Davao City: Your complete weekend itinerary

Glen Santillan

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Davao City: Your complete weekend itinerary
One of these weekends, experience Davao's picturesque landscapes, pristine beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and diverse culture

When you think of Davao, you’d probably think of Philippine Eagle, the country’s national bird, which can be found there, but there’s a lot more to see in the region.

It is blessed with both natural and man-made attractions like white sand beaches, majestic waterfalls, interesting parks and more.

A lot of tourists visit Davao on weekends and enjoy the city’s attractions, as well as nearby tourist spots specifically in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) which is only less than 30 minutes from Davao City. (READ: From Davao City, make the trip to these 8 beautiful beaches

If you’re planning to spend a weekend in Davao, you should arrive on Friday night so you can maximize your vacation. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your Davao holiday: 

Day 1 (Friday Night)

Enjoy an Overlooking View of Davao City at Jack’s Ridge Resort & Restaurant

VIEW OF DAVAO. Take it in at Jack’s Ridge. Photo by Gene Ang

Located at the mountain slope of Shrine Hills in Matina, Jack’s Ridge is one popular destination when it comes to dining and recreation.  

Once part of the Japanese forces’ headquarters during World War II, Jack’s Ridge offers a wide arrays of restaurants and recreational facilities to enjoy. Plus with its distinctive and panoramic view of the city, it’s a great spot to begin your Davao journey.

How to get there: Cabs are easy to find in Davao. From the city proper, taking a cab to Jack’s Ridge will cost you about P150.00 (about US $3.35).

If you are on a budget, take a jeepney with route Matina/Bangkal/Ulas and tell the driver to drop you off at crossing Shrine Hills. Fare ranges from P8.00 (just US $.17) to P15.00 (US $.33). From there, tricycle will likely be available to take you to Jack’s Ridge. 

Day 2

Early visit to Philippine Eagle Center & Malagos Garden Resort

SCOUT BINAY. One of the Philippine Eagles at the sanctuary. Photo by Glen Santillan

Located about an hour away from the city proper, Philippine Eagle Center is a major tourist destination in Davao.

The center is home to a number of Philippine Eagles and other birds, mammals, and reptiles. The center is managed by the Philippine Eagle Foundation, which is tasked to provide sanctuary and protect this endangered bird.

For a minimal fee, Philippine Eagle Center is open to the public. Entrance fee for adults is P50 (about US $1.12) and P30 (US $.67) for visitors 18 years old and below.

If you are not in a hurry, you can also drop a quick visit to the nearby Malagos Garden Resort, a 12-hectare nature theme park just a short distance away from the Philippine Eagle Center.

LITTLE CREATURES. Friendly birds at Malagos Garden Resort. Photo by Joshua Alfelor

It is an accredited wildlife farm with a great landscape. The resorts’ attractions include a butterfly sanctuary, a bird park, waling-waling forest and a zoo. Entrance fee for adults is P100 (about US $2.23) and P80 (about US $1.78) for children.

How to get there: Private car is preferable. But the cheapest way to go there is by taking a van from Bankerohan. The van leaves every 15 minutes during peak hours from Bankerohan to Calinan  with fare  at P40 (US $.89). From Calinan, take a tricycle or habal-habal to the center. 

If you have a little extra money and prefer taking a cab, it will cost you around P800 (US $17.84) for a one-way trip.

Experience Monfort Bat Cave Sanctuary

GEOFFROY'S ROUSETTES. One of the cave openings with millions of fruit bats. Photo by Glen Santillan

Located in Barangay Tambo, Babak District, Island Garden City of Samal, Monfort Bat Cave Sanctuary is home to an estimated of 2.4 million fruit bats known as Geoffroy’s Rousettes. The bat cave made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 as the largest colony of Geoffroy’s Rousettes in the world.

When you have more time, do not forget to go down to the beach area and enjoy a magnificent view of the island from the wooden bridge.

Entrance fee is P100.00 (US $2.23) per person plus an environmental fee of P5.00 (US$.11).

How to get there: From Davao City proper, take a jeepney to Magsaysay Park then ride an Island City Express Bus to Samal (P30.00 or US $.67). Alight at Babak Public Market and take a habal-habal going to Monfort (P20.00 or US $.45)). Travel time is around 45 minutes. Alternatively, you may also go directly to Sasa Wharf, take the RORO across gulf of Davao. From Babak Port take a habal-habal going to Monfort. Fare should be around P50.00 (US 1.12).

Take a dip in the cold water of Hagimit Falls

FRESH AND COOL. The most popular spot in Hagimit Falls. Photo by @jepepips

Hagimit Falls is another natural attraction in Samal. It is a relatively small but picturesque tiered waterfall covered in lush vegetation. It is located about two kilometers away from Poblacion Peñaplata, the city’s capital district.

This is an excellent place to bond with friends and families and enjoy its cold and refreshing water and is frequently visited by both local and foreign tourists. 

A minimal entrance fee of P40.00 (US $.89) and P5.00 (US$.11) environmental fee are being collected for the maintenance of the park. Cottages are also available for rent ranging from P500 (US $11.15) – P1,000 (US $22.30).

How to get there: From Davao City proper, take a jeepney to Magsaysay Park then ride an Island City Express Bus to Samal. Alight at Penaplata Bus Terminal, then ride a habal-habal going to Hagimit Falls.

Explore Tagbaobo Ecotourism Site

TAGBAOBO FALLS. A closer look at Tagbaobo Falls, also known as Mangongawong Falls. Photo by Glen Santillan

The community-based ecotourism site of Tagbaobo is another interesting place to visit in Samal. It is not yet as popular as the two tourist spots mentioned above, but has been gaining a lot of attention lately. The ecotourism site was initiated by the Tagbaobo Tourism Council to help the locals earn a sustainable income by making them a part of the program.

