General Safety, Manila

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  • Mabini st
    Mabini st
    by littleman
  • Western Union booth in Robinsons Mall
    Western Union booth in Robinsons Mall
    by littleman
  • Police sub station outside Robinsons Mall
    Police sub station outside Robinsons...
    by littleman
  • Minnieg's Profile Photo

    watch for your belongings

    by Minnieg Updated Oct 28, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pick pockets and boy they're good at it too! do not flash your jewelry , if possible dont wear them unless your in a secure area such as hotels. walking around the place can be dangerous too, especially if your are an american.. They tend to think white people has lots of money! try to arrange your visit with the travel agents for safety purposes..always put your wallet in your front pocket.

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    Beware Of Snatchers

    by wreckloose Written Feb 3, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When driving in an open vehicle (ie. jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs etc), make sure your valuables are out of sight from potential snatchers. Problem areas are in an around Tondo, Divisoria, etc. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, get out of there, and make sure you have everything in your pockets.

    Tondo, near Smokey Mountain

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    5. Changing Money

    by Ric Written Dec 7, 2003

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Do not attempt to change dollars on the black market (e.g. Santa Cruz) unless you are with another person, preferably someone who speaks Tagalog. It is dangerous because people know you are carrying large amounts of cash. The Shoe Mart department stores offer the best rate of exchange that is legal and safe.

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  • shintarojon's Profile Photo

    Never and Never.....

    by shintarojon Written Dec 10, 2003

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When you are in Manila or anywhere in the Philippines, better to remember these NEVER & NEVER TIPS!

    1. NEVER leave your things/valuables unattended, otherwise you will NEVER see it again!

    2. NEVER wear gold/diamond accessories in public places because you will be definitely the main target of snatcher and hold-uppers, otherwise you will NEVER get a chance to wear it with glamour!

    3. NEVER change your dollars or yen or any other acceptable foreign currencies to the black market, otherwise you will NEVER get a correct number of bills.

    4. NEVER go to a crowded or dark places because this is usually the target of global terrorist group; otherwise you will NEVER see again your homeland!

    5. NEVER drink water direct from the faucet; otherwise you will NEVER enjoy eating other tropical fruits since your stomach is aching day and night.

    6. NEVER ride in a taxi without checking whether the taxi meter is on its flag-down-rate; otherwise you can NEVER pay the taxi driver cheaper since he will charge you higher!

    7. NEVER eat street food; otherwise you can NEVER have a good appetite because you might suffer from a severe diarrhea.

    8. NEVER let your taxi/car windows & doors open because nowadays, hold-uppers are targeting those who are inside the car/taxi during Stop Signal, otherwise you can NEVER say NO giving your wallet or even your valuables (such as laptop, watches, rings, etc.) to them for they have guns/knife to scare you!

    9. NEVER use cell phone outside; otherwise you will NEVER have a chance to text your last message to your friend because cell phone snatchers are everywhere.

    10. NEVER visit Philippines without proper guidance or without a Filipino buddy/friend with you on your first week of stay, otherwise you may NEVER enjoy staying here because of bad experiences and most probably you will NEVER visit Philippines again!!!

    Bangus (Milk Fish)

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  • Flameandcitron's Profile Photo

    Bring Less Valuables and Loads of Common Sense

    by Flameandcitron Updated Jul 29, 2012

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A lot of the warnings here are from people who really don't know a thing about what to visit and what not to do in Manila. As a native Manilan who's long since moved out, I would recommend you do your research with Filipino friends, naturally those who you're confident won't rip you off.

    You reap what you sow. If you're in Manila to slum it for easy, sleazy entertainment, it's no different from going into a strip club in the ghetto of any major city. And like a ghetto, if you're clueless about it, expect to be robbed or worse.

    Stick to the well-illuminated malls and shopping centers if you don't want the added risk. Do not trust strangers who approach you for conversation - even if Filipinos are friendly -once you know them- it is NOT customary in our culture to approach total strangers out of nowhere to talk to them. That is an American habit and not commonly observed in the Philippines, so be instantly on your guard when someone does; they're likely up to no good. Do not use backpacks in the city (most clueless kind of bag to wear and a sure target for pickpockets). I'd also avoid putting your wallet in your pocket and keep most valuables at home. Make sure you have a reputable Filipino guide/friend (preferably someone whose family you've met, have shared a home-cooked meal with). Visit Filipino forums and blogs for tips on where to go ( for example, avoid any with mentions of girly bars and sleazy entertainment because those are hotspots for trouble) and hire someone like this to tour you (reputable Filipino personality and tour guide). Be smart and remember Manila itself is miles from the beaches that fit the Western concept of an island paradise, it's a city bigger than Los Angeles and with just as much teeth.

