Somewhere between the cutthroat concrete jungle and the laid-back provincial life lies the sweet spot that is Davao City. While the ever-growing city down south welcomes more people, buildings, and traffic jams each year, the locals have remained easygoing, pretty much everything has remained affordable, and you can still go from highlands to the coastlines like it ain’t no thang.
Here, we list down things you can do within Davao City, as well as a few sidetrips to neighboring spots in the region if you’ve got time to hop on a boat or hit the road. Have fun!
Visit iconic spots on San Pedro St.You haven’t been to Davao if you haven’t passed by San Pedro St., which is home to three of the city’s landmarks: City Hall of Davao, Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Dabaw, and San Pedro Cathedral. This busy section of downtown Davao is forever teeming with loitering locals, hawkers manning street food carts, and masseurs and masseuses tending to customers in the middle of it all.Continue reading below ↓
Marvel at the majestic Philippine Eagle.The country’s elusive national bird is a sight to behold. Catch a glimpse of it at the Philippine Eagle Center located at the foothills of Mt. Apo, which is both a conservation breeding facility for the endangered bird and a tourist attraction where visitors can view rare birds, mammals, and reptiles.Continue reading below ↓
Get to know Davao’s tribes at the Kadayawan Village.Heading to Davao during the Kadayawan Festival season in August? Make your trip more meaningful by scheduling a pitstop at the Kadayawan Village at Magsaysay Park, where 11 houses represent the 11 tribes of Davao City. Here, you’ll get to tour the houses, meet representatives from each tribe, and bring home traditional delicacies, clothing, crafts, and accessories for sale onsite.Continue reading below ↓
Make your own chocolate at the Malagos Chocolate Museum.Make your own version of the world-famous Malagos Chocolate at the Malagos Chocolate Museum’s Chocolate Laboratory! The museum is among many attractions at Malagos Garden Resort, a 12-hectare nature theme park and wildlife farm, so even if you don’t try out chocolate-making, there’s still a lot to do in the grounds. Oh, and be sure to get your hands on those Malagos cheeses!Continue reading below ↓
Reach for the sky at Eden Nature Park & Resort.Try adrenaline-pumping activities that take you way up in the air: Skyrider, Skycycle, and Skyswing. Whether or not you work up the courage to cycle on top of a cable (!!!), this sprawling resort located at the foot of Mt. Talomo and rising over 2,500 feet above sea level is still worth the trip for its lush landscapes and cool, clean air.
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Go on a whitewater adventure in the Davao River.Dare to conquer the rapids in a day-long adventure that will have you paddling hard, getting soaked, and maybe falling off your raft once or twice. Sign up for whitewater rafting at Davao Wildwater Adventure; with its headquarters located at the Davao Crocodile Park, you can check out the park’s exotic animals while you’re there.Continue reading below ↓
Have a moment of chill at the Davao Bamboo Sanctuary.Stop and smell the flowers at the Davao Bamboo Sanctuary and Ecological Park, where visitors can stroll through picturesque gardens, take a dip in a fresh spring pool, try their hand at archery, hop in a kayak, and even go fishing.
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Escape to Samal.
