Davao may not be the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines, but for those who visit, they sure get a great experience. It offers an authentic insight into the Philippines, as there are less expensive tours and western restaurants than other parts of the country. All of that, and you’ve got the stunning Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines looming over the city!
Davao isn’t just an exciting destination to visit for the city and its surroundings. It’s also the gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful islands! So, when you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle, you can just take a boat to turquoise waters and white sand beaches!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably trying to come up with a Davao itinerary. Well, let us help you! Our expert travel writers have found ten of the best and most fun activities you can do in Davao. We’ve found a wide range of activities, taking budget and travel style into account. Not only that, but we’ve included some of the best places to stay in Davao too!
So, let’s take a closer look at the best things to do in Davao!
Best Places to Stay in Davao
Travelling to Davao? You’ll need somewhere to stay. We’ve scoured the city for the best places to stay and come up with the following three. Each one suits a different budget and travel style, so there should be one that’s perfect for you!
Best Hostel in Davao: Napsule Suites
First of all, let’s check out the best hostel in Davao. Napsule Suites offer budget rooms just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Abreeza Mall, one of the top places to shop in Davao! You’ll get free drinking water here, as well as a Wi-Fi Connection. There’s a restaurant on-site if you get hungry!View on Booking.com
Best Budget Hotel in Davao: Sharana Pensionne
Want to keep your costs down but don’t like the idea of a hostel? Sharan Pensionne is the best budget hotel in Davao. All rooms have a desk and flat-screen TV and a private bathroom, beautifully blending comfort and convenience. There’s even a garden if you want some fresh air!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Davao: The Bourke Hotel
One of the overall best hotels in Davao, The Bourke Hotel offers a little luxury without breaking the banks. It boasts three shiny stars, and there’s a tour desk here. So, it might just make it that little bit easier to find your way to some of the awesome places on our list! Breakfast is included too, ideal fuel for a day of exploring the city!View on Booking.com
These are the Best Places to Visit in Davao!
#1 – Mount Apo
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Davao
- The highest mountain in the Philippines
- Look out for wild boar and deer
- Best times to climb are March, April, and October
- Take a tour to the top
Why it’s awesome: If you can say you’ve climbed the highest mountain in the Philippines, that’s pretty impressive! One of the highest mountains in South East Asia, Mount Apo stands at more than 3,000 metres above sea level – that’s over 10,000 feet! If you want to climb to the top, the best times are March, April, and October and a hike will take around two days. There are various tour companies in Davao that you can organise this with! The Kidapawan-Magpet trail is the easiest, but there are many others, with varying difficulty depending on previous experience.
What to do there: Getting to the summit of Mount Apo is the aim of many hikers, but it’s not just the top that’s impressive! Yes, those views across Davao and the surrounding areas will take your breath away, but take some time to appreciate the volcanic crater lake at the summit. It’s 500 metres across! On the climb up, look out for flora and fauna – there are several species of amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects that call the area around the mountain home. Look out for wild boar, deer, and the country’s national bird – the Philippine eagle!
#2 – Davao Crocodile Park
Awesome place to visit in Davao with kids
- Home to thousands of freshwater and saltwater crocodiles
- Educational Tours of the site
- Does lots of conservation work
- Lots more animals
Why it’s awesome: Now, a crocodile park may sound a little bit sketchy in terms of animal cruelty. However, Davao Crocodile Park is responsibly run and has the most modern equipment and facilities. It’s home to thousands of freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, so just make sure you don’t fall into one of the enclosures! There are several other animals on-site too, including birds of prey, snakes, and orang-utans. If you’re looking for places to visit in Davao with the family, then look no further than the Crocodile Park!
What to do there: There are lots of things to keep you entertained if you decide to visit Davao Crocodile Park. Not only will you see a huge range of animals, you’ll be able to learn about them too. As well as the Save the Species show, you can visit the butterfly house, feed and pet the animals (under the watchful eye of a trainer) and there’s even a fire dance show. No animals involved in this! There are educational tours and lectures too which promote conservation and public awareness!
#3 – D’Bone Collector Museum
One of the more unique places to visit in Davao
- More than 200 preserved skeletons
- One of Davao’s more unusual museums
- See the remains of a 41-foot sperm whale!
- Great if you’re on a budget
Why it’s awesome: Davao has a lot of very interesting, but D’Bone Collector has to be the most unusual. Open in 2012 by an American missionary, Darrell D. Blatchley, it aims to educate people to take care of the environment around them. As well as the star attraction at the museum, a 41-foot sperm whale, there are skeletons and skulls of lions, monkeys, horses, and all sorts of other animals – some of which are from the Philippines but others from all around the world!
