November to April is the most popular time of year to visit the Philippines, when rainfall is at its lowest and even the more remote regions of this island archipelago can be accessed without difficulty. The weather is especially hospitable between December and February when temperatures are refreshingly cool and days are sunny with blue skies. The wet season typically begins in June, with typhoons a possibility from August through to October.
The Philippines enjoys a tropical climate that is for the most part hot and humid year-round, but can be roughly divided into a dry season between November and May, and a wet season between June and October. Although in recent years, due to climate change, summers have been extending into June and July. Average annual temperatures of 26°C are experienced across the country, with May being the hottest month of the year in the Philippines.
Naturally in a country made up of more than 7,000 islands spread over 100,000 square miles weather systems can be diverse to say the least. The Philippines is bounded by the South China Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east and the Celebes Sea to the south-west, all of which contribute to what can be quite unpredictable weather patterns on land.
Broadly speaking though, the eastern Visayas see the highest rainfall and typhoons throughout the year due to their proximity to the Pacific Ocean, while the northern island of Luzon typically enjoys a warmer and drier climate.
Peak time to travel to the Philippines understandably corresponds with the dry season but it’s also worth considering the shoulder months of May and November when the crowds thin out yet you can still be reasonably confident of good weather. Even when the rains do come, there are still frequent sunny days and the vegetation is often at its most lush. The Banaue Rice Terraces, for example, are at their greenest between April and July.
Altitude can have an impact on weather systems and climate. Average temperatures can reach 32°C in parts of the country by May, especially the city of Manila and lowland regions. However, it is significantly cooler in Baguio and the Cordillera region in northern Luzon due to their high elevation. Bear in mind that warm days can be aggravated further by the high level of humidity that persists year-round. The Philippines are typically most humid in August.
Straddling the typhoon belt, the Philippines can experience serious tropical storms between August and October, though it’s not unknown for typhoons to appear as late as January. Around 10 typhoons will make landfall on the Philippines every year. The eastern regions tend to suffer the majority of typhoons, though Manila is periodically struck as well. The southern Visayas and Palawan usually see less typhoon activity as they are more protected by other islands.
Average annual rainfall in the Philippines ranges from 1000mm up to 5000mm. The Eastern Visayas typically experience the most rain; the central islands such as Bohol and Cebu, and western islands including Palawan, are a lot drier. Monsoons tend to be westerly during the summer months and easterly in winter months but while they can deliver an inconvenient drenching, it’s worth remembering they are usually brief.