While most of the Philippines is friendly and beautiful, there are areas that are unsafe. Of course you want to stay safe, so take a quick look through this list of places to avoid, and make your visit to The Philippines safe and fun.
The military is an ever-present force in the Philippines, due mainly to the high risk of terrorism. Even when a ceasefire has been called, violence could flare up again at any moment, without warning. So, regardless of the current state of affairs during your stay, it‘s best to avoid these areas altogether.
Terrorism is perhaps the biggest threat to tourist safety in the Philippines and continues to be an increasing and ongoing problem.
The whole of the far south is a no-go zone: The areas of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago and the Zamboanga Peninsula are all considered extremely dangerous and travelers are advised not to go there. The terrorist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been blamed for a numerous violent incidents, kidnapping, and frequent clashes with the Filipino security forces.
Spinoff terrorist groups, like the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jema‘ah Islamiyah, have broken away from MILF and are particularly dangerous. They are responsible for bombings which have resulted in property damage, injury and death. The more rural areas of the country, including the island of Luzon to the north, should be avoided as they have seen increased presence of the terrorist organization The New People‘s Army (NPA).
Over the past few years, terrorist acts involving explosive devices in North Cotabato Province, Basilan, Isabela City, Jolo, Cotabato City, Makati and the Zamboanga airport have collectively resulted in the deaths of 41 people and severe injury to well over a hundred others. Most of these bombings took place on public transportation, such as buses, and in crowded locations like restaurants and cathedrals.
The unpredictability of terrorist acts makes them that much more dangerous, so the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to steer clear of the locations where they are more likely to occur.
The risk of kidnap is especially hazardous for tourists because the terror groups target foreigners for the high profile publicity - and the high ransom they can obtain from relatively wealthy families. Thankfully, these crimes are not widespread. The following locations carry a higher risk of kidnapping and should be avoided:
Additionally, several foreigners have been captured in Zamboanga City, Pagadian City, Patikul and Jolo in recent years.
The victims range from Philippines nationals to Red Cross workers to television crews. An Irish priest and a wildlife photographer are among other kidnap victims proving that anyone could potentially be at risk if they are traveling within these danger zones.
Again, like terrorism, kidnappings are difficult to predict and therefore can be challenging to avoid. Your best bet is to travel in groups and stay away from areas that have seen an increase in recent kidnapping incidents. There are plenty of beautiful locations within the Philippines to see and explore without having to venture into these troubled places.
As a whole, the Philippines is a lovely place to visit with minimal risk of crime or danger. There are, however, locations within the country in which the risk of harm to foreigners is heightened and therefore should be avoided. Just know what areas to avoid and stick to the places that are not as dangerous and you will be able to experience the beauty of the Philippines without incident.