Known for so many things like durian and Philippine eagle, Davao City is the easiest and safest city to explore in Mindanao. Despite being located in the Southern Philippines where clashes between rebels and government forces take place, there hasn’t been any incident in Davao City involving insurgency. Locals do not live in fear and tourists can explore the city and nearby towns without having to worry about their safety.
Tourism is actually a thriving industry with around one million tourists arriving in the city every year. Afterall, it houses interesting natural attractions and several endemic species of flora and fauna so the city is definitely worth everyone’s time, effort, and money.
This brief guide to Davao City will let you know how to get there, what to do, eat, and drink, where to stay, and must-see spots.
Best Time to Visit
It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season. Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April. These are the summer months in this country.
Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.
The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.
TIP: This guide recommends that booking for Davao City summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.
The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances. Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well. This happens frequently so beware!
This guide recommends traveling to Davao City in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
There are many ways to get to this destination depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Davao City: Rome2Rio and PHBUS. We have provided the major ports of entry for this destination below.
The following are the modes of transportation available in Davao City …
SEE & DO
The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while in Davao City.
1 | Davao Butterfly House
If you look forward to seeing colorful butterflies, you’ll surely find them in Davao Butterfly House. To see them fluttering their wings and hovering around flowers, best to go in the morning when the sun is shining. During the hottest time of the day, they take shelter under the leaves thus a good opportunity for people to observe them closely and take pictures. If you’re lucky, you will be able to witness a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.
2 | Davao Crocodile Park
Within walking distance from Davao Butterfly House is Davao Crocodile Park. It’s where the biggest living crocodile in the country is housed and is a good place to see crocodiles in various life stages. Aside from crocodiles, the park also houses other animals including monkeys, snakes, eagles, and other birds. The area is also where Tribu K’Mindanawan Cultural Village is located. It showcases the rich culture of indigenous groups of Mindanao through the traditional houses, ornaments, and tools found in the village.
If you are looking for civet coffee, durian ice cream, and crocodile dishes, this is also the place to go.
3 | Eden Nature Park
Eden Nature Park is a great destination for people who want to indulge in the beauty and peace nature offers. Marvel at the scenic views of the mountain and experience the cool mountain air as you explore every crook and cranny. Choose from various accommodations including cottages, lodges, villas, and a cabin for your home in the mountain. It also has several attractions like the amphitheater, bird walk, deer park, flower garden, hiking trail, hydroponics, butterfly garden, and bamboo maze. For thrill-seekers, activities such as zipline, sky swing, sky cycle, and sky wheel will surely give them the adrenaline rush they’re looking for.
4 | Gap Farm Resort
One of the oldest attractions in Davao City, Gap Farm Resort is a 10-hectare orchard filled with a variety of fruit-bearing trees such as durian, rambutan, and pomelo as well as several other flora and fauna. Other features of the farm are WWII Japanese carved tunnel, a chapel, swimming pool, restaurant, and statues of creatures from Filipino folklore.
5 | Mini Asik-Asik Falls
The Asik-Asik Falls in North Cotabato is one of the most stunning waterfalls in the Philippines. But do you know that there’s a smaller version of it in Davao? If you want to feast your eyes on the breathtaking view of the water flowing from the cliff surrounded by lush greenery, this is the place you need.
6 | Mount Apo
Probably every Pinoy mountain climber’s dream, Mount Apo is the highest peak in the country with an elevation of 2,954 meters above sea level. It was declared a protected area and a natural park considering the hundreds of species of flora and fauna inhabiting the mountain. It is home to the critically endangered Philippine eagle, the country’s national bird. Considering its elevation and difficulty of the hike, the mountain is best explored by experienced mountaineers and hikers.
7 | People’s Park
Located in the business district of Davao City, People’s Park is living up to its name as it is truly for the people. Entrance is free of charge and people are secured since the park is enclosed and visitors are inspected before being allowed to enter. The park has a learning center and library, Sunken Garden, and Durian Dome which the design is inspired from the durian fruit which is abundant in the region. The park is also home to a number of sculptures of indigenous people made by Mindanao artist Kublai Millan. If you want a place to pass time while in the city, this is one of the places you may want to consider.
8 | Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Center
The Philippine Eagle, the national bird of the country, is a critically endangered species found only in the Philippines. See this regal bird up close and personal at Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Center. The center was established to protect and breed this bird in the hopes of increasing their population. Aside from 36 Philippine Eagles, the center is also home to 10 other bird species, 4 species of mammals, and 2 reptiles.
9 | Tamayong Prayer Mountain
Found in the foothills of Mount Apo is Tamayong Prayer Mountain, a sprawling complex which makes for an ideal haven to relax, enjoy the beauty of nature, and meditate. It has a prayer center, mini fountains, man made waterfalls, gazebos, and gardens with plants both local and imported. It also has colorful European structures which house the workers and volunteers. Since it is considered a place of worship, guests are expected to dress appropriately.
10 | Upside Down House Museum
Wonder how these pictures with upside down poses came to be? You can find out more about it at Upside Down House Museum. The museum has several art installations that when photographed give an impression that you are defying gravity and inside an upside down house. Cool, isn’t it?
11 | Nearby Destinations
While it’s not part of the city, the Island Garden City of Samal is just two kilometers away hence usually a part of the itinerary of someone visiting Davao City. The island city, which is a part of Metropolitan Davao, boasts of pristine beaches and rich marine life. Pearl Farm Beach Resort, a luxury resort known for its stylish lodgings and amenities, scenic views, and excellent customer service, is found on this island.
NOTE: The Kadayawan Festival occurs annually in Davao City every 3rd week of August.
EAT & DRINK
The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Davao City.
