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Why carry an IDP while driving in Philippines?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Philippines highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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Top Roadtrip Destinations in the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia, made up of 7,641 islands. The country is a tourist hotspot as it boasts many natural and man-made wonders. From pristine beaches to heritage sites, tourists will surely not get bored when they visit due to the countless places to go to and fun activities to do. Here are some of the most popular tourist destinations that are perfect for you if you want to go road tripping in the Philippines.

El Nido, Palawan

Take a dip in the ocean and revel in the wonders of El Nido, Palawan. One of the most famous islands in the Philippines, El Nido is a hotspot for tourists, both local and foreign. There are many activities to do and attractions to visit that makes the island an instant for its visitors. El Nido is the perfect place for a tropical getaway, from its crystal clear lagoons to its stunning beaches.

The best time of the year to go to the island is during the dry season. This is from January to April. Most tourists come to the country from around March to April, which is summer in the Philippines. So do know it can get crowded. If you want a place for yourself, you can visit when it’s not peak season. Just be sure to avoid August, the wettest month for Palawan.

Driving Directions: (5-8 hours via Puerto Princesa North Road)

  • From Puerto Princesa International Airport, head towards west on Airport Rd.
  • Turn right twice on Rizal Avenue.
  • Make a right and left turn on Puerto Princesa North Road.
  • When you reach the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Taytay-El Nido National Hwy.
  • Turn left onto Real St.
  • Turn left onto Amban St.
  • Turn right onto San Joaquin St.
  • Turn right.
  • Turn left.

Driving in the Philippines would require you to have a driver’s license and an IDP. But remember that you can only use your foreign license for 90 days. On the other hand, your Philippine International Driving Permit’s validity would range from one to three years. This depends on the validity you chose during the IDP application process.

Assuming you want to extend your stay in the Philippines and wish to drive more. Then you will have to convert your local license into a Philippine license or apply for one. If you’re wondering, “How can I convert my international driver’s license to a Philippine license?” Do note that this isn’t possible since your IDP is merely a translation of your license.

Given that you already have an IDP, if you’re asking, “Can I use my international driver’s license in the Philippines?” Then yes, you can use it as long as it isn’t expired. Provided you’re from an ASEAN country, you may also choose not to use it since ASEAN countries may not use an International Driving Permit in the Philippines.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

The Chocolate Hills, the Philippines’ third National Geological Monument, is one of the most popular tourist spots in Bohol. The famous peaks stretch over 50 km² across the towns of Carmen, Sagbayan, and Batuan. The hills get their name from the color of the vegetation, which turns brown during the hot season. So the best time to visit the Chocolate Hills would be from December to May, with April being the ideal month to visit.

Once you’re there, you can admire the stunning view by going up the Viewpoints to see the hills spread around you. Or you can even take a guided or unguided tour while riding ATVs. Other activities to do within the area include adventure parks where you can have fun zip-lining, hiking, and even horseback riding.

Driving Directions: (1 hr 30 mins via Balilihan-Hanopol-Batuan Road)

  • From Panglao International Airport, head east and drive straight.
  • Make a slight left onto Panglao Island Circumferential Rd.
  • Turn right.
  • Turn right onto Borja Bridge.
  • Turn right onto Bohol Circumferential Rd/Tagbilaran East Road.
  • Turn left onto Ligason St.
  • Turn right onto Carlos P. Garcia East Avenue.
  • Turn left and continue on Provincial Rd.
  • Turn right onto Tagbilaran City-Corella-Sikatuna-Loboc Rd.
  • Turn left and continue on Corella-Balilihan Rd.
  • Turn right onto Cortes-Balilihan-Catigbian-Macaas Rd.
  • Turn right onto Balilihan-Hanopol-Batuan Road.
  • Turn left onto Loay Interior Road.
  • Turn right onto Chocolate Hills Rd.

Usually, driving in foreign countries will require you to have an IDP. If you’re asking yourself, “Do I really need an international driver’s license in the Philippines?” Well, it depends. If you’re from a non-ASEAN country and your license isn’t in English, then it’s best to get one. A Philippine International Driving Permit will cost you $49 to $59, depending on its validity.

If you think that it’s pricey, remember that this already includes a digital copy and a replacement in case you lose the original. You can get your IDP from the International Driver’s Association at internationaldriversassociation.com. The Philippine International Driving Permit requirements include your driver’s license and digital photos, as IDA will provide the application form.

Given that you’re already in the country, but you don’t have an IDP. You can still get yours from IDA. Remember that your IDP will be invalid if your home country does not issue it. So you cannot apply for an international driving license from LTO in the Philippines or Automobile Association Philippines, the official agency that gives IDPs.

