Here’s the scenario: You’re planning for your next trip to the Philippines after the global pandemic disintegrates into nothingness, and you think to yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” You feel sure that you’ve made a master plan of places to visit in the Philippines, but then a thought enters your head. “What if I get mugged there? What if I get COVID-19 or get kidnapped? Or worse, what if I die?”
At first, the anxious idea of you having a hard time in your perfect getaway doesn’t affect you that much but look at you right now. Scrolling through articles wondering what the places to avoid visiting in the Philippines are. You’re here now. Let’s lay down a couple of ground thoughts first:
Is the Philippines really safe for tourists?
Here’s the answer: Yes, but no.
The Philippines is 95% safe, and that’s no debate. The other 5% is what you have to look out for. Listen, bad things come up in every corner of this world, and there’s not a single locale that can be considered entirely safe. The Philippines is a perfect country for any travel-frenzy guy to go to. Don’t get me wrong, the Philippines is undoubtedly a bucket-list must-have for everyone.
The residents are all too lovely, but there are a handful of areas inside the country that sketchy and dangerous people tend to live in. That’s the time where you need to have extreme caution when traveling in the Philippines.
Is every city in the Philippines safe?
The word “safe” is always associated with any travel agendas. When a particular place gets deemed safe, it’s as if you would be utterly protected and invincible once you step foot in there. Unfortunately, the concept of safety is far from that. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll be exposed to tens, if not hundreds, of risks attached to the place.
The way to perceive a place as being “safe” is through relative terms. In Layman’s terms, safety depends on your own unique experience and situation. What is considered a safe place for a local might be miles different from what a travel company advises. If you are on the fence about traveling to the Philippines, the general rule to follow is to not head in without any prior research on the place. That’s where this blog about areas to avoid visiting in the Philippines comes into place.
The Philippines is indeed a top tourist destination for every traveler. Despite that, catastrophe lurks in every corner, and you’re bound to be affected by it if you aren’t careful enough. Still curious about the places to avoid visiting in the Philippines? Well, do I have a list for you.
Here are 7 places to avoid visiting in the Philippines:
1. Quezon Province
Located at Southern Luzon, the Quezon Province is roaring with mesmerizing beaches and shores, breathtaking farms to which stretch along and bring the beauty of Mt. Banahaw. These historical churches pay homage to the 17th century of the Philippines, and of course, dozens and dozens of unspoiled houses fueled with local art-deco.
Quezon is known for the infamous Pahiyas Festival, which is nationally appreciated by Filipinos. Quezon is also home to the kesong puti (carabao’s unskimmed milk), several pilgrimages at Mt. Banahaw, and the notorious Polillo Island.
The province of Quezon is often seen to be where the National People’s Army (NPA) is crowded. The presence of such is enough to alarm you as a foreigner because of their destructive nature.
Military threats are easily one of the worst things a foreigner can experience. Even if a ceasefire within Quezon has been declared, dozens of violence ought to happen without prior notice. So, regardless of the current state of affairs during your stay, it’s best to avoid these areas altogether.
Luckily, the NPAs are primarily residing up at the highlands where you’ll unlikely head towards. Also, the threats of tourists being recorded are low to none. Suppose you ever do come to a situation where you are deciding on trekking Mt. Banahaw or even Pinagbanderahan in Atimonan. In that case, there are professionals and tourist guides to accompany you on your travel.
Fortunately, Quezon has allowed further tourism to the province as the quarantine procedures have subsided for tourists.
2. Marawi Province
Compared to the cities mentioned in this list, Marawi City is relatively smaller but behind the scope of the area is a future stunning tourist spot that is noteworthy for every traveler. Every foreigner will be left surprised by what Marawi has to bring to the table with a once-in-a-lifetime exploration of a hidden tourist spot. Despite that, Marawi is still amidst its recovery stage from the infamous terrorist attack that occurred in May of 2017.
To dive in deeper, the Marawi siege involved tons of militants being slain after several troops proceeded to release an open fire in the city. Because of this, over 200,000 residents of the city have decided to leave their place of origin for good which led to a sudden drop in the population there.
Hoping for a pleasant commercial stay in the city of Marawi? Well, tough luck. All you have is rubble from now on. But, reports have outlined that the ghost town of Marawi is on its way closer to get back on its feet with tourism.
3. Siquijor Province
Siquijor is probably one of the most well-talked provinces in the Philippines, where even locals are weary of traveling. It’s commonly seen as a province filled with supernatural entities small island found in the Visayas is widely thought of as a witchcraft center. Yes, you read it right. Locals believe that Siquijor is home to witches and different types of ghouls. But folklore is just the surface threat in this province, and there is more to Siquijor than meets the eye.
