There are those cities that, when you visit them, it feels less like real life and more like you were dropped into a picturesque set of someone’s fantasy. Davao City is definitely one of those.
The largest city in the Philippines and the second largest city in the world, Davao City is a sprawling metropolis located in the Southeastern part of Mindanao. With over a million people of population now composed mostly of Filipinos, Chinese and Koreans, this place hosts modernity bustling with life, verve and color.
Thanks to Cebu Pacific Air’s promo fares to local destinations, we were able to get very affordable flight rates to travel to this premier hub (for the first time). One of my godfathers lives there with his family. As a long-time family friend, he volunteered to be our tour guide and accompanied us with our tripping. 😀
We need not stay in a luxurious hotel to enjoy the scenery and restaurants Davao has to offer. Because we came there to enjoy the backdrops that greet us “Welcome to paradise,” food and tourist spots, the four of us stayed in a mediocre inn located right smack in the middle of Chinatown – Davao.
Warning: This is an extremely long post! Please take your time to browse through the details of our trip. 😀
Our 3D2N Davao Itinerary
We arrived at the Davao International Airport (or Francisco Bangoy International Airport) at past 3PM, after the two-hour delay in take-off (caused by air traffic) from Manila. There we learned that Davao is a smoke-free city and anyone who is caught smoking in public areas will be penalized (multa of at most PHp 10,000). This campaign has been going on since 2002 per Ordinance No. 043-02.
We took a cab to B.S. Inn where we checked in at 4:20PM. Service, ambiance and rates were good. We took the matrimonial deluxe room at PHp 1000 per night. The hotel has no extra frills and facilities except for the Chinese restaurant on the fifth floor: the roof garden. Phone inside the room can be used for local calls free of charge. You can also ask the receptionist to store food in the public refrigerator and take it back when you need it conveniently.
We had our late lunch at Kong Ai Vegetarian Centrum across the inn where we met my godfather with his friend. Kong Ai Vegetarian Centrum serves Asian fusion vegetarian cuisine and sells vegetarian frozen food, including faux ham, nuggets, patties, vegetarian oyster sauce, seasonings and other vegan-friendly food products. Luckily, it was open on a Holy Thursday. 😀 The owner is a Chinese Taoist who was able to easily connect with us because of our common language (Hokkien).
Cheap on the price? Yes. At only PHp 295, we had five viands and four cups of rice with drinks. But meager on the taste? Certainly not!
Next, we visited my godfather’s family in their house and together went to Gaisano Mall (or G-MALL) where we continued to talk about life as of late. At 34°C, weather in Davao was hotter than that in Manila. For a bit of refreshment, we got cool drinks from Happy Lemon at The Peak.
My aunt reserved a table at the Grand Emperor Seafood Palace for dinner. This restaurant is said to be a gem when it comes to Chinese dining in Davao. Their chef is from Macao, and we had a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine yet again.
Holy smokes! The restaurant was packed and completely full of people. What we had: Birds Nest with Seafood Soup, Fish Fillet with Soy Sauce, Crabmeat Foo Yong, Pancit Canton Seafood, Braised Lo-han Vegetables with Bean Curd, Stir Fried Chicken Chuan Kiong Style and Plain and Vegetable Rice. Food were all not bad and were affordable. In fact, they were cooked and presented nicely and scored five stars according to my standard. 😀
Some say that a visit to Davao is not complete without eating durians. So we dropped by at Meling’s Quality Fruits shortly and bought durian, marang and mangosteen.
It was my first time to eat durian in its actual fruit form (not in pastries, moon cake, biscuit, cake, ice cream and the like) and I didn’t like it! Haha sorry to say! *nyuk nyuk nyuk* 😯 At 10PM, we were driven back to the hotel and that concluded Day 1 of our escapade.
We woke up early at 6AM and had quick breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s. Later, my godfather and his family took us to Eden Nature Park, a sanctuary that is 95% man-made. Located at the foot of Mount Talomo, Toril, this place boasts outstanding ecological spots. At 3,500 feet above sea level, Eden Nature Park is a “wonderful testament to how man’s ingenuity and concern for the environment can create a paradise on earth.”
My aunt reserved eight headcounts a week before, so we did not encounter any more hassle upon entrance. Along our journey, we saw various animals in the wild and plants in hydrophonic gardens. Aboard Eden’s tour bus, we learned about the different attractions such as the animal sanctuaries, flora and fauna thriving in their natural environment and other spots from our guide and the synced and recorded narration playing through the vehicle’s radio. It was like being in school all over again. ^_^
We had the famous buffet lunch at the Vista Restaurant. Tourist attractions aren’t normally synonymous with catering perfection, but here, we were served with tantalizingly great food. Expense was reasonable as food cost was already inclusive of the park’s entrance fee at PHp 470 per head. Vegetables and spices are claimed to be harvested from their very own organic gardens.
