the newer version in circulation since December 2010 (although it is still rare to find them). The newer notes have similar colours to their old counterparts, have the same people on the front (except for the 500 peso note, which also features former President Aquino), but instead of historical sites on the back, these newer notes feature Philippine natural wonders and species unique to the country. The older notes will remain legal tender until 2014.
Money changers are not common in the Philippines outside of some heavily tourist areas. As a rule of thumb, the more currency you want to exchange, the cheaper the rates can be. Banks, on the other hand, are widely available to exchange money, but usually require a minimum amount (usually around US$100.00) and have limited opening hours, usually from 9am to 3pm on weekdays, and you can enjoy their air conditioning during the long wait. The notable exceptions are Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco De Oro (BDO), which have longer opening hours.
Do not exchange money at the street stalls as some of them may change your money into counterfeit. Contact Bangkok’s Sentral ng Pilipina(Central Bank of the Philippines or BSP) if you suspect that the money given to you is counterfeit. Money changers are available in department stores, supermarkets and hotels, but needless to say, the rates are very unfavourable to customers and some only change in pesos.
Be aware that no person may enter or leave the Philippines carrying more than ₱10,000 in coins and notes without prior authorisation from the BSP. Those without prior authorisation must declare the excess money at the customs counter. Importing any amount of foreign currency is legal, but anything in excess of US$10,000 (or its equivalent) must be declared.
ATMs and credit cards
Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw money or apply for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortia are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet. International networks, such as PLUS and Cirrus, are accessible with many ATMs, with Cirrus being more prevalent than PLUS; however, withdrawals are often limited to 10,000 pesos. HSBC ATMs in Manila , Cebu and Davao allow you to withdraw ₱40,000 per transaction without incurring fees. Citi Bank ATMs in Manila and Cebu. You can withdraw up to p15,000 per transaction, but Citi Bank now charges a fee of ₱200 per transaction for cards from abroad. BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) will only let you withdraw ₱10,000 from one of their ATMs for a fee of ₱200. =2%. Visitors holding a MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus card can withdraw money or apply for a cash advance at ATMs bearing their logo. The best known MasterCard ATMs are the Express Tellers of BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Smartellers of Banco de Oro. PLUS ATMs are not available locally as a stand-alone addition, but only in conjunction with Cirrus. Prominent examples are BDO Bank’s Fasteller and Metrobank’s Electronic Teller (ET). Most MegaLink ATMs are linked to PLUS and Cirrus.
Credit card holders can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards at many business locations in the Philippines, but merchants usually require a minimum purchase amount before you can use your card. China UnionPay credit cardholders can get cash advances at many BancNet ATMs (especially Metrobank), but cannot currently use their cards for point-of-sale transactions. Credit cards are generally not accepted for government-related transactions.
Since 2010, Philippine banks have been charging ₱200 per transaction for using foreign cards at their ATMs, on top of the cash withdrawal and exchange fees already charged by your bank. Considering the low transaction limits, this means a surcharge of at least 2-4% on the amount withdrawn.
Try to use an HSBC Bank ATM, as HSBC Bank ATMs are the only ones that do not charge a Php 200 fee for overseas cards. You can find HSBC Bank ATMs in Manila. Cebu. and Davao cities.
Tipping is not required in the Philippines unless the customer wishes to show appreciation for services rendered. However, tipping is becoming more common, especially in service-oriented establishments (spa, salon). In some restaurants and hotels, the “service charge” (8%-12%) is already included in the bill, giving the customer the option to tip extra or not. In taxis, it is customary to add 20-50 pesos to the fare.
Travelling in the Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and also in the rest of the world). For example, a stay in a guesthouse, inn or lodge can cost as low as ₱300 per night for a fan room or 500 per night for an air.con room. a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice versa will cost as low as ₱999. a flight from Manila to Davao and vice versa can cost as low as 1595. Transportation costs as low as ₱7.00 for the first 4 km in a jeepney. Bus fares are around 1.5 pesos per km for an air-conditioned bus and 20% less for a non-air-conditioned bus. An hour of internet at an internet café costs between ₱10 and ₱20 depending on the location of the internet café, a can of Coke costs only ₱20, while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ₱70 and the Economist ₱160. In most restaurants, the 12% value added tax (VAT) is usually included in the unit price, but the service charge is often not included and is charged separately.
Shopping in Philippines
|What is a pasalubong?|
|A pasalubong is a tradition that Filipinos have practised for a long time. A pasalubong is something you bring back to your friends and family as a souvenir, keepsake or gift from a place you have recently visited. Nowadays, Filipino immigrants from abroad as well as Filipinos working outside their hometowns but within the Philippines usually bring or send pasalubong for Christmas, New Year, birthdays, Holy Week and during summer holidays. Try this tradition when planning what to buy as a souvenir from the Philippines. |
Filipinos tend not to be selfish, even colleagues, friends and neighbours as well as the colleague’s family, the friend’s friends and the neighbour’s neighbour (also try giving pasalubongs to your enemies, even the meanest person would give them pasalubongs too), it’s funny but that’s how Filipinos are. A pasalubong consists of the following, food; usually treats and sweets, t-shirts, souvenirs like key chains, bags, etc. They usually pack all their pasalubongs in one box. This may be difficult for you, but as they say, it is better to give than to receive, get tips from locals on what a typical pasalubong consists of.
