Cheap street food, white-water rafting, museums and more make Philippines’ second largest city a diverse holiday destination.

Davao, the second largest city in the Philippine after Manila, is shaping up as a strong tourist destination thanks to a progressive mayor who's determined to attract tourists and clean up the city (including a campaign to stop smoking in public places). As a visitor here, you'll be able to stroll (safely!) through a park full of crocodiles, go white-water rafting and explore local history through museums staffed by friendly English speakers. There’s an indigenous culture park showing the stilt houses used by the ethnic minority tribes of Mindanao.

Street food is cheap and plentiful: look for pancakes, waffles, fried bananas and fried chicken on the streets of central Davao around dusk. Hotels range from tiny rooms for less than P1,000 per night to a high-rise companion to the city’s Pagcor casino complex. You can easily set off from Davao by boat to the resorts of Samal Island not far offshore.


When to go

The Philippines is a year-round destination, but rain is least likely from December through April.

Visa requirements

Singaporean nationals can visit any part of the Philippines visa-free for 30 days.


The peso (P) is the monetary unit and there are 100 centavos to one peso. Currency exchange kiosks at the airport and at major banks accept Singapore currency. ATMs are open 24 hours and international credit cards are widely accepted.


Davao International Airport is located 15km (9 miles) from the city centre. Taxis can be found throughout central Davao and at the airport. Fares range from P70 to P250. To safeguard against fare scams, ask your driver to use the meter and negotiate a set price for out-of-town rides, such as to the Crocodile Park and Insular Village. Colourful jeepneys stop along major roads, serving as public buses. Tell the fare collector the name of the stop you require or a nearby landmark as you board.

Health and safety tips

Davao is considered largely safe. As in any destination, avoid the dark, ramshackle parts of town and be alert for pickpockets. Sanitation in Davao, as in much of the country, remains substandard so unless your stomach has a proven record for handling street food, eat in restaurants. The Davao Doctors Hospital (tel: (63) 82 221 2101) accepts foreign nationals regardless of health insurance. Be prepared to pay a minimal registration fee and wait for an unknown period in the main lobby before being assigned a specific ward. Pharmacies across the street can fill prescriptions.

Emergency details

The nearest embassy is in Manila at No. 505, Rizal Drive (corner of 5th Avenue), Bonifacio Global City, 1634 Taguig City (www.mfa.gov.sg/manila, tel: (632) 856 9922).

In an emergency, dial 911.

Basic greetings
English Filipino
Hello Helló
How are you? Kumustá kayó?
Fine, thanks Mabúti namán, salámat
Goodbye Paálam
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Mawaláng gálang nga pô!
Thank you Salámat
Yes Óo
No Hindî
How much? Magkáno?
What's your name? Anó ang inyóng pangálan?
My name is… …ang pangálan ko
Nice to meet you Ikinagágalák kong makilála kayó
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Nasa Facebook/Twitter ka ba?
Where’s an internet café? Saán may ínternet café?
Where can I get a taxi? Saán akó makákabilí ng tíket?
Where is the bus/train station? Saán ang estasyón ng bus/tren?
A one-way/return ticket to… Isáng óne-way/round-trip tíket sa…
Do you have a room for one/two? Méron ba kayóng kuwárto pára sa isá/dalawá?
When's check out? Kailán ang check-out?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Pwéde ba kayóng magrékomendá ng magandáng réstorán/bar?
A table for two, please Mésa pára sa isá/dalawá, please
A menu, please Menú, please
The bill, please Ang bill, please
Where's the toilet? Saán ang CR?
Help! Saklólo!

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Davao Crocodile Park

Riverfront, Corporate City, Diversion Highway Ma-a district

At the Davao Crocodile Park, several sizeable enclosures show this fearless reptile in different stages of growth, including Pangil, a 6-meter-long crocodile. This mini zoo is also home to other species, and there is the chance to hold a tame python.

Davao Museum of History

113 Agusan Circle, Insular Village

The Davao Museum of History, in the Insular Village complex north of downtown, features ethnological maps, dioramas, photographs and displays of tribal artefacts from the ethnic groups of Southern Mindanao.

Museo Dabawenyo

Recto at Pinchon streets

This Museo Dabawenyo  in central Davao displays replicas of indigenous people’s bamboo homes built on stilts to keep away ocean water or wild animals. Some of the colourful tribal artwork in the museum uses local media such as bamboo in place of canvas and rinds of the infamously smelly durian fruit. Look out for history exhibits and don’t be surprised if a guide offers free interpretive services.

