Davao Travel Guide: Getting Around the Philippines’ Largest City

With a total land area of 2,443.61 square kilometers, Davao is considered the largest city in the Philippines. It is 3 times larger than Metro Manila and 7 times larger than Cebu. It is the third most popular city in the Philippines following Manila and Cebu. It’s international airport and seaports are among the busiest in the country making it the center of trade and the gateway to Southern Mindanao.

Davao boasts of many interesting tourist attractions and various sites of interest. Tourists with only a limited time to spend in this large city might find it difficult to decide which among the places to go and visit should be included in the itinerary. This could be made easier however, if one had a good map of the city and knew the exact address or location of the spots he wants to visit.

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To help you plan your itinerary, here’s my top 10 list of places to go and great things to do when planning for a city tour in Davao:

1. Malagos Garden ResortBrgy. Malagos, Calinan, Davao City. Visitors could enjoy bird feeding in the big domed aviary of this 12-hectare nature park, which is home to different species of birds. Another attraction is its butterfly sanctuary with lots of local butterflies that are prevalent in the Philippines.
2. Eden Nature ParkBarangay Eden, Toril District, Davao City. An 80-hectare mountain park with mountain trails located at an elevation of 2630 feet above sea level in the Mount Apo Mountain Range. It offers various attractions such as a guided shuttle tour, an ampitheater, a swimming pool, a fishing village, activity center, holiday lodge, campsite, and a mini zipline.
3. Philippine Eagle Nature CenterMalagos, Baguio District, Davao City. A sanctuary for the country’s national bird. It houses several Philippine eagles, some of which are bred in captivity.
4. Lola Abon’s Durian Candy Factory23 San Miguel Village Matina,Davao City. If you are looking for something to take home as a pasalubong for your family and friends, why not bring home a Lola Abon’s durian candy. It is known as the best durian candy in Davao. Though these are being sold in the market, visiting a candy factory would surely be very enjoyable.
5. Lon Wah( or Longhua) Buddhist Temple and Mindanao Taoist Temple– Cabaguio Avenue, Davao City. For those who are interested in other reliogions such as Buddhism & Taoism and are fond of architecture and religious monuments , a visit to these two sites would surely be a wonderful learning experience.
6. Magsaysay Fruit Market-Infront of Magsaysay Park along Quezon Boulevard. It is a haven for fruit lovers especially the durian and pomelo fanatics. Here, one will find rows of different varieties of durian, along with the hard to find marang, assorted pomelos, some local mangosteen and other kinds of fruits plus the usual durian products like the durian candies, yema, jam, pastillas, hopia, mangosteen candies and at a lot more. Just be ready to haggle though.

7. Bangkerohan Mallengke- Bangkerohan, Quirino Avenue corner Magallanes Street, Davao City. One of the bigger public market in the city, locals usually go here to buy fresh meat and seafood. For tourists, it’s a good place to buy indigenous fruits like durian, marang and pink pomelo to bring home as pasalubong.
8. Museo Dabawenyo – located at the back of City Hall, along Pinchon Street or more popularly known as Magallanes Avenue. It houses a collection of Mindanao’s cultural and historical interests. Ethnic music is contantly being played in the background as one takes a glimpse of old photographs and artifacts mostly associated with the Mindanao Region.
9. Crocodile Park- Riverfront, Diversion Road, Maa, Davao City. It showcases a ‘state of the art’ crocodile farming system in the Philippines, equipped with modern facilities and equipment. Apart from crocodiles, other exotic animal species such as raptors, monkeys, bearcats, snakes, birds, and various reptiles can be found in the park.
10. Jack’s Ridge-Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao City. This resort and restaurant sits on the top of a hill in Davao and at night you can see a spectacular view of the city lights.

For the sports enthusiasts, below is a list of activities you may do that would surely make your visit fun and memorable.

1. White Water Rafting and River Tubing. Get your adrenaline fix and raft down the fast-flowing whitewaters or simply spend a relaxing afternoon by riding innertubes and drift freely on the gentle Sibulan River in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. http://waterrafting.psdgroupph.com/
2. Zip Lining. Sliding between treetops while harnessed to a pulley on a cable will surely make you scream with a mixture of fear and excitement. http://outlandadventure.org/
3. Zorbing. Get strapped inside a giant ball at Davao Zorb Park, located at the entrance of Crocodile Park Compound and scream as you roll down the hill!
4. Mountain Climbing and Cave Exploration. Walk the trails and hike to the peak of Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the country. And if you’re into spelunking, Davao has plenty of caves for you to explore! http://www.philippinesboard.com
5. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving The dive sites in Talicud and Samal Islands are considered world class which can surely provide a wonderful experience for both beginners and professional divers. http://www.cdc.e-davao.com/

If you love beaches as much as I do, spend at least a day or two in one of the beach resorts in Samal Island, just a few minutes’ boat ride away from Davao City.

From simple, mid-class to luxury resorts, there is a wide array of beach destinations to choose from. Topping my list, in ramdom order, are the following: 1. Pearl Farm Resort, 2. Hof Gorei, 3. Isla Reta, 4. Paradise Island Beach Resort, 5. Bluejaz Resort and Waterpark, 6. Babusanta Beach Resort, 7. Buenavista Beach Resort, 8. Maxima Aqua Fun, 9. Coral Garden Marine Park, 10. Chemas By the Sea Beach Resort.

Finding a place to stay in the city should be fast and easy since Davao offers thousands of accommodations to choose from.

Those who are on a tight budget may find cheap yet clean, decent and comfortable accommodations at CM Recto St., E. Quirino Avenue, and San Pedro St. Most popular among budget travellers are Sampaguita Tourist Inn and My Hotel. If money were no problem, luxury hotels are available for those who have more to spend. Marco Polo and Waterfront Insular Hotel are highly recommended based on unbiased hotel reviews.

Just like any other major metropolitan city, Davao has numerous restaurants scattered all over the city, so looking for a place to eat should not be difficult either.

Cheap food can be found everywhere in street restaurants and snack stalls. Surely one would not miss Pard’s Seafood, Penong’s, Banoks, Jo’s Chicken Inato, Nanay Bebeng, along with the other chain of restaurants that are mostly frequented by locals. Davaodeli.com features an excellent list of the best restaurants in town that cater to every taste and budget.

Wondering where to buy authentic products as souvenirs and pasalubongs? Head off to Aldevinco Shopping Center, known as the “grand bazaar” of Davao where you can find native products such as sarongs and other batik garments, authentic jewelries, accessories, souvenir shirts, ref magnets, and many more ethnic items.

I wouldn’t advise buying pearls here though as the ones being sold in Greenhills are cheaper. The public market is still the best place to buy pomelos and durians. Nenita pomelos seem to be the number 1 choice and is mostly recommended by fellow local tourists.

Davao has a lot to offer to its visitors. Plan yout trip well. A good itinerary always allows you to save time and money, see more, and spare you from stress and common travel strains. Have fun and be safe always!

Note: Some of the images featured in this post are borrowed from various internet sites without malicious intent – Senyor Lakwatsero

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