There are only two ways to describe the Philippines weather: wet and dry.
The location of the Philippines relative to the equator makes it a tropical country, an asset to any destination that is blessed with world-class beaches. The county’s weather pattern is also influenced by the prevailing winds, which makes weather forecasting a sometimes unpredictable business. From November to May, the wind blows from the northeast, and from June to October, the prevailing winds come from the southwest. The northeast monsoon is referred to as the “amihan” (ah-me-hon) while the southwest is called “habagat” (hah-bah-got).
It is during the “amihan” that most of the country experience dry season.
Dry season can further be classified into two: cool and hot. From December to February, the ‘amihan’ brings with it hints of winter from the northern hemisphere. It can get really chilly from late December until early February, when temperatures dip to an annual average of 25.5°C.
Summer in the Philippines officially start at the beginning of March when it becomes noticeably less chilly in the morning. The hottest and driest months often coincide with the Holy Week celebrations which are held in March or early April. Temperatures can get as high as 35°C during summer months, so using sunblock is definitely advisable, but it is best to seek shelter from 10AM until 3PM when planning activities outdoors. In Boracay, the beach capital of the country, swimming at 4PM at the height of summer can sometimes leave unpleasant burns.
The exception to this rule is Baguio, located at an elevation of 1,300 to 1,600 meters above sea level. Average annual temperature in the summer capital of the Philippines is 18°C, making it an ideal getaway spot when the rest of the country is steaming hot.
The hot dry season in the Philippines lasts until May, but in recent years, it is sometimes hot enough until late June that back-to-school children snatch one last summer escapade until ‘habagat’ scares them out of the water.
By the time school opens in mid-June, the Philippines weather turns on its head. Cloudless blue skies seem ages away, as day after day, rain pours like there is no shortage of water. Sometimes, it rains the entire week!
But it’s not only getting soggy that travelers should prepare for. Because the Philippines sits astride the typhoon alley, it gets an average of 20 typhoons a year. During really bad months, typhoons (tropical cyclones) come and go like guests at a party. Just when one typhoon is preparing to leave, another one is brewing in the vicinity.
Not incidentally, the months of June through October are low seasons in the tourist trade. This doesn’t mean however that you cannot go on your tropical dream vacation during these months. While it is possible to rain non-stop for an entire week, some areas may only experience brief overcast skies and get plenty of sunshine the next day.
Boracay is hot and dry most of the year, and amazingly, is seldom scraped by the tail of tropical cyclone monsters. In fact, Boracay just changes sides with the changing season. When ‘habagat’ blows, the 4-kilometer stretch of White Beach may not look postcard-worthy (because the winds bring all the sea trash to the shore), but the “amihan” facing side is all calm and inviting!
In Manila, tourists vacationing during the wet season need to be extra cautious as the capital city can get submerged knee-deep (and sometimes deeper) after unremitting rain. Not all of Manila however is prone to flood, but major arteries are often affected to semi-paralyze transport and access to basic needs.
In summary, anytime is a good time to visit the Philippines. Being flexible with your itinerary especially during the wet months can go a long way to prepare you for the worst. But even when typhoons are raging in Manila or elsewhere, you are always bound to find one spot in the country where the weather is friendly.