Davao is a region in the Mindanao Islands and its capital city is Davao City. Aside from this highly urbanized city, it has two other smaller provinces namely Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte. Just like Zamboanga, its culture is diversified and it has rich traditions that Davaoeños continue to live to these days.
Davao City is the most important city in Mindanao and the largest city in Asia in terms of land area – occupying more than 244,000 hectares. It’s international airport and seaport is one of the busiest cargo hubs in the southern Philippines. Davao City is also one of several cities in the Philippines that are independent of any province. The city is also the regional center for the Davao Region.
Sprawled along the shores of southeastern Mindanao, Davao del Sur is a place of natural wonders and rarities. It boasts of the country’s highest peak – Mt. Apo, the most prized Philippines orchid species like the vanda sanderiana, some of the most exotic fruits and the endangered Philippine Eagle.
Davao del Sur is home to a host of ethnic groups whose culture and way of life have been preserved. These are the Bagobos, the Mandayas, the Mansakas, the Atas, the Kalagans, the Tagakaolos and the Mangguangans. Their arts and crafts are on display in museums and shops.
Davao is considered by many to be the most crime-free area in the country. Tourists are guarded not only by the police, but also by the people around.
Davao’s mountain ranges have kept it typhoon-free. The weather in the area stays calm for the entire year with a uniquely distributed rainfall, humidity and a very soothing temperature and air pressure. It is unique in the sense that it is the only place in the Philippines where temperature and weather are individually distributed.
Davao is possibly the third most important Philippine city after Manila and Cebu. Most domestic airlines fly multiple times per day to Davao from Manila and Cebu. There are also direct flights available on some Philippine cities. Davao is served by the Davao International Airport (more properly named as the Francisco Bangoy International Airport) (IATA Airport Code: DVO), which receives both local and foreign traffic to Davao. With the new terminal completed in 2003, DIA is said to be much better than its counterpart NAIA in Manila. Silk Air, the regional airline of Singapore Airlines, is currently the only international connection directly servicing Davao from Singapore. If you have Davao as your main destination in the Philippines, you might want to consider coming in through Singapore as this might be the most hassle-free way to enter.
Philippines Airlines, (Manila)
Cebu Pacific, (Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Iloilo, Manila, Zamboanga)
AirPhil Express, (Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Manila)
Zest Airways, – (Manila)
Davao is also served by a bustling sea port with significant cargo and passenger traffic. Following is a listing of ferry companies that serve Davao:
WG&A Superferry- twice weekly ferries from Manila to Davao, trip takes more than 2 days in total
Sulpicio Lines – twice weekly ferries from Manila, usually via Cebu
There are buses from different cities, most of which are located within Mindanao, which usually stops at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT), and is located at Maya, Ecoland, Davao City.
The simplest way to get around is by hopping on a taxi. A typical trip can cost about 70-95 pesos or approximately 2 U.S. dollars. Drivers in Davao do not normally bargain if they notice that you are a tourist, hence the cost of the trip is the same in price as a regular. If you know the name of the building, establishment, area or street you wish you reach, this is still the fastest way to get to your destination. You can also call or send an SMS to the cab company directly to have a cab driver pick you up.
Taxis start their fare at Php 40.00 and will add Php 3.50 per few hundred meters. Please do say “thank you” or “salamat” once you have arrived to your destination.
Alternatively, if you opt for more adventure, then do as the locals and catch a colorful jeepney. Simply ask around for which route to take to avoid getting lost. They are usually available 24 hours and cover most of the nooks and crannies of the city. This is the cheapest option for getting around. The usual cost for a jeepney ride is 8.00 pesos for every 3 kilometer ride, and about a 1 peso increase per kilometer when going beyond the 3 kilometers (for regular passengers).
To pay, pass your fare to the person next to you, all the way to the driver or the conductor, by saying “bayad po”. Paying the exact amount is highly recommended. To stop at a certain destination, say “lugar lang”, “para”, or knock your coins hard on the steel handle.
Another alternative ride aside from the jeepneys and taxis, is to rent a car. There are many cars for rent. If you don’t know the routes you can hire drivers by asking the attendant of the rental company. Local companies tend to be cheaper than the national ones.
Buses are also available but these tend to play exclusively along the north-south route and going out and in the city area.
Places of Interest
Mt. Apo – Is the highest mountain in the Philippines at 10,311 feet above sea level the mightiest upward surge of along mountain range extending from North Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Davao City to Agusan del Sur and Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao. Mt. Apo straddles a long mountain range delineating the boundaries of the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato and Davao City. The volcanic peak Apo meaning grandfather of all Philippine mountains dominates a vast area of 72,769 hectares where natural wonders lure outdoor enthusiasts to trek through this tribal god’s domain and conquer this towering peak and sea an exotic display of nature at its best in its virgin state a steaming blue lake in a picturesque setting, geysers and sulphur pillars, rainwater lakes, the swift flowing Marbel, Sibulan and Baruring Rivers, waterfalls cascading with a thunderous roar from a deep gorge for a total drop of almost 300 feet. Several miniature falls in lake like spray give touches of silvery beauty to the verdant surroundings.
Philippine Eagle Center - See the Philippine Eagle; Considered as an endangered species, the Philippine Eagle has found its home in Davao. The Philippine Eagle National Center is a santuary of the world’s largest eagle. It nutures these birds and conducts continous research and advocacy programs to preserve this mighty king of the skies. As a matter of fact, it has already successfully bred eagles in captivity. Opens from 8:00am-5:00pm.
Located in Malagos, Calinan District, this little tropical paradise welcomes visitors to its place and witness its wondrous surroundings. Visit this place and feel what it’s like to be close in Nature only here in Davao.
