Update: Mayon, Bulusan and Kanlaon Volcanoes active

Updated: February 23, 2018

Mayon Volcano: for a number of days now the Mayon Volcano in Albay Province in the Bicol Region has been showing signs of unrest. Lava flows, earthquakes and ash plumes occur. Alert Level 4 is in effect over Mayon Volcano which means that it is currently in a relatively high level of unrest as magma is at the crater and hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days. Some local airports in and around Legazpi City have suspended operations. Disruption to flights in the region is possible.
Our advice: follow the advice of local authorities. Stay outside of the designated danger zones around the volcano. Check with your airline before travelling because an eruption may cause disruption to flights. We will keep you updated.

Bulusan Volcano: this volcano in Sorsogon Province in the Bicol Region has recently shown signs of activity. Alert level 1 is in effect which means “abnormal status”. Two volcanic earthquakes have occured.
Our advice: follow the advice of local authorities. Stay outside of the designated danger zones around the volcano.

Kanlaon Volcano: this volcano on Negros Occidental has been active for the past couple of years. Three volcanic earthquakes and emission of white steam-laden plumes have occured. Alert Level 2 status prevails over Kanlaon Volcano, which means that the volcano is undergoing a moderate level of unrest.
Our advice: follow the advice of local authorities. Stay outside of the designated danger zones around the volcano.

The Philippines Institute for Volcanology and Seismology is posting regular updates as well.

Perfect cone of Mayon Volcano Philippines Travel Information

Mayon Volcano, Bicol on a beautiful day


About the Travel Authentic Philippines Travel Information

The Travel Authentic Philippines Travel Information is based on our own experience and on the information provided by our nationwide network. Other sources are media, relevant websites, local guides and of course our guests. As a commercial enterprise we are not unbiased to a certain extent. We love and the promote the Philippines but most important is the safety of travellers and of the people we work with. In this Philippines Travel Information we do our best to be as objective and neutral as possible. We update the content on a daily basis.

While every care is taken in preparing our Travel Advice, Travel Authentic Philippines does not assume any responsibility, including legal responsibility, to those who read the travel advice and who choose to take it into account when making any decisions relating to a trip to the Philippines, or to those affected by their decisions. We welcome all feedback and suggestions. Please send an email to frans@travelauthenticphilippines.com

The Philippines

Though the Philippines continues to experience significant growth as a tourist destination every year the country still struggles with its reputation compared to other destinations in the region. Political instability, natural disasters and high crime rate are factors that may withhold people from traveling to the Philippines. In this Philippines Travel Information article we will clarify some of these issues and hope to give you a good idea of how safe (or unsafe) the Philippines really are to travel around or spend your holiday.
You will notice more armed guards and security personnel in front of banks, at the entrance of shopping malls and in other public places than in other countries in South East Asia. The Philippine government is very security conscious. The armed security presence should only give you the feeling that authorities are on alert and care about the public’s (and your) safety.

Travel information, advice and warnings

Foreign governments have websites that contain information, travel advices and warnings on the Philippines for their citizens. After having read think you might think twice before traveling to the Philippines. Almost without exception they paint a picture of country where danger looms at every street corner; natural disasters are a daily occurrence; terrorists are planning attacks across the country targeting tourists; ferry boats almost sink when you step on them. We understand that governments have to make their citizens aware of the dangers of traveling to a specific country. They usually give the worst possible scenarios. Often facts are omitted and they don’t tell you that most visits of their nationals to the Philippines are trouble-free. There is no smoke without fire though. The Philippines has safety issues not unlike many other countries. We can say that there is also a very strong safety consciousness because these issues. You will see many security personnel that enforce safety regulations.

The information of websites of foreign governments has to be taken seriously but is without exception very one-sided. Often it doesn’t reflect the situation on the ground. In many cases the people who write the advices and warnings have not travelled to the areas they are writing about. Please seek information from other sources such as Trip Advisor, travel blogs, travel companies, newspapers, travel fora, local people and other sources before you travel.

Local politics

In 2016 the people of the Philippines elected Rodrigo Duterte to be their president for the next six years. Duterte’s campaign was elected on a law and order agenda. He gained his reputation as mayor of the city Davao on Mindanao.
Since his inauguration Duterte has been making headlines by his international and domestic policies. His war on drugs has been widely criticized in the press worldwide. It is claimed that police and so-called death squads have killed thousands of people because of their alleged involvement in the drugs trade. Despite this his approval rating in the Philippines is still very high though according to nationwide polls. Duterte has made many friends as well as many enemies. To say he is controversial is an understatement. Politics in the Philippines always has been turbulent and Duterte is no exception.

