Davao City, one of the biggest cities in the Philippines is the center of commerce in Mindanao. Being the biggest city by land area in the Philippines, it is also the biggest producer of durian in the country. It prides itself as one of the safest cities in the world in Numbeo.com’s list and is home to the largest eagle, the Philippine eagle.
Davao being the center of business in Mindanao caters to several international and local flights via Francisco Bangoy International Airport. Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia Philippines fly from Manila, Cebu, and Clark daily. Other airlines that fly to Davao include Skyjet, AirAsia International, Silk Air, and Cathay Dragon.
Transportation should not be stressful. Taxis are everywhere the same as jeepneys (a kitsch decorated vehicle and ubiquitous Filipino symbol which originated from leftover US military jeeps in World War II), tricycle and habal-habal (motorcycle backride).
I used jeepney a lot. The minimum fare as of 2018 is Php 8.00 for short destinations. It took me Php 15.00 to get to downtown from the airport using jeepney. From Sasa Wharf during rush hour traffic, taxi to downtown went to up to Php 225.
Places To Visit
You can enjoy both the city and nature when visiting Davao. Mt. Apo, Virgin Falls, Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Park, and Magos Farm are a little far from city center. Samal Island is a 10-minute ferry ride away to enjoy the beach. Attractions within the city includes Davao Crocodile Farm, Chinatown, People’s Park, Davao Museum and Museo Dabawenyo. Here are some of what I visited:
Philippine Eagle Center
Davao is home to world’s largest eagle, the Philippine Eagle (pithecophaga jefferyi). Located in the foothills of Mt. Apo, the Philippine Eagle Center is institution working on breeding and conservation of the endangered eagle and other wild and rare animals endemic mostly to the country.
Entrance Fee: Php 150 (Age 19-60) & Php 100 (Age 4-18)/Hours: 8am to 5pm
Officially Island Garden of Samal, it’s an independent city located adjacent to Davao City. A 10-minute and ferry ride from Sasa or Santa Ana Wharf can take you to this island home to the Giant Clam Sanctuary, Kaputian Beach, Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Tagbaobo Falls and Hagimit Falls.
Entrance Fees: Giant Clam Sanctuary-Php 500 (Max. 6 pax), Php 100 (Guide Fee) & Php 100 (Snorkeling Gear), Kaputian Beach-Php 15, Monfort Bat Sanctuary-Php 120, Tagbaobo-Free, & Hagimit Falls-Php 75
The only Chinatown in Mindanao Island, it is home to the Chinese community in Davao City and one of the centers of commerce of the city. Arch of Friendship, Unity, Peace, and Prosperity will welcome visitors looking for some Chinese restaurants, cheap merchandises, and temples can be seen here.
Entrance Fee: Free
People’s Park and Pasalubong Center
Created from a sporting venue, People’s Park keeps more than 1000 species of plants and trees, both indigenous and non-indigenous. Recognizable for its Durian Dome, the park has been named “one of the cleanest and greenest public parks” in the Philippines.
Entrance Fee: Free/Hours: Open Daily: 5am to 8am/1pm to 11pm
D’Bone Collector Museum
Founded by American Darrell Blatchley, this originally private collection of different animal bones and preserved skins around the world. It’s one of the only 4 bone museums around the world and has more than 5000 animal bone collections and still growing.
Entrance Fees: Php 100 (Adults) & 80 (Kids)/Hours: M-F: 10am to 5pm, Sat: 1pm to 5pm & Sun: Closed
Davao Cathedral and Osmeña Park
Also known as Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral or Saint Peter Cathedral, it showcases modern curvy facade and Spanish architecture. Cross the street and you can sit down under the shade of trees in Osmeña Park.
Entrance Fees: Free
Standing along Bonifacio Rotonda, this small museum founded in 2006 opened on March 14, 2008. The restored museum building will give visitors a quick insight about the culture of ethnic tribes of Mindanao through guided tour featuring its collection of traditional costumes, traditional miniature houses, and other city’s historical artifacts.
Entrance Fee: Free
Ramon Magsaysay Park
Continue immersing yourself with the local culture. Walk into an actual traditional ethnic houses standing inside the park. Or if sit by the bay and relax with the view of the sea. One can even find muro-ami (sea divers) diving for the coins thrown into the waters.
Entrance Fee: Free
Agdao Market and Magsaysay Fruit Vendor’s Association
Visiting the city will not be complete without trying its locally produced fruits durian, mangosteen, pomelo, and lanzones. If you wanna bring home these fruits or just wanna eat these fruits, head to Magsaysay Fruit Vendor’s Association Market just outside Magsaysay Park and see piles of durian and other fruits. Head to Agdao, the produce’s trading center for a more local market experience.
Entrance Fees: Free
Where To Stay
Depending on your budget, you can choose from luxury hotels like Marco Polo Davao, Waterfront Hotel, Home Crest Hotel etc. which can cost around Php 1,500 to 5000 a night or budget inns along C. Recto Street like D’Morvie, Hotel Uno, Megiko etc. which cost Php 250 to Php 650 a night. You can also check at agoda.com or airbnb.com
Where To Eat
Davao has diverse choices when it comes to food. Tuna and other seafood are abundant. You can either dig-in at Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant, Marina Tuna, Ahfat Seafood Plaza etc or try the cheaper ones like Luz Kinilaw Place, Batusai Seafood Buffet, Bogsers by the Sea-Seafood Bar and Tiki Bar. Check out more restaurants and food options here at tripadvisor.com.ph
For the cheapest option, get on your feet, stroll and eat at Davao Night Market at Roxas Avenue. Sample wallet-friendly dishes like grilled squid, tuna, pastil to finger foods like dumplings, siomai, buchi. Have some ice cream and try and unusual flavors like charcoal, chili, malunggay (horseradish) and of course durian.
Davao is a great place to have a taste of what south of the Philippines has to offer. This highly urbanized city is the gateway to some of the most notable wonders of Mindanao. Visiting here is highly recommended and a very interesting travel experience. 🙂