What to do there: While D’Bone Collector Museum is one of the coolest and most unusual things to do in Davao, it’s only a small museum and visiting won’t take too much of your time. However, it’s interesting for all ages, and kids will particularly love it. It’s in the Family Circus Compound in Barangay. The museum has a very cheap entry price, so it’s good for families who are on a budget! Also in the Family Circus, you’ll find a coffee shop so you can pause for a minute after looking around this fascinating museum!
#4 – Roxas Avenue Night Market
A must-see for foodies in Davao!
- Lots of stalls selling traditional Filipino food
- Seafoods, soups, meats, and veg!
- Popular with locals and tourists alike
- Great for picking up souvenirs
Why it’s awesome: Who doesn’t love a night market?! A chance to get cheap souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home, but even more importantly – a great place to try local food! The first half of this kilometre long market specialises in street food. Starting at the Marco Polo Hotel, you can enjoy Filipino soups, meat on sticks, and refreshing non-alcoholic cocktails! As well as the food stalls, there are several clothes stores. Roxas Avenue Night market runs every day from 6pm ’til midnight. Another place to check out in Davao if you love shopping is the Abreeza Mall!
What to do there: Shop ’til you drop, then eat ’til you’re full! Roxas Avenue Night Market is one of the best places in Davao to relax and unwind. Although it’s open every night, the best time to come is the weekend – as the atmosphere is buzzing! We’d suggest getting the shopping out of the way first then picking and mixing from the food stalls. Once you’re happy with what you’ve got, find somewhere to enjoy your meal! It’s best to bring as little as possible with you when it comes to bags – they’ll be checked at the entrance as security is tight!
#5 – Philippine Eagle Centre
A fascinating educational place to visit in Davao
- The number one attraction in Davao on Trip Advisor
- See the national bird of the Philippines
- Lots of endemic Filipino wildlife
- Admission fees go towards eagle conservation and education
Why it’s awesome: You don’t just have to take our word that the Philippine Eagle Centre is awesome, thousands of travellers have voted it as the top attraction in Davao! This conservation area first and foremost looks after the Philippine Eagle, one of the largest birds of prey in the world. However, there are lots of other animals on-site too. From snakes, to monkeys, to endangered plants species, you can everything you’d see in a tropical rainforest here!
What to do there: Learn about wildlife from all across the Philippines. The centre is more than just a tourist attraction, the centre reinvests all the money it makes into conservation and protection of the country’s wildlife. As well as getting up close and personal with animals, guests can visit the audio-visual room documentary films by wildlife videographers are on show! And make sure that you exit through the gift shop. Here, you can get mementoes of your day and support conservation, research, and education programmes at the same time!
#6 – People’s Park
A perfect place to visit in Davao if you’re on a budget
- Enter through the Durian Dome
- Cultural theme park dedicated to the Filipino people
- Public Zumba classes every Sunday at 6am
- Make sure to check out the colourful indigenous sculptures
Why it’s awesome: One of the most expensive public parks in the Philippines, this cultural theme park was opened in 2007 by the mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte. He’s now the country’s president. It covers four acres and is packed with things to see and do. You’ll enter through the durian dome, modelled on the smelly and spiky fruit, before being welcome to explore rainforests, man-made waterfalls, and ponds. Between them, you’ll see several colourful indigenous sculptures which are really beautiful. If you’re really lucky, you may even see a Philippine eagle soaring overhead!
What to do there: The beauty of the People’s Park is that there’s so much to do, no matter your age or fitness level. You can be at one with nature without leaving the metropolis of Davao. Sit on a bench and feed the pigeons, take a wander through the tropical rainforest, or get your binoculars out to take a closer look at those wild eagles. If you’re feeling full of energy, set your alarm early and come to the Zumba class at 6am on a Sunday. It’s a chance to get fit and meet lots of locals!
#7 – San Pedro Cathedral
One of the best religious places to see in Davao
- A recognised National Cultural Treasure
- Modern design resembles a stadium
- The oldest church in Davao City
- Daily Mass held in English
Why it’s awesome: When looking at San Pedro Cathedral, you might find it hard to believe that it’s the oldest church in Davao City. However, it has been reconstructed since the original structure was built by Spanish settlers in 1847. The cathedral doesn’t look like a traditional church, it’s more like a stadium. This is because it is modelled on the prow of a vinta, a traditional boat fro the island of Mindanao. San Pedro Cathedral is a recognised cultural treasure and is named after the patron saint of Davao.
