Last updated on November 12th, 2018 at 11:28 pm
Apart from being an important hub for commerce and industry in the Philippines’ Mindanao region, Davao City is also an awesome travel destination with delicious food, breathtaking nature spots and beautiful people. In the 21st century, it is a wonderful example of a city that straddles two worlds: the old and the new. Davao City is thriving but remains simple and values the same things as it did before: nature, tradition and peace.
This is the current President’s hometown, a city he has served and improved for years. President Duterte’s hard work in this city has paid off and has made Davao stronger than ever. In this article, we will show you what makes this place so special and why you should visit as soon as you can. Get ready to fall in love with this naturally rich and highly urbanized city in the south.
How to Get to Davao City
Francisco Bangoy International Airport (or Davao International Airport) is the busiest airport in Southern Philippines, with a capacity to accommodate more than one million passengers annually.
Local airlines with direct flights from Manila are Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and PAL Express. Flights are available from other Philippine cities such as Clark, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga and many others. You can also book international flights from Silk Air and Singapore Airlines which offers direct flights to Singapore.
From the airport, there are taxis that can take passengers into the city. Hotel pick-up can also be arranged. Another alternative is to hire or rent a car if you would like to drive around by yourself.
Buses to Mindanao come from different nearby like cities Cagayan de Oro (read here our best touris spots in Cagayan de Oro and best restaurants in Cagayan de Oro), Cotabato, Digos, General Santos, Kidapawan, Koronadal, and Surigao. This is the cheapest mode of transportation to travel to Davao City. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned public buses go to and from Davao on a daily basis. Even if you are coming from Manila, you can still travel by bus! How, you ask? The Philippines has what they call a Ro-Ro (short for roll on, roll off). Ro-ro ships are vessels that carry other vehicles like cars and buses over water. Buses to Davao get on the ro-ro to sail across the ocean to Davao. Once in the ro-ro, passengers can stretch their legs and walk around the bus while enjoying views of the ocean and getting to know other passengers.
There are many passenger ferries that travel from Manila to Davao. As the Philippines is an archipelago, it is only natural to have routes on the sea going to and from the various islands of the country. Small boats are even accessible for those who are planning to go beyond Davao, to any of the islands near the city. There are ferries going to Samal Island, a lovely island we have also visited. We even have a blog post about the entire experience in Samal Island in Davao which is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines, so drop by if you can!
Best Time to Visit Davao City
Because of the city’s tropical rainforest climate, Davao doesn’t have a predictable dry season unlike other destinations. However, it doesn’t mean tourists should expect lots of rainy days in the area. The rainiest months are around June to December. On the other hand, the city’s hottest months are April and May. No need to worry, though: the average daily temperature in Davao City is 27.2°C and the hottest temperature is only around 33°C.
August is also a good month to visit as on its 3rd week, Davao City holds its annual celebration called the Kadayawan Festival. It is one of the most important festivals in the country and is flocked by tourists from all over the country and the world! If you like street parties and colorful parades, don’t miss out on the chance to experience Kadayawan.
Ranked as the 4th safest city in the world, Davao is a lovely place to visit all year round. It’s a safe and beautiful city. What more can you ask for?
How to get Wi-Fi in Davao City
Davao is classified as a highly urbanized city, so getting internet access won’t be an issue at all. When visiting its many tourist spots, restaurants and hotels, you’re sure to get stable internet access by connecting to a Wi-Fi network. You can always check WiMan.com before or during your trip for their extensive list of hotspots.
Another option is to use your own phone’s mobile data. The first thing you need to do is to buy a local SIM card. The biggest networks in the Philippines are Smart and Globe. Globe Telecom offers an unlimited texting package that also comes with 1 GB internet surfing for as low as 1.31 USD per week.
Transportation around Davao City
If you want to explore Davao without spending too much on transportation, it’s best to ride a jeepney. It’s the Philippines’ most used mode of transportation, but foreigners might find it difficult to ride one because of the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the routes. However, you can always get all the information you need (i.e. which jeepney to ride to a certain destination, timetables, fare) from the local tourist information center. Better yet, you can ask the locals to help you. Riding a jeepney will sure be an adventure. The minimum fare is only less than 0.20 USD!
Another way to go around Davao City is riding a taxi. Of course this option would be more pricey than riding a jeepney, but they’re not expensive at all compared to American or European taxis. Taxis in the Philippines are metered so make sure that the driver turns it on before you travel. You can also negotiate a price instead of using a meter, but this is best done with a local to make sure the price doesn’t get too high. Not all drivers can speak in English so you can show the destination you want to go to through a map or by showing him the name of the place, just to be sure.
