NOTE: 2012 article, updated for 2017 (including updated image credit on end).
The Philippines (from FreeWorldMaps.net)
With the endless torrential rains in the Philippines, it is quite discouraging and even dangerous to go to the various travel hot spots: beaches, mountains, tourist destinations, and the like. Add to this mix the constant promos of airlines for the lean months, and you have a dilemma on how to schedule a vacation in such a way that you would have to enjoy it to the fullest. And this would include romantic sunsets, delay-free flights, walking sightseeing trips. In other words, you’d have to ensure a rain-free travel.
I have gathered data in order to avoid (or minimize) experiencing rain-drenched travels. However, this is not absolute, as Philippine weather is as unpredictable as Love (LOL). Anyway, the current weather data today might not be applicable decades from now due to the evident Global Warming.
Philippine Climate Types
There are currently four climate types in the Philippines, of which the categories are based on the amount of rainfall on the affected regions:
- Type I. Two pronounced season: dry from November to April and wet during the rest of the year.
- Type II. No dry season with a pronounced rainfall from November to January.
- Type III. Seasons are not very pronounced, relatively dry from November to April, and wet during the rest of the year.
- Type IV. Rainfall is more or less evenly distributed throughout the year.
As could be observed in the said map, the eastern coastal regions as well as a substantial part of Mindanao are have constant rainfall throughout the whole year. This could be substantiated by my childhood in Davao City where it would be clear by day and it would always rain by nighttime. As for the coastal regions, it would be a hit-and-miss scheduling for beach vacations, but it would be a boon for surfers who would love strong winds which translate to higher waves.
The rest of the country has a relatively stable weather pattern, with a dry season approximately from November to April. However, there are clear signs that the seasons are being jumbled by mother nature possibly due to the ill effects of pollution and greenhouse gases worldwide. In some parts, summer has arrived earlier and with accompanying heat waves, while in some parts it’s still affected with heavy rainfall with no letup. This brings us to another fact of life in the Philippines: depressions, storms, and typhoons.
Analysis of the climate map reveals that Mindanao and the southern Visayas islands are good to visit any time of the year, while tourist spots in Luzon and northern Visayas islands are good destinations during the summer months.
Typhoons in the Philippines
Tropical depressions, Tropical storms, Typhoons. They all essentially the same, with the only difference being their wind speeds. Still, Tropical depressions and storms don’t equate to safety just because they don’t have winds that could tear apart billboards and flatten houses. They could even be more dangerous compared to fast-moving super typhoons because of on heavy thing they bring: immense rains with accompanying floods and landslides.
As seen in the map, although Philippine storms and typhoons generally come from the southeastern side of the country and travel north, Mindanao is virtually untouched by typhoon paths, save for a few which cuts across the northern Mindanao area and crossing into the western areas of the country. Historically, the eastern seaboard of Luzon is most affected, especially the Bicol region as it is usually the first to be in the typhoon’s path. Also heavily affected are the Samar and Leyte islands.
Although storms and typhoons come in throughout the year, the months of January to April have shown a smaller probability of such. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there will be no rains on these months. Also, June to November months have shown the most occurrences of typhoons crossing the Philippines.
Aside from typhoons, the Philippines constantly experiences Low Pressure Areas (LPA) and Inter-Tropical Convergence Zones (ITCZ). Both are merely complicated terms for rain, haha.
While rains could dampen your mood and hamper some vacation activities (unless it’s some rain festival or something), there are quite a few benefits for the budget-conscious travelers: cheaper airfares and accommodations! Such is the effect of supply and demand on the lean months.
In conclusion, while you may be equipped with a few decades worth of data on Philippine weather patterns, which could be helpful when you are doing some long-term vacation planning (especially with the current airfare promos), bear in mind that these are merely general predictions.
It could be that you scheduled your vacation on a surely dry season in some part of the Philippines, but with just a bit of bad luck, it happened to rain on that very day. Or you could be traveling to a sunny part of the the country, but your flight got delayed due to heavy rains on your departure location. Well, we’ve nothing and no one to blame actually.
As for immediate and short-term travel plans, it pays to check on the various Philippine weather sites which give daily and weekly forecasts.
To check the weather on a regular basis, you could check on the Philippine government agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), or the popular May Bagyo (Typhoon 2000). These sites constantly update their weather status and forecasts.
With these in mind, have an enjoyable “well-scheduled” vacation!
For the pictures, credits to the various sites, in order of appearance: FreeWorldMaps.net, Top Destination Choice the Philippines, and Cebu Experience