Planning a solo trip to Davao? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The third largest city in the Philippines, with a population of about 1.6 million.
- The hub of the large southern island of Mindanao.
- Known for its large seaport and abundance of beautiful beaches nearby.
- Nicknames: Crown Jewel of Mindanao, Durian Capital of the Philippines, City of Royalties.
- Currency: Philippine peso (PHP).
- Spoken languages: Cebuano (English and Tagalog are also widely spoken).
- Best time to visit: from December to April (cooler temperatures, least rainfall). Many like to visit in August to catch some of the local festivals.
- Arriving via airport: taxis from the airport are about P200. The local jeepneys that operate as public transit will cost about P20.
WHERE TO STAY
- As a major city, Davao offers hotels for all price ranges and at many different locations.
- Cheaper accommodations can be found near Victoria Plaza and Mt Mayon Street.
- Most of the higher end accommodations are outside the city in the form of beach resorts (though the standard international hotels chains can also be found inside the city).
- Metered taxis are the easiest way to get around Davao and are relatively inexpensive (trips can start at 40 PHP). Taxis in Davao have a good reputation: they don’t typically try to negotiate or push higher prices on tourists.
- Jeepneys are converted pickup trucks that make up the majority of public transit in Davao. They are very affordable. Make sure you ask exactly where you’re going as it can be easy to get on the wrong Jeepney and get lost.
- Water taxis shuttle people between Davao and the other local communities (including Samal Island). The company running the service has a good reputation for being both safety conscious and friendly.
- Car rentals are available, but generally not recommended. Traffic can be very bad in Davao and it can be easy to get lost.
- Drinking age is 18, no official last call.
- The city is home to numerous nightlife venues, ranging from night clubs to casual open air bars. Most of the cars are located either in Downtown Davao or the McArthur Highway.
- Karaoke bars are very popular in Davao (and the Philippines in general), so be prepared to hear a lot of live music!
- Great bars to check out for solo travelers: Eskina (and everything else in Lanang Business Park), Suazo (Supply City | Grobia), The Anomaly Gastropub, and Business Class (Polo Street).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- San Pedro Cathedral, located directly in the heart of Davao, dates back to the 19th century. As the city’s main cathedral, it hosts many public functions.
- Nearby Mt. Apo is the highest mountain in the country. Arrange a visit through your hotel or a local travel agency.
- Jack’s Ridge, overlooking the city of Davao, was home to the Japanese forces during World War 2. There are restaurants and bars are located at the top – relax and enjoy the view.
- The Shrine of the Holy Infant of Jesus is a destination for locals and foreigners. The serene and picturesque views provide a great location to unwind and relax. Mass is held several times a day, so many locals will be coming and going.
- The hike up to Jack’s Ridge can be a bit trying during hot days, but the view at the top makes it all worth it.
- The People’s Park on Legazpi Street is a favorite local hangout spot, and makes for a good stroll during the day or at night. Various vendors offer food and souvenirs.
- Explore downtown Davao to see the daily lives of the local Filipinos (and to try some great local food). People in Davao are very friendly, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation.
- Nearby Samal Island has numerous beaches to visit and relax, just make sure you’re aware of the ferry times and don’t end up stuck away from your hotel for the night.
- Davao cafe culture is very strong! Some places to try: Purge Coffee Roaster, olo. Coffee And Concepts, Fourth Street Cafe, Darkk Coffee Co., Balay Juice & Coffee Co., and Onse Kopi.
- Great restaurants to try in Davao: Tsuru (Japanese), Kaizen Davao, Dani’s-Palace Shawarma, Spoonful Dvo, Harley Boulevard Motor Cafe, Taichou Izakaya, and Frogurt Davao (for dessert).
- Where to find good cheap eats: just about anywhere! Take this opportunity to experience the two foods for which the city is famous, durian and pomelo. While pomelo is easy to eat, durian is definitely an acquired taste (and the smell puts many people off before ever eating one).
- Dangerous areas: Davao has a reputation as the safest city to visit in the Philippines. The locals are very friendly to tourists, and are even known to intervene when they see a foreigner in trouble. Exercise common sense.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days