Face it, when you have a Filipino passport it can be quite challenging to travel outside Southeast Asia. Before you know it, you can faced with mountains of paperwork for one mulit-colored (e.g. Japan) or drab (Australia) visa sticker in your passport. It’s also quite hard to travel in United States or South America when friends announce last minute a surprise trip to Cancun, Mexico or Dominican Republic and you can’t go there because (surprise!) you need a visa.
This is what happened to me when some of my friends here in the US were thinking about a trip to the Caribbean. Can’t blame them. The frigid wintry mix up north were pushing people to flock for the warm sultry tropics in the hundreds.
So I’ve done some research and here are some places Filipinos can escape to in Central America without going back to our countries.
Costa Rica 120 days Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival (free of charge)
Dominica 30 days visa issued upon arrival (free of charge)
Haiti 30 days Nicaragua 30 days
Saint Lucia 60 days Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival (free of charge)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 30 days visa issued upon arrival (free of charge)
Turks and Caicos Islands 30 days
Travel Tip: You can start your journey in Nicaragua and cross the border to Costa Rica and then to Panama City (see below) and if you have time, sail a boat to Colombia (where Filipinos can get in without a visa). There are cheap flights leaving from either Miami airport or Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Visa Upon Arrival/Easy Visa Application in Another Central American Country
Panama: Can get visa in the airport in Panama City
Cuba: (unconfirmed) I’ve always dreamed of going to Cuba someday. You can get the tourist card/visa in any Cuban Consul outside the US. But from what I’ve read, it’s easier to just get the tourist card from the airline servicing you to Cuba upon check-in. Airlines are: Copa, Cubana Aviation and Avianca. You can call and check. Tip: It’s easier to call them in an English speaking country as if you call them in the Caribbean, the staff might not speak English (I’ve tried). You cannot easily get a Cuban visa in the US because of the embargo. There are charter flights from Miami and Tampa but you have to join a tour group just to fly in them.
Another way is to apply for a tourist card to Cuba in any travel agency in the Caribbean. There are travel agencies in Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama City. I haven’t checked but I’m sure other Caribbean islands have them as well. It would cost a little bit more than applying for them in the airline but at least you can get them before you leave. Also, I’ve read some Cuban consuls in Europe or Australia might charge more and will ask for a lot of paperwork (bank statements, proof of employment, etc) whereas the travel agencies would only require a passport good for 6 months and your plane tickets to Cuba so call and check ahead for requirements. It’s important you get a return flight as they might not let you depart without one or it would also be hard to get an exit visa once you’re in Cuba. There is no MAYBE in Cuba.
Travel Tip: An affordable jumping off point to Cuba for Filipinos would be either Costa Rica, Panama or Colombia. All these countries offer relatively the same price for Cuba. If you would like to see more sights, go to Colombia as there’s more to explore there than Panama and Costa Rica. Don’t go to Haiti as the Cuban flight would just loop over to either Jamaica or Panama City and you would just pay more and spend 5 hours on the plane even though Haiti is just right across Cuba.
For more info on which other countries Filipinos can travel to without a visa: Visit Wikipedia Visa Requirements for Filipino Citizens