Planning a trip to the Philippines but not sure what you should pack? Based on my trip to Boracay, here’s a guide on what you’ll need to take with you to have a great time on your holiday to this beautiful part of the world.

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What should I pack?

Clothes

The key is to pack light and, as it’s going to be warm, pack clothing that is light and breathable. Think things like:

  • cotton shorts
  • singlet tops
  • cotton, breathable t-shirts
  • long-sleeve shirts to pull over your swimmers when you’re on a boat to protect you from the sun
  • cotton dresses
  • sarongs
  • wrap skirts
  • long or billowy cotton skirts
  • denim shorts, and
  • hats

Pack more than one set of swimwear, so you have a dry set to wear while your wet ones from yesterday are drying. I made sure I packed lots of basics, like white and grey t-shirts and singlet tops, but packed brightly coloured or patterned skirts and shorts to help me mix things up. I don’t really buy a lot of brand new clothes, so if you’re like me you might want to do what I do and visit your local Op-Shop or thrift store. It’s a great place to pick up some vintage, pre-loved cotton skirts.

Shoes

You’ll do most of your walking on unevenly paved streets, on sand or in the shallows of the water (getting on and off boats). So I packed only sandals and other flat shoes. I packed my tan sandals from Wittner because they go with everything. I also packed my glitzy sandals from Holster because I wanted to wear shoes that were a bit nicer for dinner, but still needed them to be comfortable and beach-appropriate.

Make-up

It was really hot when I was there (November) and I found putting on a full face of make-up was a losing battle, cos as soon as I got outside the heat hit me and I began to sweat and it all ran off my face. Gross. If you can, go without makeup altogether and let that salty sea water cleanse your skin. If you do need make-up, use light makeup with sunscreen in it. I use Nude by Nature‘s 5 in-1 BB Cream and love it. Light, quick to put on and has natural sunscreen in it (I still wear a 50+ face sunscreen underneath).

Sun protection gear

You’ll definitely need a hat and sunscreen with high SPF to protect you from sunburn. I don’t leave the hotel without putting this on my face and this on my body. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. Similarly, a rash shirt or sun-shirt is a good idea too. Remember, cloudy days mean UV rays! Don’t be deceived if there’s no sun, you can still burn.

Umbrella

Pack a small umbrella to help you avoid getting saturated, and having your phone and camera get saturated too, during an afternoon downpour. A very small umbrella you can tuck in your day bag and carry around with you all day would be ideal.

Daypack

You’re going to need a bag to put all your essentials in for a day of sightseeing. Guys might like to take a backpack, women might like to take something else. Just make sure whatever you take has a sturdy zip on it and is a bag you can feel comfortably safe with as there may be pickpockets around in heavily touristy areas. If you’re visiting Manila or similar areas, consider a sturdy day bag as there tend to be more pickpocket-related crimes. You can read more of my top safety tips for travellers here.

Camera gear

Pack your camera gear, the good stuff, because honestly, you’re going to want to take a million photos. I also recommend packing your tripod as there are some truly beautiful places you’ll want to capture to the very best of your ability. Consider packing a spare memory card and spare camera battery as well.

Medicine

Bring a small bag packed full of essential medicines with you, bring things like cold and flu tablets, hay fever/allergy medicine, ibuprofen, paracetamol, Tums and Imodium. You should also definitely pack your prescription medicines and anything special you may require, like a Ventolin inhaler for asthmatics. It’s important to be prepared, just in case you’re struck down with a tummy bug or sudden cold get and stuck in your room.

Tissues

Pocket packs of tissues should be carried with you at all times as you may find yourself visiting a toilet stall then realising the toilet paper is kept out near the hand basins… uh oh! In some places you have to pay for toilet paper too, so best to have your own supply on you in case you don’t have enough change.

What to pack for a trip to the Philippines
Nude by Nature 5-in-1 BB Cream

Deodorant

The Philippines can be very humid and no matter what time of year you visit, it’s still going to be lovely and warm. Pack a good, heavy-duty deodorant to help control that stank.

