10 Ways To Avoid Getting Scammed In The Philippines Particularly In Metro Manila


Spending a holiday in the Philippines is a lot of fun and full of exciting activities especially if you are visiting some of the most popular places in the Philippines like Boracay Island which boasts a beautiful white beach and exciting nightlife entertainment.

There’s also the majestic underground river of Palawan where the experience can be truly exhilarating especially the natural and beautifully curved cave with major formations of stalactite and stalagmite along the way. Let’s not forget the spectacular Chocolate Hills of Bohol which is made up of a series of well-formed hills like chocolates as they were famously called for. These are just some of the various beautiful places well-known to tourists as their favourite destinations during their holiday tour in the Philippines.

But let’s face it, your holiday will not be that exciting if you don’t tour around Metro Manila area where you will come across the hustle and bustle of city life and get to witness the endless wave of people wondering aimlessly around various shopping centres like a nomadic tribe traveling from one place to another looking for a place to settle. Eventually you will find these people wandering around busy shopping centres window shopping at every chance they get. Metro Manila area is the hub of pure entertainment in Luzon Island so if you’re looking for a real nightlife adventure in metropolitan area then you’re in luck! The urban area is usually visited by thousands of tourists even experienced travellers, Balikbayans as well as Pinoy contract workers.

However, there are some warnings and precautionary measures that you have to be aware of to make your stay in Metro Manila truly safe, fun and enjoyable.

Filipinos are well-known for being hospitable and friendly, but you have to be careful with people or individuals you’re dealing with in order to avoid any untoward or unfortunate experience that may happen while interacting with them.

Here are some helpful tips that hopefully will guide some tourists visiting Metro Manila towards a much safer vacation.

1. Don’t be duped by street money changers (tout) for a higher exchange rate.

You’ll find legitimate money changers in shopping complex, banks, or at the airports, supermarkets and hotels. The legitimate money changers usually offers a higher rate compared with banks, hotels and others. You only need to be practical and use your common sense to stay safe.

2. There are some parts in Metro Manila that are notorious for snatchers, particularly in Manila.

These low life thieves usually prey on unsuspecting victims by snatching their valuables in an instant. To ensure that you’re not the unsuspecting victims, always keep your valuable things close to your body and never lose sight of them. Try not to wear jewelleries in crowded or conspicuous venues such as public transport, bars, streets (avoid walking alone in isolated area) and even in shopping centres. When eating in a fast-food chain, never leave your things unattended. If you’re with friends, ask them to keep an eye of your things but again be sure to take your bag and wallet with you when you’re buying your food.

3. Another illegal activity of unscrupulous groups or individual is the copying of ATM and Credit Cards.

Always be mindful of your surroundings whenever you’re withdrawing money from various ATM machines or paying your bill after eating at a restaurant especially if you have to hand your card over to waiters for them to debit money from your account. You’re better off paying in cash. However, if you have no choice but to use your ATM card, make sure that the card slot is almost flush with the ATM machine. If you suspect something unusual where the opening of ATM card entry is suspiciously protruding from the machine, it is a possibility that a card skimmer is attached to it. Some skimmers are fitted with brochure holders and mirrors which are not necessary.

4. Avoid using trains or busses.

When queuing in a crowded shopping centre or blending in the crowd of Manila or using trains and buses when you travel, avoid placing your important documents and valuables at your backpack. It’s better to have a bum bag worn around your waist placed in front of you.

5. Watch out for scammers

If someone approach you with a warm greeting insinuating that you know each other, simply ignore it and walk away. It’s a simple trick to ask money from you later.

Also, avoid placing your wallet in your back pocket; the thieves are quick to steal your wallet in your back pocket, it’s better to put it in your front pocket. Bring enough money that you only need for that day and avoid counting your money in an environment exposed to the crowds of people.

If you happen to pass-by on the street with beggars and street children asking for alms, don’t give money to them, most likely they are part of the syndicates and some children use it to buy drugs. Give food instead.

6. Don’t drink from tap water.

Tap water is most likely contaminated. Ask the service crew if they’re serving purified or bottled water when eating in a restaurant. Never buy bottled water from street seller during traffic jam; it’s a big possibility that you’re buying a refill.

7. Be wary of girlie bars.

If you’re looking for a good night out in a girlie bar, it’s better if you have a local friend who knows the trade and trick when entering and drinking in the bar. Otherwise, you have to ask if the bar charges entrance fee, how much are the ladies drinks and the cost of local beer so that you won’t be overcharged. Be smart too, to remember how many bottles that you have already consumed for the night including the ladies drinks. Keep an eye on your drinks and ensure that the beer bottle is opened before your eyes.

8. Avoid accepting food or lollies from strangers.

9. Desist from riding a taxi without a meter.

If the driver is convincing you to pay a flat rate instead of using a meter, better look for another one and simply ignore the offer.

10. ‘Cross the street only at designated road crossings to avoid jaywalking on Manila’s busy traffic to avoid accident and trouble from traffic enforcers.

If you’re traveling not only in Metro Manila but in other parts of the world, perhaps some of the tips that are mentioned here can be utilized as your tools and effective reminders to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday experience wherever you go. Remember, be smart and act with precaution wherever you are and always be on the correct side of the law.

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