Innsider’s Guide to Davao
The largest city in the southern Philippines, Davao (pronounced ‘Da-bow’ by the locals) is a melting pot where different ethnic groups, religions and communities live together in a vast multi-cultural metropolis.
Located on the island of Mindanao, Davao is a commercial, cultural and culinary center that represents the entire region. But while this urban area is now home to more than 2.5 million people, its diversity helps transform Davao into a captivating place with many attractions for travelers.
Nicknamed the ‘Durian Capital of the Philippines’, due to its most famous fruit; Davao is a great place to discover new flavors.Overlooked by Mount Apo, and surrounded by rain forests, waterfalls and many other natural wonders; this is a destination that gives visitors with a sense of adventure.
But with so much social, cultural and environmental diversity to discover, how should visitors to Davao maximize their time in this thriving city? Our Innsider’s Guide to Davao is here to help…
Diversity in Davao
Davao’s diversity is reflected by the city’s festive calendar, which seems to run non-stop throughout the year.
Guests who want to see the multiculturalism of Davao should visit in March when the city celebrates Araw ng Davao (‘Day of Davao’). It’s a week-long series of cultural parades and fairs. Highlights include the main ‘Parada’, a culinary street party, song contest and popular beauty pageant.
Then in August, the Kadayawan Festival is a celebration of local life.The festival was originally a way for Davao’s indigenous tribes to pray for a bountiful harvest. But it has grown into one of the Philippines’ most popular festivals. It now hosts street performers, food stalls and a parade of floral floats.
Sniff your way to culinary bliss
The local flavors in Davao can be rather distinctive, especially in durian season! This large, spiky fruit has a pungent, and many would say unpleasant, odor. But when you’re in the ‘Durian Capital of the Philippines’, sampling this fruit is an experience that shouldn’t be avoided.
The yellow flesh is rich, sweet and creamy, and a real treat for those brave enough to try it. One of the best places to sample the durian – and many other local dishes, is Bankerohan Public Market. It’s a vast complex where locals come to buy all types of fresh produce.
Being a port city, Davao is also a great place to sample fresh seafood. Kinilaw, a local style of ceviche, is another ‘must-try’ dish.
Feel the buzz of Chinatown
Davao, like many parts of the Philippines, has a large and thriving Chinese population. The city’s Chinatown district is based around the Santa Ana port area, and is said to be the largest in the Philippines.
Defined by four major archways, this district has a range of landmarks. Such as the ornate Buddhist, Taoist temples, and churches for the Chinese Catholic community. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to sample the local delicacies.
The best time of year to experience this culture is during the annual Lunar New Year festivities.
Hike out and explore the local countryside
If you prefer the great outdoors, the countryside that surrounds Davao is home to many natural wonders. Such as the Philippines’ highest mountain, lake and waterfall.
Rising 2,954 meters, Mount Apo is a soaring volcano that looms over the city. It forms part of a large national park with hiking trails and a chance to spot the rare Philippine eagle. It is also home to the Philippines’ highest lake. A short distance to the east of the city in Davao Oriental, Aliwagwag Falls is the highest waterfall in the Philippines.
The waters cascade down 338 meters in a series of rocky tiers through the rainforest.
Where to stay
Located just 15 minutes from the airport and downtown, Park Inn by Radisson Davao is the perfect base for your journey of discovery. The hotel is connects to the SM Lanang Premier Mall and SMX Convention Center. This makes it perfect for both business and leisure travelers.
Dine at the RBG Bar & Grill, plunge into the outdoor pool, work out at the fitness center or do business in a choice of four meeting rooms.
Have you already explored Davao? Let us know your #innsider tips to help others when planning a visit.