This is the 1st of a series of Visa-related articles brought to you by Ellry. For Philippine passport holders, visa requirements are a necessary evil to enter most countries. We aim to help you get the most of your visas through this guide.
As the United States remains the top tourist destination for most Filipinos, it’s not surprising that the US Embassy approves more than a thousand applications in a day.
But that’s not without the hassle of obtaining strict visa requirements, including paperwork, fees, and maybe even filing a leave to go through the interview.
So once you obtain your US visa, it would be ideal to make the most of the time, effort and money you spent in getting it. Did you know that you can stretch the benefits of your hard-earned US visa by using it to enter other countries? Stretch your vacay to nearby Caribbean or Central American islands, or use it when you visit Taiwan and Eastern European countries.
Some general reminders:
– We use the term ‘Filipinos’ in this post to refer to Philippine passport holders.
– Always ensure that your US visa is still valid at the time of travel.
– Always contact the embassy of each country to clarify entry or visa requirements. While you may use your US visa to enter these countries, they may require you to apply for a Travel Certificate before your arrival or for a visa upon arrival.
– The visa referred to on this article is a tourist visa.
– Moreover, some countries do not have embassies based in Manila, so what you can do is obtain your visa from another Asian country (e.g. Japan, China or India).
– Moreover, ask the Consulate about entry taxes (if any) and any travel advisories related to diseases or crime/violence.
Here are 10 countries Philippine passport holders can visit with a valid US visa:
Ran out of funds while in the US? Scratch the travel itch by going to nearby Taipei with the use of your US visa.
Why Visit: Aside from good Chinese cuisine, Taiwan is also a must-visit for its beautiful mountains and busy night markets. Every major city has at least one night market, all of them worth visiting to try local specialty snacks and shop for souvenirs. The country is also tourist friendly – English signages, orderly, cheap and timely subways; clean restrooms and rentable bikes are located all around the city.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa can stay in Taiwan visa-free, for up to 30 days. Visitor must apply for a Travel Authorization Certificate before entry to Taiwan. For more details, visit this link.
How to get there: Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines have direct flights from Manila to Taipei, Taiwan.
Extend your US trip by hopping to the Caribbean islands of Belize or Dominican Republic.
Why visit: Belize is the only Central American country whose national language is English, although Belizean Creole and Spanish are also commonly spoken. With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea, Belize may be small but it’s packed with adventure and culture. You can be snorkelling in the Belize Barrier Reef or the famed Great Blue Hole one day, and hiking a jungle the next.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with US multiple entry visa may obtain a visa on arrival in Belize. For further details, contact the Consulate of Belize in Manila: email@example.com / (+632) 522-0066 or 338-8305.
How to get there: Belize is a 2-hour flight from the USA. You can fly direct from Miami, LA, Houston and North Carolina. You can also hop from USA-Mexico-Belize. Water taxis depart from Chetumal, Mexico to Belize: http://www.belizewatertaxi.com/book-now
3. Dominican Republic
Why visit: Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries. It offers stunning mountain scenery, desert scrublands, colonial architecture, and dozens of pristine beaches. Alongside nature, it also offers arguably the best nightlife and entertainment in the Caribbean, with a wide range of trendy bars, discos, casinos and restaurants. Many say it’s the Caribbean version of New York.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa may enter Dominican Republic with a Tourist Card. To apply, visit this link.
How to get there: Dominican Republic is a 2.5-hour flight from the USA. The cheapest and most frequent flights depart from Miami and New York, landing at the cities of Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata and Santiago.
Use your US Visa to do a Latin American roadtrip, jumping from US to Mexico-Belize-Guatemala-El Salvador-Honduras and finally, Nicaragua. Their neighbors Costa Rica and Colombia are visa-free countries for Filipinos, allowing you to cover 8 countries in total in this region.
Why visit: Mexico is a one-of-a-kind destination because of all its variety. You can stay in luxury resorts on the Riviera Maya, or choose the humbler beach huts on the Pacific. You can eat sensational, chilli-laden food in chic city restaurants or indulge in equally delicious meals at a busy market comedor. You can basically experience Mexico a variety of ways — stroll along colonial streets in Guanajuato, enjoy beach parties in Cancun, hike mountain clouds in Oaxaca, or explore Mayan ruins in Tulum. In Mexico, the possibilities are endless.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa may enter Mexico visa-free and stay for 180 days. For further details, refer to this link.
How to get there: Distances in Mexico can be huge, so the best way to get from the US is still through air. Flights from major cities fly direct to Mexico City, or to a lesser extent, Guadalajara.
