The ONLY Philippine’s Packing List You’ll Ever Need

Limestone cliffs on Coron island hopping tour in Palawan Pihilippines
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⚠️The things on this list are what you’ll actually find in my backpack. Unlike many generic packing lists found online, I own and use all items that I recommend (unless stated otherwise).

Workin’ on your packing list for the Philippines?

If so, you’re in luck.

Before our trip, we spent hours online researching what to pack for the Philippines. But in the end, there was a bunch of stuff we wish we had brought (as well as things we definitely didn’t need).

So, after spending a month in the Philippines, I want to share with you exactly what we would have packed if we could do it all over again.

Whether you need to know what to pack for 2 weeks in the Philippines or 2 months, you’ll find it here (hint: there’s not much difference).

Don’t have time to read the entire post? Click here for a free downloadable packing checklist for the Philippines

Make sure to check out this ultimate Philippines bucket list when planning your trip…you won’t wanna miss this stuff!

How to Pack for Philippines Weather

Before we get into the list of things to pack for a trip to the Philippines, a quick note on the weather.

Philippines has two seasons: wet season and dry season. The exact rainfall depends on the specific region you’ll be visiting, but most places follow this general curve:

Temperatures are roughly the same all year round (hot). But in rainy season, you might get some— you guessed it— strong rain storms. The good news is these storms usually pass in an hour before the sun comes back out.

We went during dry season and got hit by a typhoon (go figure). In the end, no matter what time you go, you’re packing list will stay the same.

What to Wear in the Philippines

Here are the clothes I recommend packing for a week-long trip. If your trip is longer, just pack for one week and wash as needed (which, if you use lightweight, quick-dry material and some Axe body spray, won’t be often 🙈).

Remember, when packing for the Philippines, it’s better to take LESS than you think you’ll need (especially shirts). That way you’ll have room to buy yourself some new clothes as souvenirs.

Also, shoot for neutral clothes that can serve multiple functions (ex. Black t-shirt that matches with everything and can be used for exercise or going out).

Men’s Clothes Packing List for Philippines:

This was the perfect amount of clothes for our time in Palawan and Manila.

(By the way, if you plan on visiting Palawan, make sure to check out my detailed Palawan itinerary—it’s chock-full of insider tips and underrated destinations).

Women’s Clothes Packing List for Philippines:

  • 3 t-shirts (preferably anti-odor merino wool)
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 light hoodie
  • 1 rain jacket (alternative: just buy a poncho if it starts raining)
  • 1 swimsuit 
  • 1 sarong
  • 1 beach dress
  • 1 short
  • 1 legging
  • 1 pair comfortable lightweight pants (hiking pants or stretchy jeans)
  • 3 pairs of socks (you’ll use mostly flip flops)
  • 7 underwear (better safe than sorry)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Tennis shoes (bonus points if you have hiking shoes that double as tennies)
  • Flip flops (or the fugly-yet-popular Keens sandals)

A Note on Dress Code:  The dress code in the Philippines is more laid back than other countries in Southeast Asia. You don’t really have to worry about covering up like you do in Thailand, for example. That said, it’s best to keep the bikinis on the beach and put on normal clothes when in towns, stores, restaurants, etc.

Suitcase or Backpack for Philippines?

Before delving further into our packing list, let’s clear up one important question…Should you use a suitcase or backpack for the Philippines?

I’ll let this picture answer your question..

guy carrying luggage down the beach because he didn't pay attention to my Philippines packing list

I can’t tell you how many travelers I saw stumbling down the beach to their hostel, struggling to carry their heavy suitcases over their heads.

In the Philippines, a good backpack is 100% necessary. 

If your trip is just a couple weeks, you can get away with a carry-on size backpack…

But if you’re planning a longer trip to multiple countries, I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 70—this is the new version of the bag I use. 

Some may argue it’s too big…but nobody said you had to cram it full!

In my experience, it’s more comfortable to have wiggle room than to have to constantly puzzle piece everything together inside a tiny bag.