Tribu K. Mindanaw

Riverfront, Corporate City, Diversion Highway Ma-a district

Located next to the Davao Crocodile Park, Tribu K. Mindanaw is a quiet, forested riverside showcase of bamboo stilt and tree houses similar to those used by some of the 25 indigenous tribes in Mindanao. Visitors can walk right up to many of them. An outdoor restaurant in the park serves traditional dishes and drinks, including coffee from beans grown around the Philippines' highest peak, Mount Apo.


Abreeza Ayala Mall

J.P. Laurel Avenue

The Abreeza Ayala Mall has around 300 commercial spaces and its upmarket stores include the top foreign-brand clothes. Fare at its restaurants ranges from intensely local cuisine to obviously international dishes. With snazzy outdoor lights and plenty of parking, the mall resembles something from a swanky suburb in North America.

Budget $$$

Aldevinco Shopping Center

C.M. Recto Street, corner of Roxas Avenue

The Aldevinco Shopping Center has good selections of Muslim brass and tribal artefacts from around Mindanao. Vendors in the dark, sweaty and sometimes congested mall expect shoppers to bargain, so don’t be shy about starting from a low price and accepting the middle ground.

Budget $

Gaisano Mall of Davao

J.P. Laurel Avenue

Better known as G-Mall, the Gaisano Mall of Davao is a reasonably high-end shopping plaza near downtown which has seven floors of shops, arcades and theatres. Its crowning highlight is a feature known as The Peak, a park located on the mall's higher levels.

Budget $$

SM City Ecoland

Quimpo Boulevard, near Tulip Drive

Part of a chain of high-end malls around the Philippines, SM City Ecoland, near downtown Davao, comes with a cinema, a major department store and a toy store, which is part of its draw as a family-friendly attraction. There’s also a National Bookstore, part of a country-wide chain, which stocks some current English-language titles.

Budget $$$


Colasa’s Barbecue

Rotunda Magallanes at A. Pinchon Street

The festive, semi-outdoor barbecue spot in central Davao stays open late serving all manner of meat from the grill. It’s close to a park, one of the few green spaces in town, and other attractions. Ample seating makes Colasa’s Barbecue ideal for large groups of hungry people.

Budget $

Davao Marina Tuna

J.P. Laurel Avenue, Lanang

Grilled tuna, giant crabs and shrimp, much of it starting out live in tanks, top the menu at Davao Marina Tuna while the sashimi and swordfish are also popular. There’s ample seating, photos of the food to facilitate ordering and a fish chart on the wall for those keen to study the origin of their meals.

Budget $$

Luz Kinilaw Place

Salmonan Quezon Boulevard

Luz Kinilaw Place, a spacious mid-town restaurant, serves grilled tuna, a catch common off the coast of Davao, and kinilaw, a cold, chopped marinated dish of very fresh fish, vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, calamansi juice, salt and pepper. It’s eaten at restaurants throughout the Philippines.

Budget $

Mandarin Tea Garden

Ecoland Drive, Phase 7

The Mandarin Tea Garden specialises in dim sum, noodles, rice dishes, a range of congee and various kinds of soup. Drinks include Chinese tea, black tea and an array of juices based on local tropical fruits. For dessert, try a leche flan, more Spanish than Chinese, or an iced sago with coconut milk.

Budget $$


Hotel Uno

C.M. Recto Street

The unassuming but well-kept Hotel Uno, situated conveniently in central Davao, comes with eight room grades, from tiny ones without air-con to fully furnished suites. Some rooms have views of the island’s signature peak Mount Apo. Rates range from P250–1,700 pesos per night.

Budget $

My Hotel

San Pedro Street at Legaspi Street

Located in Davao’s older downtown district, My Hotel offers sparsely furnished and modern rooms, air-con, parking and Wi-fi. Its four room grades, from single to suite, go for P800–2,770 pesos per night. At My Café you can start the day with a Filipino or American breakfast, followed by pork adobo, three kinds of steak or a local spaghetti recipe.

Budget $

Park Inn by Radisson

J.P. Laurel Avenue

Located next to the SM Lanang Premier Mall, the Park Inn stands out for its brightly coloured rooms. Guests get their own work stations and LCD televisions, and free internet use. The compound has space for conferences. Its on-site RBG Restaurant is a bar and grill whose menu features mangosteen (a local fruit) cheesecake.

