Best Time To Visit The Philippines: When To Go + When To Avoid

Last Updated on May 14, 2024

Scuba diving. Rice terraces. Miles of vibrant coral reefs. The Philippines is one of my FAVORITE destinations in Southeast Asia. This tropical archipelago made up of over 7000 different islands and two distinct seasons, wet season and dry season can be tricky to determine when the best time to visit the Philippines is. As vast as the Philippines is, it is filled with the most adventurous things to do out of any country that I have traveled to. The beaches of Boracay boast powdery white sand. Each year Bacolod hosts the Masskara Festival full of music and art. Places in the east like Southern Leyte have incredible scuba diving opportunities and the best whale shark tour in the Philippines

Whether you’re choosing the most popular time to visit or the quieter shoulder season, the activities that each season brings are distinct and cater to any adventure you’re looking for. In this travel guide to the best time to go to the Philippines, you’ll find the right season for you depending on your travel style, interests, and hobbies! Let’s dive in!

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Generally speaking, the best time to visit the Philippines is from December to February when the weather is cool and dry. It’s usually recommended to avoid the summer months from July to October because that is the peak typhoon season in the Philippines. 

Another good time to visit is during the shoulder months of May and September when it is less crowded and the weather is still favorable.

Because there are pros and cons to each month of the year, there really isn’t a “correct” answer to this question.

Which is why I made this guide so you can compare the seasons and decide what month will best suit your Philippines itinerary. The best time of year to go will depend on what you want to see and do. 

Before we dive into this guide, here are some questions to keep in your back pocket as you read:

Do you mind crowds?

Are you bothered by a bit of rain?

How well do you handle extreme heat? Humidity?

Do you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities?

Are you doing any snorkeling or scuba diving during your trip?

Worst time to visit the Philippines

July to October is typically the worst time to visit the Philippines because it’s the peak typhoon season. August and September are typically the most common for the storms to hit so that’s something to consider if you’re planning a trip during this time of year.

 

What is the cheapest season to visit the Philippines?

The cheapest time to visit the Philippines is during the low season from May through October and the shoulder months of May and September. Cheap flights and accommodations are typical this time of year so it’s great if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 

What month is the hottest in the Philippines?

April and May are the hottest months in the Philippines. The average temperature during these months sit around 93 F ( 34 C), but can easily feel like 100 F (37 C).

 

What is the coldest month in the Philippines?

January is the coldest month in the Philippines. Because the country is so close to the equator, the average temperature is still high this month, around 85 F (29 C).

 

What is the low season in the Philippines?

The low season in the Philippines runs from May through October. Most of the season makes up typhoon season, so many people avoid these months entirely when they plan a trip to the Philippines.

 

My Experience

Philippines Geography Overview

Over 7000 South China and Philippine islands make up the Philippines. These islands are separated into three key regions: Visayas, Luzon, and Mindanao. Aside from the miles and miles of powdery white sand beaches, you can find mountainous regions, rivers, plains, lakes, and rivers all around the country.

The Central Visayas are the most popular islands people explore during their trip to the Philippines. Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Siquijor, Dumaguete, and Siargao are the main areas among many others. This area tends to be drier than the north, but it still experiences a heavy wet season.

The Luzon region is the largest island in the Philippines in the north. The most popular city here is Manila. It has a more mountainous terrain than the Visayas and many dramatic peaks pop up around the island like the Mayon Volcano and Mount Pulag.

Mindanao is the southernmost island in the Philippines with Davao as a major hub. It’s not the most popular on an itinerary, but travelers do meander down here to get off the beaten path. It’s home to the highest point in the Philippines, Mount Apo.

It’s one of the few countries in the Coral Triangle (the global center of marine diversity), making the Philippines one of the best places in the world for underwater exploration.

Weather in the Philippines

Since the Philippines is so close to the equator, the year is divided into two seasons: rainy (May to October) and dry (November to April).

The daytime temperature doesn’t fluctuate very much, so you can expect temperatures in the mid-80s pretty much year-round. It does get hotter or feel much hotter than that, though. You can get a little bit of reprieve from the extreme heat that’s present from April to May by visiting from December to February. 

During the rainy season, there is a high chance of typhoons, particularly from late July to October. 