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Philippines Packing Essentials

IMPORTANT: If this is your first big trip and you’re about to splurge on a bunch of supplies, I HIGHLY recommend looking into opening a rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred first. If you use it for all your purchases, it’ll help you earn the signup bonus (which at the time of writing is worth $750 in free flights!).

Alright, let’s start with the essentials. Here are 17 things you definitely don’t want to forget:

Anti-theft day bag

Really, any old day bag will do. But if you carry expensive equipment like a laptop or camera, an anti-theft bag will keep your valuables safer. Plus, they’re pretty cheap.

My wife bought this inexpensive model on Amazon and loves it. It looks small, but I was blown away how much you can fit inside. 

Dry bag

I used this almost every day during our time on Palawan Island. They are super handy for boat rides, beach days, and island hopping tours.

If you forget the pack one, there are vendors selling them all over the place (although they’re probably cheaper to buy ahead of time). 

I bought the 5-liter bag and it’s a bit cramped. 10L would’ve been better.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are a must for anyone traveling more than a few days. Instead of dumping and digging through all your clothes to find something. They keep you organized AF. And organization makes me happy.

Waterproof phone case

These are great if you don’t have a fancy waterproof phone (or if you’re like me and simply prefer not to test the claimed waterproof-ness of said phone).

Tip: Get one that comes with a necklace—these are great for kayaking. Mine doesn’t have a strap and I was constantly terrified of knocking it overboard.

Reusable water bottle

Drinking tap water in the Philippines is a big No-No. So, instead of buying tons of plastic water bottles and murdering the earth, get yourself a refillable water bottle.

You can either refill it with big jugs or filter the tap water yourself, which brings us to the next item…

LifeStraw

This little guy is good to have no matter where you go. It’ll give you peace of mind knowing you can have clean drinking water available at all times.

That said, I didn’t use my LifeStraw in the Philippines. We just bought 6-liter jugs of water and refilled are smaller water bottles every day.

Microfiber towel 

If you’re still traveling with a regular fluffy towel, stop it. Microfiber towels are SOOO  much better. They fold smaller, dry faster, and don’t stink as much. 

Snorkel and mask

This one’s not mandatory, but if you have one, might as well bring it. Most tours don’t include snorkels are masks, so you end up paying a few bucks each day to rent them. 

If you’re going to be at the beach and doing lots of tours, why not use that rent money towards buying a set of your own?

The only time I wouldn’t recommend this is if you’re traveling long-term and don’t want to take up precious backpack real estate.

(Disclosure: I just have a traditional mask in my bag, but I saw others with these full face masks and they look sweet!)

Water shoes

Just like a snorkel, you’re going to be renting water shoes a lot at the beach. If you have space in your backpack, I would just buy your own (it’ll probably end up costing the same as it would to rent for a few days).

If you leave the Philippines and decide you don’t want to carry them anymore, donate them to a fellow traveler and earn some good wanderlust joo joo. (Can’t believe I just wrote that).

A lot of beaches and snorkel spots are filled with coral and sharp objects that you won’t want to step on with bare feet. A guy on one of my tours tried to save money by not renting water shoes, and it ended in a bloody mess.

Money belt or fanny pack

I don’t travel anywhere these days without my fanny pack.

If you only have a couple items to carry, it’s way more comfortable than lugging around your entire day pack.

And for you fashionistas who think fanny packs are ugly, at least get yourself a standard money belt to hold your valuables when walking around. Cell phones and wallets have a way of disappearing when you keep them in your regular pockets.

Passport wallet

Your passport is your life. Protect it. Chucking it into your bag loosey goosey is asking for trouble. 

Make sure to get one with RFID technology to protect your personal data that’s encoded in your passport.

Headlamp

I carry headlamp with me everywhere I go. You never know when you’ll have to walk down dark streets, pack your bags without turning on the lights, or survive a city-wide typhoon power outage.

