Thinking of visiting the Philippines, alone…here are some suggestions and pointers for a safe fun trip.

Cebu City Street Scene

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If you are thinking of making that trip to the Philippines, I strongly suggest looking into meeting someone here. That could be an online friend or a travel agency or even a hotel. Most hotels have vans and will transport you from the airports to your hotel. Then you can arrange for a tour either private or group tour. There is safety in numbers, so the group tour is your best choice. If you have no one to meet you I offer a service where I will meet you at the airport get you settled in and even show you around. The following are a few suggestions I have put together for your consideration as you think about and plan your first trip to the Philippines.

  • Meeting someone here, wherever you are planning to visit.
  • One good way to see any city is to take a tour, let them show you around as they will suggest places to visit and places to avoid. Always stay in the tour group as thugs usually do not like a crowd, except maybe pick pockets who love crowded places so they can disappear in the crowd easily.
  • Be street smart don’t carry a lot of cash with you, only bring what you need to the days activities.
  • Do not carry a wallet in your back pocket as it will end up missing.
  • If you carry a backpack make sure you hold on to it or wear it in front, I know it looks funny but it works thieves do not like reaching in front of you to open your backpack. For that matter, keep any thing you are carrying with any valuables and/or cash where you can see it at all times. I carry a small bag with a strap I wear around my neck, and I also hold it in my hand if I am in a crowd, it is too easy for this to end up behind me where anyone can get at it, and it is very easy to get these things open without you knowing about it.
  • My wife and a maid were walking down the street and a guy was behind her trying to ease open the zipper to her purse which was now dangling behind her, lucky for her the maid spotted him and challenged him. He said “who me, not me… I I I was not doing anything”, when she saw him clearly trying to get the bag open. Don’t have your money and valuables end up missing it happens every day here.
  • I suggest if you are walking in a crowd and carrying a lot of cash for shopping. Take a break every so often, maybe stopping over near a building or security guard and observe the crowd and try to pay attention to who you see just standing around. If you see anyone who stopped at the same time you did, remember his face then start walking again and then stop a little further down the road, if the same guy stops he is likely following you looking for an opportunity to rob you. At this point I would just hop into a cab and get out of there.
  • I was returning from a trip to the US once and had stopped at the SM before returning home in Bogo at the time. We were carrying all our baggage with us into the mall and stopped at a store. The store had a huge glass front so we decided to leave all our bags in a pile out by the door. Then I noticed some guys who had stopped near by and were looking at the bags. So I decided to go outside and stand vigil by them, these guys left so you never know, could have been just a coincidence or they just might have been looking for an opportunity when no one was looking to grab one or more and run off.
  • Beware when kids here who are begging for a few pesos while you are searching for coins some other kid is in your backpack grabbing your phone and money, it happened to my wife just recently. My wife has lost two phones in the last 4 months all to theft. Think she is learning her lesson about how to hold on to things. This is one reason we only buy cheap phones. Cherry Mobile has a fair cell for only 799 pisos, if it gets stolen it is not so much of a loss except all your contacts.
  • When you travel by airlines, make sure you have a inexpensive money belt worn under your clothing to prevent theft on the airlines, believe me it happened to a close friend of mine, while he slept on the plane someone came over and emptied his pockets of about $10,000 in cash, wow.
  • There is safety in numbers, don’t venture out too far on your own and watch out for anyone following you as they are up to no good and will likely get you in an isolated area to rob you. One trip to Cebu City a few years ago my wife noticed the same two guys in the store next to where we were shopping on the street, they were following us. She tole me come on walk, walk faster, so I did, all the way back to our car and drove away. She tole me in the car that two guys were following us and had kept stopping at the store next to where we were, she began to recognize them. I believe they were likely looking for an opportunity to rob us.
  • Beware of going into an empty CR or which is short for Comfort Room or bath room. I was robbed of the few pesos I had in my pockets in a CR near a barbeque stand. When I went in it was empty so some guy followed me in and started asking for money, I handed him 20 pesos and he said no more give me more… I suggest not going in if you are the only one there.
  • If kids ask for coins only give them 1 to 5 pisos max, no more as likely these kids are controlled by a pimp who ends up receiving all the coins, it’s a big problem here and I don’t see why the police don’t crack down on this. The kids will work the streets and come up and knock on your window asking for coins… Child Labor…???
  • Again my best suggestion is to not travel alone once you get off the plane you should have someone here to meet you. I suggest meeting someone online ahead of time and have them meet you at the airport, even if it is a travel agency and you are paying them to show you around. When choosing a travel agency get advice from the hotels as they know the best and most trustworthy people to help you.
  • Avoid wondering off to the side streets in any city, doing so will likely result in you loosing everything you have on you, even the shirt off your back. The only way I see a side street is from inside a vehicle. I know of an expat who was on his first day of a visit to the Philippines, he decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood and guess what he was robbed of all his belongings including his passport and some of his clothing.
  • The Philippines is a beautiful place but like any city in the world, there is crime here, you can’t avoid it anywhere in the world so on your trip be Street Smart

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Typical street in Cebu City and most any city in the Philippines.

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Another street scene from down town Cebu City on one of the main streets.

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One of Manila’s side streets this one is in Ermita area. I suggest avoiding these if you are alone.

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Another Manila side street this one in Ermita near the US Embassy and Hotels.

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Cebu’s busy streets

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Busy streets watch your valuables. Notice one guy with a small bag on his back, not a good idea.

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