The southern part of the Philippines is often perceived as an area of danger and unrest. Some countries have even issued advisories warning their residents against going to the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. What these travel advisories and the media, however, often fail to capture is the fact that a lot of places on this island are very safe to go to, and are teeming with natural resources and beautiful sights.
One of these places is Davao City. This highly urbanized area in Mindanao is considered to be one of the safest places in the Philippines, with an active police force and a responsive emergency unit. It is also rich in scenic spots, with lush mountains and green trees serving as backdrop to the rising city. The culture and culinary scenes are also worth exploring, providing insights to the way of life of people from this part of the country miles away from the capital.
When to Visit Davao City
If you want to witness a grand showcase of Davao’s culture and talent, visit the city during the third week of August, when the annual festival called “Kadayawan” is being held. This event is an explosion of colors, featuring the different tribal groups in Davao. It is also an occasion of thanks giving for the bounties of harvest, with locals dancing on the streets carrying fruits and other gifts of nature.
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What to See in Davao City
• Samal Island – A beach in the city? Yes, Davao has that. Around an hour away from the airport is this island, which boasts of a long stretch of picturesque white-sand beaches. The blue waters of this island are always inviting, with affordable yet quality accommodations available on the coast. Aside from swimming, there are also parts of the island where you can go hiking, biking and even spelunking.
• Mt. Apo – When in Davao City, it’s hard to miss this majestic mountain, the tallest one in the Philippines. Experienced climbers will surely enjoy exploring this mountain, with its lush vegetation and pristine jungle, with serves as habitat to unique flora and fauna.
• Crocodile Park – For those feeling adventurous, a visit to this one-of-a-kind zoo is highly recommended. This place serves as home to some 200 crocodiles, where these reptiles are bred, taken care of, and put on display for the public to see.
What to Do in Davao City
• Interact with the Philippine Eagle – This one is for the animal lovers. At the foothills of Mt. Apo is a facility for the conservation and breeding of the Philippine eagle, the country’s national bird and an endangered species. Visitors can interact with and take a closer look at seven Philippine eagles on exhibit to learn more about these majestic birds.
• Get a panoramic view of Davao – To get a great panoramic view of the city, go to Jack’s Ridge. This place used to be the headquarters of the Japanese during World War II. Now, it’s a popular destination for tourists and locals, with different restaurants and bars where you can dine and hang out. Jack’s Ridge is particularly beautiful at night, with a fantastic and relaxing view of the city lights.
• Shop for fabrics and pearls – Take home a piece of Davao with you by dropping by the Aldevinco Arcade. Here, you can buy quality and affordable pearl jewelry. Colorful woven fabrics are also ideal gift items.
What to Eat in Davao City
• Durian – “Smells like hell, tastes like heaven,” this is how locals usually describe this exotic fruit popular in Davao City. This spiky fruit gives off a strong smell, but once you’ve tasted its milky meat, you’ll definitely ask for more. For those who find the actual fruit a little challenging, you might want to try durian-flavored candy, coffee or jam.
• Pomelo – This is another popular fruit in Davao City. This is a citrus fruit with a thick rind, and which tastes like a grapefruit.
The Philippines is not just about Manila. There are places away from the capital, like Davao City, with rich culture, relaxing sights and delicious food that are definitely worth exploring.
Related Article: Top 10 Places you must visit in Philippines
Feature image credit: Reuel Mark Delez