    (Also, if you don't want to stick out like a sore thumb as much - even if you're Caucasian - ditch the beach slippers and beach gear for sensible jeans, walking shoes or khaki shorts and a shirt you'd wear to a city. People forget that even if they're visiting the tropics, yes, again, this is the big city. Smog, dirt, canals, it's all there, so expect it).

    Related to:
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    • Study Abroad
    • Work Abroad

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  • nimato's Profile Photo

    Unscupulous Airport Taxi Drivers

    by nimato Updated Jul 30, 2007

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Beware of the taxis lining up at the 'Waiting Area' just outside the domestic airport. They're cunningly evil. Imagine, I already asked the driver if he's cab is metered and he answered yes. My fault was I didn't bother to check if there really was a meter inside. After awhile, the driver handed over to me a laminated card showing the apparently fixed metered rate of each point within Metro Manila. Too late, I ended up paying P350 for a normally P150 fare (domestic airport to Pasay LRT).

    Taxi drivers in Manila are a real pain in the ass! One of the reasons why you will hate travelling to Manila -- whether you're a local or a foreigner.

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    4. Hiring Taxis

    by Ric Updated Dec 7, 2003

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When entering a taxi, tell the driver where you want to go and insist that he turn on the meter. If he says it is broken or for some other reason he won't turn it on, tell him to stop and get out of the cab. However, cabs hired at major hotels have a set fee schedule by zone, which they should show you upon demand. It is always more expensive to hire a cab from a hotel than a metered cab on the street.

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  • Do not take candy (or anything) from strangers!

    by kat88 Written Nov 29, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Remember those warnings you give your kids about taking candy from strangers? Tourists in Manila, please heed them. There have been countless cases of Western and Asian tourists waking up somehwere divested of all their possessions with their last memory being of a "friendly" person or group of people offering him/her a piece of candy or a juice box. I guess people come here really expecting Filipino hospitality and expect that someone smiling and bearing food can't be all that bad. Well, they are and it's happened too many times. Please beware of these friendly people who want to get close to you and feed you - chances are they just want your money.

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  • wanderingfox's Profile Photo

    manila robbery

    by wanderingfox Written Jun 18, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Attivan scam In Manila.

    In Manilla beware of gangs that put something in your drink to pass you out.
    They do it even in a bar, and then tell the bar tender that you got drunk, if he cares at all.
    And then they drag you in a waiting backup car and strip you and drop you wherever you wake up 10 hours later.

    I was befriended by a harmless looking group of 6 middle age women that met me at a shopping mall south west Manilla. They said they were on holliday from baguio.
    They took me to a karaoke bar and made me drink.
    Next day they took me to Taal volcano and tried to make me rent a room to stay over night, when I did not rent and told them I had to be back in Manila. They rented it anyway, then they made me and my friend drink just one beer. I saw the can’s being opened in front of us, but half-way they beer they poored it into a glass that was prepared with sleeping pills. I dropped unconcious in no-time. And we got robbed by them or by their back-up team that they allways have.

    the warning sighns:
    - I met three women, suddenly they were six.
    - when they are texting they can be planning something.
    - They changed plans, all the time.
    - Thought I got one of their cell numbers.They made sure not to be photographed.
    - They looked well off and know how to make conversations, and know the traffic situation very well.

    - In Manilla Everybody is a potential robber, even westerners.
    - get people’s pictures, and adress before you plan on spending time with someone.
    Don’t drink from anyone. Only what you get yourself and watch it.
    By the time you decide to leave for the crooks is the time to pull the noose.

    I know it spoils the fun, but that is just how wicked it is.

    Key words: robbery , theft , Scam , manila , philippines , sleepingpills , drugs , attivan .

    Related to:
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    • Budget Travel
    • Beer Tasting

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  • malbari's Profile Photo


    by malbari Written Sep 24, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When in Manila, it is advisable that you ditch your carrier's SIM card and buy a local one for your duration in the Philippines. Since most US and European providers overcharge on international roaming, you will be better off using a Philippine-based carrier when making calls or texting. Two big cell phone companies here are GLOBE and SMART. Since most, if not all, of the population here have cell phones, you can buy SIM cards almost anywhere. The amount of minutes or texts remaining in your phone is reffered to here as "load." So when you run out of "load", you can "reload" almost anywhere by buying a card with a bunch of numbers on it and inputting it in your phone for a fresh set of minutes and texts. Loads come in denominations of P100, P300 and P500. and can be bought at even convenience stores (called "sari-sari" stores) all throughout the city.

