Davao, the third biggest city in the Philippines, is becoming more and more of a favourite with tourists. That’s largely because it offers such an appealing blend of urban and natural attractions. In just one weekend, you can make offerings in a Buddhist temple, wander through a garden filled with sculptures and man-made water features, visit crocodiles and eagles, hang out on a blissfully secluded beach and climb a spectacular mountain. Given that the city has become so popular in recent times, it’s a good idea to book ahead, especially if you want to stay in hotels in Davao. Here’s a handful of the most colourful and interesting attractions.
Right in the heart of the city lies People’s Park. Free to enter, it offers four hectares of adventures, including epic sculptures of people, animals and the like; a dome dedicated to the rich, sweet durian fruit; a fountain that dances; man-made waterfalls towering to a height of ten metres against a dramatic volcanic rock face; a playground for children; and a running track for the health conscious.
The Philippine Eagle Nature Centre
Like many of the globe’s most beautiful animals and birds, the majestic Philippine Eagle is on the verge of extinction, as far as wild populations go. The Philippine Eagle Nature Centre (Malagos, Calinan) represents an attempt to ensure its survival. Visitors get the opportunity to visit thirty-six eagles, ten other species of bird, four mammals and a couple of reptiles. Admission is just P50 for adults and P30 for under 18s.
For another wildlife experience, there’s the Davao Crocodile Park (Ma-a). It’s an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most dangerous and ancient beasts. Thousands of freshwater crocodiles, as well as more aggressive ‘salties’ call the park home. It’s certainly not an attraction for the faint-hearted.
Lon Wa Buddhist Temple
Interested in something more tranquil? How about the Lon Wa Buddhist Temple? Given that the Philippines is largely Muslim, Buddhist temples are few and far between. Lon Wa is the biggest in Mindanao. You will have to travel a little way, though – it’s about four kilometres north east of the CBD, on J.P. Cabaguio Avenue. There’s every chance you might see the residential monks and nuns praying and/or conducting rituals.
Island Garden City of Samal
Slightly further away again, but definitely worth the trip, is the Island Garden City of Samal. It’s covered with secluded beaches and coves, some of which are frequented by the public, others of which belong to particular resorts. You can visit for just a day or stay overnight. Boats leave from Sta Ana Wharf, Sasa Km. 11 Wharf and Sasa Km. 11 Ferryboat Landing.
The Philippines’ highest peak (at 2954 metres), Mt. Apo, is just a stone’s throw away from the city. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can walk to the top; if not, there are plenty of shorter day walks available. The landscape is stunning, offering untouched forests, rich swamplands and volcanic rock crags.