Tourist Visa In Manila
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Posted 2012-08-19 19:04:09
I needed to renew my tourist visa and as I've been to Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar and will be going to Malaysia next, I decided to visit the Philippines. I had met a lot of Filipinos in Dubai and they seemed like very friendly people. The flight to Clark (Angeles City) on Tiger was also cheaper than anywhere else except Malaysia with Air Asia. Local bus to Manila was 100 pesos; I got off in the north of the city and took the LRT (train) in to the city.
The embassy is located on Thailand St (also known as Rada St, off De la Rosa) in Makati, the financial district. Taxi drivers may not know Thailand/Rada but should all know De la Rosa. Taxi from Malate where I was staying (Malate Pensionne, 750 pesos very nice fan room bath outside, I recommend it) cost only 120 pesos (90 baht) and I had absolutely no problem getting any taxi driver to use the meter (unlike in Bangkok.)
The process was painless, although they did require more documentation than I had needed before (I have got visas before in Vientiane and Phnom Penh.)
The documentation required, which I had the foresight to bring with me, was: (1) bank statements, (2) flight to Thailand, (3) flight out of Thailand. I didn't give them anything until they asked for it; they specifically asked for these three things and I provided them. They also asked me why I was visiting the Philippines, and I said "holiday" rather than "visa run." Cost was 1,450 pesos (1,075 baht), double if you wanted two entries. Applied on Tuesday morning and picked up Thursday afternoon. Hours are 9:30-12:00 application and 15:00-17:00 pickup. They don't stop at 12:00, e.g. if you have your number by 12:00 they will keep going until they have dealt with everyone in the queue.
To my credit I am a genuine tourist and have been to Thailand only three times, for 14 days, 3 days and 26 days in all, and have no intention on living there. The majority of people there were Filipinos but two (groups) of foreign applicants were not allowed apply on the Tuesday- one European who had been living in Thailand for two years and a group of SE Asian missionaries. The European had the flights but didn't have bank statements, while the missionaries lacked an invitation letter, which is necessary for a religious purposes visa. There was no indication that there would be a problem if they came back with these documents the next day. The European wanted a double entry but only had one flight booked out of Thailand- IIRC they told him that they would only give him a single entry in this case; to get a double he would need a return flight after the two months (and possibly then a single out after four, it was unclear.)
So to summarise: despite its fearsome reputation the Manila embassy is not to be feared if you can provide the necessary documentation.
As to the Philippines, it is a very interesting country, quite unlike anywhere I've been before. It is a real mix of Spain, America and Asia. Quite fascinating, and I'd recommend it. Everyone (absolutely everyone) speaks English, well, and they are very friendly. Almost all advertising/signs/radio/TV and so on is actually in English, I rarely saw Tagalog (they do speak it.) Manila is certainly the dodgiest city I have ever been to (I have never seen so many guns, had an unsuccessful pickpocketing attempt within five minutes of arrival and ended up in a minor scrap with a ladyboy within ten) but if you keep your wits about you you should be fine. If you have a backpack, wear it on the front. All the locals do, and for good reason.
The food is not as bad as is made out. It's not Thailand, certainly, but it's not Myanmar either. I had some quite nice (and cheap) local food from the 'canteens' as well as gentrified Filipino cuisine from more upmarket restaurants. Manila has a huge range of food both local and international. It is in general more expensive than Thailand, or indeed anywhere else I've been in SE Asia (excepting Myanmar) but it probably won't bankrupt you.
Hope someone finds this report useful.
Posted 2012-08-19 22:19:11
Thanks for the post, interesting you didn't bash Manila most people (myself included) can't stand the place. Curious what bank statements did you show ? your home country or your Thai bank account ? I've heard horror story's about the non-Thai staff at the Embassy there asking questions that are not mandatory.
Posted 2012-08-20 11:07:07
Home country bank statements, printed off from my online banking. I don't have a Thai bank account (again, genuine tourist )
I got the impression that the embassy goes very much by the letter of the rules (more so than others- I was not asked for bank statements or flights in Vientiane or Phnom Penh) but that if you can tick the boxes they don't have a problem giving you a visa. They told the guy with two years worth of visas to come back with a bank statement, not that they wouldn't give him a visa because he'd clearly been living in Thailand (I've seen that happen in Vientiane.)
If you were looking for a double entry the obvious pain in the neck is the flight out and back (I presume most people with double entries just do a land border run.) But a printout of an airline confirmation can be trivially modified to say whatever you like...
Posted 2012-10-17 13:21:16
Thank you for providing that report, I really had not considered Manila but I will now and I guess what they asked for was not difficult and would seem normal, I got a double entry Tourist Visa in NZ they asked for the same paperwork although not the
extra details of the flights out of thailand and back in etc. If you are spending 2 months in Thailand as a tourist I guess it reasonable to ask for flights in and out.
Shame it takes a 2 night stay in Manila though...... always found that a dangerous city.
Posted 2012-12-17 21:08:13
Realistically, it's hardly worth doing unless you want to go there anyway. A 3hr flight is necessarily involved which is not the case for most of the other options. I'd been everywhere else in the region and wanted to see the country on its own merits.
I'm not recommending it as an easy touch by any means, just that if you actually wanted to go to the Phillipines anyway, it may be an option, and is not 'impossible.' I was willing to fly back and just get 30 days at BKK if refused at the consulate in Manila.
For example I met someone a few nights ago who got a triple entry in Savannakhet with no questions asked. 3,000B.
Posted 2013-05-12 05:16:03
Unfortunately these triple entries are only valid for 3 months from first entry.
Good report. Just a word about English speaking. It's not so universal once you start visiting the more provincial areas and of course the poorer areas of the city (most of it). My wife's family cannot speak a word of English (well, maybe a few words now ).
I would guess 40% of the overall population cannot speak enough English to hold a normal conversation. It depends on educational and financial demographics. The poor and uneducated cannot speak English and about 40% of the population live below the poverty line.
Edited by tropo, 2013-05-12 05:22:44.
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