Quick Look At Philippines Weather + Seasons

Warmest months in the Philippines: March, April, and May

Coolest months in the Philippines: January & February

Most crowded months in the Philippines: December & January

Least crowded months in the Philippines: June, July, and August

Rainiest months in the Philippines: July & August

Driest month in the Philippines: February

 


 

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Dry Season in the Philippines

The Philippines’ dry season runs from November to April, with the coolest months being December through February and also the most popular! Temperatures in March and April are incredibly hot going into the hottest month of the year, May. While the end of the year is popular to go to the Philippines, keep track of when Holy Week falls for the year and try to avoid traveling around regions during this time.

Holy Week beings on the Friday of Sorrows before Palm Sunday, and continues through Easter Sunday. This is a very significant holiday across all parts of the Philippines, so there is greater domestic travel for locals, businesses close and have shorter hours, accommodations fill up fast, and it’s very busy. I traveled to a more remote region of the Philippines and almost got stuck there because none of the buses were operating and local guides weren’t working. Not to say it’s impossible, but spontanaeity can be extremely difficult depending on what island you’re on. This season also brings other exciting events like the Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival.

The dry season is so favorable because it has the best waves for surfing, clearest waters for diving, and the sunniest days for sunbathing or snorkeling! I highly recommend planning to go to the Philippines during any of these months, but especially January, December, and early March!

 

Things To Do During Dry Season in the Philippines 

Go scuba diving (Malapascua Island, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Apo Reef Natural Park, Coron, and Moalboal)

Try other water sports (kayak, SUP, canyoneering, and free diving)

Get off the beaten path on whale shark tour in Southern Leyte

Marvel at El Nido in Palawan

Rent a boat and go island hopping in Siargao

Go swimming with sea turtles on Apo Island

Hike to Casaroro Falls

Chase waterfalls in Cebu

Leisure on powdery white sand beaches 

 


 

Philippines In November

November welcomes the first month of the dry season, but it’s recommended to travel in the latter half of the month for optimal weather. November brings “cooler” weather and a lower percentage of humidity, which makes it a really nice time to visit. Occasional showers are likely, but the majority of days will be sun-filled. The best location to visit during this month would be Palawan and Coron since they have the best weather while other destinations like Cebu and Siargao will have moderately favorable weather but still some rain to look out for.

The Philippines in November is the shoulder season, so you can expect cheaper prices, although they’re already cheap to begin with, and very few crowds. If you don’t mind the chances of some rainfall, then this is a great time to visit! The moody weather sometimes makes for some great photos, so don’t let it steer you away! Swimming in the ocean while it’s raining is one of my favorite feelings!

 


 

Philippines In December

As we head into the dry season, and the holiday season, temperatures and humidity are going to drop slightly, but they’re still going to leave you jumping in the ocean to cool down. December is another popular time to visit the Philippines, so expect the tourism to pick back up from typhoon season. Water sports, like diving, pick back up as the waters clear and begin getting warmer, and you’re able to bank on there being perfect sunny days with lower humidity.

If you’re looking for a warm and cheap place to visit for your holiday, then The Philippines is an awesome choice. They celebrate Christmas throughout the entire month and if you can sneak yourself into an epic Filippino Christmas party, then you’ll be in for a huge treat and FEAST! You won’t have to worry about the lingering effects of typhoon season in December, so if you want to avoid showers and spend all the time on the beach, then December is a great time to visit!

 


 

Philippines In January

January is right in the heart of the dry season with cooler temperatures and minimal rainfall. If you’re traveling in the Northern regions near Manilla, temperatures might drop significantly lower than they would in the Visayas, so pack a lightweight jacket if you plan on trekking around this region. Meanwhile, in the Visayas region, the lingering effects of the monsoon could be underway, so it’s worth packing a lightweight rain jacket or compact umbrella. Rainfall is not guaranteed as it varies year to year, but January still makes one of the best months to visit.

If you love to experience local culture, every January in Kalibo, the festival Ati-Atihan is held in honor of Santo Niño (Baby Jesus). You’ll get to see tribal dances, indigenous costumes, and a parade through the street, and of course some tasty grub to accompany everything! This festival has inspired many other festivals around the Philippines, so if celebrations are your game, you’ll want to attend this!

