Index


Introduction



In the Philippines, an archipelago of thousands of islands, the climate is generally tropical maritime, with a relatively cool season from December to February, when the north-east trade winds prevail, and a hot, humid and rainy season from May to November, when the south-west monsoon prevails. Between March and May, before the arrival of the summer monsoon, the temperature increases and reaches the highest levels of the year, especially in the center-north and in the interior of the larger islands: hence, in general the coolest month (or the least hot) is January, while the warmest is May.
In the north of Luzon, cool air masses can sometimes arrive from December to March, so much so that at night the temperature can drop to around 12/15 °C (54/59 °F). On the southernmost islands, close to the Equator, temperatures are more stable, and remain high all year round.
Relative humidity in the Philippines is almost always high as well, and makes the heat muggy, at least in the lowlands.
Some areas (usually the eastern coast, facing the Philippine Sea), have an equatorial climate, ie rainy throughout the year. In fact, during winter, the northeast trade winds release large amounts of moisture as rain on the exposed coasts and slopes. This, in general, rarely happens on the inner islands, which are more sheltered, and even less along the western slopes, where winter is a dry season.
The tropical rains typically occur in the form of downpours or thunderstorms in the afternoon, except during tropical storms and typhoons, which can last for a few days and are accompanied by strong winds.

Equatorial climate



Philippines - area with an equatorial climate

In summer, it rains all over the Philippines; the equatorial climate zones are those in which it rains even in winter, that is, those exposed to the northeast winds. They are the eastern part of the island of Luzon, some of the Eastern Visayas, such as the island of Samar and the eastern part of Leyte, the north-east of Mindanao and the smaller southern islands. In these areas, more than 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain fall per month even in winter, which is often the rainiest season. In fact, these areas, just because they are exposed to the north-easterly winds, are generally at least partially sheltered from the summer monsoon, which as mentioned blows from the south-west. In these areas, the annual precipitation exceeds 2,500 mm (98 in), but in most of the eastern coast it exceeds 3,000 mm (118 in), and in some cases it can even exceed 4.000 mm (157 in).
Being rainy throughout the year, these areas of the Philippines honestly do not have a beautiful climate, and not surprisingly here you won't find large cities.
The least rainy period varies depending on area, and as weeks pass it advances proceeding from north to south: in Legazpi (Luzon Island), rainfall drops below 200 mm (8 in) per month from March to May, while in Borongan (Samar Island), this happens from July to September.

Legazpi

Here is the average precipitation in Legazpi, located in the south-east of the island of Luzon.
Legazpi - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)2951951951501802402401802152654854603100
Prec.(in)11.67.77.75.97.19.49.47.18.510.419.118.1122
Days191515151416171617202222208

In Legazpi, temperatures are high all year round, however, they decrease a bit from December to February. Here are the average temperatures.
Legazpi - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)222223242525242424242424
Max (°C)292930313232323232313029
Min (°F)727273757777757575757575
Max (°F)848486889090909090888684

Despite the frequent rains, the sun in Legazpi shines for an acceptable number of hours, especially in the least rainy period, as we can see in the following table.
Legazpi - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours668887666666

The southernmost islands (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi), which lie north of Borneo, must be put into the equatorial climate zone, ie where it rains even in winter, but since it doesn't rain too much in this season, you can visit them from February to April, and after all even from June to September, when, however, it rains on average every other day.
Here is the average precipitation of Bongao, the capital of the province of Tawi-Tawi.
Bongao - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)2101751351502101901701451502152002102160
Prec.(in)8.36.95.35.98.37.56.75.75.98.57.98.385
Days141111101316151515171616169

In Bongao too, the temperatures are high all year round. Here are the average temperatures.
Bongao - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232323232323232323232323
Max (°C)303031313131303031313131
Min (°F)737373737373737373737373
Max (°F)868688888888868688888888

Tropical climate



Philippines - areas with a tropical climate

In the rest of the Philippines, the climate can be defined as tropical, since it is possible to identify a dry season, which usually runs from February to April, but in the most sheltered areas the rains are rare even in December and January. The dry season is more evident in the western part (blue area), while it's less evident, but still present, in the central part (green area); in contrast, the summer monsoon is generally more intense in the western part.
In this area, the biggest cities of the Philippines are found, starting from the capital, Manila.