Eden Nature Park – Another place to visit for those who love to commune with nature to unwind from work and the busy city life. The Eden Nature Park is a perfect place if you want to engage in nature activities with your friends and family. It is also a producer of organically grown fruits and vegetables.
Located about 50klms from Davao Eden Nature Park is close to the town of Toril. It’s located in the mountains so it’s cooler than Davao City. It has nice walks, restaurants, horse riding and a Sky-Rider thing and lots more. It’s a pretty good day out and well worth the trip from Davao.
People’s Park -A public park located along Legazpi Street. A park where people people gather around, enjoy the stroll crossing bridges, seeing man-made waterfalls, beautiful plants, and more. It is more enjoyable during the night. Located at Legazpi Street, Davao City.
Crocodile Park - The home of the Philippine crocodiles. This park serves as a breeding center. The Davao Crocodile Park has world-class facilities and recreation areas that kids, as well as at kids at heart, will definitely enjoy. Located at Riverfront Corporate City, Carlos P. Garcia Highway, Davao City, ☎ 2868883
Shrine of the Holy Infant of Jesus (Santo Nino Shrine),A shrine that is up a hill where there are beautiful sceneries in which you can unwind, relax, and reflect. There are mass celebrations once in a while per day. A lot of people visit this place during Sundays.Located at Shrine Hills Road, Matina, ☎ 2972911.
Davao Museum – One of the ways you can understand the soul of the people of Davao is by taking a short-trip back in time. The Davao Museum, located within the compound of the Insular Village, has captured Davao’s rich and colorful heritage. The museum is a repository of Native crafts, tribal artworks, ancient musical intruments, and colorful customes of the different early tribes of Davao.
San Pedro Cathedral – This cathedral dated around the 19th century, is the city’s main cathedral of Davao. It is located across the City Hall. Located at San Pedro Street, Davao City, ☎ 2210191.
Jack’s Ridge - This was a place where for Japanese Forces during the World War 2. It is now a tourist spot in Davao City, where you can have a scenic view of Davao City (especially during the night). There is a restaurant, a pool, bars, cottages, and a trail up and down the ridge, where you can enjoy your stay. Located at Shrine Hills Road, Matina, Davao City, ☎ 2978830.
Samal Island – This is another popular beach in Davao. It is known for the pristine waters and the white sand of the beach. The whole island has different hotels and resorts where you can stay and enjoy swimming and some water sports. The beaches here are just like the other beaches in the Philippines you will always find a tall coconut tree and some mangrove trees. Most of the resorts have put up dikes to mark their territories over the waters. In Samal there is an Island Garden City. You can get there by riding a ferry from Davao. The place has hills, caves, waterfalls and coves. The beach is covered in white sands. The primary mode of transport is the local motorcycle. The typical rate is twenty pesos for one person. Some people are hesitant to ride in motorcycles and so they wait for the jeepneys that pass by at time. Some people just stay in the resort and on the beach where there are plent of water activities to do.
Malipano Island – This is a beach that is nearer to Samal Island than the other islands. You can stay in one of the seven villas. The villas are secluded so guests can be assured of utmost privacy. stands a view hundred meters off Samal Island and is the site of the seven executive villas. Malipano Island has a golf course with 3 holes and a beach with white sands. The villas are made of ethnic materials from the Samal tribes and Maranao tribes. Four of the villas are put up directly in the sea like a traditional house of a family in Samal. The other three villas are situated on the rocky formations just right above the main beach. Inside the villas are three main structure of octagon shape. There is a living room area, receiving area, guest room and dining area. The roof is also shaped like the salakot which is a popular Filipino worker’s hat.
Kadayawan Festival - The famous festival celebrated in Davao is the Kadayawan festival. It is a ceremony held every August which depicts the Davaoeños’ celebration of life and thanksgiving for a very good harvest. This is their way of showing other people that their way of living depends a lot on what nature gives them and that they have sustained life because of the blessings sent to them all year round.
Davaoeños are epitomes of people who are rich not just in cultural heritage but in beautiful attributes of a true Filipino. They are proud of the province where they live, the island where they grew and the country that made a difference in their lives. Make sure to see the thanksgiving celebration in Davao City during the third week of August.
Araw Ng Dabaw Festival – This annual festival celebrates the foundation of Davao City, Philippines on the 16th of March. The festival kicks off with a colorful parade throughout the city and also includes a beauty pageant.
White Water Rafting Wildwater Adventure, which is located at the Crocodile Park, offers rafting trips through the Davao River. Is aimed on promoting water sports particularly whitewater rafting with the Davao River as its playground. It also aims to promote eco-tourism, to bring people closer to nature, to the river.
Visit the beach! Boats depart regularly to Paradise Island Beach Resort [located in Samal Island]. Boats depart if its full or if you dont want to wait, you need to pay the whole amount and have the boat for yourself. The water is clear. Very few people come on weekdays but the crowds arrives in the weekends.
Zip Lining in Camp Sabros, home to the second longest zipline in Asia at 820m and probably the highest in the Philippines at the height of 1200mASL. Established in 1994, the zipline facility has already attracted thousands of thrill seekers. Camp Sabros an outdoor adventure camp located in Kapatagan, Digos City, Davao del Sur just right at the foot of Mt. Apo, the Philippines highest peak.
Massage and Spa. Visit Holiday’s Resort and spa and treat yourself to their relaxing massages. It is popular with tourists.
Davao is renowned for its durian and pomelo. Eating durian is admittedly an acquired taste but those who do end up liking it will swear that the bad smell is worth it. Pomelo on the other hand is a citrus fruit that most closely resembles a grapefruit, it is quite common in South East Asia. Beware of bringing durian inside airplanes as well as hotels and other establishments. They may have strict regulations on allowing durian inside and some may not allow durian to be brought at all.
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