 


 

Philippines In February

Sunshine and sea temperatures begin their rise again as we make our way into the Summer months of the Philippines. February is an optimal month for snorkeling, diving, and swimming as the waters begin to warm back up. These conditions are optimal for trekking around Northern Luzon, but it does continue to stay just a little cooler in that region so pack a lightweight rain jacket. The crowds in February are low and the weather is still hot, but nothing compared to March and April. 

February is one of the best months to visit the Philippines because it’s in the shoulder season before the summer, there aren’t any major holidays, and the humidity won’t make you feel like you stepped out of the shower every time you go outside. What more could you ask for?

 


 

Philippines In March

March rings the welcoming bell for the official Summer months of the Philippines, and, as you can probably guess, this month is a scorcher. Temperatures tend to stay in the lower 30s (Celcius) or mid-90s (Fahrenheit), so lightweight clothing is going to be an absolute must during these months, and a quality sunscreen that protects the reefs and has broad-spectrum protection. The crowds here will multiply as they celebrate Holy Week, so make sure you book your accommodations in far in advance since they tend to sell out quickly in the summertime! I made this mistake during my trip and almost didn’t have a place to stay in Siargao!

I visited The Philippines in March and the heat was too brutal to be alive at some points. March is one of the hottest months of the year, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your trip. I recommend pushing your trip back to February if you plan on visiting this time of year. In addition to the hot weather, the crowds are almost at an all-time high. It’s not the best time to visit The Philippines. 

 


 

Philippines In April

April brings peak dive season, record high temperatures, and poppin’ humidity. April is a popular time to visit El Nido, Cebu, Siargao, and Bohol, and Holy Week may sometimes fall during a week this month, so prices may be inflated accordingly. This is the final month of the dry season, but that doesn’t mean that islands will be immune to occasional rainfall. However, as all islands do, most rainfall in this month will last a few hours and end to reveal another sunny day. Temperatures will continue to stay in the lower thirties and be paired with 80-90% humidity.

If you can manage, I recommend pushing your trip forward to around February to early March to help ease the temperatures and crowds because April is really busy. April is the summer season for the Philippines so you’ll find tons of locals exploring their own country as well as all the other travelers flocking to the islands, which means lots o’ people. Lots. April isn’t awful, but if you want to avoid crowds and heat, it’s not ideal. 

 


 

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Wet Season in the Philippines

The Philippines’ wet season runs from May to October. This season is also coupled in with typhoon season which runs mainly from August to October. You definitley want to avoid those months because it can cause a lot of complications with domestic travel, especially if you’re using ferries between islands. This doesn’t mean that there is a torrential downpour every single day during these months, but there is a ton more rain. Trekking in the Northern regions becomes impossible since the mountains and rice terraces will be filled with water and scuba diving can be unfavorable because of water clarity. Surfing changes with the different monsoon seasons, but can be ideal from May through August in some regions.

This isn’t a popular time to visit the Philippines, but if you’re willing to travel in the slower season to save some money and experience fewer crowds, you’ll have a unique experience.

 

Things to do during the rainy season in the Philippines

Take a cooking class

Go hiking in the Mindanao region

Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces

White water rafting on the Cagayan River (Luzon)

Go surfing in Siargao

Chase waterfalls

Soak in hot springs

 


 

Philippines In May

If you dare thought May would bring cooler temperatures, think again because the stats are going to continue to rise into May, but there will be in a heavy increase in rainfall as the wet season begins. May is a shoulder season, so you’ll see cheaper prices and somewhat fewer crowds with the temperature gauge rising above 90. There is a chance that the monsoon can come early and you’ll experience heavier rainfall, but the weather is so unpredictable that there is no way to know 100%. If you travel at the beginning of the month, you’ll probably be fine while the end of the month has a higher chance of showers.

On the bright side of things, May is a shoulder season, so the crowds are going to thin out a lot, this month. In fact, I would dare to say that May is a better month to visit than April! This month hosts the Flores De Mayo celebration which involves thousands of colorful flowers throughout all the regions of the Philippines! The shoulder season is always a great time to visit most countries, so don’t let the ‘wet season’ title scare you away from visiting this month!

