The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.
The Philippines government has announced that Boracay Island will be temporarily closed for tourists from 26 April 2018 for up to six months for environmental rehabilitation. Official residents of Boracay are permitted to remain, and will be free to leave and return during this period, upon presentation of proof of residence, such as government-issued IDs or a barangay certification of residence. Visitors, including foreign and local tourists, will be prohibited from entering the island. Checkpoints have been established and anyone without appropriate documentation will be denied entry. Local airlines will operate on reduced schedules from 26 April and have offered refund or rebooking options. If you’ve already booked travel to Boracay, you should contact your tour operator.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship. You should remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.
There’s been an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals, including attacks targeting foreigners and tourists since late 2015. Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines. This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines (Mindanao, Palawan and central Visayas, including Siquijor and Dumaguete). See Terrorism.
Martial law is in place across the whole of Mindanao until 31 December 2018. There may be curfews and checkpoints. Monitor media reporting and follow the instructions of local authorities.
A ‘state of national emergency on account of lawless violence’ remains in place across the rest of the country. Expect random checkpoints, security patrols and a more visible routine security presence. You should co-operate with the Philippine authorities and allow extra time to pass through security checks. Make sure you carry a form of identification with you.
The eruptive activity of the Mayon volcano in Albay Province (Bicol region) has reduced, although it remains at a moderate level of unrest with a risk of sudden eruptions, lava collapses and ash fall. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has lowered the alert to level 2 but an exclusion zone remains in place. If you are in Albay Province, you should follow the advice of the local authorities, including the advice not to enter the designated danger zone. You should remain vigilant and follow developments on the PHIVOLCS website.
Ash plumes can affect air quality and have an impact on health. A properly fitted face mask may provide some protection. If you have any pre-existing respiratory conditions, you might be at increased risk of triggering or worsening your symptoms. Additional advice on the potential health hazards can found on the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network website.
Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. See Natural disaster.
There’s a high incidence of street crime and robbery throughout the Philippines. You should take sensible precautions.
Prison sentences in the Philippines are severe. The judicial system can result in long-term detention until a court hearing takes place. Detention facilities are far below UK standards. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for importing and using illegal drugs are particularly severe.
UK health authorities have classified the Philippines as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Around 154,000 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2015. Most visits are trouble-free.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.