Are tourists safe in Bohol?

The Philippines sometimes receives negative press regarding the safety of foreigners. We believe this is not always deserved, and certainly does not apply to Bohol. In this article we will give some advice about the safety situation in the Philippines, and some tips to stay out of trouble.

Theft and Robberies

Just as much as in your hometown, thefts and robberies can happen in the Philippines, especially in the larger cities (of which Bohol has none: Tagbilaran, the largest city has sligtly less than eighty thousand inhabitants). Unlike in your hometown, you are probably a stranger, unknown with local conditions and customs, and because of that more easily attract the attention of criminals. However, if you take some simple precautions, most of the Philippines is perfectly safe for travel.

Follow the following do's and dont's.

  • Do put only a small amount of money in your wallet. A couple of hundred pesos is enough to pay for all the snacks and small souvenirs you can buy on a day.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash with you. If you have to carry larger amounts, keep it very close on your body, in a place where it cannot be reached without removing your clothes. A money belt under your pants is often a good suggestion.
  • In most places ATM's are reliable and they are often guarded, however, don'tdon't allow other's to look over your shoulder or see where you put your money. use them at late hours, and
  • Don't wear jewelry -- chain snatchers sometimes operate on local busses and jeepneys.
  • Don't show out with your wealth. Keep camaras, etc. in unsupicous looking bags, not in flashy camara bags. Only bring them out if you want to photograph something.
  • Travel light. Don't bring more than a single small bag that you can keep in sight. In the tropical climate you need only a few sets of light clothes, and you can have them washed at almost every hotel.
  • Be cautious when approached by overly helpful people at crowded places in cities, such as airports, bus-stations and piers. However, don't avoid getting in contact with the Filipinos, for you will miss a lot of friends...
  • Do carry a number of photocopies of important documents such as your passport and airplane tickes, so that you have the details handy in case the real ones get missing. Ofcourse, keep them separate from your real documents.
  • Don't Accept drinks from strangers. Some people have been drugged that way, and then robbed of their possessions.
  • Last but not least, do use your common sense!

Crooks can be very creative in thinking out con-schemes. Be very critical of every odd story and money making scheme. A very common trick is too tell you that somebody has just snatched your wallet, hoping that in your response you will give away the place you hide it.

However, don't let these precautions spoil your frame of mind, just be alert when needed, and enjoy your stay.

Terrorism and Kidnappings

Several years ago, the Philippines had a lot of negative press regarding the safety of foreigners. Reports of tourists being kidnapped by terrorists from Malaysia, and Palawan aren't a comfortable read. However, we don't believe there is any reason for concern, and asure you Bohol is safe.

Most of the trouble with so-called muslim separatists and the infamous Abu Sayyaf group takes place in Southern Mindanao and on the Southern islands of Basilan and Jolo. Bohol is roughly 700 kilometres away from those areas, and when using boats, potential kidnappers will have to travel at least double that distance. The small map below will clarify the situation. As you can see, the distance from Palawan to Basilan is roughly the same as to Palawan, however, unlike Palawan, where kidnappers can go across open sea, to get to Bohol they have to get into water surrounded by islands on all sides, which is much more difficult to enter or leave unnoticed. Besides that since the events, the Philippine Navy and Police are on high alert for attacts like this. The conclusion is that it is extremely unlikely you will be confronted with kidnapping attempts on Bohol.