 


 

Philippines In June

June is well into the rainy season, so expect plentiful showers during this month. For all my fellow beach bums, you can still manage to lay out and get a tan in the Southern Visayas like Cebu since they will stay drier during this month but still expect some light rainfall here and there. Rainfall will be its heaviest in the Northern regions of Luzon. The temperature is going to fall and stay around the upper 80’s, but the cooler rainfall will help bring some relief to the hotter weather.  

As unfavorable as this month might seem, the rain brings a sweep of greenery through the Chocolate Hills and the Rice Terraces of Banaue, so if you have some trekking on your mind, you may find that June is a fine time to visit! I’ve honestly always loved how photogenic and moody rainy weather is, so if you have photography etched into your Philippines itinerary, consider June, but bring your rain gear!

 


 

Philippines In July

While Luzon and other regions in the north experience heavy, heavy rainfall from the Southwest Monsoon, Cebu, Siargao, and Bohol steer clear of the heaviest rain, but they still experience showers. The number of rainfall days increases to around three weeks out of this month with temperatures staying consistently near the upper 80’s. July is in the heart of the wet season, so honestly, it’s not really an ideal month to visit since even trekking in the Northern regions isn’t advised and there’s going to be rain everywhere.

 


 

Philippines In August

Hello, typhoon season! Although it is the typhoon season, you can still experience some high UV indexes throughout the month, and really every month in the Philippines, so bring extra sunscreen with your rain gear, ironically! Cebu and other islands in the Visayas aren’t safe from a heavy downpours, so it’s best to avoid traveling to those areas in these months, that is, unless you enjoy “pina coladas and getting caught in the rain”.  

August isn’t ideal. It’s just wet. Everywhere is wet, along with the likelihood of a typhoon to hit, so I don’t recommend visiting this month. If you can, push your trip back to maybe even October so you can pass through the heaviest part of the wet season. 

 


 

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Philippines In September

The height of the typhoon season kicks off in September, so expect rain, rain, and even more rain. There is heavy rain throughout the entire country which makes is not optimal at all for snorkeling, swimming, or diving. If you must travel here during this month, it would be best to dive into some cultural antics rather than a sun-bum vacation and indulge in a ton of incredible local food shops, gain a few pounds in the process, and maybe see some days of sunshine.  

The chances of a typhoon hitting in September grow higher than in August, so if you want to avoid a tropical storm, try pushing your trip back even a month or two. If you are pursuing September as your desired month, however, you can find sunshine in some areas of the Visayas like Bohol, Cebu, and my beloved Siargao! Overall, September isn’t a favorable month to visit, but you can still find some sunshine somewhere. There are over 7,000 islands, after all!

 


 

Philippines In October

Typhoon season slowly moves its way out of the region making late October a good time to visit after all the rain in August and September. There are still slight chances of rainfall, but they are more dispersed and not as intense as the middle of typhoon season. I mean, that’s pretty obvious, but you get the idea! Late October can actually be a mildly favorable time to visit if you want low crowds and cheap prices! 

Although a typhoon can still be likely, the chances of it hitting the southern Visayas is pretty low compared to the Northern regions. During this month, the humidity levels start to level out and the temperatures also start to cool down quite a bit so, although October is incredibly overlooked, it’s a nice time to visit! It’s also shoulder season, which is a favorite time for travelers looking for that sweet spot for planning their trip!

 


 

What To Pack For The Philippines

Any new destination can be stressful when thinking about what you need to pack. This is why I wrote a full and detailed Philippines packing list you can refer to for your trip.

It covers both wet and dry seasons and everything from clothing essentials to small niche items so you’ll arrive in the islands with everything you’ll need.

 


 

If you have any other questions about visiting the Philippines, please reach out! Otherwise, browse my other guides to the Philippines to help you plan your trip:

Philippines Packing List

2-Week Philippines Itinerary

50 Philippines Travel Tips

Tumalog Falls in Cebu Day Trip Guide

How To Visit Casaroro Falls in Dumaguete

Where To See Whale Sharks Ethically In The Philippines

How To Visit Sugba Lagoon in Siargao

Where To Stay On Siargao Island

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