Yes, you could use your cell phone flashlight. But a lantern attached to your face is much more convenient.

Pacsafe Portable Safe

This is for digital nomads or those traveling with expensive equipment.

99% of the time you won’t need this. But the 1% that you DO need it, you’re going to wish you had it. 

It’s basically a portable safe. If you stay at a hostel or guest house that doesn’t have lockers, you can secure this slash proof bag to a fixed object to lock up your laptop, camera, money, etc. 

I’ve heard multiple stories of travelers leaving their valuables out in a private room, locking the door, and coming home to realize their stuff was jacked.

The problem is, you never know who else has a key to your room. That’s why  whenever I leave my MacBook in my room to go out exploring, I lock it up in my Pacsafe.

Hat

The sun from the Philippines is strong. Unless you want to be a raisin-face when you’re older, pack a hat.

sunburned guy on beach who forgot to add sunscreen to his packing list for Philippines

Luggage Locks

You can never have too many of these (especially if you lose them as often as I do).

I recommend four. One for your locker, two for your bags, and an extra in case you need to lend one to a friend.

I like to have two ”normal” style locks, and two “cord” style locks. That way you should have something that works in any situation. 

Snacks

This is Traveling 101. Don’t leave home without snacks. You never know when you’ll get stranded somewhere. And the last thing you want is to be hangry during a stressful situation (and if you’re ever in Manila, I can almost guarantee a stressful situation).

What to Pack for Philippines: Electronics

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, here are the electronics you’ll want to add to your Philippines packing list.

Powerbank

A quality portable battery pack (AKA power bank) will definitely come in handy in the Philippines—especially if you plan to take all-day (or even overnight) island hopping tours.

The last thing you want is to go on an amazing tour, only to run out of battery before arriving at the most beautiful spot. 

While it is possible to pick these up in little shops along the way, I wouldn’t recommend it. When it comes to chargers, I’d stick with name brands to avoid melting your phone.

Side note: If you make it to Sabang and find two powerbanks sitting on the charging station in Cafe Sabang Hostel, they are my gift to you…Which brings me to an unrelated lesson I learned the hard way: NEVER try to charge things at the last second while you’re waiting for your transport to a different city. (You will forget it 😓)

(This one doesn’t have the highest capacity, but it’s handy because it doubles as your regular wall charger)

Adapter

Here’s travel staple you should carry with you anywhere you go. In the Philippines, 90% of our hostels has adapters built into the walls. But, I’d still pick one up just in case. Better safe than sorry. 

I like this adapter because—unlike traditional travel adaptors—this one lets you charge up to 5 devices at once (handy for rooms with only one plug).

Gopro (or cheap alternative) + extra batteries

A GoPro is something that needs to be on your Philippines packing list. You don’t have to have the latest fancy model (and can even use a cheaper off-brand). I’m happy with my good ol’ HERO4, which they don’t even sell anymore.

You’re going to have loads of spectacular photo opportunities in and under the water. It’d be a shame to travel across the world and not be able to capture all the stunning snorkel, diving, kayaking, and marine life spots.

I’d also grab an extra set of batteries. These off-brand ones work perfectly and are much cheaper than the original GoPro brand.

Selfie stick

I always pack two selfie sticks: one for my phone, and one for my GoPro. If you’re a savvy space-saver, you could find one pole that fits (this one looks promising, but needs an adapter).

I use this Yoozon selfie stick for my phone. It has a built-in tripod, a Bluetooth remote, and packs down pretty small.

My Gopro stick is five years old and no longer sold online. If I had to buy a new one, I’d make sure it’s sturdy, waterproof, and doesn’t have any metals parts that would rust.

Kindle

There’s nothing better than lazing around on the beach in a hammock reading a good ol’ Kindle book.

If you’re going to be in the Philippines for several weeks, I recommend scheduling in a couple chill days to recharge your batteries. If you cram your itinerary too full, you’ll get worn out and things won’t be as fun.

