How to Travel Safely to the Philippines – Travel Tips

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how to travel safely to the Philipines

Just to get it out there, Manila isn’t the Philippines.

It’s where the main international airport is but I hope you don’t judge the country by its entrance (there are stories that they are spending billions to fix the international airport too, but I’ll wait until I see it).

After living in Sydney for eight years now, there are things that surprise me when I go back to visit family. Here are some realistic and practical tips when travelling to the Philippines – probably a guide that the tourism centre wouldn’t approve of.

Safe travel guides to the Philippines

  • Have a trustworthy guide as much as possible. It helps if you know someone there because they know people who know people. Safe people. Maybe ask your hotel for a tour guide. But if you go on your own, ask the right people for information – hotel concierge, airport officials, information centres.
  • Travel South. Get out of Manila to see what the country has to offer. There are popular tourist spots like Boracay, but personally, it’s too saturated with foreigners/tourists to be really culturally authentic. I suggest beautiful but quieter ones like Bohol, Camiguin, Palawan, Siquijor, Tagaytay, Baguio, or Vigan.
  • Don’t travel too much South. Yes, kidnappings happen there. Yes, people will try to get as much money out of you. It’s a poor country, you knew that already. So don’t go where the trouble is – like where the rebels are, where most kidnappings happen, or where bombings mostly occur. Stick to the tourist-safe zones. Having said that, there are guides for journalists who want to see those “exciting” areas.
  • Ask your hotel. If travelling in one area for a longer period, you can ask your hotel if they can recommend someone you can hire as a driver to take you around. If you ask, you can also find an assistant or a nanny to take with you for an agreed price. If you just want to use a cab, ask for the meter to be turned on instead of a flat rate because they might rip you off.
  • IDs and uniforms. It is wise to check IDs and uniforms for services like porters, cab drivers, tour guides and so on. It’s much safer to get their details, or know their details. We usually hire a regular driver, assistant, nanny etc beforehand and agree on a specific payment during the duration of the stay — less headache with the travel arrangements.
  • Have cash. The thing with secluded nature spots is that sometimes, there are no ATMs or credit card machines. It’s good to carry around cash, just don’t put it all in one spot, because yes, there are snatchers too. When travelling, don’t wave around your expensive cameras, phones and other gadgets. They’re easy targets for snatchers.
  • Protect your tummy and health. Use bottled water for obvious reasons. Bring medicine around – panadol, diarrhea tablets, rash cream and so on. Insect repellent will also come in handy. It is humid, carry around a small towel because you will be sweating constantly.

Lastly, have fun. Although there are unscrupulous people around, generally Filipinos have a happy disposition and welcoming nature, and a hell of competitive streak in karaoke – just saying, you should be prepared.

 Bio: Kristyn is the blogger behind MummyK. She is a journalist, photographer, and first time children’s book author. She is enjoying life with her IT consultant/musician husband and three year-old toddler in Sydney. She tweets as @mummyk.


20 thoughts on “How to Travel Safely to the Philippines – Travel Tips”

  1. Agreed totally on Manila not equals Philippines, but there are still some sights to see here in the capital of the country. Just don’t waste too much time here in the city because your lungs might get clogged with pollution!

    These are great tips for foreigners traveling to the Philippines, though they can be a bit hurtful to some Filipinos. I have to admit living in the Philippines ain’t the safest choice, but there are really good people out there.

    1. I totally agree! A lot of filipinos are very friendly. I guess just like in any country, there are those who are after just money too. It’s an honest warning from a Filipino’s point of view but yeah, it’s not a blanket statement to all Filipinos.

  2. Yes, the lack of ATMs can get you in trouble if you are careless, like I was at Palawan. Makes life quite interesting when you suddenly realize you can’t pay your Jeepney driver and you are the only foreigner on board 🙂

    And yes Philippines has possibly the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere, people are so nice and welcoming. And very true, they love their karaoke, it wasn’t once or twice when locals invited me to sing some karaoke with them 🙂

    1. How did you pay your driver then? We had to use US dollars instead, good thing we were carrying some around, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to pay our hotel!

      1. Well, I was supposed to jump off mid journey, but obviously couldn’t do that with no money. I had a 10dollar note, but he wouldn’t accept that. So I went the extra hour and half on the Jeepney to the Jeepney station, where I left my bag as ransom and went in search of money changer (who wouldn’t change my 10 dollar note, because I had folded it) and then ATM (which didn’t work). Eventually had to change the 10 dollar note with a really bad rate from one of the locals at the bus station, so I was able ransom my bag back 🙂

  3. I think the point “Don’t travel too much South” needs some clarification – obviously Central and Western Mindanao are off limits but it’s still perfectly safe (with common sense) to travel to the north of the island including Surigao (the gateway to Siargao Island) and Butuan.

    Good tips though, especially the need to get out of Manila. We can’t stand the capital but absolutely love everywhere else in the Philippines, Cebu and Bohol in particular.

  4. It’s more fun in the Philippines. 😀 It’s not the safest though. Hehe.. you just gotta be street-smart (especially in Manila), stick to safe areas (indeed, I’m from Mindanao but I definitely don’t recommend going to the western, southwestern, and central parts), ask directions, etc from trustworthy people, and keep lots of common sense. 🙂 Great post mummyK!

  5. Angelo @ Old Boot Travel And Tours Philippines

    I totally agree with everything said in these guidelines. Although i also invite people to go north, as well as south!

    Another tip: Do not show off any wealth. Weating too much jewelry will always attract thieves!

  6. Safety is priority of every traveler. Phillippines is one of the poorest country in the world. There are reports of kidnapping and robbery happening on a regular basis, which is very pity to hear. Thanks to Craz for posting valuable information for traveler.

    1. u are mistaken, what is your definition of poor? there are many poor people in the philippines but still the majority are middle class and the wealthy, poverty is just a statistic in economy, Philippines is not among the poorest, it has a relative large economy and getting bigger, has one of the highest foreign reserve and purchasing power in the world, so i dont know what poorest your talking about, if you liken us to south sudan, somalia, papua new guniea, congo you are totally ignorant. out of more or less 200 countries we are in the top 30 wealthiest, get your fact straight, india have lots of poor people but india as a country is not poor

  7. Don’t travel too much south?

    What a sweeping generalization and a misinformed advise! Obviously this is from a “traveler” who has been to one or two places or never been in the south. And she’s a journalist, she could have been more specific in places to avoid and not use the NEWS as her source. Fellow travel bloggers who have spent there longer than she did are the best source.

    Or is this a post intended to get the ire of people from the south, get viral and earn views?

  8. Hi Kristyn! Thank you for sharing some helpful tips! My husband and I are currently traveling around Asia for business and we’re looking forward to visiting the Philippines in a couple of weeks. I think one of the first things that we’re going to do is hire a trustworthy ‘yaya’ for our twin girls.

  9. I rent a condo in Makati to foreign travellers and many of them fear travelling too far south. As you mentioned, it depends on how far south you plan to go. I hope to incorporate your tips in my guest welcome aboard package. Thanks and keep blogging!

  10. This article had everything I needed. I am planning for a solo travel and I think Philippines is a wonderful place to explore. I would love to go in Boracay and Banaue Rice Terraces. Exciting!

  11. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing this article. I learn a lot of new things form you about Philippines, and I hope that it will also help others. And I appreciate your efforts. Philippines is one of my favorite countries to travel and I would like to visit there.
    Have a good day ahead!

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