  Chapter 

General safety

  • The Philippines is a rather volatile country, check for current political situation, no-go areas, government crackdowns and rebel activity before travelling.
  • Criminality is high in the Philippines. Be vigilant in crowds and at popular tourist spots. Don’t flaunt your cash or wear ostentatious jewellery. Opt for a taxi instead of walking around after dark.
  • Manilla is known as ‘Scam City’ and for good reason. When in doubt, walk away.
  • There’s a strong military presence in the Philippines, especially in larger cities, popular tourist spots and places with a high concentration of government buildings and activity.
  • All drugs are strictly illegal and possession is severely punished.

Criminality

  • Pickpockets and robberies are quite common. Carry small sums of cash in different places in your luggage and on your person to spread your losses.

Forces of nature

  • The Philippines has a much higher share of natural disasters than many other countries, especially during typhoon season (June through September). A simple tropical shower can turn in a devastating storm in the blink of an eye. Prepare well and check forecasts and current situation regularly.

Legislation

  • All drugs, hard and soft, are illegal. Possessing or using drugs, any drugs including marihuana or prescription drugs for which you can’t provide the prescription, is punished severely. Bring a Medical Passport or an official prescription when using medication, especially any sedatives and strong painkillers containing codeine.
  • It’s illegal for non-Filipinos to participate in any political protests. Ignoring this could result in being thrown out of the country.
  • Prostitution may be illegal, the sex tourism industry is still commonplace and intrusive. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be arrested, fined and even imprisoned.

Homosexuality

  • Homosexuality is commonly accepted with plenty of gay clubs and even a Gay Pride in Manila in late June. Yet there are still some areas or situations where homosexual tourist can be harassed. Keep your wits about you.
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