The island of Siquijor is but a peaceful locale attached with diverse and astonishing white sand. It also has waterfalls, caves & heritage churches. The concept of “hilot” is a crowd-getter in Siquijor. “Hilot” is a Philippine tradition that involves a deep-tissue massage by integrating locally resourced herbal remedies. Don’t go to Siquijor; it’ll leave you wanting to never leave.
Trust me, there’s no Aswang or even a Manananggal to toy with your body once you fall asleep, but the other threats in Siquijor are still out and about.
4. Jolo Province
Jolo is generally perceived as a place full of rampant crimes, terrorist acts, and kidnapping. Also, the Jolo province houses the Abu Sayyaf. The Abu Sayyaf is an organization of rebels in Mindanao known for torturing their kidnapped victims. These victims include tourists who are ultimately used as ransom. You wouldn’t want to be the next headliner of the news when your body gets taken by extremist groups now, would you?
Locals primarily advise any new travelers to avoid any form of travel to this tiny island in the Sulu Sea since the presence of Muslim rebels, dangerous potential threat attacks, kidnapping, and serious disputes between the security forces and extremist groups are evident. Just from that, you better know that the Jolo province should be a hard pass for your next travel. Even with 19 municipalities inside Jolo, you shouldn’t even dare to think twice about traveling anywhere near it.
5. Cotabato Province
Cotabato province can be found in the same region and the previously mentioned province of Marawi, SOCCSKSARGEN. Reading this, you might get a sense of why Cotabato landed on our list of the places to avoid visiting in the Philippines. This particular area of Mindanao does not consistently get as many violent acts like the latter, on the other hand.
Muslims disputed for years on end to receive the resources and independence that the Cotabato province deserved. However, the tension between the rebel forces is still something that is apparent as of this moment. With that in mind, all your travel plans might not be the most suitable at Cotabato.
The leading rebel group, known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, alas surrendered to an agreement to a peace treaty with the Philippine government. This all occurred in 2014, and since then, both the government and the rebel groups who opposed each other are working together for the betterment of Cotabato towards a deal for peace within the province.
Despite this, anything terrible can happen anytime once the wrong side gets provoked. After you’ve decided to land your travel in the Cotabato province, you’ll feel all of the cells inside your body wanting to turn back from this place.
6. Abra Province
Found in CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) in Luzon, Abra is a large province swallowed by stunning acres of land. Populated by Ilocanos & the indigenous Tingguians, Abra is home to the countless bamboo and rattan furniture creators that are masters at their craft.
While Abra might leave you mesmerized with its scenic and Instagram-worthy terrain, Abra holds a ton of threats to any amateur traveler. The province is criticized by many for its lackluster political situation. Wars tend to break out with political clans in the province, and it has since been deemed as a hotspot of violence in the Philippines. So, when trekking the breathtaking trails and exploring stunning wild rivers, oftentimes, it is a requirement for anyone to have a travel guide with you. So, do keep that in mind.
7. Metro Manila City
Enough of the province talk; let’s talk about the capital of the country: Metro Manila. As you may have gathered, most of the places that took up this list primarily are provincial areas. Of course, it also helps that anywhere outside of those areas is considered to be safe. That statement holds true, as Metro Manila is probably your best bet when it comes to a well-rounded, fun trip while being at your safest state. But like most capitals, one of the cities within Metro Manila, namely Quezon City, takes a number on a couple of lists that highlight the most dangerous cities in all of Asia.
Foreigners are full of stories about their bad experiences in the area, and you’ll notice that all of them are different. This is because many amateur travelers center and limit their travels within Metro Manila since they believe that it is a vast city and crime-free. But the ever-growing statistic about crime reports in the city beg to differ.
Countless bar fights and tourist mugging inside dark alleys are just some of the terrors that await you as a traveler. This led Metro Manila to be considered one of the worst places to avoid visiting in the Philippines.
Metro Manila is a dense city, and it’s one of the most beautiful cities to settle in. However, as a well-coped traveler such as yourself, you have to know the risks attached to largely-populated places. Don’t go in blindly with your itinerary in mind and just wing your vacation, or else it might be your last.
Here’s the thing
The Philippines is just like any other country. Violence is an uncontrollable force that pops up in the middle of nowhere. But that shouldn’t discourage you from discovering what the Philippines has to offer t you. Like in any restaurant you are intrigued to go to, you need to dig deep about the ins and outs of the place you are about to travel to before heading in.
The number of worthy tourist spots in the Philippines has been growing, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Sad to say, a couple of these spots are labeled as places to avoid visiting in the Philippines by many. These troubled places are overshadowed by their past, and it degrades the perception of many to the beauty that they hold.
But you have to keep in mind that the severity of these dangers tends to get overhyped by the media. Although awareness can be a powerful weapon you can use to combat these threats, it is unfair to mark a whole country as a danger zone after knowing its vulnerability.
The bottom line is to treat the locals with kindness and respect, no matter what corner of the world you are in.