Your essentials

Pack your beloved brand-name essentials like cosmetics, electric toothbrush heads and feminine hygiene products. Also, pack your environmentally friendly products and products for sensitive skin, as it may be difficult to get your hands on these while you travel. Don’t waste money on travel minis, use refillable bottles instead.

Waterproof case or bag

Pack a waterproof case or bag for your phone, camera and other valuables to save them getting wet on the beach or if you get caught in an afternoon downpour. I went kayaking with a group once and we had to abandon our kayaks and swim through a cave, I felt a lot better knowing my valuables were safe from water in a plastic container.

Skin-care products

With all the sunscreen, sun and salt water, I found my skin was a bit dry at the end of the day. A while ago I got sent a whole bunch of beauty products from New Zealand brand, Antipodes Skincare. Honestly, I love them and my skin loves them! For the Philippines, the Hallelujah Lime & Patchouli Cleanser, Apostle Skin Brightening Serum and Divine Face Oil are absolutely perfect. They replenish your skin after a big day out in the elements.

Hand sanitiser

Uh oh, I hate to be that tourist, but hand sanitizer is essential no matter where you are, even if you’re in your hometown. You never know when you’ll unexpectedly touch something sticky, hairy, wriggly or gross, so be prepared and have some hand sanitiser with you.

Wet wipes

A small pocket-pack of wet wipes can be a blessing, especially when you’ve just slathered sunscreen and mosquito repellent all over your body and you can’t find a sink to wash your hands. Not just that, but it’s humid in the Philippines so you may want to freshen up a little and get all that sticky-ickiness off you.

Boracay Beach - Phoebe Lee - Boracay - Travel Blogger - Personal Post Crystal Cove Island
Singlet tops & comfortable, breathable skirts are ideal!

My packing tips and travel hacks

A few tips and tricks to help you hack your packing!

Charging station

If like me, you travel with a laptop, two cameras, a phone, and a watch, then you’re going to need more than one power outlet. Buy one outlet converter and take a power outlet board from home with multiple plug-ins on it. It makes life so much easier!

Eco-friendly bags

Stash some eco-friendly bags and reusable sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes! 

What to pack for a trip to the Philippines

Tupperware

I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! 

Dryer sheets

Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip. If you don’t have dryer sheets, a few drops of essential oil on a tissue, laid flat in-between layers of clothes, works wonders. I also have a little bottle of spray which instantly freshens up clothes, it’s from The Laundress and it’s amazing! No musty-smelling clothes for you, my friend. 


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Useful travel resources for your next adventure!

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you for this awesome list Phoebe! That was very useful, I spent 2 weeks in the Philippines with my husband and, following your advices, we never missed anything.
    Just a little addition on the Insect repellent, I would recommend to order 200mL per person for 2 weeks or 2x200mL for 2 persons for 2 weeks.

  2. Thanks for this awesome list I am off to the Philippines in a few days heading to El Nido and up to the mountains. This will surely come in handy for our trip. I run a travel blog, willow in wanderland, and will be posting on our time there. Thanks so much for the tips in your blog. So helpful and practical!

    1. Hi Phoebe, like everyone else who has visited this site I found it so useful. We have just returned having visited the mountain province including the Rice Terraces and Sagada, Palawan including Puerto Princesa and Elnido; and Manila and surrounding area.
      I read your blog a few weeks before and made sure I’d purchased everything you suggested. Luckily I’d also bought enough to take care of my sister and brother in law as well which meant we had plenty of tissues, hand sanitiser and wet wipes -all essential. The waterproof bags and money belt are a great investment. The only thing I didn’t take on board was the power block – but will make sure we have that for our next adventure. We dodged a typhoon and earthquake whilst we were there so clothing advice also well worth while.
      I will check your site for future advice. My daughters are travelling to Columbia later in the year – any advice?

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