Daily Budget in Davao City
The cost of living in Davao City is low, you can get a jeepney ride for 10 PHP. There are meals in local places starting from 50-100 PHP for a meal. And you can get accommodation starting from 1000 PHP.
If you are looking for budget accommodation in Davao City you can also try AirBnB in Davao City starting from 800 PHP. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Things To Do In Davao
1. Visit the Philippine Eagle Center
Also called the monkey-eating eagle, the Philippine Eagle is endemic to the eastern side of the Philippines, within the mountains of Sierra Madre. Its other natural habitat are the heavily forested areas of Mindanao. With Davao being Mindanao’s most advanced city and one of the richest communities in the area, it was only natural to have the Philippine Eagle Center built here. Established in 2007, the 4-hectare center is now home to 36 Philippine eagles, half of which where bred in captivity. Aside from the eagles, there are also different birds, reptiles and mammals living here. What a thrill it would be to see them in such a beautiful site, right?
Philippine Eagle Center is only an hour away from Davao City and has an entrance fee of around 1 USD. So affordable! Also, tours are free of charge and can be booked in advance.
2. Eden Nature Park
A real paradise in Davao is Eden Nature Park, a mountain resort that offers guests a cool climate, beautiful natural surroundings, lush forests and spectacular city and gulf views. The place is perfect for camping, hiking, bird watching, horseback riding and many other activities in nature. The 80-hectare park and resort houses an amphitheater, a playground, hydroponics, a rainbow pass, several gardens and a deer park.
With its beautiful ambiance and abundance of activities, Eden Nature Park relaxes and excites its guests at the same time. There are plenty of cottages, lodges and cabins to rent for those who want to spend a night or two in this Davao treasure. Click here to learn more about Eden Nature Park!
3. Davao Crocodile Park
If you’re looking for an exciting place to visit that your kids will enjoy, the Crocodile Park in Davao. There you’ll see a huge variety of crocodiles; they come in all ages, sizes, colors and species. The park has modern, state-of-the-art facilities and also houses other animals. like orangutans, snakes and many more. They even have a butterfly sanctuary! The park showcases the richness of Davao’s eco-system and the lengths they will go to both protect nature and keep their locals and tourists entertained. There’s white water rafting and zip lining here as well!
A basic day pass for the park costs less than 5 USD for adults and less than 3 USD for children ages 2 to 12. Davao Crocodile Park is open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM.
Dubbed as Mindanao’s Chinatown, this site in Davao City is the only Chinatown in the entire island. As most Chinatowns all over the world, the 44-hectare area consists of shops owned by the Chinese who were either naturalized citizens or were born in the Philippines but have strong Chinese heritages.
Visit the Long Hua Temple that is home to Kung Fu monks or the Mindanao Taoist Temple that showcases beautiful Chinese architecture. You can also stop at some malls where you can buy electronics, makeup and other products. And of course, don’t forget to eat your heart out!
More things to do in Davao
5. People’s Park
This urban park in Davao City is a nice place to relax after a long day of touring and trying different activities. It used to be a sporting and events venue itself but has been remodeled to be a place for Davaoeños to walk around and just spend time with the family. It has been opened to the public since 2006 and has become a favorite spot for both tourists and locals.
6. Roxas Avenue Night Market
Home of all things colorful, unique and affordable in Davao is the Roxas Avenue Night Market. Locals flock to this street sale to buy local goods for less and to enjoy all sorts of Filipino food. The market opens at 5 PM and not for long, you’ll begin to smell all the BBQ and other delicacies being cooked here. Because many of the delicacies offered here are quite strange for foreigners, it’s great to visit this market with a local so you’d know what you’re eating. Everything is cheap (especially for Westerners) and it’s a great place to mingle with Davaoeños.
7. Mount Apo
Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines. It rises 10,311 feet above sea level and is one of the country’s most challenging hikes. A typical climb takes about 2 to 4 days and climbers can choose from many different routes to and from its peak. Among the 7 trails to reach the top, the easiest one is Kidapawan Trail. This mountain range extends through North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Misamis Oriental. Hiking during the summer in ideal just because the weather is more predictable during these months of April and May.
Before you can climb Mount Apo, you need to register at the Kidapawan Tourism Office and get your permit. You also have to be in tip top physical conditions to be able to climb this mountain. It isn’t a task to be taken lightly but it sure is a fun and rewarding adventure.
8. Eat Durian
A trip to Davao City would not be complete without trying durian. After all, the city has been called the “Durian Capital of the Philippines.” If you’re wondering what the heck durian is, it’s a delicious fruit with a distinct smell and is also popular across other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Durian is most abundant in Davao during August to October. There are different varieties to try as well; there’s Arancillo, Puyat, Monthong, Kanyaw and many others .
