Planning to Travel to Davao?

Davao Sign at Jack's Ridge
Located along the shores of Davao Gulf in the island of Mindanao, Philippines, Davao City is a breathtaking city blessed with natural beauty and obvious modernity. It is considered as one of the key cities in the Philippines, along with Metro Manila and Cebu City. Davao is the most progressive city in the south, known as the commercial and financial center of Mindanao.

Davao City is recognized as one of the most livable cities in the country, punctuated by the government’s campaign that “Life is Here”. It had won several awards on safety, environmental protection and infrastructure over the past decades. Crime rate in the city is extremely low, making it a safe haven for both its residents and visitors.

About the City

Aerial view of Davao City
Davao City is located within the Davao Region which is composed of the Provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental. It is not to be confused with the name of the region, although the entire area has a lot to offer in terms of beauty and grandeur. The city lies at the foot of the country’s highest peak, Mount Apo.

Weather in the city is something that residents of other parts of the Philippines envy. Davao City is one of the few storm-protected regions in the country and to say that it enjoys eternal sunshine may not be an exaggeration. Rains usually come during late afternoons, in time to cool off the heat of the midday sun. In Davao, anytime is a great time to head to the beach.

Nicknamed the City of Royalties, Davao is home to plenty of flora and fauna that have become its icons. At the mention of Davao, durian always comes to mind. Known as the King of Fruits, durian is abundant in streets and markets of Davao City, beckoning tourists to taste its soft milky flesh. Another one of Davao’s claim to fame is the King of Birds, the Philippine Eagle which dominates the forests of Mount Apo. The country’s highest peak is also home to the beautiful Waling-Waling which is recognized as the Queen of Orchids.

Known to many as the largest city in the world in terms of land area, Davao City has a vast territory with varied terrains. At its heart is a thriving metropolis filled with booming industries, shopping centers and recreational areas for its residents and visitors. The city is home to about 1.5 million Davaoeños, living in the highly-urbanized areas as well as the suburbs located in the higher portions of the city.

The people of Davao City speak a number of languages or dialects. The diversity of its people makes it hard to determine which the dominant language really is. Visayan is widely spoken by locals although those who come from the Visayas often comment that Davao’s version is tainted by other dialects. Tagalog or Filipino is also spoken by most Davaoeños since it is a subject taught in primary and secondary school. And just like any other large city in the Philippines, English is also used a medium of communication. Even sidewalk vendors and tricycle drivers understand and speak it, albeit rudimentary.

Davao City is the only city in the Philippines with a centralized emergency system patterned after the United States’ 911. Because of this commendable system, Davaoeños as well as tourists in the city feel safe knowing that help is at their fingertips. It is also a known fact that the city is safe even in the wee hours of the night; people can walk in the dark streets without fear of being mugged or robbed. It’s not just the police who make the city almost crime-free; locals also make sure that everyone feels secure when outside of their homes or hotels.

Transportation

Busy traffic on downtown street in Davao City, Philippines
Getting to Davao City is easy. The Francisco Bangoy International Airport (a.k.a Davao International Airport) serves numerous domestic and international flights daily. From Metro Manila, Davao City is less than two hours aboard any of the popular carriers. If you’re traveling from Cebu, travel time is just a little over an hour. Flights to Davao City are generally affordable; year round fares coast roughly around PHP1500 ($37USD).

Once you arrive in the city, getting from point A to B will be a breeze. If you haven’t arranged transportation with your hotel, there are plenty of cabs available at the airport. Car rental companies are also stationed at the airport for guests’ convenience. Taxi drivers in Davao City are famous for their honesty; they are not known to overcharge customers even it is obvious that he is a foreigner. So whether you take a metered or fixed rate cab, you can be assured that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Jeepneys, public vans, tricycles and single motorcycles for hire are common means of getting around in Davao City. Tricycles ply the small streets of cities, especially those in subdivisions and other residential areas. For longer distances, there are vans that travel from the metro to the suburbs.

Lodging

There are plenty of places visitors can call home when in Davao City. These accommodations range from luxury hotels and resorts to basic inns and transient houses. If you’re visiting Davao City during the Kadayawan Festival, be sure to book your accommodations well ahead of time. Rooms tend to run out fast during this season, not to mention that rates also skyrocket.

