Tony Reyes

Travelled to 11 countries / regions

Written 40 briefs
I'm a local born and living in Manila



Asia > Philippines > Manila > Useful Info
Updated on Apr 07, 2019 Useful Info

Tips for staying safe in Manila

  • Manila is generally pretty safe for visitors. There's very little risk of physical harm in Manila.
  • Exercise common sense like watching your belongings in crowded places (especially on the MRT/LRT) and not wear flashy expensive things. It's generally safe at night too, though try to avoid going out by yourself to side streets and dimly lit areas
  • What you need to watch out for in Manila is the various scams and thieves targeting tourists. Some specific ones to be aware of:
  • Street taxi safety: Manila is unfortunately notorious when it comes to street taxis. I say street taxis because there are various classes of taxis here; the white ones being the street taxis that you should be careful of. It's very common for them to overcharge you by a factor of 3-5X if they don't use the meter, and they will try very hard to not use the meter. What you should do:
  • My recommendation is to avoid using these taxis altogether, and opt for Grab instead (Grab is like Uber, it's HUGE in Southeast Asia). If you're at the airport, use the yellow airport taxis or white coupon taxis, which is more expensive but you get a peace of mind because they are much more regulated
  • If you must use these street taxis, make sure the meter is turned on before you get on the car. If they turn off the meter halfway through the trip, firmly ask them to stop the car and let you out
  • Avoid putting your belongings in the back trunk, as it prevents you from being able to walk away
  • Carry lots of 20 and 50 peso bills as many drivers will say they don't have enough change to give back to you
  • Use your phone's GPS to make sure the driver is not taking the long route
  • These are the street taxis I'm talking about :User submitted photo of Manila
  • Other things to watch out for:
  • Strangers coming up to you on the street: there are gangs that send friendly locals to talk to you to distract you while they steal your things. If anyone comes up to talk to you, just leave. If groups of children come up to you for whatever, ignore them and leave
  • Watch your drink when going out to bars because you might get drugged and robbed. Don't ever leave your food and drinks unattended
  • Count the amount of cash you get back from money exchangers yourself. Some unscrupulous ones may count it in front of you, but then use some hand trick to give you less than what they counted, so always confirm the amount again
  • Areas to avoid in Manila: Tondo, Narvotas, Baseco. Tondo, in particular is a notorious slum that's in the news every other night because of some criminal incidents