How will this impact your holiday? The violence related to Duterte’s war on drugs usually takes place in suburbs of the big cities, notably Metro Manila. These are areas where tourists usually would not go. Unless you go to these areas there is little chance that you will be confronted with any violence related to the war on drugs. Needless to say: stay away from any drugs during your stay in the Philippines. The Philippines has more freedom of speech and press than any other Southeast Asian nation so you can easily talk with local people about Duterte and what they think of their president. You can also just avoid politics altogether and just enjoy yourself.

Petty crime and theft

Crime is a concern in urban areas throughout the Philippines. The crime rate in general is higher than other countries in Southeast Asia. Theft, physical assault, and robbery were the most common crimes reported to local authorities in 2016. Other common criminal acts include pickpocketing, confidence schemes, and credit card fraud. It is advised to use credit cards at major retail facilities/banks and always check bills or statements for suspicious charges. Date-rape drug use has also been reported, and, just as in any other country, travelers should never leave a drink unattended or accept drinks from a stranger. Be vigilant at all times. We advise you not being out and about in the wee hours. Don’t get drunk or do things that you would not do in your hometown.

Ferry boats

The Philippines is an island nation. There are now officially 7641 islands in the country. This means that the Philippines is also a country of ferry boats. When traveling in the Philippines it is almost impossible (and in our opinion, inadvisable) to avoid taking ferries from one island to another. Besides, it is a great way to see the country and meet the local people. Who doesn’t enjoy a boat trip with the wind breezing through your hair, inhaling the fresh air of the sea and seeing tropical islands glide past? Unfortunately the country still has a dubious reputation as far as safety of ferries is concerned. Once you have such a reputation it is very hard to shake it off. Quite a few travel advices of foreign embassies warn against traveling on ferries. We consider this advice to be inaccurate and outdated.
The ferries between the main islands are big modern vessels with air conditioning and comfortable chairs. Some show movies and have catering. The companies that operate these ferries in general have very strict safety procedures. When bad weather is forecast they will stop operations.
Like with all modes of transportation, there have been accidents with ferries. The last accident with loss of life happened in December, 2017,when a ferry sank off the coast of Quezon province, Luzon, in bad weather.

When you board a ferry always use common sense. Look at the vessel and the weather. If you stick to the modern ferries on major routes there is really not much reason to be concerned. Enjoy the ride.

View on Manila from Sun Cruises ferry to Corregidor. Philippines Travel Information

View on Manila from Sun Cruises ferry to Corregidor – Philippines Travel Information

Terrorism

Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” Terrorism in the Philippines is a result of two insurgencies: the Moro conflict and a communist insurgency. The island Samar is the base of the communist insurgency. It is unlikely you will come across communist rebels on other islands. Aside from that these rebels don’t target tourists.

The conflict between the Philippine government and Islamic rebels/bandits on Mindanao is more threatening. There are different rebel groups active of which the Abu Sayaf is the most well-known. They have kidnapped people and among those were foreign nationals. In April 2017 Philippine security forces intercepted an Abu Sayaf group who tried to land on the island Bohol. The group was eliminated albeit with loss of life. No tourists were harmed. In May 2017 the US embassy warned of possible terrorist activity on the island of Palawan. In the same month a major battle between government forces and Islamic rebels claiming allegiance to ISIS broke out in Marawi on Mindanao. President Duterte declared martial law on the island. There was a fear that the fighting would lead to more armed incursions on the Visayas. Fortunately this has not happened. Look here for a full list of terrorist attacks in the Philippines.

Natural disasters

The Philippines has a reputation for natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions and typhoons. All these events can affect your travels in the Philippines. For all these events there are institutions monitoring them. They have sophisticated warning systems in place. Travel Authentic Philippines connects with these institutions on a daily basis and issues updates and warnings when necessary. We are really on top of the situation.

Earthquakes

The Philippines is located in the so-called Ring of Fire, an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. It is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) monitors volcanic and seismic activity in the country. In the Philippines earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. You can find a full list of earthquakes that took place in the country here. Light earthquakes happen very frequently across the country but are in general harmless. The most recent devastating earthquake took place four years ago on October 15, 2013. The epicenter was on the island Bohol. The tremor was felt throughout the Visayas. The earthquake caused widespread damage and loss of life. Many Spanish era churches were heavily damaged. More than 200 people died, mostly on Bohol. Read more here. This is the most devastating earthquake since the Luzon earthquake of 1990. Travel Authentic Philippines monitors the situation regarding earthquakes on a daily basis.

Volcanoes

The Philippines is located in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes… You can find a list of active volocanoes in the Philippines here.n recent years Mount Kanlaon on Negros and Mount Mayon on Luzon have been active. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 25, 1991, was a cataclysmic eruption with far-reaching consequences. We include some volcanoes like Taal volcano and Mount Pinatubo in our tours. Volcanoes are frightening on one hand and awesomely beautiful on the other hand.
We follow the updates of PHIVOLCS on a daily basis and will inform you when seismic or volcanic activity might affect your tour.