At Tagbaobo, you can enjoy the beauty of the community’s natural attractions and at the same time experience the way of life and culture of the Sama tribe. You can visit Tagbaobo Falls, go horseback riding, view a rice farming demo, go snorkeling, diving, and more. (READ: No excuse not to dive in Davao)

TRAVELS WITH LOCALS. A visitor plowing the rice field guided by a local farmer. Photo by Glen Santillan

Homestays are available in the community to give visitors more time to enjoy their holiday. When visiting the Sama tribe community, do not forget to try their amik, a local delicacy, and their local coffee made from corn.

DEMO. A member of the Sama tribe preparing a local delicacy. Photo by Glen Santillan

How to get there: A visitor has two options to get to Tagbaobo. One is DIY tour and another is by a guided tour.

If you want the former, you may take a bus from Davao City, alight in Penaplata Bus Terminal, take another bus to Kaputian and take a habal-habal from the terminal to your chosen destination.

If you prefer the latter, try an arranged tour, like one from Ms. Ella, a DOT-certified tour guide via email at lucedelsole.inlandtours@gmail.com.

Day 3


Swim in the beaches of Samal Island

SUN, SEA, SAND. Go boating at Samalan! Photo by Glen Santillan

The Island Garden City of Samal is blessed with idyllic white sand beaches and interesting underwater marine resources. Some of the nicest beaches in the city are Kaputian Beach Resort, Samalan Camp & Sea, Canibad Resort, Maxima Aquafun Resort and of course the famed and luxurious Pearl Farm Resort.

These resorts offer different types of amenities and water activities that will suit whatever floats your boat. 

Sample the best of Davao fruits

KING OF FRUITS. Fresh Durian at Magsaysay Park. Photo by Glen Santillan

Davao is abundantly blessed with tropical fruits which are available all year round. It is where you can find fruits like durian, mangosteen, marang, lanzones, pomelo and banana at very affordable price.

A good place to do a fruit trip is at Magsaysay Park and Bankerohan Public Market. Fruits in both places are relatively cheaper than buying in pasalubong (gift) shops and malls. 

People’s Park

PEOPLE'S PARK. A durian-shaped dome inside the park. Photo by Glen Santillan

Located in the heart of Davao, People’s Park is the most popular park in the city. It is a 4-hectare family-friendly park with paved walking paths covered in lush vegetation.

It features a durian-shaped dome and is decorated with sculptures of Kublai Milan, a renowned artist in Mindanao. Many locals love to come here, especially families, and the park is open to the public for free. 

How to get there: People’s Park is located at the corners of Camus and J. Palma Hill Street right across Casa Leticia and a walking distance from Apo View Hotel. It is a popular place so most locals know where it is and should point you in the right direction, should you ask.

Visit Davao Crocodile Park

PANGIL. One of the largest crocodiles in the Philippines. 'Pangil' is 'fang' in Filipino. Photo by Glen Santillan

Davao Crocodile Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Davao City. It is located in Diversion Road, Maa about 20 minutes away from the city proper. The park offers several attractions and collections of different species of birds, mammals and reptiles. Their main attraction is “Pangil” – one of the country’s largest captive crocodiles.

Aside from the animals, the farm also has a restaurant which offers exotic dishes like crocodile sisig and crocodile ice cream.

Entrance fee to the park is P200.00 (US $4.47) for adults and P100.00 (US $2.23) for children.

VIVID COLORS. A peahen displaying her colorful plumage. Photo by Glen Santillan

How to get there: The easiest way to go there is by taking a taxi. It is close to the city center and fare should not be more than P150.00 (US $3.34). If you are on a tight budget, you can take a Maa jeep from the city proper, alight in Diversion road and take a taxi from there. Fare should only be around P50 (US $1.11).

Explore D’ Tunnel Family Resort

HIDEOUT. One of the attractions inside the Japanese Tunnel. Photo by Joshua Alfelor

Located along Davao’s diversion road, D’ Japanese Tunnel Family Resort’s main attraction is its man-made hideout, which is said to have been built during World War II.

It was accidentally discovered during a road construction in 1960 and was converted into a resort, complete with a restaurant and swimming pool. 

Entrance fee to the tunnel is P50 (about US $1.12) for adults and P20 (US $.45) for children.

How to get there: Take a taxi from the city proper and tell the driver to drop you at D’ Japanese Tunnel in Diversion Road. As of the moment, there are no public utility jeepneys passing that area.

Where to eat?

Lachi’s Sansrival atbp.

DESSERT FIRST? Assorted cheesecakes from Lachi’s. Photo by Glen Santillan

Lachi’s offers mouthwatering desserts that will satisfy your sweet tooth, particularly what many call the best sansrival in the city. Try the original sansrival, and also the durian flavor, for a taste of Davao. Another must-try is their durian and green tea cheesecakes.

Pakfry at Palovince Place

PAKFRY. Uniquely Davao dish. Photo by Glen Santillan

Pakfry is a uniquely Davao dish made from tuna buntot (tail). Pakfry is derived from the words paksiw and fry. As the name suggests, it goes through two cooking processes – cooking in vinegar with spices and deep frying it to crisp the skin. Palovince Place has the best pakfry in the city. It is one of the few restaurants in Davao featured in the book Linamnam by Chef Claude Tayag.

What are you waiting for? Visit Davao and discover the wonders of the region. – Rappler.com

Glen Santillan is a freelance HR Consultant and a travel junkie. He has backpacked around the Philippines in 50 days by land. He is currently the Vice President of the Davao Bloggers Society. He is the writer behind Escape Manila, a Pinoy travel blog.

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