1 | Ahfat Seafood Plaza
For Chinese specialty, Ahfat is one of the top choices among locals. It offers traditional Chinese-style seafood dishes like baked crabs, Australian scallops, and Lapu-lapu two ways. The servings are large hence a good choice when dining in groups.
2 | Bon Appetit Restaurant
Bon Appetit Restaurant offers French cuisine in a cozy and elegant French-inspired set up. Their prices are a bit high for local standards but considering the quality of foods and impressive customer service, it is definitely worth it. Must-try are duck confit, lamb shank, French onion soup, and apple pie.
3 | Bondi&Bourke Davao
Attached to the Bourke Hotel, Bondi&Bourke Davao is a good choice when looking for fine dining experience. Their price range is understandably pricey but their servings are quite large and the foods are tasty and of high quality. Must-try dishes are Wagyu Beef, Ribs, Australian Beef Burger, and creme brûlée.
4 | Davao Dencia’s Restaurant
Opened in the 1960’s, Davao Dencia’s Restaurant serves Chinese and Filipino cuisines. This budget-friendly restaurant with a homey ambience is the go-to destination for favorite Chinese and Pinoy dishes like tokwa’t baboy, congee, lechon kawali, and fried noodles. If you are in Davao City and looking for high quality foods without the expensive price, Davao Dencia’s Restaurant is definitely a good choice.
5 | De Bonte Koe European Restaurant
Considered as one of the top restaurants according to customers, De Bonte Koe European serves European favorites like steak, Greek salad, schnitzel, and cordon bleu. The restaurant has a nice interior and serves high quality foods with reasonable prices.
6 | Jack’s Ridge
Interested to dine while overlooking a part of Davao City? Jack’s Ridge offers that exact experience. Aside from the relaxing ambiance, the restaurant serves delicious foods such as tuna belly, sinigang, sisig, and pakbet. While the view is breathtaking during daytime, it gets better at night with all the city lights from afar.
7 | Lachi’s
Known for the best desserts in Davao City, Lachi’s also serves main dishes like lechon kawali, grilled pork ribs, and laing. Must-try desserts include sans rival and cheesecake. While the restaurant space is small, the nice ambience makes up for it. Better come before the peak hours to be seated immediately or call for reservations to avoid waiting.
8 | Marina Tuna
For your seafood cravings, there’s no other place to be but Marina Tuna. The restaurant offers a wide variety of seafood dishes from sashimi and sinigang to grilled and fried seafood. The restaurant is moderately-priced so even if you come in big groups, it’s highly likely that you’ll enjoy the restaurant and it’s tasty dishes.
9 | Penong’s Barbecue Seafoods and Grills
As the name implies, Penong’s Barbecue Seafoods and Grills offers tasty grilled seafood, chicken, and pork. They have several branches all over Davao but the original in Lanang is said to be the best. Must-try offerings are native chicken barbecue and pork barbecue.
KNOWN FOR: Durian Candy
WHERE TO STAY
There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range in Davao City.
1 | Red Knight Gardens Apartelle (Budget)
2 | Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao (Mid-Range)
3 | Seda Abreeza Davao (Luxury | Resort)
When doing research online of where to stay in Davao City or a for specific destination, this guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research:
Book your room with these trusted online booking sites. Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive. We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:
TIP: Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao is the best property to experience this destination.
This chart is your guide to get an idea of how much to budget daily in Davao City. The actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind that these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.
A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD). For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).
Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast. For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night. For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.
Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD). However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.
Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD). For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD). For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD). Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food. Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.
Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD). A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).
A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person. However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!
There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly.
Public Transportation is cheap. Bus services on the islands are inexpensive. Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).
On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips.
Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap. Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.
To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly. There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option.
Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD). However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel. It’s only recommended if you have limited time.
Attractions & Activities
Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter.
Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less. You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!
Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.
Always book your tours and activities when you arrive. Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will. Booking tours online is almost always more expensive.
Typical Costs in Davao City in 2021:
- Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
- Budget Hotel: 700 PHP ($14 USD) night
- Mid-Range Hotel: 1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
- Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
- Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
- Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
- 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
- Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
- Tricycle Ride: 20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
- Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
- Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
- Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
- Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight
- Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
The following is some of our best advice on traveling to this destination. This is your guide on what you need to know BEFORE you go to Davao City!
Tips & Hacks
The following are this guide’s Top 10 Tips when visiting Davao City:
- Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
- Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
- Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
- Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
- Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
- Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
- It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
- Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
- Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
- Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.
For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.
The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found in Davao City. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.
Health & Safety
While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Davao City, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.
Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.
There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:
- 6 Common Accidents to Avoid
- How to Beat the Heat in the Philippines
- Taxi Safety Tips: Dos and Don’ts
- Motorbike Safety Tips
- Beach & Ocean Safety Tips
- Sun Safety Tips
Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines.
The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to.
The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Allow Your Body Time to Adjust
- Keep Active
- Sanitize Often
- Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
- Take Your Vitamins
- Practice Safe Sex
- Be Prepared Should You Get Sick
You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.
While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province. So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.
Recommended Travel Apps
Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling. Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Grab (taxis/ride shares)
- Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
- WhatsApp (phone calls)
- Skyscanner (flights)
- Rome2Rio (transportation)
- Agoda (accomodations)
- Booking.com (accomodations)
- AirBnB (accomodations)
- Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
- Klook (attractions & activities )
Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.
Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options.
We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.
The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list. This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing. To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list. Click the link below to download it for FREE now.
Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.
Things to Remember
This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling in Davao City or in the Philippines in general.
There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas. Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.
The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores. The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold. Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit. Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.
Drugs are illegal in the Philippines. Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana. It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children. The penalties are severe … up to and including death.
Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated. Most locals consider it offensive. There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.
Foreigners & Expats
If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly. Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.
Don’t Forget …
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