    Filipinos love text messaging and, in fact, is their main form of communication rather than talking on the phone. It's cheaper. So if you do befriend a local and want to communicate with him or her during your trip... better learn how to text!

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  • uysijessa's Profile Photo

    don't stand too close to the street!

    by uysijessa Written Jun 11, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    when you're walking and/or crossing the street make sure to stand a few meters away from the edge of the sidewalk and keep your bags close to your body. and don't ever use your cellphone! manila is abound with motorists on motorcyles and some aren't just using them for transportation but also for stealing! because its easier for these guys to weave through traffic and make a faster getaway, these a-holes target unsuspecting pedestrians who use their cellphones or have their bags out for all the world to see and are standing too close to the street, or walking as if he/she doesn't have a care in the world. if you're not careful, before you know it, they've snatched that phone right out of your hands or that bag right out of your shoulder. so guys, better safe than sorry!

    Related to:
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    • Women's Travel
    • Family Travel

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  • philippine Manila travel tips

    by ceciltraveler1 Updated Mar 30, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Most flight into Manila are usally delayed if your going to meet some one there at the airport be aware the getting through customs is a hassle and or luggage area is over crowded. causing even longer long delays. Two of the major concern in Mainila is traffic and street venders. regardless what is said Manila is very safe as long as you use common sense. people tend to forget just how large this place really is. It's one of the Largest cities in the world. I rather walk the streets of Manila than New York. Yes their are many tourist traps but even if you pay double what the going rate is your only talk about a few dollars. Most filipinos are very helpful and good people. The ones you worry about the most is the ones in fancy suit that tell you hey I got a deal for you be afraid very afraid. best thing to do in manila is shop for cloths bring an empty bag with you cause you'll need it. My wife loves to shop for cloth in the hug mall around town. O' yes almost forgot if your going to need a hotel use a hotel that is well known or is in a good part of town. if you do that you have great trip Manila fun and exciting. It worth stay for a few dollars more for safety. Remember try to blend not over take an that filipino people will embrace you.

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    • Business Travel

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  • nimato's Profile Photo

    Beware Of Snatchers!

    by nimato Updated Nov 25, 2006

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    Manila has a lot of skillful snatchers in its populace. When walking along the crowded streets of Divisoria, Binondo, Quiapo, etc., be extra conscious of your belongings. I lost my favorite Giorgio Armani spectacles in my backpack pocket while strolling along Recto Avenue in downtown Manila. Always best to walk around with a company.

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    • Road Trip
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  • ahoerner's Profile Photo

    Chariots in Intramuros

    by ahoerner Written Jun 13, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We had not any bad experience with those chariots but friends of us had.

    Some bad-intentioned conductors may offer you a ride around Intramuros and everything will appear normal until the end of the journey, when another "friends" appear and try to get some extra "dollars" from you, intimidating tourists that way.

    Be careful... this is the best advice.

    Chariots inside Intramuros.
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  • Firemanirishman's Profile Photo

    Dont go alone + safety tips/

    by Firemanirishman Written Oct 22, 2008

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    If your young, like me say 18-24 dont go alone if you are white.

    have at least four friends with you that a filo if you go out at night time.

    when i was over there i stayed and made heaps freinds easily, try to get them around your age group they will be fine.

    Beware of what you see in night clubs as well, i was the only foreigner in a strip club and a group of people came in with pistols so i left, maybe they were police officers but you dont wanna take the risk.

    Also beware of pick pockets, no matter where you are in the philippines you will find them trying to come up close to you and stick your hand in your pockets.

    beware of people that ask for money, if you give it out everyone wants some especially kids they will follow you until you give everything you have.

    Dont drink the water unless you know for sure it is boiled/filtered water, or water that you buy from supermarkets in bottles, trust me i made this mistake and i was real bad for 2 days, you cant stop throwing up its really bad.

    I was told not to eat street food, i did this a heap of times trying new things i didnt get sick from this once.

