We often get this question from friends; “Is the Philippines safe?” It’s understandable, considering the way local and international media portray the country, as well as the travel advisories your embassies could be sending out. As longtime residents however, we can tell you that for the most part, there’s little to worry about. Let’s put things in perspective. Your chance of dying in a terror attack is 1 in 9,300,000. These are way bigger than the 1 in 3,500,000 chance of getting bitten by a snake. We don’t know the odds of being hit by a falling coconut, but please do watch out for it.
Here are our tips to help you have a safe, enjoyable holiday on our islands.
1) Pay attention to weather bulletins
The Philippines is blessed with warm, tropical weather all year round. The months of June through November are considered rainy season. But with climate change, the wet season sometimes stretches into January. The Philippines is an archipelago where travel by boat is the inexpensive and most widely used mode of transport. It’s important to note that the local coast guard may cancel ferry schedules in a town or city’s port if the situation calls for it. For example, if Storm Signal 1 is raised, it’s normal for all ferry travel service to be suspended.
WHAT NEXT: When your transfers and safety are affected by the weather, Hello PH! will inform you and help you change your itinerary. Your hotel concierge or dive operator are useful sources of advice too. The country’s weather bureau, Pagasa https://web.facebook.com/PAGASA.DOST.GOV.PH/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf, is also reliable. If you geek out on weather systems, http://typhoon2000.ph/ in our opinion, has the best aggregation of weather websites that give you info on Philippine weather advisories.
2) Choose transfers in the daytime
Try to always travel during the day if you can. Night transfers can be hazardous, especially on two-lane provincial roads, which can be poorly lit and far from medical help or service centers like gasoline stations. Also, it’s rare to find a Filipino road that isn’t under construction. Allow yourself ample travel time so you can travel in leisure and not have to rush your vehicle driver to catch that next boat at the port.
3) Save emergency numbers, vital contact details on another device/folder other than your smartphone.
News Flash! The Philippines has the worst average Internet connection speed in Asia Pacific! Yup, we’ve held that distinction for years now. That’s why you can get free super-fast wi-fi in a humble pho shop in Ho Chi Minh, while you scramble around your hotel room on a popular tourist island like Boracay looking for one- or two-bar connectivity. The Philippine government has instructed the telcos to improve their services and have licensed a new player. The plan is to construct a National Broadband System to correct this.
But until that’s a done deal, we suggest making a screenshot and saving into your photo gallery or writing in a notebook all the important addresses and numbers. Create your back-up of important information with easy access in case you find yourself without 5G/LTE/wifi in the area you’re in.
4) Avoid high-risk areas; be street-smart
Like other urban centers around the world, Metro Manila and Cebu City have a higher incidence of crimes like theft and pick-pocketing. If you have wifi access and need to get around, do download Grab (a PH version of Uber), which works well in Metro Manila and Cebu City. In other Philippine cities, exercise more precautions. Have your bellhop or concierge take down your cab driver’s plate number and name for safety.
The street smarts you use in a city like Manhattan or Bangkok are the same kind of smarts you should have while walking around the Philippines. Pay attention to your country’s travel advisory on its website. And if you are indeed traveling to an area where they have recommended caution (which is different from being banned from traveling to an area), do contact your embassy to let them know you are in the country and save its contact details.
5) Don’t make yourself a target
Minimize the temptation for others steal from you. Leave your valuables in your room and do not carry large amounts of cash. As much as possible, we find accommodation partners who have in-room safes. If you prefer more private or secure lodging, check out our more exclusive property partners on our website and let us know.
Respecting local customs and being friendly also goes a long way. We know a lot of things don’t work here — whether it’s being on time, wifi access, or concrete roads — but avoid criticizing the Philippines or the Filipinos. When something goes wrong, keep your cool and work out the misunderstanding. You and the person you’re arguing with may have more in common than you think.
6) Follow authority!
We mean your local guides and even the boat captain. The local guides, whether divemasters or mountain climbers, are doing their best to keep you safe. Often travelers will try to extend time in a particular spot, take a different route, or go for an experience that’s above their skill level – putting themselves and others in unnecessary danger. Even if you think you know better, trust your guides and follow their suggestions without complaint.
If you’re traveling with Hello PH!, know that we have your safety first and foremost. We want you to have complete peace of mind the entire time you’re in the Philippines. We foster this by:
· Arranging itineraries to observe the 24-hour no-fly rule.
· Choosing our dive partners carefully to meet industry safety standards.
· Giving you a verified list of emergency numbers in case you need help.
· Recommending reputed insurance companies before your trip.
· Organizing safe land and sea transfers from start to finish.
If you have any questions about safety in the Philippines, feel free to Contact Us. ( “Contact Us.” add link to Contact form.)
(This article was reproduced in whole from the Hello PH! website version 1.0 with minor updates on information.)