There are 2 risks with taxis in Manila....inside and outside.
'Some' taxi drivers will drive off without starting the meter, resulting in them telling you how much they want when you arrive. When you get in, ask the price or ask them to turn on the meter.
I had an experience where we told the driver the hotel name and the road it was on, and he said he knew the road. He drove to the road but joined the one-way street above our block, so he had to drive to the end and go all the way down again. It was our first night there, so we weren't familiar with the area, my Philippine friend could see his plan to drive up our fare and asked him to stop at the police station we were passing to ask directions, suddenly his memory improved. There can be serious consequences for them if taxi drivers try to rip you off, so be aware.
When you take a taxi, lock the doors. There are some who would open the doors to grab a bag/camera/phone etc.
Don't let this put you off from visiting Manila, there are some great places to see, but take precautions.
Please be aware of your surroundings especially when traveling in Divisoria market, Chinatown, Roxas boulevard, Rizal Park, in taking the trains- MRT, LRT 1, LRT2, in Pasay City... or to any place that is too crowded... because it may be too late for you to know that your phone inside your pocket or bag was already gone!
also please don't wear any valuables- genuine gold earrings, ring, etc. these attract the snatchers very much! just be simple wherever you may go.
for any emergencies/life threatening cases, you can call the 24/7 Philippine National Police (PNP) dial 117.
for non-emergencies: type "PNP " and send to 2920
Don't be flashy sometimes coz it will attract pick pockets so please be careful with your things. Just carry enough and leave the unnecessary to your vault.
Police stations are everywhere and Barangay halls so if ever you encountered one report it immediately.
When in Manila the locals will tell you that Chinatown is amazing and definitely worth visiting - please don't bother! There is nothing to see except dirty cheap stalls and chaos - it is NOT worth the effort. Also, there are pick-pockets EVERYWHERE - I had my necklace ripped from my neck on Sunday whilst waiting to cross the road in Sta. Cruz. Rookie-mistake to be out and about wearing any form of jewellery - I realise this - but don't even bother going to Chinatown, it's horrible.
I just heard over the radio that the brother of a popular local actor was victimized by the Ativan gang. He was found unconscious, and when he came to, he realized that his wallet and expensive cell phone was stolen.
Because of this incident, I thought of forewarning travelers, especially the male foreigners about the Ativan Gang. Their modus operandi is like this: A beautiful, decent-looking lady will befriend you at a bar (even a restaurant or coffee shop!), and when you're not looking, your drink is laced with Ativan drug. You'll feel groggy and eventually unconscious. Because the people around saw you and the lady engaged in conversation earlier, they will assume you know each other and won't suspect anything when she helps you out of the place. Sometimes, she would call her male companions to help carry you. You will wake up in a motel or park or alley, stripped of your cash and valuables, and sometimes, even your clothes are taken so you couldn't go out to ask for help.
Female tourists are sometimes victimized, too. Modus operandi: A "friendly" woman approaches her while shopping in a mall and offers to bring her to real bargain places, but first, she treats her to a local cuisine restaurant to win the lady tourist's trust...That's how far the lady tourist would recall her encounter with the mysteious woman who by then, would have stashed her wallet and valuables. Waiters had thought the tourist fainted and her companion left to call their driver to bring her to the hospital, but she never returned.
The Ativan gang not only preys on foreigners. The son of my friend went to a bar to de-stress after work. A beautiful, young lady wearing an exclusive girls' school uniform approached him, and came up with a sob story, that she ran away from her strict parents, and that she approached him because he looked like a decent guy who won't take advantage of her. Having pity on her, he brought her to a restaurant and fed her, and gave her some advise to reconcile with her parents. After dinner, the girl thanked him, and asked for some money for taxi fare. She hailed a taxi and...that's how far he remembers. He had lost consciousness, and woke up half-naked in a motel; his wallet, laptap and cell phone were already gone. The following day, he received a call in his office, and was shocked that he was being blackmailed by the girl who threatened to pass on their sex video to the cell phones of his parents, boss and colleagues. It's a long, harrowing story after that.