Bluetooth speaker

Music can definitely make or break the mood when traveling. With a rugged, waterproof Bluetooth speaker like the JBL Flip 4, you can take your tunes with you wherever you go.  Whether you’re hiking, beach bumming, or playing cards with friends at your hostel during a typhoon… you’ll be happy you packed a speaker.

Xenvo lens

I splurged on these for my latest trip and am kicking myself for not buying them sooner. These nifty lil’ lenses clip onto your phone’s camera so you can take better pictures (no need to lug around a big fancy-pants camera).

This set comes with a wide-angle lens and a close-up lens.

If you’re trying to capture a beautiful view, the wide lens allows you fit more scenery into the frame. The close-up lens takes detailed close-up pictures of small objects like bugs, flowers, detailed art, etc.

Headphones

I used to only use cheap headphones while traveling. After all, they might get lost, stolen, or damaged… so I didn’t dare pack anything expensive…

Unfortunately, that plan hasn’t worked well for me. When it comes to headphones, you get what you pay for. Don’t be surprised if the sound cuts out on one esr halfway through your trip.

Nowadays, I carry a couple nicer pairs and just make sure to be extra careful (so far so good 🤞).

Everyone has their own unique taste in headphones, but these Jabras are the ones I use.

If you’re a digital nomad or plan to work on the road, look for noise-cancelling pair. In the Philippines, I used my WX-1000XM3’s (pictured above) to work distraction-free in many loud hostel environments (the downside to these over-the-ear headphones is they take up more space in your backpack). 

Speaking of working on the road…If you’re looking for ways to fund your adventures, check out this ginormous list of 109+ best travel jobs.

HDMI cord

I always carry an HDMI cord with me in case I have a Netflix-craving emergency. Just connect your computer to the TV at your accommodation and squeeze your fav show in before bed (don’t binge too much though!).

Drone

The Philippines is a drone-owners dream.

Unlike Thailand and many other heavily regulated countries, in the Philippines you can fly to your heart’s content (at least you could at the time of writing this).

We met a couple on one of our island-hopping tours with a DJI Mavic Mini, and they convinced me to buy one of my own.

(Honesty Update: Day’s Macbook broke and we had to replace that instead of splurging on a drone…I still want one though!)

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Philippines Packing List: Toiletries

And that brings us to toiletries…If you’re wondering what to pack for Philippines, here’s what I recommend:

First Aid Kit

This is definitely a Philippines packing list essential. Chances are, you’ll be staying in small towns with limited medical care. If you get scraped up, you’ll want to have some basic first aid equipment with you just in case.

You can find complete travel first aid kits on Amazon, or you can just raid your medicine cabinet and make your own like I did.

Medicine

There’s no need to pack a mini-pharmacy, but there are a couple things you’ll want to have on hand.

I recommend packing motion sickness pills, ibuprofen, and any prescriptions you need. 

Unlike many other countries in Asia where you can buy just about anything over-the-counter, in the Philippines, you’ll need a prescription from a doctor.

Body spray 

Body spray is a lifesaver for light-packers who can’t afford to wash their clothes every other day. Grab your shirt, fire directly on the pits, and you’re good to go! 👌

Bug spray

Ain’t nobody want dengue or malaria. Keep yourself protected by bringing along strong skeeter spray. They sell normal repellent in the Philippines, but I feel safer with the 100% DEET you can find online.

Sunscreen

Do your wallet a favor and pick up a nice big bottle of sunscreen before you leave home (unless you’re traveling carry-on only, that is). The sun in the Philippines is FIERCE, and the sunscreen is EXPENSIVE.

Ear plugs

These things are lifesavers. I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep and magnitudes of grouchiness I’ve saved by always having ear plugs with me.

Whether you’re dealing with obnoxious snorers, buttcrack-of-dawn bag-packers, or I-don’t-know-how-to-whisper drunken loud-mouths…you’ll be glad you packed these.

Other bathroom basics

These are obvious, but this Philippines packing list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning your bathroom basics: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, soap, glasses/contacts, retainers, etc.