Intramuros

Visit the country’s walled city of Intramuros to go back in time and learn about Colonial Manila. Intramuros, which means “within the walls,” was built over 400 years ago as a military and political base. It was also used to protect people from potential threats such as Chinese pirates. Intramuros has many sites to see, like old churches, forts, museums, and gardens. So your trip here would definitely be educational as it is entertaining.

Although the walled city has roofs, and you can always bring umbrellas in case rain will show up, the best time to visit Intramuros would be from December to May. This is the country’s dry season, and exploring the place when it's raining might dampen the mood. So be sure to drop by when it’s bright and sunny in the Philippines.

Driving Directions: (40 mins via Roxas Blvd/R-1)

  • From Ninoy Aquino International Airport, head southeast toward Multi-Level Parking Access Rd and continue straight.
  • Merge onto Andrews Ave/Sales Rd and keep left to stay on the road.
  • Drive straight and keep right to stay on Andrews Ave. Continue onto Airport Rd.
  • At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on Airport Rd.
  • Turn right onto Roxas Blvd/R-1.
  • Turn right onto Remedios St.
  • Turn left at the 1st cross street onto Roxas Boulevard East Svc Rd.
  • Turn right onto Kalaw Ave.
  • Turn left onto Ma. Orosa St.
  • Continue onto General Luna St.
  • Turn right onto Muralla St.
  • Turn left onto Cabildo St.

One of the common questions to ask before renting a car and driving is, “Do I need an international driver’s license in the Philippines?” The answer is yes. You will need one if your license is not in English. The International Driver’s Association issues International Driver's Permits for the Philippines. Their site is at internationaldriversassociation.com.

Since you can apply for an IDP anytime, you can do so once you’re already in the country. Remember that you cannot get your international driving license from LTO in the Philippines or even from the Automobile Association Philippines. Besides LTO not issuing IDPs at all, your IDP must come from your home country.

Any bureau in the Philippines that issues an International Driver's Permit is not allowed to make yours. Since applying for an IDP can also be done online, you can visit the IDA website to know more about how to get an International Driver's Permit in the Philippines.

Oslob, Cebu

Known for its whale watching tours, Oslob is a small coastal town in southern Cebu. Tourists visit every year to experience the most popular attraction: swimming with whale sharks. However, these tours are controversial due to their exploitative nature. Locals are said to lure in these gentle giants by feeding them. Eventually, the whale sharks become dependent on their diet and keep coming back, even if they aren’t native species.

Instead of whale watching, visitors can do many other activities instead that don't support unsustainable tourism. Just like many other islands in the country, Oslob boasts their white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. So island hopping isn’t out of the picture. You can also visit Tumalog falls to see it’s natural curtain-like waters. Of course, if you really want to experience marine life, you can still go snorkeling to revel in the beauty of the reefs.

To have the best experience in Oslob, be sure to come during the dry season. This is from December to May. You can also visit from December to February as the temperatures aren’t as high from March to May. Just make sure to properly schedule your trip since there might be some rain showers here and there.

Driving Directions: (3 hours via Natalio B. Bacalso S National Hwy)

  • From Mactan International Airport, head southeast toward Airport-Departure Rd and turn left.
  • Turn left onto Airport Access Rd/Lapu-Lapu Airport Rd.
  • Turn right onto Lapu-Lapu Airport Rd/Terminal Bldg Access Rd.
  • Turn left onto M.L. Quezon National Highway.
  • Take the ramp to Mandaue City and continue onto Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
  • From U.N. Ave, turn left onto Mandaue Causeway/Ouano Ave/Plaridel St.
  • Continue onto Sergio Osmeña Jr Blvd and keep right.
  • Keep left to continue onto CSCR Tunnel.
  • Turn slightly left as the road becomes Cebu South Coastal Rd.
  • Turn left and continue onto Cebu S Rd/Natalio B. Bacalso S National Hwy.
  • At Carcar City Cir, take the 2nd exit onto Natalio B. Bacalso S National Hwy.
  • Continue driving until you reach Poblacion, Oslob, Cebu.

If you have an IDP already, and you’re thinking, “Can I use my international driver’s license in the Philippines?” Then yes, you can. Remember that when applying for a Philippine International Driving Permit, the list of countries where you can still use the same permit would be quite long. So the same can be said for a pre-existing IDP.

Now, given that you have plans to stay in the country for a longer period. You will have to apply for a Philippine license. If you ask, “How can I convert my international driver’s license to a Philippine license?” Remember that this is not allowed. You will have to go to LTO to convert your actual driver’s license into a Philippine license or apply for one.

Don’t have an IDP yet? Visit the IDA website and find out the necessary documents to get your International Driver's Permit for the Philippines. The application is completely online, making the process hassle-free.

