Cities In Mindanao that are Safe to Visit

It seems like I have been chatting several women who live in Davao, General Santos, Kudurat City, Cagayun de Or, and Ozamiz. I have seen the State Department warnings from last year.  Have things settled down?

I am fond of my head and don't care to lose it, nor do I wish to be robbed or kidnapped.

I have a concealed carry permit at home, and I know that is out, but what about a pocketknife or whatever?

Philippines and security.

To look at likelihood we need to divide the topic into different types

*  Direct random attack leading to theft at one end death at the other. (Robbery, assault etc.)
*  Indirect attack leading to person injury or death  (Bomb blast)
*  Direct (planned) attack leading to kidnap or death

The whole of the Philippines is subject to the first point:  Direct Random attack, having said this so is any first world city.  Is it worse in a Mindanao city (i have lived in both General Santos, 4 years, and Davao for 12 months) not if you stay smart as you would in any large western city, don’t go where you have not seen during the day time and listen to what people tell, if they say it is dangerous then listen to them.  For who to listen to i would recommend in most cases listening to the locals, foreigners can stay somewhere and get a bit blasé.

Indirect attack, yep it is probably a higher chance in Mindanao.  Based on the fact that it is closer to the bad guys.

Direct attack, yes higher here than in any other part of the Philippines, once again based on the fact that it is closer to their hideouts.

So directly to your question about cities in Mindanao:

In General Santos I was also very alert of all three of the above risks.  Did it stop me living there, no.  Did I walk the streets or go to the areas I was told not to go by the locals, no I did not.  I stayed in at night or got transport at night time, and was very aware of where not to go as told to me by the locals.  During the day time I would walk to many places.  I used to run in the mornings, but never the same route and never leave the house at the same time each morning.  Basic security stuff.

I now live in Davao and feel extremely safe here, especially based on direct random attack.  However the second point (indirect attack) is still relevant here.  I avoid large public gatherings.  There are check points on most roads leading into Davao city from all areas around.  This is an indication that it is still risky here.

The biggest risk here in Davao is that as a foreigner you start to feel too safe and let you guard down, this comes about due to the fact that direct random attack is extremely very, very rare here.

I know of some foreigners here in Davao for work (so have not being to any other part of the Philippines) that think Davao represents the safety of the whole of Mindanao and the Philippines. I was speaking to a taxi driver the other day that told my about his foreigner brother in law that set out to the provinces to prove to the world that it was safe in Mindanao, in my thought he has falling into the trap of living in Davao for such a long time that he feels safe in Mindanao / Philippines.  I my thought, he is wrong, as did the taxi driver.  To back this up with fact, about 3 days ago the PNP did an assault on NPA base located only 15 klm from Davao city, the NPA group was planning a military take-over of a city very close to Davao.  Look this up on news Philippine news channels if you would like to check out what I say.
In regards to arming yourself, please consider the following, would you prefer to end up in hospital after being attacked by someone with a knife or would you prefer to be in a Philippines Prison after you stab a Filipino?

I am also not sure about the laws here of carrying a pocket knife.  I do know that you will not get into any Mall or shopping centre as you are searched (scanned and “body searched) prior to entry.

Attacks happen quickly they don’t tell you or give you time to pull out a defensive weapon to defend yourself.

So based on the above through any pocket knife in the bin and leave it at home.

I have not talked about home security issues here, if you are planning on living here.  Another bigger topic, with so many variables, you can do security courses on this which will take about 2 to 3 days.

PS the women here are generally very nice people.  Of courses there are scammers, but these are in fact in the minority and not the majority.

One thing I would do before meeting them is establish if they are Muslim, do your research on the women to establish there religion.  Sad to say that all the Filipino's I talk to say to me don't trust the Muslim's.

Thanks for the reply. So, situational awareness is essential.  I am a pretty good sized man, probably too formidable for one man unless he is armed.

I saw. YT video where an elderly Expat got a bad feeling when the cab made an unexpected turn not towards his destination. He saw the cabbie talking with someone before picking him up. He thought they saw him as a mark

Cagayan and Butuan are safe.


Christian living in northern Zamboanga Del Norte. I have muslim friends and even a visiting imam from Zamboanga said, DO NOT go to Zamboanga or anyplace south of there.  Same for anyplace included in Bangsamoro.  And yes a true muslim woman from a devout family would be inviting a death sentence upon you, a christian, and her.

I will save my integration lecture for another time.


I've only been here in Cagayan de Oro for a little over a year and have found no issues of safety that, as stated before, aren't general to any city.
I have a car and have traveled both west and east of CDO finding people of no threat generally. My woman is far more worried than I of those political groups who would cause harm. We have been as far west as Pitogo and east to Butuan City then south to Malaybalay City with never a concern for our surroundings (except for other drivers-local joke)...
I have a common rule as i ride my bycicle around CDO's small back streets...if the people ask what you are looking for your in an area that they are cocerned you're in.
If someone directs you to a place that looks unsafe, listen to your self.
Generally everyone I've come in contact with has been very friendly and when able helpful  too. It is part of why I like the people of this country.
Don't come looking for a fight or trouble and you should be fine.

Davao has always been a safe city.  I hear of no trouble there unless you are out in the bars flashing money & talking to the hens in the bars.   Gen San is a fishing port.  There are areas you do not wish to go to.  Also a factory town.  Any good lady you hook up there will point out areas to avoid.   caysagan De Oro is safe. Military base there.  I hear with marshal law it is a quit town now. Compared to what it was a year ago. But safe. Lot of the dicos & such have toned it down.  Students are having a quitter life there. I lived there for 3 years never a problem before the conflict hear of none now.  Except the town is quitter than it use to be.  But Illigan City is a problem!  Avoid getting to close to that area!  1 Canadian got beat there a few weeks ago. Reason He helped his girlfriend start a business. Stepped on toes doing so.  Same reason I do not return there. Had a girl friend helped her start a business.  They can't touch her but can threaten me. So business competition avoid.  You step on toes then.  Gen San is same on that.  So If in those areas mind your own business you are safe unless Illigan city. & west. Unless you like CDO. Jump over the levie  at night & like to walk threw the slums at 1AM. Along the river.  But not as unsafe as wandering threw the wrong areas of Chicago at 1 AM.  But that is any place in the world.

I can only speak for Davao but it would be a lot safer than Manila for robberies and muggings .
The locals love the martial law .
You probably already know that if you cry poor and don't boast about wealth you are well on the way of being ignored as a target .

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