For extended stays, there are also some properties that can be rented at affordable rates. Those who are looking for the ultimate rest and recreation also have a lot of options; there’s even a beauty hotel situated at the heart of the city. Hotels in Davao City are liberally scattered all over the area so it is not really hard to find a suitable place to stay during your visit.

Food/Cuisine

Group of Filipinos eating durian purchased from a street vendor
A trip to Davao City can also be regarded as a gastronomic adventure. Aside from the bounty of fruits like the durian, mangosteen and pomelo, the city is also known for its exotic cuisine. A Davao visit is never quite complete without sampling the crocodile meat, ostrich eggs and civet coffee. A lot of restaurants in the city offer excellent and delectable fare.

One thing notable about the city is the abundance of lechon manok (grilled whole chicken) stands which you can find in almost every corner. This makes it easy for anyone to buy food to take to picnics and out-of-town trips. Street food is also available all over the city; government ordinances have made sure that the city’s street cuisine is safe for public consumption.

Shopping

There are six large shopping malls in the Davao and there are more being constructed in various parts of the city. Add the numerous shopping centers and specialty shops scattered all over the metro. Shopping can be a rewarding experience in the city especially if you are looking for ethnic products and fabrics. Tourists often head to the Aldevinco Shopping Center where south sea pearls, tinalak fabrics and ethnic beadworks can be purchased at discount prices.

UPDATE: Since 2014, Davao City now holds the biggest shopping festival in the Philippines called the Big Davao Fun Sale, a month-long shopping fest involving almost all shopping centers in the city.

Festivals and Events

Kadayawan Indak Indak Davao City
The city is famous for holding one of the grandest festivals in the Philippines, the Kadayawan sa Dabaw. The festival attracts thousands of visitors and revelers annually to imbibe in the festive culture and witness the colorful highlights. The Kadayawan is known as the King of Festivals.

Though considered a more subdued celebration, the Araw ng Dabaw is also a noteworthy event in the city. Held every March 16th, the event is a celebration of the Davao’s charter as a city. The festivities are marked with street dancing, float parades, a pageant and other exciting activities.

Attractions

When in Davao City, visitors do not run out of places to explore and experience. A week is not enough to truly see and experience the best that the city has to offer. Davao City offers each visitor a ‘mountains-to-sea adventure’ which starts at the foothills of the majestic Mt. Apo and ends to the sandy shores of Samal Island.

The metro itself plays host to vast parks, unique galleries and interesting buildings. Places like Museo Dabawenyo, Jack’s Ridge, People’s Park, Crocodile Park and Ponce Suites are worth checking out. If you’re looking for outdoor fun, there are ziplines, water rafting and camping adventures waiting to be experienced.

Tours

Chinatown Entrance Davao City
Tours around the city are available through several providers stationed in major shopping malls as well as in the downtown area. Some hotels also provide tour packages for the convenience of guests. A lot of these packages include accommodations, meals and day trips to famous resorts in the area like Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Malagos Garden Resort. Other also include a visit to the Philippine Eagle Center and some adventures like whitewater rafting down the Davao River and zipline rides in elevated portions of the city.

Self-guided tours are also possible; you may drop by the Davao Tourism Office for a free map and guide. Again, if you’re planning to explore the city during Kadayawan, it would be better to book a tour ahead to avoid inconveniences and long lines.

Living in Davao

Davao City boasts of “the Mild Life” which means that life is a little more relaxed in the city despite being a highly-urbanized zone. Often, visitors fall in love with the sense of security, cleanliness and peace and order that some of them opt to move to Davao. The tagline “Life is Here” contributes a lot in attracting future residents in the city. High-rise condos and upscale residential areas have mushroomed around the city in recent years, contributing greatly to the local economy.

Some people find living in Davao City a wonderful experience. Aside from the peace and order, the city is one of the cleanest in the Philippines. It is not uncommon to see a local pick up trash along the sidewalks just to make sure that the streets remain immaculate. Davaoeños take it to themselves to keep their city clean and safe, often participating in clean-up drives and assisting visitors in times of need.

The recent influx of developments has made condo living in the city affordable. A lot of real estate companies have built their properties within the metro as well as the uptown areas of Davao. The city’s booming economy also brings the promise of employment opportunities for those who decide to finally relocate.

When viewed from the air on a clear day, the words ‘Land of Promise’ can be seen somewhere in Davao. The city is indeed a land of promise; it is a perfect place to experience the charms of nature in the middle of a bustling city. Travel to Davao and see for yourself!

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