Davao City is the largest city in the Philippines by land area and one of the largest in the world. After metro Manila, Metro Davao is the third most populous in the country.
While certain parts of the Mindanao Island have conflict areas, Davao City is actually one of the safest, best managed and most livable cities in the country.
Davao has an international airport, 8 major shopping malls, luxury hotels, beautiful resorts, modern restaurants with both local and international brands and most importantly, the city has great people. In just the last few years, major call centers have given jobs to thousands of Davaoeños.
I will point out straight away that as the author of this website, I do have some bias as I have enjoyed Davao as my home since 2010 and even coming from Los Angeles, California, I love it.
Tourist Attractions in Davao
Eden Nature Park – This is a place of peace and serenity. 20 to 30 minutes from the city with a cool mountain feel, surrounded by lofty pine trees and greenery, one can relax and take in the views of indigenous creatures, deer and birds. There is a fishery where one can fish and have their catch cooked right there. To get to Eden, a taxi will typically want you to pay a fixed price since they likely can’t find return passengers. I generally tell them I will pay an additional 500 over whatever the meter says.
Jacks Ridge – Built in the hills on the land that was an outpost for the retreating Japanese forces at the end of World War II, Jack’s Ridge has an amazing view of the city and offers a great dining experience to its guests.
Mount Apo – The highest mountain in the Philippines, located 40 kilometers northeast of Davao with its peak overlooking Davao City, this volcano is one of the Philippines’ most popular climbing destinations. The two-day climb is well worth it if you are in shape and plan it out in advance.
Philippine Eagle Sanctuary – 36 eagles and many other animals and birds live in this sanctuary. In addition to seeing these majestic birds, guests can enjoy a nice lunch and even see falconry in action.
Samal Island – Secdea Resort, Pearl Farm & Other Samal Beach Resorts – Although Davao City itself is not blessed with white sand beaches like many other cities in the country, Samal Island is just a 10-minute boat ride away and has many fine resorts. The nicest two are Secdea and Pearl Farm, both world-class and fantastic resorts to hang out in and spend time with a loved one. I would peg Pearl Farm as a nicer and more relaxing place while I would say Secdea is more adventurous and fun for a younger couple.
Paradise Island, Blue Jazz and Camp Holiday are three other Samal Island resorts near Davao that have great facilities and are a bit more affordable than the first two mentioned. Davao itself has black sanded beaches, and while some locals love them, tourists tend to prefer to take the ride over to the white sand.
Davao Crocodile Park – With Crocodiles, monkeys, bearcats, snakes, raptors and various other animals, the Davao Crocodile Park is one of Davao’s most popular travel destinations. The park is equipped with modern equipment and, Pangil, the largest crocodile in the park has his own show that wows spectators.
Night Life & Restaurants in Davao
Where to go for a night out? The current hot spot for Davao nightlife is Echelon at the Peak of Gmall. This spot is packed on the weekends but some other cool drinking spots are the Grid, Brick Lane and Brewery (Damosa). many foreigners like to go get drinks at Huckleberry, below Claude’s French Restaurant.
Food in Davao – Davao has added many new fine dining options over the years. Bondi & Bourke, Bon Apetite and Tiny Kitchen are three of my top choices. The Vegan Dinosaur is also a hidden gem.
Transportation to and Around Davao
Davao has an international airport that is accessible from all over the Philippines. Davao has a plethora of taxi drivers that are said to be the most honest in the whole country. As a tip, always take a taxi from the airport. There is never a need for a private car.
Jeepneys and tricycles are everywhere in town for Pinoys who are used to the system. If you are headed out of town, the major bus terminal is in Ecoland and there is a major stop in Buhangin if you are headed north towards Tagum, Mati, etc.
Lodging in Davao
The top hotel has been and will be for the foreseeable Marco Polo. It’s perfectly located, essentially 5 stars and you can always expect top service and great food there. Seda, Radisson Blue are newer and decent. Waterfront Insular is pretty nice and not far behind and Apo View has some new rooms recently renovated. If you want to go the budget route, there are many fine Davao boutique hotels around town to choose from and you can find many Airbnb options as well within condos.
President Rodrigo Duterte
An article about Davao City wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the beloved Mayor and now President of the Philippines. The city is still his home and he spends a lot of time in Davao even while managing the country.