11 Tourist Scams in Phillippines to Avoid

Despite its wonderful nature and the amazing culture, there are still several tourist scams in Philippines that you should know about.

You may be interested in the country because of the beaches, but it doesn’t mean that they are all safe and peaceful.

As long as you are always alert and you are familiar with some of these scam schemes, you can still enjoy your travel to Philippines without having to spend the extra money for the scams.

Don’t easily trust anyone and trust your own guts and judgment.

Taxi Broken Meter

This is like one of the oldest tourist scams in Philippines – not only in the country, but almost everywhere. There are some possible schemes to it.

First, the driver may say that the meter is broken so you need to make a deal about the fixed rate. Of course, they would inflate the price so you will have to pay extra.

The second scheme is when they tweak the meter, so it would run faster than the normal one. In the end, you will have to pay more than you should have.

Third, they may take the longer route and drive you around instead of taking the direct route – they take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the road and its streets.

If you hop into a taxi and the driver says that the meter is broken, simply go out and walk away. Never settle for any deal or whatsoever. If you are in the taxi and you see that the meter is running in an abnormal way, especially if it goes too fast, record it. Let the driver knows that you know the scheme.

Contact your family and friend, and inform them about the driver’s name, plate number, and operator name. Only take a taxi from the official queue or call the company to have one sent to your hotel.

Tanim-bala Scam

This is a common trick often happening to foreigners. The idea is that the cheating airport staff or police plant a bullet in the passengers’ luggage so that when it goes through the x-ray machine, it will cause a havoc.

The airport police will detain you and will let you go after you pay them. To avoid this from happening, it would be best to use the hardcase suitcase or have a tight cover over the bags and luggage.

Always lock them up. It doesn’t hurt if you make videos of your belongings after you have packed them all. Always stay alert before, after, and during your turn at the (x-ray) machine.

Never let anyone else touch or handle your things – you shouldn’t touch other’s either. In the event that you are stuck in the situation, don’t be panic and stay calm. Simply supervise their attempts of checking and don’t try bribery – it never looks good on your part.

If they don’t allow you for boarding or going out without any reason, simply contact your lawyer. It should be an easy case if you have all the evidence – and you know your rights.

Budol-budol Gang

Budol-budol is a name of a gang and their members are everywhere! They always take advantage from the unsuspecting and kind-hearted travelers and tourists. In most cases, they may create sob stories or have a sweet talk to you.

The idea is just the same: to take your money or your belongings, such as pieces of jewelry or anything valuable.

Don’t stop if someone approaches you with either sad face or overly friendly manners. Remember what parents used to say about not talking to strangers? Well, you should listen to them.

If it is possible avoid wearing any catchy pieces of jewelry or anything bling-bling that may make you a target of the scam. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep walking away as if you don’t care.

In times like this, it is better to be cold-hearted than losing all of your valuable belongings.

Public WiFi

Free internet connection is always an attractive deal, but it is too-good-to-be-true, right? When you go on a public place, don’t be easily tempted by the free WiFi, especially the ones that don’t need any password at all.

If you unsuspectingly be connected to the shady internet connection, the hackers can get your personal data and steal it. They may target your bank data or anything that is related to your finance, accounts, and money.

The best way to avoid one of the tourist scams in Philippines is not to connect to any free or public WiFi or whatsoever. It’s better to use your own mobile data or have a pocket WiFi on your own.

You are responsible for your own internet connection, not everyone else. Sure, free WiFi seems like a great convenience but it may cost you dearly.

Money Changer

This is also one of the most common tourist scams in Philippines. Although there are many of reputable, credible, and licensed changers all over the place, some of the black market ones still exist.

They want to attract people by offering low price service, but they have something up to their sleeves. Some of the scams may involve the tellers trying to take some bills away when they are counting the money.

It is possible that they may replace some of the bills with the smaller amount. They may also try using fake calculators to scam you.

If you have to exchange your money, make sure to do it at reputable and trusted changers – preferably in well-lit and safe areas. Be prepared with a calculator, in case they try to use the fake one.

Always make sure about the commission charges before going further with the transaction. Always count your money – before giving them away and directly after getting the peso. Check for the bills thoroughly.

Fake Travel Agents

If you are offered very cheap deals for the tours, meals, transportation, or accommodation, be alerted. If it seems impossible because of the low rate, then it is probably is.

These fake agencies will try to lure the innocent tourists with very low rate. This is actually a sign that you shouldn’t trust them. Once they demand payments and you transfer the money, they will be gone and you can’t find their traces anymore.

Dealing with such a scam is fairly easy, really. You need to find a trusted and credible travel agent with an actual physical office.

They won’t mind showing you their business license to prove their legit practice. And make sure that you keep all the records and notes as proof in case something goes wrong.

Credit Card

Scammers have their own device (usually small and well-hidden) that can steal information from the credit card. Later, they can use the information to buy things they want – and you are the one having to pay for it!

To avoid such a scam, never leave your card out of your sight. If you have to pay with the credit card, make sure that it happens in front of you where you can observe all the activities and all the moves.

If you can’t see the machine or the cashier doing the transaction in front of you, it’s better to pay with cash. Your credit card should never leave your sight or stay far away from you.

Spiked Drinks

In this tourist scams in Philippines, someone may tamper with your drinks – lacing it with a drug or some kind so they can take advantage of your tipsiness. You will definitely be out of your consciousness so they can take your money or your belongings, or even rape you.

If you want to go out and enjoy your drink, it’s better not to go alone. Whether you are alone or not, make sure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. Never leave your drinks unattended. It’s always better to buy bottled drinks because it is more difficult to tamper with.

Don’t accept drinks either, especially from strangers. In the event that you feel weird or even off after drinking, tell your friend right away so you can leave. Don’t hang around or linger for a while longer.

Taxi Spray

This scam is likely happening when you are traveling alone. Always observe the driver and be alert when you see him trying to cover his mouth or nose. He will look for an opportunity to spray you so you will be disoriented and dizzy. When you are knocked out cold, you may be robbed, or even assaulted, and then abandoned on the road.

If it is possible, never go alone – have someone else with you. You should also hide your belongings or valuables so no one would know. When you hop into the taxi, notify your friends or families – and make sure that the driver knows this.

If he has bad intention, he may change his mind knowing that you are connected to your families or friends. Don’t shut the phone off – keep on talking until you arrive at your destination. If the driver does something fishy or suspicious, get out of the taxi right away.

ATM Skimming

ATMs that are located in places that aren’t in banks can be potential targets for scammers. Some schemes may involve onlookers that would want to know your PIN or numbers so they can drain your money later.

Some may involve people that will distract you so they can steal either your money or your card. Some may involve a card reader that will make your card trapped in the machine.

If you have to use the ATM, make sure that there is no one else around. And always check the machine for anything suspicious. If you are approached by someone and he seems all too friendly, stop and walk away.

It would be even better if you can access the ATM located inside a bank. But don’t let your guards down either.


They will definitely try to distract you so they can have your valuables and money. They are fast and good with their hands movement – you may not believe that they are able to take all of your valuable belongings until they are gone.

Make sure to only bring small changes and have some hidden compartments on your body. If it is possible, use a belt so you can store your small change wallet and cellphone.

If you can have an anti-theft bag, it’s even better. And don’t be easily distracted with anything – especially with someone trying to approach you.

As long as you don’t keep your guards down, you can avoid these possible schemes and still enjoy a great time in Philippines. Remember, you attend to yourself and make sure to prepare everything carefully and thoroughly.

As long as you know the signs of these tourist scams in Philippines and you know how to avoid them, you should be good to go.

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