Typhoons

The Philippines is prone to extreme weather. The Philippines has been called the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms but we are not sure if that is really true looking at the disastrous typhoons that battered Florida and the Caribbean earlier this year. Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are just different words for the same weather phenomenon. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Here we stick to “typhoon” as this is the most widely used word in the Philippines. Looking at the recent history most deadly typhoons have struck in the months September until January. Weather seems to have become more unpredictable so typhoons can occur anytime between June and January. The areas usually afflicted are North Luzon, Eastern Visayas (Leyte and Samar) and Bicol (Legazpi City and Mount Mayon). Typhoon Hai Yan was the last really destructive typhoon in November, 2013. Here you can find a list of typhoons that struck the Philippines.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the institution that monitors typhoons and issues warnings. PAGASA issues bulletins every three hours for all typhoons currently affecting the country, every six hours when typhoons are anticipated to make landfall within the Philippines, or every twelve hours when cyclones are not affecting land. Travel Authentic Philippines monitors the weather forecast on a daily basis but when a typhoon occurs you might be already in the country. When a typhoon occurs it might have consequences for your trip in the form of cancellation of flights, ferry crossings and other transportation. We will do our best to find the best solution for your travel arrangements in that case. Your safety is always our priority.

Our destinations

Luzon

There are no safety concerns for Luzon apart from the usual ones such as petty crime and theft. There were no incidents involving tourists that we know of. The UK government website states: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”
As far as we are concerned there is no ground for this statement. It has been on the UK site for quite some time without any updates of facts. Of course nowadays terrorists can strike at any time and anywhere as we’ve seen in some major cities in Europe in recent years. Luzon is safe to travel as far as we are concerned. No security issues.

Bicol

Mayon Volcano: for a number of days now the Mayon Volcano in Albay Province in the Bicol Region has been showing signs of unrest. Lava flows, earthquakes and ash plumes occur. Alert Level 4 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano. A hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days. Some local airports in and around Legazpi City have suspended operations. Disruption to flights in the region is possible.
Follow the advice of local authorities. Stay outside of the designated danger zones around the volcano. Check with your airline before travelling because an eruption may cause disruption to flights. We will keep you updated.

Palawan

We consider Palawan safe to travel. In May, 2017, the US Embassy warned that terrorists were planning attacks in Puerto Princesa and the Underground River. Thankfully, these attacks did not take place. Some foreign government websites still advise against “non-essential” travel to the south of the island and even the Puerto Princesa area but there is no reason not to travel there. Palawan is safe to travel as far as we are concerned.

Cebu

On Cebu it is business as usual. Some foreign government websites still advise against “non-essential” travel to the south of the island but there is no reason not to travel there, in our opinion. Cebu is safe to travel as far as we are concerned.

Siquijor

Siquijor has been quiet and peaceful in 2017. Despite this some embassies such as the Dutch, still issue a travel warning for Siquijor.  We have been in regular contact with our friends on Siquijor. It’s business as usual. There is really no reason not to travel to siquijor.
Siquijor is safe to travel as far as we are concerned.

Bohol

Since the incident in April 2017 security forces on Bohol have been on high alert. There were since then no incidents that we know of.Some foreign government websites still advise against “non-essential” travel to Bohol but there is no reason not to travel there, in our opinion. Bohol is safe to travel as far as we are concerned.

Negros

There have been several incidents involving NPA rebels last year. In July 2017 seven local people were killed in an ambush in Negros Oriental. In the beginning of October 2017 two Swedish tourists and their driver were injured when they got caught in a shootout between police and bandits in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. We are monitoring the situation on a regular basis. Stick to urban areas like Bacolod, Dumaguete, San Carlos and Silay City for the time being. Contact us for more information.

Panay/Boracay

There have been no incidents involving tourists that we know of. There is no reason not to travel to Panay and Boracay as far as we are concerned. Both Panay and Boracay are fine to travel as far as we are concerned.

Mindanao

At this moment we don’t offer tours to Mindanao. That might change in the future. The good news about Mindanao is that the Philippine armed forces have won the battle of Marawi. After a struggle that lasted for months the city is now in the hands of the army. Regrettably the hostilities resulted in major loss of life and much of the city was destroyed unfortunately.
Based on our information we would consider the following provinces safe to travel:
Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Compostella Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Camiguin, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. The popular destination Siargao is part of Surigao del Norte. We don’t see any problem going there. You will have to be aware that in most areas there will be security forces present, roadblocks in place and other manifestations of an island that still is under martial law. President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in all 27 provinces of Mindanao.
It is better not to travel outside the above mentioned provinces.

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