Do you love traveling solo? Pack your bags and let me take you on a quick trip on these safe places to visit in the Philippines!
Backpacking and traveling solo have its risks. With no one to accompany you in unchartered territory, safety is the main concern. While the Philippines has its own share of security disturbances in the past, it’s a safe place to visit. You just have to research the place before your arrival so you’ll know what to avoid. Below, I listed eight of the safest spots in the country for every solo traveler, backpacker, or first-time visitor of our beautiful country:
1. Baguio City
In 2018, Baguio City was ranked as the 6th safest city in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region by the database firm Numbeo. Although it’s a popular tourist spot, Baguio City managed to maintain law and order in their locality.
Moreover, Baguio has established an excellent reputation as a backpackers’ hub. It has dozens of transient houses, affordable inns, and homestays.
Another reason why tourists flock here is the cool temperature. Baguio City’s average low temperature is around 15C or 60F. This is appealing to locals who want to escape the summer heat as well as foreign visitors.
It’s also easy to navigate around Baguio through commuting. You can also book a Grab ride if you don’t want to squeeze your way on jeepneys.
Many inhabitants of the city are students since Baguio is home to one of the major universities of the country, the University of the Philippine (UP) – Baguio. For a young backpacker, this is a reassuring fact. The locals are also friendly and gentle as long as you respect their culture and beliefs.
I personally enjoyed my weekend stay in Baguio. Everything is affordable, but you can always find luxurious options if you have the budget to splurge.
2. Cebu City
If you want to explore the Visayas group of islands, Cebu is one of the safest options. Together with Baguio, Cebu was also ranked by Numbeo as one of the safest cities in the SEA region.
For solo travelers looking for a trove of adventures, Cebu City is the place to be. Aside from being a historical place, this city is also traveler-friendly, with thousands of foreign visitors landing here all year long. And since the Mactan International Airport is located nearby Cebu City, you can fly here directly and skip the hassle of Metro Manila.
Cebu City is solo-friendly. As much as there are luxury hotels in the locality, you can easily find budget guesthouses and hostels. You can also go around the nearby towns through a rented motorcycle. If you want to save some money, you can team up with fellow solo travelers that you’ll find upon your arrival.
Cebuano and Tagalog are the main dialects in the city, but many locals are conversational in English. This place receives a lot of guests, so it should be easy for you to feel secure.
3. Davao City
When it comes to safe places to visit in the Philippines, Mindanao might be at the bottom of the list. While Mindanao has been notorious due to insurgencies, one city is standing out to debunk the stereotype.
Davao City rose to fame with its iron fist in implementing laws. It claims a low crime rate and topnotch safety, even if you decide to walk at night. It’s also one of the five cities in the Philippines to grace the Numbeo’s safest cities in Southeast Asia.
One of the best things about Davao is it’s also the jump-off point to the Garden Island City of Samal. It’s also the home of the Philippines’ highest peak, Mt. Apo. Many visitors of Davao City are hikers and mountaineers who plan to brave the highest mountain in the country. And for the bird’s eye view of the city, you should never miss Jack’s Ridge.
Like most developed cities, Davao offers a wide range of accommodations. You can book a transient home or a luxury hotel room to your liking. You can also stay in one of the beach resorts, with Dahican Beach as one of the best options.
Do you want a unique solo travel experience? Choose the unbeaten path and fly to Batanes. This southernmost province of the Philippines boasts its own version of Marlborough hills, breath-taking views, and a safe space for travelers.
While Batanes gets battered by typhoons, it’s a gentle and laidback place. Most importantly, the crime rate in Batanes is almost zero. Petty crimes like theft is a rarity, which is added peace of mind to tourists.
The Vayang Rolling Hills is the highlight of Batanes. It’s like going inside a postcard: green rolling hills, vast sea vistas, and natural beauty wherever you look.
However, make sure that you bring enough cash (in Philippine Peso) before you head here. There are only several ATMs in Batanes, and there’s no establishment that accepts card payments. Also, expect that internet connection can be challenging, especially if you decided to pursue Itbayat, the northernmost municipality of the Philippines.
Take note that there are no flights to Batanes during the typhoon season so time your visit during the Philippines’ dry season, which is March to May. You can also consider earlier months of January onward.
Whatever time you’re visiting Batanes, always check the weather forecast. You wouldn’t want to get stranded due to a storm.
5. Dumaguete City
South of Cebu City is Dumaguete City. It’s located in the province of Negros Oriental with an excellent reputation for solo travelers. This is not a surprise as Dumaguete City has the moniker “City of the Gentle People’.
The good thing about Dumaguete is it’s the jump-off point to other island tourist spots like the mystical Siquijor and Bais Island.
Dumaguete City is a favorite spot among travelers since it has dozens of bed and breakfasts. You can also book a hotel room if you want something fancier. You can get a decent hotel room here for less than $30 a night.
