Davao City is the capital city of Metro Davao, the third most populous city in the entire Philippines. In terms of land area, it is the biggest city in the country. Fondly dubbed the Crown Jewel of Mindanao and the Fruit Basket of the Philippines among others, the city is considered to be the most crime-free area in the entire country. It is a gateway to many tourist spots.
This destination is popular among mountaineers for being home to the highest mountain in the country and a UNESCO heritage site of a pygmy tree mountain forest, for culture, nature and wildlife enthusiasts, for those looking for exciting activities and some rural escapades without going too far from the city. The Kadayawan Festival celebrated every third week of August signifies thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Street dancing, indigenous people in native costumes, horse-fighting and boat races are some of the most notable activities. Finally, do not leave without sampling fruits widely available in markets, especially the funny-smelling durian and the sweet-sour mangosteen. Pomelo and ripe mangoes are also favorites among locals and tourists alike.
Top Attractions and Activities
At 2954 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo is the highest point in the country. It is a national park and a home to over 272 bird species with at least a hundred endemic to the locale including the critically endangered Philippine Eagle. The highest lake in the country is also found in Mt. Apo. Residing in the mountain are 6 indigenous tribes who consider the dormant volcano as holy grounds and a place of reverence. The easiest hike to the peak takes 3-4 days climbing up and down with a difficulty of 7 out of 9.
The mountain range is the latest addition to UNESCO Heritage Sites of the Philippines. It features one of the most diverse flora and fauna found in the country, most are endangered and indigenous to the area. It has an area of more than 6800 hectares, with a forest full of century-old bonsai or pygmy trees. The hike takes 1-2 days featuring river trekking, 5 vegetation types, steep wall climbing and waterfalls.
Located only 2 kilometers away from Davao City, the Island Garden City of Samal is the most frequented beach destination in the area. There are many accommodations to choose from ranging from budget to world-class resorts all of which provide easy access to white sand and clear blue waters. Macro photography, snorkeling and scuba diving are favorable activities in the Coral Garden and Marine site. There are also waterfalls that cascade into natural swimming pools. The Monfort Bat Cave holds a Guiness world record for having the most fruit bats in the world with a colony of almost 2 million bats. The Vanishing Island is an interesting attraction as it is only seen during low tide. Pearl Farm Beach Resort features native cottages over waters and the Mandaya Weaving Center where one can witness skillful women weaving colorful and intricate cloth patterns.
Philippine Eagle Center and Crocodile Park
The Philippine Eagle or monkey-eating eagle is the country’s national bird. The Philippine Eagle Center is home to 36 eagles and several species of mammals and reptiles. The center is focused on conservation and breeding of the nearly extinct bird apart from educating people about its current status and how to help out. Guests are given an opportunity to mingle and take photos with a keeper and his ward and also see the eagles take flight and soar overhead.The Crocodile Park is a larger attraction and a separate one. It boasts of state of the art technology for breeding, nursing and keeping the crocodiles in good health, including an operating room. Visitors will surely be entertained by “dancing” crocodiles, crocodile feeding, the territorial behaviors of a giant crocodile, tightrope-walking over swarming eager crocodiles, and personal encounters with other exotic wildlife.
Eden Nature Park and Resort
This mountain resort is 3000 feet above sea level and covers an area of about 80 hectares. It has a man-made forest, camp sites, hiking trails, zip line, gardens, a bird walk, horseback riding, fishing, swimming pool, a cultural park and restaurant. The resort fosters a romantic ambiance with their native-style cabins and a scenic backdrop of pine trees.
For those looking for adrenaline rush, Davao has much to offer. DECA Wakeboard Park for one offers fun ramps and obstacles for both beginners and experts. It is located a short 20-minute trip from the city proper. Outland Adventure boasts of having Asia’s fastest zip line with its Xcelerator, flinging riders at the speed of 70-120 kilometers per hour, 200 feet above ground for a stretch of 1 kilometer. The mighty Davao River offers white water rafting, exciting yet suitable even for 8-year old kids and the elderly.
How to get to and around
Davao International Airport currently only caters to flights coming in from Singapore. However there are daily domestic flights from Manila. Regular flights from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa and Iloilo are also available. It is safe and easy to get around Davao City and nearby attractions via public transportation. Taxis, jeepneys, rickshaws and motorcycles are largely abundant. For destinations outside the city, the best way to go is by bus or by hiring a taxi.
- There is a curfew for minors starting at 10:00 PM and liquor is no longer sold in bars by 1:00 AM. This is strictly implemented in Davao City for peace and order
- In cases of emergency, dial 911 for immediate response from the city government. During office hours, you may also call (6382) 296-9626.
- Apply mosquito repellents when going in forests or caves. There are times of the year when mosquitoes are swarming in certain places
- You may have to book hotels in advance when visiting around the Kadayawan Festival week as an influx of tourists will swarm to the city