Budget $$$

Villa Margarita Hotel

J.P. Laurel Avenue, Bajada district

The Villa Margarita Hotel stands out for its Spanish-style courtyard and festively decorated lobbies. It’s got a restaurant-bar with Filipino food and a landscaped small pool out back, removed from the busy road on which the hotel is located. Villa Maragarita Hotel is halfway between downtown and the Davao airport, convenient for access to the Abreeza Ayala Mall and along prime jeepney routes.

Budget $$

Waterfront Insular Hotel

J.P. Laurel Avenue, Lanang

Part of a small chain, the Waterfront Insular Hotel has 159 guest rooms, three restaurants, two bars, a jogging path, a poolside gym, its own pier and, unique in Davao, a weaving centre. The lobby features Mindanao artwork. The site is convenient located for access to Davao’s airport, a golf course, a casino, and the Davao Museum.

Budget $$$

Araw ng Dabaw

16 March

Davao dwellers feast and hold a parade along the city’s main streets, which are lined with musical performances, sporting events and other displays of culture.

Davao SummerFest

Date varies in May

This month-long event is a lineup of sports and cultural competitions, with basketball and cheerdancing among the highlights. Visitors are very welcome and can join in the fun.


Date varies in August

People in Davao use this week-long festival to give thanks for the city's bounties. Parades, dances and costume competitions honour the city's flowers, fruits and multi-ethnic legacy.

Pasko Fiesta sa Davao

Date varies in December

This holiday celebration event begins with the festive lighting at People’s Park in central Davao, which kicks off the Christmas season in Davao. Specific events vary from year to year.


Davao the city is quite different from the scenic and mountainous island of Mindanao where it’s located. But a series of in-town landmarks offers a quick snapshot of what might be found on the remote and sometimes embattled island known for its multiple tribes and religious tension.


Start off your tour of Davao's compact centre at the Museo Dabawenyo on Recto at Pinchon streets. Here you'll discover replicas of indigenous people’s bamboo homes built on stilts to keep away ocean water or wild animals. The vivid tribal artwork on display uses unusual local materials such as bamboo and even the rinds of durian fruit. The Museum's helpful staffers offer free, personal interpreter services.


While downtown, take a look at St Peter’s Cathedral on San Pedro Street. It’s the oldest church in the city and exhibits a blend of Muslim and Christian architecture, representing the island’s dominant religions. Modern Davao, including bookstores and internet cafés, extends into the grid around the church and museum. Just along the road on Camus Street is the People's Park with its artificial waterfalls and dancing fountains that come to life at night.


Grab a cab to north Davao and tour Insular Village.  At the village’s T’boli Weaving Center, tribal women in native attire weave dagmay, a fabric made from abaca fibres. Insular Village Phase I also houses the Davao Museum, a great place to learn about the island's peoples, with its fascinating collection of ethnological maps, dioramas, photographs and tribal artefacts.

Places to visit:
Museo Dabawenyo, St Peter's Cathedral, People's Park, Insular Village, Davao Museum.


In the forested hills just 15 minutes from town by taxi you can get a sense of Mindanao’s wildlife and native cultures in a garden-like setting. The top act in this enjoyable complex of parks and eateries is the Davao Crocodile Park. Dozens of 60cm-long juveniles sun themselves in the heavily fenced compound replete with a variety of palms offering cool shade. Pangil, a 6-meter-long crocodile, is the star of the mini zoo that also houses tigers, toucans, native deer, and a civet. An irresistible photo opportunity is an encounter with Buloy, a 3.3-meter-long albino Indian python, who is tame enough to drape around your shoulders – if you're brave enough!


Admission to the crocodile park also allows entry to a neighboring Butterfly Garden, so full of its celebrated winged insects that your camera lens can capture multiple species with minimal effort. At the Davao Walk ’N Waterball pond you can float in giant transparent plastic bubbles over a pool of water, while the Tribu K. Mindanaw is a collection of bamboo stilt homes similar to those used by some of the 25 indigenous tribes in Mindanao. A restaurant inside Tribu K serves traditional dishes and drinks, including coffee from beans grown around Mount Apo (the country's highest peak, some 40km southwest of Davao). Tribu K puts on a 'fire show' around dusk (Fri–Sun). The Riverwalk Exotic Resto-Grill next door to Tribu K serves crocodile meat (which tastes surprisingly good), as well as more familiar dishes.

Places to visit:
Davao Crocodile Park, Butterfly Garden, Tribu K. Mindanaw.