The Island Garden City of Samal is just a 10- to 30-minute boat ride from Davao City—yes, it’s that easy to escape to a white sand beach when you’re in Davao. Besides Pearl Farm Beach Resort, which is practically an institution in these parts, resorts worth booking a day tour or overnight trip at are the Balinese-inspired Chema’s by the Sea or the swanky Club Samal Resort. Other things to do: take a dip at Hagimit Falls, jump off a cliff at Canibad, or book an island-hopping package so you can hit other stretches of paradise nearby.Continue reading below ↓
Try surfing in Mati.Not content with just splaying out on the sand? Schedule an overnight trip to surf or skimboard at Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental, which is a four-hour drive from Davao City. Unlike the country’s more popular beach destinations, this little-known gem is a relatively untouched paradise that offers utter peace and relaxation besides stunning sea and sand.Continue reading below ↓
Drive up to BuDa for cooler climes.Want to get away from the city’s hustle, bustle, and heat? Hop in a car and make that two-hour drive to BuDa—named such because it’s along the highway linking Bukidnon and Davao. Shack up overnight at a resort or vacation house and feel this town’s Baguio feels—all nippy weather, tree-lined roads, and green expanse as far as the eye can see.Continue reading below ↓
Defy gravity at the Upside Down House Museum.Davao’s answer to the illusion houses that have popped up in different cities in the Philippines and abroad, Upside Down House Museum lets you go crazy with your own versions of those topsy-turvy photos you’ve been seeing on social media.Continue reading below ↓
Prowl the restaurants in Marfori.Over the last few years, a number of restaurants and cafes have sprouted in Davao City’s Marfori Heights Subdivision, making it a frequent haunt for foodies. Some spots to try: Caitlyn’s Dumpling Bar for affordable Chinese food, Rumah Kari for tasty Malaysian and Indian meals, and The Vegan Dinosaur for guilt-free goodness.Continue reading below ↓
Splurge on a meal at Bondi&Bourke.Want to savor a lip-smacking meal in a sophisticated space? Reserve a table at Bondi&Bourke, an Australian restaurant with branches in BGC and Makati that has set up shop in a beautifully restored ancestral house in the Paseo de Legaspi compound. Wander around Paseo de Legaspi while you’re at it—enter contemporary art gallery Art Portal, or sit down for a cocktail at Fowlplay Kitchen + Dive Bar.Continue reading below ↓
Go on a street food—and ukay-ukay—trip at Roxas Night Market.For an ultra-cheap food trip, troop over to the Roxas Night Market where a veritable street food party awaits: isaw, kwek-kwek, chicken skin, pork barbecue, dirty ice cream, and more are lined up for the munching. Keep walking down Roxas St. to get to the ukay-ukay section where you just might spot a hard-to-find piece for next to nothing.Continue reading below ↓
Sip, dine, or drink at the Oboza Heritage House compound.The Oboza Heritage House compound is home to four dining and drinking establishments—French-Mediterranean restaurant Claude’s Le Cafe de Ville, American Southern cuisine-themed Huckleberry Southern Kitchen & Bar, tapas joint Bar Botanica, and the picturesque Glasshouse Coffee—all of which are worth a visit. If you’re planning on drinking, just remember that the city’s liquor ban starts at 1 a.m.—better get that buzz on early!Continue reading below ↓
Mingle with the cool crowd at Suazo.Suazo is the unofficial hangout of Davao’s young, underground-leaning, and artistically-inclined. Step into its third floor space and catch gigs, parties, film screenings, poetry readings, and regular quiz nights, or climb up to the bare, string-lit rooftop to chill with a beer in the cool night air. It doesn’t have a sign announcing itself from the street—it’s that kind of place—so ask your local friends to show you the way.Continue reading below ↓
Enjoy a farm-to-table dining experience.Looking to enjoy a healthy meal in an idyllic setting? Hie off to Huni Farm, an organic farm about 45 minutes to one hour from the city proper; make sure to go during lunchtime on weekends when a buffet spread awaits. Also worth the drive is La Fermette Dairy Farm, which houses a restaurant serving European and Asian fusion cuisine.Continue reading below ↓
Sample the seafood.When in Davao, gorging on the city’s famed seafood is a must. For tuna specialties, the names that have been on locals’ tongues for decades are Luz Kinilaw Inihaw Place, Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant, and Marina Tuna Seafood Restaurant; for crabs, you can’t go wrong with Glamour Crabs Buffet and Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps.
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Face your fear of durian—or okay, just try anything durian-flavored.We know, we know—durian doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm, with those sharp spikes and that distinct, er, fragrance. If you’re not brave enough to find out if the fruit really does “smell like hell but taste like heaven,” ease into your durian discovery by ordering durian-flavored goodies like Durian Coffeeccino at Blugre Coffee, durian shake at BC Chicken House, or durian sans rival at Lachi’s Sans Rival, Atbp. Maybe the next time you return to Davao, you’ll be ready for the real thing.Continue reading below ↓