As you can probably imagine, I get a lot of e-mail requests from people wondering what kinds of things they can do when they visit Davao City. I generally get such an inquiry at least once per week, and I usually answer the questions directly via e-mail, but since it is something that is asked so often, I thought that it might be a good idea to put it in writing and post it here in my column so that others can enjoy these wonderful day trips and really get to know Davao too!
Last week, I got an e-mail from a South African couple who moved here in February 2008, and have been wondering what activities I can suggest for those in Davao City. So, let’s have a look at some of the things that I suggest.
- Davao City has a lot of Health Clubs these days! If you enjoy fitness, try to pay a visit to one of the health clubs to enjoy all sorts of fitness activities. I love swimming, and I generally swim weekdays at Holiday Health Spa on F. Torres Street. I would also recommend Marco Polo Fitness Center and Metro Lifestyle Health Club.
- Visit the Eagle Farm in Calinan. This is the only spot in the world where you can go an witness the great Philippine Eagle (formerly known as the Monkey Eating Eagle) in captivity. There are a number of Eagles here, and this is the only place in the world that has successfully bred the Philippine Eagle in captivity. The Philippine Eagle is an endangered species, and the number of them remaining in the world is extremely limited.
- While at the Eagle Farm, also visit Malagos Gardens, which is just a few minutes away. At Malagos you can witness beautiful tropical gardens, walk a nature trail, even climb up into some great tree houses, and see very old fruit trees that still product durian, pomelo and marang, among other fruits. The food at Malagos is also excellent, so plan to have lunch at the place too!
- Don’t miss a trip to Eden Nature Park in Toril. Eden is nature at it’s best, located up in the mountains overlooking Davao and the Gulf of Davao. You can tour the working farm where they grow fruits, vegetables and other plants. They also offer a fishing pond where you can catch tilapia, and bring it home for supper! In addition, Eden offers a new Zip Line that you can ride down, if you are adventurous!
- Visit Bukidnon! Bukidnon is the neighboring Province to Davao, and it is one of my favorite parts of Mindanao! Bukidnon, in Bisaya means “Mountain” and indeed you are in the Mountains when you get to Bukidnon! If you enjoy nature, and some cooler temperatures, you don’t want to miss a day trip to Bukidnon Province!
- Visit Samal Island. Whether you enjoy visiting beautiful resorts, or you just like exploring the backroads, Samal is a place that you will enjoy. The world class resort “Pearl Farm” is located on Samal Island, and while it is not cheap, it is one of the most desirable resorts in the Philippines. If Pearl Farm is a little rich for your wallet, that’s OK, because there are dozens of Resorts on Samal Island, and you are sure to find one that fits your budget! One of my favorites is Chema’s by the Sea, and one of the most popular resorts on the island is called “Paradise Island.”
- Shopping! Davao is a regional shopping hub for Mindanao. There are many Malls in town, and you can find almost anything you might be looking for. Current malls in Davao include Victoria Plaza, Gaisano Mall, Chimes, Gaisano South Mall, NCCC Mall, SM City Davao and probably one or two others that I have forgotten to include! Also, there are two malls that will be gracing the City in the near future: Robinson’s and Ayala, which are currently in the planning stages. If you are looking for authentic Mindanao items, try Aldevinco Shopping Center, which is adjacent to Marco Polo Hotel.
- Enjoy the fruits! Davao is famous for it’s fruits! The King of Fruits in Davao is the exotic Durian Fruit. The Pomelo also is a favorite of Dabawenyos. Other varieties that you might enjoy would include Marang, Mangosteen and others. Fruits are abundant and inexpensive in Davao.
- As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Davao is the Coffee haven of the Philippines. Whether you want to get a good cup of “Americano” coffee, as they call it here, or an exotic Durian Coffee, you’ll find it here in Davao at one of it’s dozens of Coffee Shops. Another thing that you might not have known is that nearly every coffee shop in the City offers free Wi-Fi access, so don’t forget to bring your laptop if you are going out to enjoy the coffee!
- Go for a walk! One of the best ways to get to know Davao is to park your car, get out and do some walking! Davao is a very safe place, and I am now scared to advise you that you can get out around the city and walk almost anywhere you want to go. Not much to worry about in the area of safety. Go down to Uyangaren (China town) and walk around down there! You’ll come across some unique things that you never expected to see.
- Visit Mt. Apo! Mt. Apo is the highest peak in the Philippines, standing at 9,692 ft. (2,954 meters). The best access to Mt. Apo would be by first traveling to Kidapawan, then heading up to the mountain. If you are a mountain climber, give a climb of Mt. Apo a try!
- Eat! Davao is known to be a place where the food is great, and inexpensive too! A while back I wrote a column about my Ten Favorite Restaurants in Davao, but if you search you can find a hundred favorites, I bet!
- White Water Rafting. If you go to the Riverfront Development in Maa you can sign up for a whitewater rafting trip that is a lot of fun, I am told. I haven’t tried it yet, but I hear a lot of good things about the Whitewater rafting!
- Crocodile Farm. Also located at Riverfront Development in Maa you will find the Davao Crocodile Park, which features dozens of crocs as well as other animals like snakes, monitor lizards and even an ostrich!
- Butterfly House. Again, located at Riverfront Development in Maa, you will find the Davao Butterfly House. You enter this place, and there are literally hundreds of butterflies. Children love this place.
- Head up to Jack’s Ridge for a spectacular view of the City!
There is a lot to do in Davao City, and I have no doubt that I have left out plenty of excellent activities. If there is something you enjoy doing in Davao, how about leaving a comment below and letting me know. Maybe it’s something I’ve never done before and would enjoy myself!