Since the stench of durian can be smelled from far away even when wrapped and sealed, locals have made products like durian candy for those who want to take the fruit’s flavor with them (minus the smell) wherever they go. Surprising as its smell maybe, it’s taste is even more captivating and makes it all worth it.
9. Davao City’s 11 tribes
The Philippines in itself is already a diverse country because of how its islands are spread out on the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the country has over a hundred ethno-linguistic and indigenous groups. Out of hundreds, a few can be found in the wonderful city of Davao. These tribes are the Ata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Ovu Manubo, Sama, Tausug and several others.
During the city’s most important festival, each tribe is represented by a young female member and joins a beauty pageant of sorts. The pageant highlights not just the beauty of each individual but showcases the vibrant culture, history and tradition that their tribe has. There are also other tribal cultural shows and tribal games held during the Kadayawan Festival.
Festivals in Davao
10. Kadayawan Festival
Kadayawan Festival in Davao City celebrates the bounty harvest that local farmers receive all year round. Davao has such beautiful weather that makes it possible to grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables. It is truly something to be grateful and proud of, and to celebrate. This week-long fiesta happens every year around the third week of August, yet celebrations happen here and there the entire month.
Activities in Kadayawan Festival include Sayaw Mindanao (Dance Mindanao), the Floral Float Parade, Hiyas sa Kadayawan (the beauty pageant) and the River Festival. It resembles many of the harvest festivals all over the world but also has its own unique charm and amazing traditions. It is truly a sight to behold!
Chines New Year Festival in Davao
Chines New Year celebration is done in Davao with the well wishes of prosperity to all people. It is a full day of festivities with flowing foods and having fun. There will be music and dancers on the streets, a Chinese dragon will go around performing ‘Good luck’ dance to the people and participating merchants. They start the celebration by giving gifts to their friends, which were usually sweets like cookies, biscuit or tikoy (a sweet colored jelly with small pieces of nuts embedded in it)
Pasko Fiesta sa Davao
Pasko Fiesta sa Davao is a month long celebration by the people from Davao for the month of December. They light up the streets with colorful Christmas lights and decorations for people to see. It also serves as a year-ender celebration and thanksgiving for the bountiful blessings that the City and its people enjoy throughout the year – and that include the unity and camaraderie that people of Davao enjoy.
Where to stay in Davao City
Hotel Tropika Davao
Praised by travelers for its spacious rooms, accommodating staff and beautiful swimming pool, Hotel Tropika Davao is sure to give you your money’s worth. The hotel is also close to the mall, gives an option between buffet or plated breakfasts, and is perfect for both business and family trips.
Hotel Tropika Davao is located at Km. 7, J. P. Laurel Ave. in Lanang, Davao City. Click here to learn more about this fabulous hotel!
Red Planet Davao
Another excellent place to stay in Davao is Red Planet. The hotel chain has branches all over the country and their establishment in Davao is definitely one of the finest. Red Planet is a modern hotel. For example, instead of a telephone, you can download their app to communicate with the front desk via chat or through an in-app call. Cool, right? Despite it’s modernity, it still maintains classic hotel qualities of cleanliness, hospitality and overall good service.
Red Planet can also be found at J. P. Laurel Ave. and is near SM Lanang Premier.
Park Inn by Radisson Davao
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to stay that is at a mid-price range, Park Inn is one of the most accommodating hotels in all of Davao. They cater to a traveler’s needs excellently and have nice amenities like any good hotel should. However, what makes Park Inn stand out is how their staff goes the extra mile to make you feel safe and comfortable.
Park Inn by Radisson is at Asian Highway, 26 J. P. Laurel Ave., Davao City.
Bahay ni Tuding Inn
If you’re looking for a place with a homier vibe, Bahay ni Tuding Inn is the perfect spot for you. Not only do they offer homemade yogurt, the inn is a quiet place to stay at and is not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city center. Instead, it is near Davao City Hall, a museum, a park, a church and plenty of food options. Here, you can just chill and look out your veranda, taking in the fresh air or watching the night sky.
Bahay ni Tuding Inn is at 160 San Pedro Street in Davao City.
That’s it for us and our guide to Davao City. We hope you enjoyed that! Let us know in the comments if you have any more recommendations of things to do in Davao. And if this post was helpful to you, you can help us too by sharing this post on your Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
If you want to read more travel guides in the Philippines read our experience in Kawasan Falls and hiking Taal Volcano. And read our take on the 21 breathtaking places to visit in the Philippines!