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The following precautions will not guarantee safety, No one can guarantee our safety in a free society. What we can do by using some precautions is minimize criminal opportunity

None of these attitudes are useful for living an empowered life. What is useful is to accurately assess the risks involved, take whatever precautions make sense, and live as fully as possible.

Traveler's Money

The best $-Peso exchange rate can found at money changes ATM’s (only good for large world banks). Low fees for ATM fees (a few dollars for $200) and great exchange rates. Large US$ bills are second best because you can get more for the $1. Peoples love the greenback. The traveler's checks are the worst because they can be hard to cash.  Don’t use banks to money exchange as there fees are even higher. Other sources or money that cost 20% include Visa cash advances and Western Union money transfers.

The rate always changes and as of October 2003 was 55.00 pesos to US$1. See

Personal Health

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water. Food is usually safe from local or international restaurants.

  • Always practice safe sex!

  • Never even consider buying illegal drugs if you value your money, your health and your life!

Tour Guides

Guides from well-established clubs are your best bet. Costs are about P500-1000 for deluxe tours. Street guides on standby can be risky. See

Personal Security

All valuables such as passport, ticket and money should be in a safe place, e.g. safety deposit box. Never display your wealth in public; leave gold jewelry at home. Carry money for the day in your front pocket or a fanny pack. Use extreme caution when strangers approach you anywhere! When drinking, always be alert to what's happening around you and beware of drunken strangers at all times.

All activities, driving a car, filling the bathtub, walking through a parking lot at night, entail some risk. We all have different attitudes toward risk. At one end of the scale: Is refusing to engage in an activity by engaging the risk involved. At the other end is engaging in very risky activities while refusing to take any precautions.

Be Street Wise

  • Never hitchhike, It's not worth the risk

  • Be careful using ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.

  • When walking, walk in the middle of the sidewalk and walk facing oncoming traffic.

  • Try not to overload yourself with packages or other items. Keep hands as free as possible.

  • Do not wear music headphones while walking or jogging.

  • Do not read while walking or standing on a sidewalk.

  • If you wear a purse with a shoulder strap, be prepared to let go if snatched. Other wise you could be knocked down and hurt.

  • A good suggestion for men is to carry a second wallet containing a few dollar bills and old expired credit cards. If confronted at knife or gun point, give the suspect the second wallet and concentrate on a good physical description to help the police in making the arrest

  • Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • If you carry a purse, carry it close to your body, preferably in front, Carry no more money or credit cards then you absolutely need. 

  • There are a number of ways to see the country: Escorted and hosted tours (our favorite), chauffeur-driven cars (the second-best way), frequent buses (basic but cheap) and rail service (generally inadequate). We don’t recommend renting a car and driving yourself—local “rules” of the road seem surreal to most Western visitors (taxis routinely run red lights). If you have an accident, heaven help you—their laws are unique. 

  • Avoid traveling at night, and stay on national highways as much as possible; roads are often washed out or damaged during the rainy season. In the major cities, buses are neither safe nor comfortable, and there are no regular loading or unloading points. It’s far better to take a taxi.

  • Don’t let drivers double the fare for air conditioning—pay only the metered amount (hotel bellmen copy down license numbers for complaints). There’s a fixed taxi rate from the airport to the hotels around.

  • Be cautious if you take a “jeepney” (bus-like descendants of World War II jeeps). They’re a reasonable alternative to taxis, but they’re also commonly ridden by petty thieves looking for gullible tourists.

Personal Safety in a Car:

  • When you approach your parked vehicle, visually check the area around the vehicle for any suspicious persons or activity. If you observe anything suspicious walk to where there are other people and call the police.

  • Always park in visible, well-lighted areas.

  • When driving a car, attempt to avoid parking next to a larger pickup truck or van. The truck can be easy for any suspect to hide behind or in.

  • Have your keys ready when approaching your vehicle to reduce the time needed to enter.