Batanes and Babuyan

The northernmost islands (Batanes and Babuyan) are located far to the north, almost at the Tropic; in winter, they are affected by cool air masses from the Asian continent, so the weather is pretty cool from December to February, with average highs around 24/25 °C (75/77 °F).
Here are the average temperatures of Santo Domingo de Basco, located in the far north of the Philippines, in the Batanes Province.
Basco - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)192021232525252524232221
Max (°C)242527283131313130282725
Min (°F)666870737777777775737270
Max (°F)757781828888888886828177

From the point of view of the rains, these islands are in the intermediate area, the one circled in green. The wettest period is from July to December, but even January is often very rainy, in fact, in this month the rains in some places still amount to 180 mm (7 in). It goes a bit better in February, but the driest months here are March and April, so they will be the ones to be preferred for a visit.
Here is the average precipitation in Basco.
Basco - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)18012590701702602804203803302952552850
Prec.(in)7.14.93.52.86.710.21116.5151311.610112.2
Days18141081014152018181919183

In winter, the sea is warm enough for swimming even in this northernmost part of the Philippines, although as we mentioned the air can be a bit cool.
Basco - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)252526272829292929282726
Temp (°F)777779818284848484828179

In the interior of Luzon, the increase in temperature before the monsoon, i.e. from March to May, is fairly noticeable: there are hot cities like Angeles, San Fernando, Tarlac, Cabanatuan and Tuguegarao, which in this period easily reach 35/37 °C (95/99 °F), but with peaks of 40 °C (104 °F).
Here are the average temperatures in San Fernando.
San Fernando - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)202022232323232323232221
Max (°C)313234353534323232323231
Min (°F)686872737373737373737270
Max (°F)889093959593909090909088

Manila

The metropolitan area of Manila and Quezon City is located in a better position because it is situated on the coast, and therefore it gets some breezes, however, being a big city, the so-called urban heat island effect is evident. In Manila and Quezon City, it's hot all year round, since the maximum temperature is around 30 °C (86 °F) even in winter. Here are the average temperatures.
Manila - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)242425262726262626262524
Max (°C)303132343332313131313130
Min (°F)757577798179797979797775
Max (°F)868890939190888888888886

The dry season, from January to April, is very pronounced: in general, it almost never rains, especially in February and March, which are the driest months. The hottest months are April and May, when the average maximum temperature is around 33/34 °C (91/93 °F) during the day, but with peaks of 36/38 °C (97/100 °F). In fact, high temperatures like these are possible even in the rainy season, albeit more rarely. During the rainy season, from June to October, the average highs drop to around 31/32 °C (88/90 °F), although night temperatures remain high, around 26 °C (79 °F), and the humidity makes the heat muggy. The rainiest months is August, with about 475 mm (18.5 in) on average. Here is the average precipitation.
Manila - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1572020140285365475335200110552025
Prec.(in)0.60.30.80.85.511.214.418.713.27.94.32.279.7
Days4233101622222018149143

The amount of sunshine in Manila is not scarce even in the wettest months because usually in the morning the weather is good, while in the afternoon or in the evening, showers and thunderstorms often occur.
Manila - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours788987766676

The best months to visit Manila are January and February, since it is the least hot among those of the dry period, but after all even in December it does not rain a lot.
Near Manila, the sea is warm all year round, with little variation between the months, and this also applies to the rest of the country.
Manila - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)272728293030302929292928
Temp (°F)818182848686868484848482

Manila

On the island of Boracay, located at 300 km (190 miles) south of Manila, approximately 2,500 mm (98 in) or rain fall per year; the rains are abundant from May to October, while from January to April it rarely rains. Already in December, however, showers and thunderstorms become quite rare (on average, 6 per month).

Cebu City

Cebu City is located in the group of the central islands (Visayas), which are more sheltered, so they are moderately rainy but without excesses. Here, about 1,350 mm (53 in) of rain fall per year, of which less than 100 mm (4 in) fall from February to May. For many months of the year, it rains on average every second day, except during the period from January to May. We are in the intermediate zone (the one circled in green), where the dry period is present but less pronounced, January is still a pretty rainy month, and therefore the best period is from February to April. Here is the average precipitation.
Cebu - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)105705948951761931431801951621401566
Prec.(in)4.12.82.31.93.76.97.65.67.17.76.45.561.7
Days12986814161415161414146

In Cebu too, the temperatures are high throughout the year, although they are slightly lower from December to February. Here are the average temperatures.
Cebu - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)242424252625252525252524
Max (°C)303031323332323232313130
Min (°F)757575777977777777777775
Max (°F)868688909190909090888886

The sun in Cebu frequently shines in the dry season, while in the rest of the year it does not shine too often.
Cebu - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours778986666667

Davao City is located in the south of Mindanao, overlooking the gulf of the same name, and a short distance from mountains such as Apo and Leonard Kniaseff. Here we are at the boundary between the tropical and the equatorial climate zones; annual rainfall amounts to 2,000 mm (80 in), without there being a well-defined dry season, although between December and March, precipitation drops to around 90/115 mm (3.5/4.5 in) per month.
The least rainy area of the Philippines is the protected Sarangani Bay, in the far south of Mindanao. In General Santos, 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain fall per year, with a maximum of about 100 mm (4 in) per month, and therefore not a large amount, in the summer months.