Some of the famous spots here are the Tiera Alta lighthouse, Pulang Bato Waterfalls, the sulfuric vents along the highway, and more. You can rent a habal-habal (motorcycle) to bring you to these places.
If you want a beach getaway, you should head to Antulang Beach Resort in Siaton. It’s a mid-range resort with direct access to the white sand beach. You can also take a dip on the Red Hot Spring.
If you wish to cross to Siquijor, you need to ride a ferry for 50 minutes.
For those looking for the right mix of adventure, nature, and safety, Sagada is the perfect place to visit. This cold town is located in Mountain Province and is a paradise to trekkers and hikers.
Sagada is a melting pot of Filipino indigenous culture. The place is famous for its hanging coffins at Lumiang, which is a sacred practice of the Sagada people. Due to the boom in tourism, you can easily book a guided tour of Sagada online.
Take note that if you plan to visit caves, falls, and other remote areas in Sagada, the local tourism office requires that you hire a guide. The trail to these places can be challenging so for your safety, you should hire a guide upon arrival.
A guided Sagada tour includes a visit at the Sumaguing Cave, Bomod-Ok Falls, Echo Valley, and more. All attractions outside of the center must be booked. As you see, the Sagada tourism sector is very organized, which is also for the safety of its visitors.
Since it’s located in Mountain Province, the mode of accommodation is usually homestays. There are restaurants here, but you can always prep your own food if you’re on a budget.
7. Siargao Island
Island travels, especially remote ones, can be daunting for solo travelers. But if you’re in the Philippines to experience the ultimate beach life, you should head to Siargao.
Siargao is an island under the jurisdiction of the Surigao del Norte province. It’s dubbed as the ‘surfing capital of the Philippines’ due to its ‘Cloud 9’ waves that are a treat for surfers. In fact, the surfing category of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games was held here.
Aside from being a surfing mecca, Siargao welcomes tourists who just want a laidback beach experience. It’s a sheltered destination, so the surroundings are pristine.
For your stay here, you can book a villa or a mid-range room. There are also a couple of dive centers here if you’re an avid diver.
The good thing about Siargao is that most large establishments here already accept card payments. But just to be sure, bring some Peso with you.
Overall, Siargao is an unassuming town that’s used to seeing foreign visitors and a crowd of tourists. You’ll find it easy to blend in here, especially on tourist spots.
Masbate is known as the ‘Rodeo Capital of the Philippines’ due to its large swaths of ranches and agricultural lands. Aside from the cows and horses, Masbate has an abundant sea and stunning coastlines.
You can spend your day bumming by a sandbar or feeling like a haciendero on a farm. However, if you really want to discover the beauty of this place, you should go around to appease your itchy feet. A day or two isn’t enough to appreciate the beauty of Masbate.
Masbate is also known for Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary, which is an islet surrounded with mangroves. It’s perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling, bird watching, swimming, or simply watching the sunset.
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Masbate, you should consider Balay Valencia. It’s located at the city proper that’s close to the Rodeo Arena (try to watch a show!), restaurants, parks, and the city hall. Anyway, there are more luxurious hotels in Masbate if you have the budget to spend.
If you plan to tour several provinces, Masbate is a good starting point. It’s close to Burias Island, Samar, Biliran, and Ticao Island.
Additional safety tips when traveling in PH
Be vigilant. Just like any place, there could be bad apples in the basket. Always watch over your belongings and surroundings.
Stay alert when talking to strangers. Here in the Philippines, there are scammers called ‘budol-budol’ and ‘salisi’ gangs. They will distract or confuse you so they can take your valuables without your knowledge.
Don’t walk on dark streets. This pretty much applies to all places. Unlighted alleyways and streets harbor dark intentions. If you found yourself in one, walk fast and try to reach the crowd as soon as you can.
Know the place. Join forums, read travel blogs, and seek advice online before going to the PH place you want to visit. This will let you know first-hand accounts of dos and don’ts.
Use Grab service. Instead of hailing taxi cabs, I recommend using the Grab app to book your rides. It’s currently available on Metro Manila, Cebu, Baguio, Davao, and seven other key cities in the country.
Never flash your cash. Regardless if it’s in dollar or peso, never show merchants a stash of money. Although more locals won’t do this, some sellers will inflate their prices when they spot your wads of cash.
Don’t argue with police officers. The locals have an ambivalent relationship with the police force. As a foreigner, try not to argue or be in trouble with a police officer.
Know the emergency numbers. In the off chance that you’re put in a compromising situation, you should know what numbers to call. Memorize the embassy’s emergency hotline together with other important contacts in the locality.
There’s an unexplainable joy in traveling alone. Although it can be daunting at first, these eight safe places to visit in the Philippines will give you a great head start. The locals are welcoming, the sceneries are breath-taking, and the prices are affordable. There’s nothing else I could wish for.