Cloud 9, Siargao

Recently, surfing has become a rising sport in the Philippines. And Siargao is the perfect place to visit for both professional and amateur surfers. Cloud 9 in General Luna is the most popular site on the island, and surfers crowd the area to surf the waves that gave the spot its name. First-time surfers can also learn the sport by enrolling in lessons offered in surf schools.

Besides surfing, the island offers many activities and tourist attractions from lagoons, rock formations, caves, and islets. The things to do in Siargao are endless, especially if you want to take a break from the city and experience the island life.

Depending on your itinerary, the ideal months to visit Siargao may vary. Peak tourist season in Siargao is from around March to September. But the surfing season is from July to November. For those of you who want to check out the Siargao International Surfing Cup held on the island every year, be sure to drop by during the surfing season to watch professional surfers compete for the crown.

Driving Directions: (45 mins to 1 hour via Siargao Circumferential Rd and Dapa-General Luna Rd)

  • From Siargao Airport, head east and turn right onto Siargao Circumferential Rd.
  • Continue straight onto Dapa - General Luna Rd.
  • Turn left.
  • Turn left onto Tourism Rd.

Driving in the Philippines will require both your license and your IDP. Your IDP serves as your license’s translation if it isn’t in English. Since you can get your IDP online, you can choose to order it when you’ve arrived in the country. But remember that you cannot apply for an International Driver's Permit for the Philippines in Quezon City, where Automobile Association Philippines is. Your IDP must come from your home country.

Never forget that any bureau in the Philippines that produces International Driver's Permits solely makes these permits for Filipinos. If you want to apply for one, get yours at the International Driver’s Association. The application is online, and you can check out their website to know all the documents you would need for an International Driver's Permit for the Philippines.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Explore the streets of Vigan City, a preserved Spanish colonial town in Ilocos Sur. Vigan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has preserved its architecture heavily influenced by China and Europe. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is now a tourist hotspot for those who want to see what it was like during the Spanish era in the Philippines.

Visitors can do different activities like museum hopping, sightseeing, food tripping, and even pottery making. Tourists can essentially come to Vigan at any time of the year, but the best times to visit would be during the dry season from December to May. If you want to attend a couple of activities held in particular months, here is a short schedule to guide you. But make sure to always check in on their specific dates when you’re going to visit Vigan.

  • Longganisa Festival - January 22 (usually)
  • Vigan Town Fiesta - January 25
  • Viva Vigan Festival - First week of May
  • Vigan Twilight Festival - Last week of October

Driving Directions: (2 hours via MacArthur Hwy/Manila N Rd/Manor)

  • From Laoag International Airport, head north toward Airport Rd and continue driving.
  • At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Laoag-Paoay Rd.
  • Continue onto Marcos Ave.
  • Turn right onto Otis.
  • Turn left onto McKinley.
  • Turn right onto Currimao-Paoay-Suba-Balacao Rd.
  • Turn right onto MacArthur Hwy/Manila N Rd/Manor.
  • Turn left onto Bantay - San Vicente Rd/MacArthur Hwy/Manila N Rd/Manor.
  • Turn right onto Quezon Ave.

Never leave your driver’s license whenever you go out driving. Bring along your IDP as well if your license is not in English. Remember that your license can only be used in the Philippines for 90 days. It is a much shorter period than your Philippine international driver’s license that has validity for one to three years.

If you enter the country with an IDP that is about to expire, you can always order a new one. Don’t forget that you cannot apply for a Philippine International Driver's Permit in Quezon City. As any IDP issued from the Philippines is not valid for foreigners. To get your copy, visit the IDA website. The application process is online, and shipping is worldwide. Just fill in the driver details and provide your photo and a copy of your license, then you’re good to go.

Most Important Road Rules in the Philippines

Each country has its own set of road rules to follow, and the Philippines is no different. Not only is it common courtesy to follow the rules imposed by a foreign country, but abiding by them also shows that you are a responsible tourist who respects the country you’re visiting. Here are some of the top road rules in the Philippines that you must follow if you want a stress-free trip devoid of potential accidents and violations.

Never Forget Your Native Driver’s License

If you plan on driving in the Philippines, never forget to bring your driver’s license with you. Without it, you won’t be able to rent a car, and you can be classified as an unlicensed driver if authorities catch you. Your driver’s license will only last for 90 days. So if you want to stay and drive in the country for a longer period, you’d have to convert or apply for a Philippine license.

Suppose you have your license, but police are still stopping you. Now would be the best time to present your International Driving Permit in the Philippines. Having this permit would make it easier for you to communicate with local police about driving issues, especially if your license is not in English. Visit the International Driver’s Association website to learn more about the International Driver's Permit for the Philippines.