What to do there: Even if you’re not religious, San Pedro Cathedral is still worth a visit. It’s one of the more unusual religious buildings, thanks to its unique architecture. Head inside to see the original carvings of saints and the old altar, both of which were present before the renovation of the church. If you want to attend mass, there’s a daily ceremony held at 12 midday in English. On the island, around 70% of the population identifies as Christian.
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Davao
The Philippines is generally a safe country for travellers, but there are a few things you should look out for when you travel to Davao. The island of Mindanao has issues with terrorism, but they are rarely in Davao. However, because of this, you’ll be patted down when entering the mall. Otherwise, most things to be wary of are generally common sense issues. Keep your personal belongings out of sight whenever possible, and don’t walk around on your own after dark if it can be avoided!
Smoking is illegal in public places in Davao. So, a cheeky cig in any public facility, even a park, is likely to be met with a fine. If you get caught multiple times, you might face a jail sentence. So, save a cigarette until you’re back at your accommodation!
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#8 – Jack’s Ridge
One of the nicer places in Davao to sightsee
- Spectacular views across the city
- Two restaurants for a delicious dinner
- Learn about the Japanese retreat at the Jack’s Ridge Monument
- Come here for sunrise if you can!
Why it’s awesome: Earlier on, we mentioned Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines as one of the best places to visit in Davao. And while we stand by that, we understand that climbing a mountain isn’t for everyone! However, if you want sublime views of the city and a challenging hike, why not try Jack’s Ridge? You won’t have to dedicate nearly as much time to this, yet you’ll still be treated to awesome panoramic views. What’s more, in this public park there are two restaurants on the ridge, so you may even make this into a romantic walk if you’re travelling with your other half. There are even a couple of places to stay!
What to do there: What to do at Jack’s Ridge depends on the time that you’re visiting. Want the best photos? Considering coming at sunrise. Fancy a lie-in? Any other time of the day is bound to be pretty too. It’s most popular at sunset, so while you’ll get awesome views you might find it harder to get a table at one of the restaurants, or a spot to take a photo from. Jack’s Ridge was the headquarters for the Japanese forces during World War 2, and you can learn about that at the monument up here!
#9 – Talikud Island
A very cool place in Davao to go for a day
- See some of the island’s
- Snorkel and scuba to see the beautiful beach
- Check out one of the beach resorts
Why it’s awesome: Okay, so we said that Davao was the gateway to some of the prettiest islands in the Philippines. So it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t include at least one on our list! At just two hours from Davao City, we’ve decided to go for Talikud Island (although there are many more well worth of your time). As well as some awesome beach resorts, it has some impossibly pretty white sand beaches that turquoise waters lap against!
What to do there: It depends how long you have to spend on Talikud Island. We’d definitely recommend an overnight stay if possible, but if not you can still see a lot in a day. A day pass for the Isla Reta beach resort means you can not only enjoy the pristine beaches, but make use of outdoor grills, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. If you want to experience the cool blue waters of the island, there are lots of coral reefs where you can snorkel or scuba dive. One of the most popular is Coral Garden Beach Resort. To see wildlife without getting wet, you could always visit the Dadatan Bat Conservation Park!
#10 – Dahican Beach
One of the most incredible free places to go in Davao
- One of the most beautiful beaches on Mindanao
- Seven kilometres of white sands and turquoise waters
- Try surfing and boogie boarding
- Relax on a sun lounger and top up your tan!
Why it’s awesome: Let’s round off our list of the best places to visit in Davao with a little day trip. The region may be the gateway to some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, but you don’t need to leave the mainland for a stunning and memorable beach experience! Dahican Beach isn’t in the city though – it’s 200km away. Good excuse for a day trip, right?! It’s well worth going the time and effort of getting here, as there are seven kilometres of sand awaiting your arrival!
What to do there: Once you arrive in Dahican Beach, you have plenty of choices when it comes to things to do. It just depends on how adventurous you are! Once you’ve set your towel down on that pristine white sand, no one would blame you if you chose to just lay there and top up your tan (make sure you use lots of sunscreen). However, if you’ve come all that way you may as well take advantage of those turquoise waters. Rent a boogie board or a surfboard and run down to the waves. We’ll be right behind you!
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Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Davao
So, that’s everything on our list of the best things to do in Davao. We hope you’ve found it helpful! Davao is full of places to eat, friendly locals, and unique sites. It’s perfect for getting to know Filipino culture and visiting a place that sometimes skipped by tourists and travellers!
Whether you want to chill out on a paradise island, hike to the peak of the highest mountain in the Philippines, or sample street food at a Filipino market, you won’t be bored in Davao!
Now that we’ve helped you plan your trip to Davao, our work here is done. All that’s left is to wish you a safe and fun trip. We hope you have a great time!