Updated: February 24, 2020
Update: Taal Volcano Eruption
The Taal Volcano, about 37 miles (60 kilometres) south of the capital Manila on the island of Luzon, began erupting on Sunday, sending ash up to nine miles (14 kilometres) into the air and prompting large-scale evacuations. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said Wednesday morning that the Taal Volcano remains at alert level four out of a possible five, meaning an “explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”
We will keep you updated.
The Philippines Institute for Volcanology and Seismology is posting regular updates as well.
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. We love and promote the Philippines but most important is the safety of travellers and of the people we work with. In this Philippines Travel Information section, we do our best to be as objective and neutral as possible. We provide information but not travel advice. We update the content on a regular basis. All feedback is appreciated. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 travelling 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.
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 the 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 in 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, travellers 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.
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 travelling 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?
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. Oceanjet is one of the companies we often use.
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.
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.
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.
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 epicentre 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.
The Philippines is located in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes… You can find a list of active volcanoes 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.
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 the 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. The 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 bulletin 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.
There are no safety concerns for Luzon. There were no incidents involving tourists that we know of.
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 3 is now in effect over Mayon Volcano, down from alert level 4. A hazardous eruption was possible within weeks or even days. The activity of Mayon seems to get less but there is still enough reason to be vigilant.
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.
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.
On Cebu, it is business as usual. There is no reason not to travel as far as we are concerned.
We have been in regular contact with our friends on Siquijor. Siquijor is quiet and peaceful.
Since the incident in April 2017 security forces on Bohol havw been on high alert. There were since then no incidents that we know of. Bohol is safe to travel as far as we are concerned.
There have been several incidents involving NPA rebels last year. In one incident two Swedish tourists and their driver were injured when they got caught in a shootout between police and bandits in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. There were no incidents involving tourists that we know of in 2018.
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.
At this moment we don’t offer tours to Mindanao. That will change in the future. A major battle between government forces and Islamic militants took place in 2017. There were no incidents involving tourists that we know of in 2018.
If you want to travel to Mindanao we advise you to stick to the following provinces:
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.