Aerial view of Davao City
local perspective

A local’s tips for visiting Davao City, Philippines

Darling Aiza Rafaela

Social media specialist and contributing writer

Davao City is famous in the Philippines, not only for being the humble home of the current president of the country, but also because of its proximity to stunning natural attractions. The largest urban center in Southern Philippines, Davao City is an easy base for exploring the natural attractions in southern and Eastern Mindanao.

Just an hour from the city centre, you can find yourself walking along the pristine white sand beaches of Samal Island or exploring the protected natural park at the foot of Mount Apo, the highest peak of the Philippines. Here are a few things to know before you visit Davao City.

Street dancers in colorful costumes at the Kadayawan festival

Visit during the winter... or come for a festival

The best time to visit would be around January-February due to a number of factors such as the weather, cost of travel and accommodation, as well as avoiding peak holiday periods. But if you are willing to pay a higher accommodation cost and you are a festival goer, visit in August when the city is celebrating the annual Kadayawan Festival.

Take a stroll through the People’s Park

The People’s Park makes a peaceful day trip from the city and is free to visit. Stroll through the park and admire the caricature artwork and sculptures of Davao’s own famous artist, Kublai Milan. Take a break on one of the benches in the shade and enjoy the relaxing surroundings.

Majestic Philippine eagle

See local wildlife

If you’re interested in animals and birds, there’s are a few places in Davao you should visit during your stay. Head to the Philippine Eagle Centre, built to protect the endangered Philippine Eagles. It also has a lot of birds and animals to spot and while you are here, you will actually feel that you are inside a forest! Davao Butterfly House is another fairy-tale spot filled with a large variety of butterflies.

For something a little different, visit Crocodile Park. We are all fascinated with these scary-looking creatures and this park turned our dreams of walking among crocodiles into reality! The fun doesn’t stop with a number of crocodiles - there are also a lot of other animals you can see here.

Take the usual safety precautions in Davao City

People in Davao City are mostly friendly, warm and welcoming. The locals are always proud to claim that Davao is definitely one of the safest places for tourists. Police visibility is also very good compared to other cities in the Philippines.

However, it’s still worth following normal safety precautions - keep your belongings in a safe place, don’t to flash your valuables (especially expensive technology) in public places, and try not to carry all your money with you.

Durian fruits on display

Try durian, the king of fruits

Your trip to Davao is not complete without a taste of the most controversial fruit in the Philippines - durian. To give you an idea of the flavour, the taste of durian can be compared to eating custard cream with a dash of Baileys. However, eating durian can be a bit intimidating - its strong odour and skin has actually caused it to be banned from public transport in the city.

Durians here in Davao are used to make all kinds of mostly sweet treats like pastes, cakes, cookies, milk shakes, ice cream, chips, candies and lots more. Not everyone is brave enough to take a bite of this fruit but it definitely is a local favorite!

Spend an afternoon at Eden Nature Park and Resort

Right at the foot of Mt. Talomo in Davao City’s Toril District is an 80 hectares of man-made nature park that for years has been providing a cool relief from the city’s busy urban life! Get to experience adventure as you trek down their Mountain Trail, camp in their grounds, try rope gliding in their Indiana Jones, play and move in their grounds or zip to their 200-meters zip line tagged as Sky Rider. There are also other amenities that you can enjoy and create wonderful memories in nature!

Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines

Hike up Mount Apo

The tallest peak in the Philippines is only around three hours’ drive from Davao City. A UNESCO world heritage site, the mountain towers 2,954m above Mindanao. Climbing to the top of the mountain takes 2-3 days, depending on which trail you choose and is best for seasoned hikers. The views at the top are spectacular and reaching the top of the mountain is a thrilling experience! If climbing to the top of the mountain sounds a bit intense, there are also shorter but beautiful trails at the foot of the mountain.

Learn about natural history at D’ Bone Collector Museum

This three-storey museum is filled with fascinating installations of the bones of animals from around the world. There are also preserved animals displayed. If you enjoy history and discovering more about the history of the world, you’ll love visiting D’ Bone Collector Museum!

There are so many more wonderful things to say about my hometown, and there is so much to see and do there – even now, I still get surprised by something new in the city. So, my final tip? Whenever you have a chance to visit the Philippines, don’t miss Davao City! As the locals’ say “Life is here” – you’ll have to visit to find out why.

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Darling Aiza Rafaela

Author - Darling Aiza Rafaela

Darling is a Philippine local living a simple life in Davao City, Philippines. She dreams of traveling around the world and writing about my memorable experiences.

Last Updated 3 May 2022

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