Mountains



In the Philippines, there are many mountains and volcanoes, the highest of which is the aforementioned Mount Apo, in Mindanao, 2,954 meters (9,691 ft) high. Along the mountain slopes, usually the rains are more abundant than in the plains, and as mentioned, on the slopes exposed to the wind, showers and thunderstorms are possible throughout the year.

Baguio

In Baguio, at 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level, on the island of Luzon, 4,100 mm (160 in) of rain fall per year; the rains are plentiful especially in July and August, with almost one meter (3.3 feet) of rain per month! Here is the average precipitation.
Baguio - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)202050120350420920995650360160554120
Prec.(in)0.80.824.713.816.536.239.225.614.26.32.2162.2
Days44610202327272519106181

However, there is little rain from December to March, in addition, the temperature is mild because of the altitude, so Baguio is a haven to escape from the heat of the cities of the plains, especially in the hottest period of the year, ie in March and April, before the rainy season.
Baguio - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)121314151616151515151513
Max (°C)222224252423212121222323
Min (°F)545557596161595959595955
Max (°F)727275777573707070727373

The sun in Baguio shines often in the dry season, while in the rainy season it can be seen for a few hours a day.
Baguio - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours788986656777

Typhoons



The Philippines are struck in full force by tropical cyclones, which in south-east Asia are called typhoons. The only area that generally remains outside of their trajectory is the southernmost one, ie the island of Mindanao, especially in the central and southern part, the south of Palawan and the small southernmost islands. Typically, typhoons occur from May to December, although they are more frequent between August and November. Sometimes, destructive typhoons occurred even in December, for example, Typhoon Bopha, which affected the Philippines in early December 2012; Typhoon Hagupit, which struck the islands around December 10, 2014; and Typhoon Tembin, which hit Mindanao from 20 to 25 December 2017.
Since the sea is always warm, typhoons can in theory occur even from January to April, although in general, during this period, only tropical depressions not intense are formed, which can sometimes release considerable amounts of rain anyway, especially on the eastern slopes.

El Niño



The Philippines are also affected by the phenomenon known as El Niño, which during some years alters the climate of large areas of the world, and in the Philippines brings heat, drought and fewer typhoons than usual, while the opposite phenomenon, La Niña, brings heavier rainfall than normal and slightly lower temperatures.

Best Time



Since in the regions with an equatorial climate, which in any case are rainy all year round, January is a particularly rainy month, the best time to visit the Philippines as a whole runs from February to April. Since March and April are very hot months, February is the best month of all. In the areas with a tropical climate, where the winter drought is evident, such as in Manila, January is also a good month; and it's often the best one because it is dry and also the least hot.
If you want to go in July or August, you can prefer Mindanao and the southernmost islands (Basilan, Sulu, Tawitawi), which are less rainy and therefore are acceptable even in this period, and above all are generally sheltered from typhoons.
As mentioned, the sea is warm enough for swimming all year round.

What to pack



In winter: on the northernmost islands (Batanes and Babuyan), bring spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), but also a sweatshirt or sweater and a jacket; a raincoat or umbrella. In the north of Luzon, light clothing, a sweatshirt or sweater for the evening, a raincoat or umbrella. In Manila and the rest of the Philippines, pack light clothing, made of natural fibers, a scarf for the breeze, a light sweatshirt for air-conditioned places, a light raincoat or umbrella for the areas where it rains even in winter. In Baguio, at 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a jacket and a sweater for the evening. For the high mountains, warmer clothes depending on altitude.

In summer: throughout the plains and the coasts, bring tropics-friendly clothing, a scarf for the breeze, a light sweatshirt for air-conditioned places, a light raincoat or umbrella. In Baguio, at 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), spring/autumn clothes, a jacket and a sweater for the evening, a raincoat. For the high mountains, warmer clothes depending on altitude.
When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.