1) Never publicly display big bills when opening your wallet to pay for merchandise
2)Except when you're going to the malls or other places where you'll need your credit cards, I recommend that you leave your credit cards in your hotel vault and just use a wallet with only enough bills & a separate coin purse for your small change when you go to crowded places. Otherwise, if you're more secure bringing them with you, be sure to keep them in a secret pocket or compartment of your bag.
WHAT?! There's no map on the MRT?
You know what? As of 2008, Believe it or not, there's really no map on the Manila MRT!
Usually, when you go to a subway station, there's a map of the subway/metro right? Well, I was looking for the map like crazy but I couldn't see one. So I asked this sweet ticket counter girl "Where's the map?" and you know what she said?
"There's no map!"
Wow! My eyes popped!
WHAT?! There's NO map?
I started laughing and laughing like crazy with her!
Wow! Riding the MRT is going to be more fun than I thought!
So, without a map, without you knowing your way,
How do you know which direction to go? Good question!
Let's say I was in the Ayala Station, and I wanted to go to Shaw Boulevard for the SM Mega Mall. What train do I take to go there?
B.) Taft Avenue
Hmm... This is confusing! I was pretty confident the answer was B- Taft Avenue. I mean, I had a hunch it had to be Taft because Shaw and Taft sound about the same right? Never the less, I asked someone and you know what was the answer?
I was wrong! My hunch was wrong! My goodness, I was about to enter the wrong train!
It even gets more fun. Now that you know what train to hop on, how many stops until your station?
I had no clue at all! Oh, I wish I had a third eye.
Anyways, I asked a lot of people in the station and in the train. And the answers they gave were interesting:
A.) Only 1 said that it's 3 stops from Ayala to Shaw.
B.) 4 said that it's 4 stops from Ayala to Shaw.
Which should you believe?
I almost believed A, because her answer was the most unique. I mean, she can be right. She lives here right?
Still, I watched out for all the stops and you know who was right?
It takes 4 stops! A was wrong!
Wow! I could have gotten off the wrong station!
That would have been more fun!
Still, in the end, it's still worth taking the MRT/LRT. It took ONLY 12 minutes from Ayala to SM Mega Mall during the rush hour- 11 AM-12 PM! (With the walking and everything!) It beats the car where in one time it took me 1 hour just to get there during these times!
After all, having no map is simply just a little first time annoyance. Once you memorize, get used to it, you won't probably need a map at all! And there's also a simple solution to it:
Click the map picture on the right and print it. Even if it's just black or white or a crumpled paper. In the beginning, it's really convenient to have a map so that you'll know where you're going.
OTHER THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
More annoying and hazardous things to look out for rather than having no map on the Metro are:
- Be warned that the stairs in the MRT, LRT are very unfriendly for the disabled, the wheelchair and for those who hate to climb stairs! Only very few stations have escalators and it's just usually tall, long stairs This actually can be a blessing if you want to lose weight!
-Be warned too that in some stations, you will still have to walk for like 0.5- 1 kms. to your destination with no shade! (Example is the SM Mega Mall from Shaw Boulevard.) Some destinations even require you to still transfer to a jeepney! So it's very wise to bring an umbrella because you know the weather here in Manila- it can just rain like cats and dogs in split seconds!
-Like any stations in the world, beware of pickpockets.
AYALA- Probably one of the best stations in the Manila Metro! It has an escalator, and it's super convenient: It connects right away to the SM-Glorietta and Greenbelt Malls. You won't even get wet.
SHAW BOULEVARD- The station for SM Mega Mall. Only very convenient if you're going to the Shangrila-EDSA Plaza Mall. You won't get wet and you won't even have to climb any stairs at all! It can be quite hectic to go to SM Mega Mall: You'll have to climb all the tall stairs down to the street level, then climb another overpass and then voila! There's the beautiful SM Mega Mall! Bring an umbrella- Half of the journey is not shaded. There's also no escalator service here so don't freak out!
