Most Common Tourist Scams in the Philippines and How to Avoid Them

Banaue, Provinz Ifugao, Philippines
Banaue, Provinz Ifugao, Philippines. Photo by AR on Unsplash

Traveling to the Philippines is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. You’ll enjoy natural wonders, vibrant culture, and great food and have an opportunity to engage in all sorts of fun activities. Unfortunately, like all popular tourist destinations, this Southeast Asia country hides some unpleasant experiences.

One of the things that can ruin your time in the Philippines the quickest is falling for tourist scams. In order to prevent this from happening, check out some of the most common ones and find out how to avoid them.

Broken Taxi Meter

Taxi scams are present everywhere, and the Philippines are no different. Here, you’ll most commonly encounter a “broken” taxi meter scam. The taxi drivers will say their meter is broken and will try to offer you a fixed price that is often double or triple what the ride actually costs. Don’t accept the ride for a fixed price and find a taxi that has a working meter.

Fake Tour Providers

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is the approach you should take when looking to book a tour in the Philippines. Make sure to always do a background check of the tour operator before booking a tour and making a payment. There have been plenty of cases where the tour providers simply took the money from tourists and then disappeared without a trace.

Money Changing Scam

Don’t ever change your money on the street, not only in the Philippines but anywhere else. You might be approached by strangers in bigger cities, especially Manila, who are offering you attractive exchange rates. But they will use all sorts of tricks to try and scam you, including stealing notes while counting or giving you less money and then claiming they gave you the appropriate amount.

Pricey Kalesa Rides

Kalesas are vividly-decorated horse-drawn carriages that can be seen on any corner in the Philippines. The kalesa drivers offer tourists rides across the city but be cautious about accepting one. In some cases, they will rush you into the carriage and then immediately start the ride without even telling you the price. At the end of the ride, they will insist on some outrageous price. They also might tell you a lower price at the beginning of the ride and later say that’s just a starting fee.