    If you go to markets, food, clothes ect have a few freinds with you day or night, this is where i found most pick pockets, snatchers and poor people to be.

    hope this helps

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Comments (2)

  • onlinekibitzer's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2013 at 8:40 PM


    I am a well traveled person and I just wanted to give a friendly tip. People who are often victims of a developing country are those who unnecessarily flaunt their expensive things and money in public or those who go to night clubs even if they know that solicitation and prostitution is illegal in the country. If you are a well researched and educated traveler, you would not simply hop on the plane and go to a place where your instinct tells you. Philippines is economically challenged and sadly the situation of its society is much affected by the culture, influences and abuses of its foreign predecessors, Spanish, Americans, and Japanese particularly.

    A deeper thought may be realized by looking into its history on why it is having a hard time developing and why most uneducated Filipinos opt to do crimes which they actually are not supposed to engage in. If you are one of the victims, please do not commit a hasty generalization by creating exaggerated comments against the country. You also have to look into yourself on how you actually caused to be a victim. Filipinos are very kind, hospitable, and helpful even if you do not give them money. The way you treat them and accompany them speaks a lot on how you will be treated in return. If you think you are far above them because of the color of your skin and because you came from a richer country, and you are abusive of its weaknesses, they will fight in return and abuse you in a way you would not know (killing you softly). The best way to travel in this country is by acting humbly, by being appreciative, and by avoiding illegal activities such as unmonitored gambling and buying women, even if you are really tempted to do so. It may be true that Filipinas are amongst the best looking women and ideal partner/spouse as compared to other females in the world but engaging in mail order bride transactions worsens the situation of their country which would lead further to abuse and in return tourists visiting their country will be taken advantaged of and be seen as an opportunity to earn money the wrong way.

    Before commenting, look into yourself first on how you actually participated and contributed in making the situation of Philippines worse. It is a wonderful country and one of the hidden gems in South East Asia... only if you found the key to seeing its real beauty.

  • Apr 13, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Manila is the biggest *** hole ever, the people are NOT friendly and the only thing that is on a filipinas mind in manila is how can i get your money off you. They are total scammers and they never smile not even when u check into a hotel, the cops are stupid and corrupt and the security guards are paid to sleep....i could go on forever and i will but right now need to sleep, but ill be back here tomorrow to give ppl a full run down on what the philippines is really like, in short dont waste ur money on a ppl who hate you want your money and are not even nice about it...anyway brb.

    • Jan 22, 2014 at 2:24 AM

      It is not the cleanest city but it has some amazing history.
      I suspect you had trouble with people not smiling or not being friendly do to your own bad attitude. No surprise as this is common in every country I go with westerners walking around with a bad attitude and wondering why bad service.
      People there always smile, some will scam you especially the airport cabbies. The farther from tourist traps you get the nicer people are.
      In short treat others how you would like to be treated.

    • Jun 13, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      I am married to a filipna and we have a house in Alabang. Not in the "posh" part but a "squatter barrangay". I have spent a lot of time there and have travelled to many provinces. In short, it's not safe in Manila if you are an unescorted Caucasian in the "wrong" places. I have never felt really threatened where we live but I am known there. I would not advise anyone to wonder into these off the beaten track communities unless you are with a trusted guide. You have to be street wise and understand that walking around in your RayBans, carrying a wad of cash, carrying an expensive SLR camera, labelled clothes, sporting an expensive watch, cell phone and jewellery is not smart. The people are poor and in some cases, desperate. You are walking around with possessions worth more than they can earn in a year! Dress down both your appearance and your tongue, be respectful and be aware of your surroundings.

      I have seen English tourists sitting outside bars in Manila buying knives and stub guns from street hawkers proclaiming that, if they are threatened, they will use the weapon to protect themselves! Trust me, guns are commonplace here (we have one ourselves and both know how to use it as we are gun club members, but would never carry it outside of the house) and no matter how tough you think you are, the guys that carry guns fear nothing and have nothing to lose. It is far more sensible to avoid the clip clubs, the hookers and the back streets where you may encounter the less savoury inhabitants. Remember life here is cheap and if you think you are superior or tough, and act that way, you are going to come unstuck.

      Manila can be a dangerous city but no more than Bangkok, New York or London if you are in the wrong place or with the wrong company.

      It is true that if you are approached by someone you don't know, wanting to be your friend, you should be suspicious of their motives. That being said, the Philipina people are welcoming and open, friendly and generous, despite having very little.

      If I am honest, I have never found Manila entertaining. Outside of shopping malls and the usual tourist traps, it is a dirty and polluted city. Far better to travel to the provinces and check out some of the less frequented beaches and islands where both the people and landscapes will make you love this country.

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