Metro Manila · Geography & Climate

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How many seasons do we have in the Philippines? When is the best time to travel in order to avoid monsoon and typhoons? And how do Filipinos define "cold"? Here is all you need to know about geography and climate of Manila and the Philippines.

Geography

Manila, lying 1,300 kilometres from the mainland Asia on the western side of the island of Luzon, occupies a total land area of 38.55 sq. km. It sits on top of prehistoric alluvial deposits but has been altered substantially by its inhabitants. A big percentage of the capital’s topography has been evened out to make way for urban development. As Manila became more crowded, the city’s development expanded to nearby towns which now make up the Metropolitan Manila Area.

Climate

The Philippines is generally hot and humid. Only some mountainous regions are relatively colder. From Manila, one of the nearest places to escape the heat would be Baguio, a town located in the mountains in the northern part of Luzon.

Seasons

Weather patterns in the Philippine islands are influenced by the northeast monsoon (amihan) and the southwest monsoon (habagat). The amihan runs from November to early May while the habagat is experienced by the archipelago from May to October. For most of the country, November to early May is dry season, and from December to early March it is relatively cool.

The rainy season usually starts in June with around 20 typhoons hitting the country annually up to early September. These typhoons usually hit major islands Luzon and Visayas, causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the Philippines annually. The typhoons, known in the country as bagyo, make the southwest monsoon stronger, which results in days of heavy rainfall. You can check the PAGASA weather station’s website for weather warnings and forecasts. The weather patterns in the country have changed slightly over the years due to changes in global temperature, with the wet season now reaching up to early December when it is not supposed to be raining in the archipelago.

The geographical location of the country and different positioning of the islands make the seasons slightly different from one another. The eastern seaboard seasons are flipped. The weather is usually dry in these parts when the rest of the country is experiencing rains. In the Central Visayas region it is difficult to determine the seasons since they are less pronounced. The land in this area is protected from the monsoon, making Central Visayas relatively dry compared to Luzon during the rainy season.

Best Time To Visit The Philippines

Due to the dramatic weather changes happening worldwide in recent decades, the weather in the Philippines has become quite unpredictable. January to May tend to be the best months to visit the country. During April and May – summertime in the Philippines – Filipinos hit the beaches in the country. If you do not like it crowded, it is best to avoid the popular Philippine beaches during this part of the year.

The rainy season running from June to November when almost every day sees strong rain showers tropical storms ravage the country is definitely not the best time to pay the Asian destination a visit. One has to note though that foul weather in the Philippines is difficult to predict. The Filipino saying “bahala na” (whatever will be will be) may be something you can adopt when visiting the country. 

Outfit

Sunglasses: The tropical destination is a sunshiny place. Even if you visit during rainy season, it can still be very sunny. That’s why a pair of sunglasses should be included in the things that you will be bringing to the Philippines. 

Slippers: You should dress down. If wearing slippers is not something you always do, you should get used to it because this place is so warm that even those who live in the big cities wear slippers. Also good to counter floods in the streets.

Mosquito Repellent: During the rainy season, lots of people in the Philippines catch dengue fever. To protect yourself, get a lotion or patches that will keep the mosquitoes away.

Umbrella: Rain in the Philippines usually means heavy rain. Rain jackets are not a comfortable option due to the heat, and getting a cab is not easy when it starts raining, so having an umbrella in your bag is essential. When the sun is shining bright, it is always good to have an umbrella as well - using it as a sun shade.

Wording

When talking about 'hot' or 'cold', a newly arrived Megacitizen might get confused with the true meaning of those words in Manila. The slang decoded:

  • 'Freezing Cold' is 18-22 degrees Celsius (only found in air-conditioned rooms, especially cinemas or up in the North)
  • 'Cold' is 23 - 27 degrees Celsius (found up North in the country and during December-January in the Megacity)
  • 'Warm' or 'normal' is 28 - 35 degrees Celsius (usual temperature)
  • 'Hot' is above 36 degrees Celsius (reached during summer from March to April/May)
Interested? Read more:

Safety & Security

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

Rainy Season starts

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Is it getting too hot in Manila? Don't strip down just yet, take a look at this Megacitzen guide on how to beat the heat in the metro this summer.

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Brace yourselves, rainy season is coming! The first rainstorms show that the Philippine summer is over.

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+++ Update Saturday, 8 November 2014 +++

Recovery and rehabilitation efforts are still ongoing in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda that hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Here is an update on what has been done and what still needs to be done one year after the disaster.

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During rainy season, flooded streets are quite a normality in parts of Metro Manila. Here is what you should know about the floods, how to prepare, how to get around when streets become waterways, and where to live in the Megacity to stay dry.