Precautions to Take While Traveling in Cebu
Use common sense and be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you are unsure in general about the local situation, feel free to check with your Embassy or Consulate for the latest security information.
Don't announce that you are traveling alone! Some guides for women even advise wearing a wedding ring if you're single. If you feel like you're being followed, step into a store or other safe place and wait to see if the person you think is following has passed. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for someone to double check for you to see if all is safe. Display confidence. By looking and acting as if you know where you're going, you may be able to ward off some potential danger.
Ask for directions before you set out. No matter how modest your lodgings are, your hotel concierge or other hotel staff should be able to help. If you find yourself lost, do not be afraid to ask for directions. Generally, the safest people to ask are families or women with children. Getting the right information may save you from ending up in a potentially unsafe area.
Choose a hotel where security is good and transportation is readily available and nearby. Check that all the doors and windows in your room have locks and that they work. If you feel uncomfortable, ask hotel security to escort you to and from parking lots or your room at night. Always use your peephole and common sense about letting strangers into your room.
There is no doubt that fashion makes a statement. Unfortunately, not everyone will interpret how you dress the same way you would. What you consider casual clothing might be seen as provocative or inappropriate in the scene. Thieves might choose you over another potential target based on your style of dress or the amount of makeup or jewelry you are wearing. Other might single you out for harassment or even physical violence because they find your clothing offensive, based on their cultural norms. By taking your cues from the locals, or at least by dressing conservatively, you could save yourself a great deal of trouble.
Check with the Philippine Embassy or Consular Office in your state. Click here for the USA and UK. They can describe the entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and other special information such as driving and road conditions to name. They also provide addresses and emergency telephone numbers for your embassies and consulates here in Cebu or anywhere in the Philippines for that matter.
Safety on the Street
Use the same common sense traveling here that you would at home. Be especially cautious in or avoid areas where you are likely to be victimized. These include crowded places, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and marginal areas of cities.
Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night. Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
Avoid scam artists. Beware of strangers who approach you, offering bargains or to be your guide.
Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will:
- jostle you,
- ask you for directions or the time,
- point to something spilled on your clothing,
- or distract you by creating a disturbance.
A child or even a woman carrying a baby can be a pickpocket. Beware of groups of vagrant children who create a distraction while picking your pocket.
Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority. Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.
Learn a few phrases in the local language/dialect (reserve a link for this) so you can signal your need for help, the police, or a doctor. Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire station, hospital, your hotel, and the nearest embassy or consulate.
If you are confronted, don't fight back. Give up your valuables. Your money and passport can be replaced, but you can't.
Safety in Your Hotel
Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
Let someone know when you expect to return if you are out late at night.
If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside. Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire. Be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit. This could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.
Safety on Public Transportation
Jeepneys/Jeep and Buses. Always prepare the exact amount of fares when taking a ride if possible carry with you coins. Currently, the fare rate is pegged at Six Pesos (Php6.00) at any short distance and a peso increase depending on the distance. Always let the driver know where your stop is. Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on jeepneys along popular tourists routes is a serious problem. It does not know any time so always be wary even in broad daylight.
If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the jeepney or on the jeepney platform or station.
Taxis. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. Always request the meter to be flagged down. If the taxi DOES NOT USE OR HAS NO METER then find another cab.
Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Never, never fall asleep inside the public bus or jeep. If that is not possible, stay awake or take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage, strap your valuables to you and sleep on top of them as much as possible.
Do not be afraid to alert the driver or other passengers if you feel threatened in any way.
Safety When You Drive
When you rent a car, don't go for the exotic; choose a type commonly available locally. Where possible, ask that markings that identify it as a rental car be removed. Make certain it is in good repair. If available, choose a car with universal door locks and power windows, features that give the driver better control of access to the car. An air conditioner, when available, is also a safety feature, allowing you to drive with windows closed. Thieves can and do snatch purses through open windows of moving cars. You may also wish to ask your rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist destinations.
Keep car doors locked at all times. Wear seat belts.
As much as possible, avoid driving at night.
Don't leave valuables in the car. If you must carry things with you, keep them out of sight locked in the trunk.
Don't park your car on the street overnight. If the hotel or municipality does not have a parking garage or other secure area, select a well-lit area.
Never pick up hitchhikers.
Don't get out of the car if there are suspicious looking individuals nearby. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car. Drive away.
Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans, offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then steal the rescuer's luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you.
Other criminals get your attention with abuse, either trying to drive you off the road, or causing an "accident" by rear-ending you or creating a "fender bender."
In some urban areas, thieves don't waste time on ploys, they simply smash car windows at traffic lights, grab your valuables or your car and get away. It is always advisable to be wary, "defensive driving" has come to mean more than avoiding auto accidents; it means keeping an eye out for potentially criminal pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.