Manila Philippines skyline

Is Manila Safe for Tourists?

The Philippines’ capital, Manila, is located on Luzon, one of the archipelago’s 7,641 islands, offering travelers a gateway to remarkable wonders. Embarking on a journey to the heart of the Philippines will bring you a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity. But is Manila safe for tourists?

This bustling capital is one of the many hidden gems of Asia. Manila is a political capital, economic center, and tourist destination. The city has a rich Spanish colonial history, a multi-traditional culinary scene, and plenty of cultural and metropolitan activities.

This lesser-known travel terminus will surely please your adventurous spirit, but safety is always something to consider before booking a flight.

Why Visit Manila?

Manila lures travelers with its exceptional blend of noteworthy history, cultural richness, and modern attractions.

Intramuros is a walled historic site that is an age-old testament to Manila’s colonial legacy. Stroll down cobblestone paths, admire centuries-old churches, and delve into the stories of Spanish influence surrounding landmarks like Fort Santiago.

Manila is a gastronomic haven, from sizzling street food stalls to upscale restaurants fusing international and Filipino cuisines. After tantalizing your taste buds with local dishes like adobo, sinigang, and lechon, you can explore the city’s metropolis.

The big city offers attractions like the picturesque Manila Bay, a diverse museum complex, iconic malls such as SM Mall of Asia, an aquarium, and much more.

Intramuros church tourist attraction

Is Manila Dangerous?

Manila is a large city, and like any capital that attracts tourists, it brings concerns about safety. The metropolis is sadly riddled with poverty and a dense population of slum dwellers, which imposes a higher chance of crime for locals and tourists.

Manila is considered a medium-risk destination due to its rising criminal activity. Tourists may be subject to petty theft, pickpocketing, and scams. More alarmingly, violent crimes like assaults, drugging, robberies, and kidnappings are also within the realm of possibility. But it depends on where you are and the time of day.

The good news is that plenty of armed security guards are around, and well-traveled routes are less risky than other crime-ridden parts of the city. Traveling is generally safe, especially during the daytime. Violent crime is more prevalent in dangerous areas, and the potential for kidnapping, although uncommon, is a risk mainly for high-profile business travelers.

The slums in Manila

Dangerous Areas in Manila


Ermita is home to museums, parks, and other cultural landmarks that may tempt you to visit the district. However, this historic and central place should definitely be avoided. It is considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Manila due to its high crime rate.

This mixed-use district has residential, commercial, and entertainment establishments like Remedios Circle and Mabini Street. Although you might be interested in Ermita’s accommodation, nightlife, bars, and restaurants, there are far better places to choose from.


Sampaloc is a densely populated area located just north of the city center. People might visit here because of its cultural landmarks and universities. In fact, it’s known as the University Belt. Sadly, it is also considered one of Manila’s most hazardous areas due to petty and violent crime.

One thing about Manila is that it’s a large city where districts vary significantly from one another due to more poverty-stricken zones compared to more developed ones. Some other high-crime regions to steer clear of include Tondo, San Andres, Navotas City, and Malabon City.

Is it Safe to Live in Manila?

Manila is a lively city with a population of over 14.6 million people. Living there has its fair share of challenges, as poverty and crime levels are rife. Manila has a high crime index of 64.4.

Muggings, armed robberies, assaults, drug crimes, and homicides are all on the list of Manila’s struggles, as well as the whole country. On top of that, the exceptionally high level of bribery and corruption add to the chaos.

Living in Manila is far from easy and unsafe for most of the population. The more developed areas are less likely to face severe and fatal crimes, but it is still a valid concern.

A road with palm trees in Manila Bay

Safe Areas in Manila


Makati is a business hub and one of the best places to live in the Philippines. It offers tourists upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment like Greenbelt Mall. It’s considered one of the safer locations in Manila, with a well-developed infrastructure and a vibrant restaurant scene.

Here, you’ll find Ayala Triangle Gardens and Ayala Museum, where you can experience Filipino culture and history.

This district is well-traveled and has proper street lighting, making it safer than other places in Manila. Many establishments like malls and hotels also have their security to search people’s bags upon entering. Makati is a central and secure option if you’re looking for accommodation.

Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati

Quezon City

Quezon City is often called the “City of Stars,” where you can delve into traditional culture, history, and modern entertainment. It is one of the largest hubs in the Philippines, just northeast of Metro Manila. Quezon City is also one of the safest places in Manila, with less likelihood of tourist-related crime.

The city has the famous Maginhawa Street, a foodie’s dream. The street has a superb array of restaurants and cafes that serve various delicious cuisines. You’ll also find more cultural delights in Quezon, like the Iglesia Ni Cristo Temple.


Located in the south of Metro Manila, Alabang is a safe and upscale location with plenty of entertainment. It is a busy business district and transport hub with numerous shopping centers, boutiques, and restaurants. You can also enjoy indoor amusement parks and watch movies at the Commercenter Cinema.

From visiting the fancy visual cultural venue Art Lounge Manila to enjoying nearby beautiful churches and city parks — Alabang is a fantastic district with plenty to do and see. The most significant benefit of staying here is that crime is much lower than in other parts of Manila.

A classy mall in Manila

Warnings & Dangers in Manila

As wonderful as Manila can be, crime is a severe issue for the locals, and traveling there does come at a risk. For the most part, routes frequented by tourists are less likely to cause trouble, but generally, the entire city remains a medium-risk zone.

Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag-snatching, is a concern. Violent crime like armed mugging happens most often at night and on quiet, dimly lit streets. The best thing to do to stay out of harm’s way is to remain vigilant, be wary of strangers, and avoid wearing flashy clothes and jewelry.

There are a handful of other dangers in Manila. Once you’re aware of them and know how to handle said situations, you should be able to enjoy a hazard-free trip.

Overall Travel Risk (6.5/10)

On paper, Manila doesn’t sound like a safe place at all. Poverty-stricken slums, plenty of criminal gangs, drug problems, corrupt police, terrorism, and tourist horror stories of being drugged on a night out. All these scenarios paint the city in an awful light.

While those are all true accounts, traveling there isn’t as high-risk as it seems. Many have visited only to experience the friendliness of the locals and the city’s modern and traditional charms.

Manila is a metropolis made of several smaller cities, and those that are well-developed are less likely to face crime because they are better protected and managed. If you compare the safety of Manila, it is less risky than Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The main tourist worries are theft, ATM card skimming or robberies, dishonest money exchangers, drink spiking, and, although unlikely, terrorism.

A canal in Metro Manila


Most thefts and pickpocketing occur in tourist hotspots, and violent crime is also possible. You should always stay aware of your surroundings and never display signs of wealth.

Keep your belongings close, secure unneeded valuables in your hotel safe, and always lock your rooms and vehicles. You should be able to enjoy the nightlife unharmed, but you should never go alone, walk the streets at night, and always have your transport ready before leaving an establishment.

If you are subject to an armed robbery, don’t resist and give over your belongings, and you should be able to get away safely.

ATMs and Independent Money Exchangers

ATMs are hotspots for robberies, especially if you’re a tourist. Some criminals like to linger too close and steal your money once it’s withdrawn. Manila is also plagued by card skimming. Criminals attach devices to ATMs to steal data and money from your accounts. To minimize these problems, you should only use indoor ATMs in public areas, preferably inside banks.

As a heads up about the independent money changers in shopping centers — you should avoid them as they often give poor exchange rates, incorrect amounts of cash, or even counterfeit money. Instead, use an ATM or a legitimate bank for currency exchange to avoid any risks.

Drink and Food Spiking

Some criminals have made an effort to drug tourists to rob them after inviting them to visit a tourist attraction or bar. Even though the Filipino locals are super friendly, you must be careful because not all have pure intentions.

Only visit tourist attractions with a trusted, pre-arranged tour guide, and avoid going out with strangers who have approached you, especially if you’re alone. You can make friends at hotels or tour groups rather than with unannounced newcomers.

No matter where you are, don’t leave your food or drinks unattended, and don’t accept snacks, drinks, and cigarettes from strangers. They might contain drugs that could put you in danger of sexual assault and robbery.


Unfortunately, the Philippines runs the risk of terrorism. This includes possible kidnappings and bombings. The locations that are riskier include markets, malls, and local government facilities. Occasions like religious holidays and public events are more likely times for attacks.

On 28 April and 6 May 2017, fatal terrorist explosions occurred in Quiapo, Manila. Despite this, the risk of another altercation is less likely than it may seem, as the attacks are usually targeted at Filipino security forces.

The most high-risk zones in the Philippines are Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and the Zamboanga Peninsula — where the government and rebel groups have conflict.

To stay safe, keep up with local news and travel advisories, remain wary in riskier places like malls, and avoid significant public events.

Aerial view of Manila

Tips for Staying Safe in Manila

Some other vital handy tips when traveling to Manila include:

  • Never tell anyone you’re alone: This makes you a bigger target, and it’s easier to say you’re meeting your friend somewhere to prevent danger.
  • Alert your friend or staff if you begin to feel drowsy at a bar: Criminals spike drinks with an odorless, flavorless anti-anxiety drug called Ativan (Lorazepam), which makes you tired before you pass out.
  • There are taxi scams: Although public transport is generally safe, try to avoid hailing a taxi. If you do, ensure their meter works and agree on a price before taking off.
  • Manila has intense typhoons: Avoid travel during this season, which runs between July and October.
  • Only drink boiled or bottled water: Locals drink tap water, and it is alright for you to brush your teeth. But to avoid trouble, don’t drink it straight from the tap.

Makati in Manila at night

Is Manila Safe | Frequently Asked Questions

Is Manila Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Manila is a safe enough location for solo female travelers, but precautions must be taken. You’ll need to stick to well-populated places, and reliable means of transportation should also be a priority.

You should never tell strangers that you’re solo traveling, and never go out at night alone. Walking in the daytime in a safe area should pose no harm, but preferably stick with a guide and be wary of approaching strangers.

Top tip: Here’s how to stay safe when traveling solo.

Is Walking Around Manila Safe?

If you are in a well-traveled tourist location or business district, you should have no issue walking around during the daytime. You do, however, need to stay wary of pickpockets and bag-snatchers. As night falls, you should keep off the streets, especially dimly lit ones, as chances of criminal activity increase — especially if you’re a tourist or foreign national.

Is Manila Worth Visiting?

The capital city of Manila is a charming tourist destination with plenty of entertainment to offer. It is a bustling metropolis with historical landmarks, an incredible culinary scene, exciting museums, upscale malls, and much more. Above the attractions, the locals are super friendly and welcoming.

Can You Go Out At Night in Manila?

Manila has one of the most exciting nightlife experiences around, and it is there to be enjoyed! Going out in the evening is mostly safe as long as you’re not alone and keep your wits about you. Always guard your drinks closely and never accept drinks or food from strangers.

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