It is not difficult to find shopping malls in the Philippines: The country hosts a large number of shopping malls, from big to small and from modern to traditional, you can find it all here in the Philippines. It is a fact that consumption is a part of Filipinos’ lives, even things they don’t need but are on sale and discounted, they will buy. The reason why the country was not so badly affected by the recent financial crisis is the circulation of money. Even when Filipinos are broke, they find a way to buy something for themselves at least in a week.
As mentioned earlier, living in the Philippines is cheap and shopping in the country is also cheap compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. The sale usually takes place on payday and lasts for 3 days and also during the Christmas season (in the Philippines, the Christmas season stretches from September to the first week of January) at department stores like SM Department Store [www].
In the Philippines, Metro Manila is a great place to shop. It is the country’s main shopping centre and is home to an extensive range of malls. Metro Manila offers different types of malls scattered around the metropolis, from modern and glitzy malls to traditional and bustling markets, it’s all in Metro Manila. The Philippines is one of the ideal destinations for bargain shopping. Here, you can find cheap items for sale at flea markets and open markets like Divisoria, Market! Market! and Greenhills. These markets are definitely the place to be for a shopper looking for bargains and cheap buys. However, if you prefer to shop for luxurious and expensive clothes, bags, watches and jewellery, then Ayala Centre would be the place for you, here you will find a variety of high-end shopping malls. The place is often compared to Singapore’s Orchard Rd and Bangkok’s Siam Square. From entertainment to shopping, it has it all. Not far from Makati is Bonifacio Global City, one of the metropolis’ growing business and shopping districts. It houses several shopping malls, including Serendra, it is a piazza that offers lifestyle and luxury shops and is often referred to as the luxury lifestyle centre of Metro Manila. The piazza features modern architecture that makes you think you are somewhere in the world of Star Wars. Stare, drool and marvel at the public art on display there. Coffee and tea shops can be found in this area as well as furniture and clothing shops. The 4 largest mall operators in the country are SM, Robinson’s, Ayala and Gaisano with outlets around the archipelago.
- Antiques: Antique porcelain plates can be found around Manila after the Philippine-Chinese trade, but be careful when buying antiques. Antique santos or statues of saints, including Jesus and the Virgin Mary, are also sold. Antiques are mostly sold in the streets of Makati, Ermita and Vigan (in Ilocos)
- Brassware: Muslim gongs are very popular in the Philippines, jewellery boxes and brass beds are other brass products. Just as with antiques, tourists are advised to be careful when buying brassware.
- Books and stationery: Filipino literature is amusing to read, English versions of Filipino novels are available at the National Bookstore [www] and Power Books [www], books are much cheaper in the country compared to other countries. Stationery is sold at a very low price of only ₱10, but be careful as some items may have high lead content.
- Clothing: Cheap clothing available at flea markets and Ukay-Ukays. Ukay-Ukays sell second-hand clothes from other countries at a cheap price. If you prefer branded clothes, Metro Manila has a lot of foreign brand shops scattered around the city, especially in the Makati business district.
- Comics: Comics or comics in English are one of the most popular forms of literature in the Philippines and can be bought for as little as P10. They are so popular that there are often TV and movie adaptations. Carlo J. Caparas and Mars Ravelo are two famous comic book authors. They are available in newsstands and most are unfortunately in Tagalog, you may be lucky to find an English version of them.
- Embroidery: Embroidery is a good buy because most of the national dresses are embroidered from pinya (pineapple) leaves and other raw materials. Handmade dresses tend to be more expensive than machine-made ones.
- Food: Buy dried mangoes, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon has pastries and sweets like Polvoron are also good to buy. Local specialities are sold in pasalubong centres. Besides pastries and sweets, you should also buy condiments such as banana ketchup and crab paste, as both are difficult to get outside Asia. Don’t miss the chocolates of the Philippines; Chocnut and Tablea, Chocnut is like a powdered chocolate with a sweet taste and often sticky when it sticks to the gums, Tablea are chocolate bars used to make hot chocolate.
- Jewellery: Silver necklaces and beads are very popular in the Philippines, however, buying jewellery made from endangered animals and corals is discouraged as the corals are slowly disappearing. Handmade jewellery made by indigenous tribes of the Philippines is available, jewellery made of wood is also sold.
- Mats: Pandan leaves are woven and made into a mat. The mats are different in each region of the Philippines. Mats in Luzon tend to be simple, while in Visayas they are multi-coloured, while tribes in Mindanao weave complex and difficult designs that often have meaning.
- SM Save More & Walter mart the largest supermarket group in the Philippines with over 300 shops. SM and Walter Mart have entered into a partnership.
- Pure Gold and S & R the second largest supermarket chain with over 250 shops.
- Robinsons the third largest supermarket chain with over 200 shops.
- Gaisano is the 4th largest supermarket in China with over 100 shops.
- Shopwise & Rustans & Wellcome are all part of Dairy Farm International, the largest supermarket group in Asia.
- 7-Eleven is the largest convenience store group in the Philippines with over 1600 shops.
- Mini Stop is part of Robinsons and has over 700 shops.
- Family Mart now has over 150 shops.
- All Day Convenience Stores have over 150 branches.