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Tony Reyes

Travelled to 11 countries / regions

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I'm a local born and living in Manila

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

Essential safety tips for traveling in the Philippines

  • Philippines as a whole is pretty safe for travelers, with the exception of the places to avoid (which I will talk about below), you just need to use common sense to stay safe. For example:
  • Watch your belongings, especially in crowded places like trains and buses.
  • Don't wear ostentatiously expensive things, which can draw unwanted attention from thieves
  • Be extra careful after dark, and try not to walk around the city by yourself especially if you're female
  • Beyond these, here are some specific tips for Philippines:
  • Use Grab wherever possible. Grab is like Uber and is HUGE in Southeast Asia (it bought Uber's entire business here so there's no longer Uber). It's very safe and with extremely low chance of being scammed. By comparison, street taxis are notoriously untrustworthy, and travelers frequently get overcharged by a factor of 3-5X. However, you will unlikely be in any physical danger using street taxis
  • Be careful of strangers who come up to you, especially those that want to have a conversation with you. This is often used by street gangs as a tactic for them to keep you distracted and steal things from you. There are genuinely nice people who want to talk to you, but unfortunately the risk is high that it's fake enthusiasm. Don't even trust the kids if they approach you for no reason
  • Areas to avoid going to:
  • Avoid going to the islands of Mindanao, maybe with the exception of Davao City. This whole area is a hotbed for insurgents, rebels, terrorists, and pirates. Bombing and kidnapping happen regularly there, and travelers are especially high value targets. In 2017 the entire island was placed under martial law after a clash with the terrorists. There are still a sizeable number of tourists and foreigners there for sure, especially in Davao City, so it's not like you're guaranteed to be kidnapped if you visit. But to minimize risk, avoid going there.