Other Important Things Not to Forget

So you got your bags packed, but you’re not done yet!

Here are a few other important things to remember before take off.

Travel insurance

After my month-long food poisoning in Chile and motorcycle accident in Thailand, I cannot stress this enough. It doesn’t matter how careful you are. Sometimes things happen that are outside of your control. So far, purchasing travel insurance has saved me nearly $20,000. 

I’ve used both World Nomads and SafetyWing travel insurance over the years, and they’ve both served me well. SafetyWing is the cheapest at less than $40/month, but World Nomads offers more comprehensive coverage. (Get a quick quote to compare World Nomad prices to SafetyWing prices by filling in your info below)

Travel Rewards Card

While you’ll probably pay for most things in cash, it’s also smart to carry a travel rewards credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

If you’re from the US, you have several different options, but the most popular is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (and after the signup bonus, you might even be able to  get your flight for free).

Charles Schwab debit card

As I mentioned, cash is king in the Philippines. This leads to some problems…

If you use currency exchanges, you’ll get a bad rate. But if you withdraw from ATMs using your normal ATM card, you’ll get smacked with fees.

Fortunately, the Charles Schwab debit card is here to save the day. If you use their free checking account, they’ll reimburse you for all ATM fees worldwide. These reimbursements have saved me hundreds of dollars over the years.

“Fake” return ticket

If you’re entering Philippines with a one-way ticket, you’ll need to provide proof of onward travel. There are a couple ways to do this.

You can buy a refundable flight, then cancel it during the refund period (usually 24 hours)…

…OR you can pay for a “ temporary ticket” using an onward flight service like Best Onward Ticket. It’ll cost around $12, but it’s a lot less hassle than refunding the ticket yourself (plus, with such long travel times, you might miss the refund period).

Just make sure you use a reputable company. There are a couple “copycat companies”  that have a bunch of bad reviews. I used Best Onward Tickets and it worked flawlessly.

Passport

Sometimes we get so wrapped up thinking about clothes and gadgets that we forget the most essential item of all— your passport. Most nationalities can stay for 30 days without a visa, but check your country here just to be sure.

Also, if you plan to continue traveling after the Philippines, make sure you have plenty of blank pages left in your passport. I only had a couple left and needed to order a new one.

Credit card tasks

Before leaving, make sure to notify your banks of your travel plans. Also, take pictures and make copies of the fronts and backs of your credit cards and IDs. You can then save them to the cloud or email them to yourself just in case.

SIM card

You have several options here. The most popular are to either…

(1) Buy an international data SIM card before you leave, or

(2) Buy a local SIM card when you arrive.

I normally just buy a local SIM card when I get to the airport. It usually costs a couple bucks more than doing it in town, but it’s way more convenient.

What NOT to Bring to the Philippines

So we’ve gone over everything you SHOULD pack. Here’s what you SHOULDN’T:

  • Drugs. Not worth the risk, my friends. 
  • Suitcase. I can’t emphasize this enough. Suitcases and Philippines don’t mix. Get yourself a backpack.
  • Heels. Tennies and flip flops are all you need, ladies!
  • Valuables. While I never felt unsafe in Palawan or Manila, it’s best to leave the flashy stuff at home.
  • Too many clothes. Pack less than you’re comfortable with. Buy more as needed.
  • Tons of makeup. If your just gonna sweat it off in 20 minutes, why bother? Don’t worry about how you’ll look in photos…that’s what editing is for 😉

Check out this list of crucial Philippines travel tips to discover 10 other noobie mistakes I learned the hard way (please don’t follow in my footsteps!).

Free Philippines Packing Checklist

Alrighty! All that’s left is to print out this packing list for Philippines, check the items off as you pack, and enjoy your trip!

I hope this gives you a better idea on what to bring to the Philippines. If you found it helpful, please share using the buttons below! 🤓

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Packing list for Philippines - limestone cliffs near Coron islsand

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