Why visit: Guatemala is a hiker’s haven. It has remarkable Mayan ruins that can rival Mexico’s, most famous of which is the Tikal. It has about 25 volcanoes as well, some of them still active, but despite the occasional activity, Guatemala’s volcanoes are usually in places that offer spectacular views. Lastly, it’s home to the Chichicastenango, a colourful Mayan city most famous for its markets.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa may obtain a visa on arrival in Guatemala and stay for up to 90 days. For further details, contact the Guatemalan Embassy in Japan: http://www.mofa.go.jp/ / firstname.lastname@example.org / + 03-3400-1830.
How to get there: There are direct flights from Miami, LA, Washington and Dallas. The shortest flight is 2.5 hours, from Miami. You can also hop from Belize to Tikal, Guatemala by flying direct or by rental car.
6. El Salvador
Why visit: El Salvador remains the least visited Central American country. It’s still overshadowed by its more famous neighbors Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama, which means you’ll rarely find tourist traps here. Some of the best surfing in the world can be found here, with the port city of La Libertad as the epicentre. For those who don’t like the water, a series of volcanoes (22 in all, some of which are still active) run right through the middle of the country.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa can enter El Salvador visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days. For further details contact the El Salvadoran Embassy in Japan: +045-224-8022 and look for Mr. Maekawa Hiroyuki.
How to get there: El Salvador is a 50 minute flight from Guatemala. There are no direct flights from the US to El Salvador, but there are 1 to 2-stop flights from most major US cities like New York, Miami and Texas.
Why visit: Honduras has the highest percentage of English speaking population in Central America. In addition to this, it is the only Central American country whose infrastructure for tourism was developed in the Carribean, making it easy to travel from the city to the world-renowned snorkelling and diving spots of Bay Islands either via ferry or a short plane ride.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa may obtain a visa on arrival in Honduras and stay for up to 90 days. For further details, contact the Honduran Honorary Consulate in Manila: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / (+632) 634-5708.
How to get there: You can fly direct from El Salvador to Honduras, via 3 routes. From the US, you can fly from Miami, New York, Washington, Texas and San Francisco.
Why visit: After decades of political turmoil, Nicaragua is now safer and open to tourists. It’s filled with undisturbed beaches and eco-conscious hotels, and is home to the Paris of Central America, the sleepy colonial town of Granada. Nicaragua’s first private airport opened in 2015 and is already open to direct flights from several US cities.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa may obtain a visa on arrival in Nicaragua and stay for up to 90 days. For further details, contact the Nicaraguan Embassy in Manila: email@example.com.
How to get there: You can fly direct from Honduras to Nicaragua, via 4 routes. From the US, direct flights depart from Atlanta, Miami and Houston.
Travelling to Europe? Travail the mountain ranges and sleepy towns of these two Balkan countries, even if they’re not covered with your Schengen visa. You can do so with the use of your US visa!
Why visit: Albania has just gotten back on its feet 20 years since the end of a particularly brutal strain of communism in 1991. Considering its proximity to Greece and Italy, it offers the same beautiful Mediterranean weather, immaculate coastlines, mountain ranges, and archaeological sites, without the crowds. As a developing country, it also offers affordable lodging and food at prices you will not see anywhere in Europe.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa can enter Albania visa-free. For further details, contact the Albanian Embassy in China: http://www.ambasadat.gov.al/china/en / firstname.lastname@example.org / +8610 65321120.
How to get there: There are 9 airlines that fly to Albania via Istanbul, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Milan, Munich and Frankfurt. Two or three boats per day also travel between Saranda and Corfu, in Greece. From Italy, there are ferries travelling from four ports – Ancona, Bari, Brindisi or Trieste.
Why visit: Its name might trick you into thinking that it’s a country in South America, but it’s actually one of the oldest European states. The underrated tourist destination is home to Sapphire beaches like Croatia’s, mountain ranges like Switzerland’s and towns as old as Greece’s. It’s a small country, so you can easily fit it into your European roadtrip.
How to use your US Visa: Filipinos with a valid US visa can enter Montenegro visa-free. For further details, contact the Embassy of Montenegro in Japan: email@example.com / +81 3-5510-5511.
How to get there: Flights to Montenegro are in pretty short supply, but Montenegro Airlines (www.montenegroairlines.com) flies to Podgorica and Tivat (near Kotor) from several European destinations. You can also ride a ferry from Italy through the port of Bari.