With stomachs full again, we only viewed the Skyrider / zipline, horseback-riding, swimming, fishing and trekking areas without attempting to pursue any activity. Nevertheless, we have seen most of Eden (except the resort area) as a spiritual retreat, a cultural excursion, a sensuous feast. 😀
Not exactly nearby, Malagos Garden Resort was where we found ourselves next. It is a 12-hectare inland Nature Theme Resort with many attractions such as the Malagos Bird Park, where we fed the colorful birds; the Butterfly Sanctuary that we didn’t get to visit because butterflies were small in number that time; the Waling Waling Forest, which reminded us of the beauty of the Waling Waling or “Vanda Sanderiana,” an orchid endemic to the mountains of Mindanao; the Petting Zoo, where we saw and fed donkeys, miniature horses, goats, sheep and other cute farm animals; and the cottages where tourists can stay in overnight.
Entrance fee was PHp 100 per head and that includes the guided educational tour that led us to experience “a unique blend of art and nature amidst the cool mountain breeze of the highlands of Davao City.”
Our third nature and wildlife encounter this day was spent in Davao Crocodile Park, a seven-hectare tourism center where we interacted with a collection of animals. Entrance fee per person was PHp 200 and that included everything from viewing the animals in their respective cages, watching the animal shows to taking pictures of ourselves touching them with our bare hands. Most unforgettable moments were when we held the boa constrictor, baby crocodile and the white cockatoo.
There we met Pangil (or when translated to English, “fangs”), the country’s second largest crocodile at 18 feet long. Part of the show was poking and probing Pangil with a stick by one of the caretakers in its caged pond. We watched how Pangil the giant reptile responded with so much strength. It moved its tail and body, splashing water in the pond to the audiences. Oh, the thrill!
Aside from those, guests are welcome to visit the souvenir shops, art galleries, tattoo shops, restaurants and food stalls inside.
To end the day with a bang, my godfather and his family treated us to the elegant Café Marco, an international buffet (eat-all-you-can) restaurant in Marco Polo Hotel. Dishes were varied with Asian and Mediterranean selections. Guests can as well request to have raw seafood, poultry and pork slices to be cooked either grilled or fried. At PHp 888 pax for dinner, everything was perfectly worth its value.
Our last day in Davao took off in Jollibee where we had breakfast. Opposite was the NCCC Mall (New City Commercial Corporation) where we explored a bit before we were fetched to come round at Adoy Enterprises in Magsaysay Avenue and see their store operations.
Then we sashayed throughout Abreeza Mall Davao by Ayala Land, Inc. and SM Lanang Premier by SM Prime Holdings. For lunch, we decided to sneak into KFC as we didn’t want to eat meals served in the plane. We reached the airport just in time for our scheduled flight at 2:30PM.
This has been another great encounter of places in the Philippines. If I were to document everything we’ve seen and learned from our vacation, I would have to write a tome. But this post is a nice way to start scratching the surface and good enough to mark my suggestions for other people’s itinerary when they come to visit Davao.
Are you planning to travel to Davao anytime soon? Feel free to add your itineraries and suggested places and activities in the comments below. If you still have troubles picturing this dazzling and dreamy destination, then plan ahead and go to Davao yourself next time. Ciao! 😀
B.S. Inn (Business Hotel)
Gempesaw and Moneteverde Streets, Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2213980
Kong Ai Vegetarian Centrum
Bruno Gempesaw Street, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Region 8000, Philippines
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2255894
Gaisano Mall Davao
J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City, Davao Del Sur, Philippines
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2262244
Grand Emperor Seafood Palace
Victoria Plaza Complex, J. P. Laurel Avenue, Bajada, Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2275785
Meling’s Quality Fruits
Madrazo Commercial Complex, Davao City
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2279552
Eden Nature Park
Mount Talomo, Toril, Davao City
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2991020
Malagos Garden Resort
Malagus Baguio Dist., Davao City
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2211545
Davao Crocodile Park
Riverfront, Corporate City, Diversion Highway, Ma-a, Davao City
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2868883 or +63 (0) 82 2861054
Marco Polo Hotel – Davao
C.M. Recto Street, 8000 Davao City
Phone: +63 (0) 82 2210888