Davao is one of the safest and friendliest cities in the Philippines, and is on the main island of Mindanao. Its remarkable scenery and wide range of local attractions such as clean island beaches, some of the world’s best dive sites, mountain areas and wildlife sanctuaries appeal to all ages. Excellent shopping and dining also make it an exciting destination that combines the charm of the countryside and a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis.
The city boasts the country’s highest mountain, Mount Apo. Don’t miss Tudaya Falls which is in Davao del Sur, close to Mount Apo – this 492 ft (150 m) waterfall is one of the highest within the Mt. Apo National Park area, and is widely held to be among the country’s most beautiful.
Jack’s Ridge is one of the city’s most famous attractions, and during World War II the area was the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Army. Today, you can explore crash sites and tunnels, or relax in the pool and bar area. There are also several trails where you can see prehistoric Taklobo or clam shells that are relics from the millions of years the area was underwater.
Historic highlights of the city include San Pedro Cathedral which was built in the 19th century, and the beautiful Lonwa Buddhist Temple. The Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus, or Santo Nino Shrine on Shrine Hills road is a favourite stop for visitors, and you can learn more about the city at the Dabawenyo Museum.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy extreme sports like zip-lining, mountain biking and rock climbing at Kalinawan on the east coast of nearby Samal Island. You’ll find several of the best snorkelling and diving spots here too, and swimming and kayaking are also popular.
Visit unique wildlife destinations; as well as the amazing Crocodile Centre where you can see indigenous Philippine crocodiles, animal lovers will adore the Philippine Eagle Centre which is home to the country’s national bird, the Philippine eagle.
Plan a trip in August if you’d like to take part in the annual Kadayawan Festival, a colourful celebration of the region’s fertility. Alternatively, visit in March for the Araw ng Dabaw festival which features the Mutya ng Dabaw beauty pageant. Temperatures are generally above 26 degrees all year round, and April till August is the hottest period when temperatures are around 33 degrees. The peak month is December, and the city is at its busiest, while the best time to visit is from January to March when it’s cooler and drier and there is a lower chance of tropical storms.
You’ll find the lowest air fares from September till November, or between February and April. The most expensive time to visit is December which is the height of peak season.
The best way to get around the city is by taxi, and local drivers are said to be the the most honest in the country. They won’t haggle if they realise you’re a tourist, so you’ll be charged the same regular fares as locals. You can pay for black taxis by card, and be sure to say ‘salamat’ or ‘thank you’ at the end of your journey. There are buses, but they mainly operate on the north to south routes in and out of the city. Locals take the colourful jeepneys which cover all parts of Davao and are available 24 hours a day, and they’re an excellent choice for more adventurous travellers.