Good luck on riding the Metro! It's also a nice and peaceful way to see Manila's skyline and scenery!
For more info, the Wikipedia has amazing info about Manila's metro stations! Here's the link:
Cops in Manila Stop tourists at night and control the Passengers if they have ID. Especially around Manila Bay .They harass them and threaten that they will take the person find with no ID to the station, the fine to be of 2500 pesos. The plan is to determine the tourist or their local companion to pay up a minimum of 2000 pesos to get let go. A scam I think. They may work with the Taxi driver. The Cops claim that there is a Manila Ordinance that requires all passengers in a taxi to have IDs…… DO NOT PAY There is no such Ordinance. Or, at list find out if there is first. Take note of the Cops Badge, Name and ID number as well as the license plate of the White Jeep they drive.
Like any other big city in countries in the world, there are things you might consider to avoid problems/danger. Malate Manila is an area to watch out. There are policemen in uniform who may try to approach foreign nationals and may ask about passports, documents etc. They sometimes ask questions like "what are you doing in the Philippines? Are you a tourist? Where are you going? Where do you stay? These questions are typical questions that you only hear when you apply for VISA to another country. I find it ridiculous! After asking those questions, they will ask you to come with them to the police station. If you are innocent and have done no harm, you might get irritated and argue or you may simply wonder why the hell are you being asked! This is actually a trap. Extortion! Dont come with them. Give a friendly gesture and say that they have to come with you to the hotel or where you are staying. This way you avoid being cornered. You never know what will happen if you join/come with them. NEVER! Pretend that you call someone by using your cellphone asap! Go to crowded area and get help.
I have a tourist friend who was victim of this. He was quick to find a way to trick them! It is sad that these policemen (may be pretending to be) are harrassing tourists in my country. Taxi driver dilema is easy to deal with but people who are armed can harm you. It can be anywhere so watch out the streets carefully while you walk.
Beware of frequent robberies and hold-ups. Do not venture out alone on foot at night, specially in the outskirts. Stay clear of the jeepneys at late hour, they are often targetted by the robbers, taxis are safer.
When you are departing from Manila, do go to the Ninoy Aquino Airport at least 2-3 hours beforehand due to lots of waiting because of security checks. You have to queue up to enter the airport as no other people other than passengers are allowed, so get your plane ticket and passport ready for checking. Also, the airport is not very big and usually very crowded, so do be careful. Sometimes you cannot even find a seat at the waiting area before boarding your plane.
Beware of the typhoon season (usually from June to September) in Manila as this could wreak havoc to your holidays. The typhoons in the Philippines can be deadly causing floods and destruction. Also, the weather can be very hot during certain parts of the year, which happened when I visited in April 2006.
When you are in Manila, you have to be careful of your safety especially against pickpockets and theft which can happen especially when the locals spot a foreigner. Try not to wonder around unless you have local friends to bring you around as they know which are the more dangerous places. In order to visit the attractions, you can go for an organised day trip. If you want to visit a particular place, get a taxi from your hotel and then ask the driver to pick you up at a certain place and time so that you can ensure of reliable transport back to your hotel.
A Calesa ride (horse drawn carriage) can be a fun way to see the city. However be careful and make sure the price is well understood and agreed to upon ahead of time. Our driver quoted us a price in Pesos then at the end of the ride tried to collect that amount in US dollars. Be firm and give them only what the ride is worth.
I found this pretty interesting! here on the MRT, they have Female only area, and also Male only area, too! haha I was on the female only area to check if there are really only female! and.. there I found this poor Whte guy wondering why there are only women!! haha was prety funny! men be aware!
ah.. there is male only area, too. hmm it will be interesting to be there, hah? hehe next time.. maybe =)
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