  • When operating your vehicle, keep the doors locked and windows rolled up.

  • Any valuables in your car should be placed in the trunk or otherwise kept out of sight.

  • When stopped at traffic lights or in traffic, allow space between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can drive away if necessary.

  • If someone approaches your vehicle and attempts to enter, blow your horn to attract attention and drive away.

  • Consider a cellular phone, it is a good investment for safety.

  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.

  • Do not open your window if someone approaches your vehicle to ask for directions, the time , etc, Keep the doors locked.

  • Never leave house keys attached to car keys at service stations or parking facilities.

  • Do not stop for stranded motorist. Instead, go to the nearest telephone booth and call the police for assistance.

  • Never let your gas indicator fall below 1/4 full.

  • Criminals sometimes stage a motor vehicle accident known as a " bump and Rob" The motorist is robbed when they exit their vehicle. If you are involved in a minor accident under suspicious circumstances, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked and the windows up and await the police. If you believe you are in possible danger, write down the license plate of the other vehicle involved in the accident and drive to a safe location to report the accident to the police.

  • Carry in you car: a flashlight, fix-a-flat, maps, comfortable warm clothing, a portable fire extinguisher, first aid kit, empty gas can, white cloth to tie to door handle or antenna to signal distress and a cellular phone.

  • If you are driving somewhere you are not familiar with, plan your route and check a map before you start out.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do be security-conscious. Throughout the islands, there’s an unusually high incidence of petty thievery, which can ruin your vacation. Also, while most Filipinos are extremely friendly, there are some who aren’t, so do not accept drinks or food from a stranger (particularly in tourist areas).

  • Do bargain at markets, but never at department stores or supermarkets.}

  • Do be polite. Public displays of anger generally won’t get you what you want (even if you are in he right).

  • Don’t be enticed to exchange money on the street unless you enjoy watching con artists at work. Frequent only licensed money changers.

  • Don’t be surprised at the slowness of the postal service.

  • Do find out whether prices are being quoted to you in U.S. dollars or Filipino pesos (especially with local tour operators).

  • Don’t be shocked by the number of people who carry guns, especially in cities. You’ll even see signs asking people to leave firearms outside before entering various premises. Because guns are so common, you may find that you and your possessions are subject to searches from time to time.

  • Don’t be surprised by black-outs. Power shortages in Manila or Cebu are not uncommon.

  • Don’t expect to travel faster than 45 mph/70 kph on the roads. Carts, water buffalo and people share the roads as well.


Add a small tip for good restaurant service, even though a service charge has already been tacked on the bill; reward excellent service with a 5% tip. Taxi fares should be rounded up, and bellboys tipped 2 to 5 pesos.

Extra Tips

The most important initial step in efforts of gaining insights about the local resident is to understand him in his own setting. The following are just some general statements intended to help you in your behavior in the local community:

  • " Avoid wearing sandals when attending special occasions in the local community - wearing shoes is a sign that the event is important to you.

  • " Do invite people at least three times. Local residents are taught that it is proper to refuse the first time or two. To them, insistence is a clear sign that the offer or invitations is genuine.

  • " Do give the local residents a way out of the situation so he can save face, thus avoiding embarrassment. Embarrassing him will cause "hiya" or loss of face.

  • " Don't use the common sign of OK In the local community, it means money. You may use the new sign OK. This is the thumbs- up sign which has been commonly seen on television.

  • " Don't use your forefinger upward to call a local resident-it is considered somewhat degrading. One way of calling is to beckon with the hand in gentle downward motion. Pssst is another popular way to get someone's attention. As a rule however, it is preferred to call the person by name. It is even better to use nicknames, because these are reserved for close friends.

  • " Smiling is a form of friendship and a form of greeting.

  • " Do show respect for age - use the proper appellations for elders and relations. Find out right away what appellations are used in the family.



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Site last Updated: 13 April, 2007