Always Bring Your International Driver's Permit with You

An IDP, informally known as an international driver’s license, is a translation of your foreign driver’s license if it isn’t issued in English. However, if you come from any ASEAN country, an International Driver's Permit in the Philippines is unnecessary. Typically, car rental companies in the Philippines may require you to have an International Driver's Permit to rent a vehicle, so be sure to bring one when you visit the country.

Do note that your Philippine International Driving Permit does not replace your driver’s license. So if your license’s validity expires, you can’t drive in the country anymore. A Philippine International Driving Permit’s validity can last for 1 to 3 years, depending on what you’d choose. But remember that you cannot solely use this permit to drive.

Suppose you go to the Land Transportation Office and attempt to convert your international driving license to a Philippine license. In that case, this will be rejected since it is not your driver’s license. Remember that your IDP is merely a translation and not an official license.

Are you planning to apply for an IDP already? Visit the IDA website to check out the Philippine International Driving Permit requirements. It’s easy to get one since you don’t have to apply in person. And the only documents you need are your digital passport-sized photos and your driver’s license. After submitting the requirements and paying the fees, all you have to do is wait until you can finally get your International Driver's Permit in the Philippines.

Driving Under the Influence is Illegal

Under Republic Act 10586 or the “Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013”, drivers cannot drink or use any recreational drugs before driving. This was implemented due to the high cases of road accidents caused by driving under the influence, and violators will be penalized depending on the severity of their violation. This may be a fine or the confiscation of their license.

Additionally, always remember to carry your driver's license and Philippine International Driving Permit. If you’re caught driving under the influence, as well as driving without your license, you may incur extra fines. Better yet, make sure to bring all the necessary documents with you and never attempt to drive under the influence.

If you still don’t have an IDP, the International Driver’s Association issues IDPs translated into 12 languages and accepted in more than 150 countries. Drop by their website to know more about the International Driver's Permit in the Philippines.

Always Wear Your Seatbelts

To lessen the impact and potential casualties from road accidents, both drivers and passengers are required to wear their seatbelts. This has been mandated by Republic Act 8750 or the “Seat Belts Use Act of 1999”. This act also states that children under six years old are forbidden to sit at any vehicle’s front seat. Penalties, again, include fines and the confiscation of licenses.

Always carry all your important documents in case of accidents or other unfortunate circumstances. Be sure to have your driver’s license, IDP, passport, visa, car insurance, and other related papers. If you still don’t have an IDP, it’s not too late to get one. The cost for an International Driving Permit for the Philippines would range between $49 to $59 from IDA. Pricing depends on the validity and is inclusive of a replacement and digital copy.

Do note that you cannot apply for an International Driving Permit for the Philippines from LTO or any other Philippine agency. Your IDP must be issued by your home country, not the country you’re visiting. If you want to know how to get an International Driver's Permit in the Philippines, visit the IDA website at internationaldriversassociation.com.

Using Mobile Phones and Other Gadgets are Prohibited

A common road rule in many countries is banning the use of phones and other gadgets behind the wheel. This rule is also implemented in the Philippines, and violators will face penalties. Accidents in the country aren’t uncommon, so it’s best to follow this rule as a precaution.

Besides using your mobile phones and other gadgets, never stay distracted behind the wheel. This is to avoid accidents and traffic violations altogether. Don’t forget to carry your documents like your license and IDP in case you’d have a run-in with traffic officers. Your international driver’s license for the Philippines has a validity of 1 to 3 years, so you don’t have to worry about it expiring during your trip.

It’s also good to note that you have multiple uses for your Philippine International Driving Permit. A list of countries where you can use the same permit includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and even Venezuela. This shows that ordering an IDP is worth it since you won’t be using it for your Philippine trip alone.

Smoke Belching Vehicles are Banned

One unique rule in the Philippines is disallowing vehicles from smoke-belching. This isn’t a road rule in particular, but it was implemented to benefit the environment. Republic Act 8749, also known as the “Clean Air Act of 1999,” bans vehicles from releasing smoke from their exhausts since this contributes to air pollution. It does not directly affect the traffic in the country, but violators will still be penalized accordingly.

If you get fined or worse, your license gets confiscated, you might not get to drive in the country. Your international driving license cannot be converted into a Philippine license as it is not a replacement. So you might have to settle with commuting instead. If you attempt to bring your International Driving Permit for the Philippines to LTO, you will just get rejected since the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has nothing to do with IDPs.

To read more about the role and perks of an International Driver's Permit for the Philippines, the site for IDA offers all information you need to know. Visit their page and get your own Philippine International Driver's Permit, so you could finally set off for your trip.

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