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Davao City: The Royalty City

The City of Davao is a highly-urbanized Philippine city. The city serves as the regional center of the Davao Region and the center of Metro Davao. The City Mayors Foundation ranks Davao City as the 87th fastest growing city in the world, and it has been listed by the FDi magazine as the 10th "Asian City of the Future".

by Jhaypee Guia on August 06, 2012
Davao City: The Royalty City


The City of Davao is a highly-urbanized Philippine city. The city serves as the regional center of the Davao Region and the center of Metro Davao. The City Mayors Foundation ranks Davao City as the 87th fastest growing city in the world, and it has been listed by the FDi magazine as the 10th "Asian City of the Future".

Name's history

Local historians of Davao claim that the word davao came from the phonetic blending of the word of three Bagobo subgroups when referring to Davao River, an essential waterway which empties itself into the Davao Gulf near the city. The aboriginal Obos who inhabit the hinterlands of the region called the river, Davoh; the Clatta or Guiangans called it Duhwow, or Davau, and the Tagabawa Bagobos, Dabu. To the Obos, the word davoh also means a place "beyond the high grounds", alluding to the settlements located at the mouth of Davao River which were surrounded by high rolling hills. When asked where they were going, the usual reply is davoh, while pointing towards the direction of the town. Duhwow also refers to a trading settlement where they barter their forest goods in exchange for salt or other commodities.


Davao's rich heritage in arts, culture and history come from its indigenous tribes, among the predominant groups include Bagobo, Mandaya, Mansaka, Manobo, Ata and B'laan.

According to historians, the word "Davao" is a result of the phonetic blending of words from three Bagobo sub-groups, meaning "beyond the higher grounds" or "over the hills yonder", a reference to the location of Davao River, a trading settlement. When different tribes went to the area, they would say that they were going to "davoh" (Obo group, considered the earliest tribe to settle in the area), "duhwow" (Clatta group) or "dabu" (Tagabawa group) as the place was surrounded by the hills of Buhangin, Magtuod, Maa, and Matina.

Led by Alvaro de Saavedra, the Spaniards - the first non-natives to visit Davao - arrived in the region in 1528. After the Spanish troops revolted and slayed Moro leader Datu Bago in 1847, a local hero who protected Davao from foreign invaders, Don Jose Oyanguren became the first governor of the undivided Davao province and renamed the place Guipuzcoa.

Way before World War ll, Davaoneos had amicable relations with Japanese. In 1900, a group of Japanese established extensive plantations of abaca around the gulf area and was engaged in logging, fishing and trading. The increase of Japanese residents earned Davao the title "Japan kuo" or "Little Japan." In March 16, 1937 Davao finally became a city when President Elpidio Quirino formally inaugurated the signing of Davao as a charter city.


Davao City is endowed with a variety of picturesque landscape, Davao's topography dazzles: fruit plantation and orchid farms mantle volcano-fed hills and valleys. Virgin forests nurture rare wildlife. Coral highest peak mirror flat water. And the country's highest peak magnificently lords over the hinterland.

Just enchanting is its brilliant tapestry of harmony, woven from the diverse cultural threads of its people. In Davao, the contemporary fuses with the traditional as migrant settlers from all over the the country co-exist in peace with a fairly large expatriate community and numerous ethnic tribes who continue to live as they did centuries ago.

Davao is an anchor destination and one of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago. It is a natural haven for both sedate and daring pursuit. Davao really proves the competency of tourism in the Philippines.

Nature Lover’s Paradise

  • Queen of the Rainforest

On the slopes of Mount Apo was discovered the waling- waling, an orchid of exceptional attributes- with full, velvet petals tinged in royal colors of purple, red and yellow.  So delicate is this stunning bloom that it can only thrive on flesh and balmy air. The waling- waling (Vanda sanderiana) has since been successfully transplanted from its natural environment and cultivated in many of Davao’s flower farms.  Retailing at several hundred dollars a plant, the Queen of the Rainforest has become an attractive business proposition.    

  • Thrills at the bird show

Colorful species of birds headline this one of a kind bird show at Malagos Garden Resort. Eagles, hawks, parrots, crows, ostriches and even ducks perform fascinating tricks to the amusement of guests while educating the importance of conserving the environment

  • Meet Davao City’s Eagles

The Philippine Eagle (pithecophaga jefferyi) is considered one of the largest eagles in the world.  It has the countenance of regal majesty- snowy white plumes dappled with gray, a distinct crested head matched with a pair of sharp eyes and a strong curved beak, a powerful eight- foot wingspan, and lethal preying claws.  This majestic bird of prey has been saved from extinction and now a national symbol  is sheltered at the Philippine Eagle Nature Center in Malagos.

The Philippine Eagle Nature Center is a sanctuary for this endangered species. The center is primarily a breeding facility for the eagles but it is also a temporary habitat of different animals endemic in the region. Many species of indigenous flora, including the waling waling orchid, flourish in the park’s flawless natural beauty and rugged environment.  The Philippine Eagle Research and Nature Center in the Malagos rainforest in Calinan, 45 minutes away from downtown Davao.

  • Crocodile encounters

The Davao Crocodile park is home to the largest crocodile in the country aptly named Pangil (“jaw”) . Aside from 19- foot reptile, other mindorensis and porosos crocodile species, wild cats, pythons, turtles, lizards, monkeys, and varieties of exotic birds and butterflies can also be found inside the mini – zoo.

Beat the Heat

  • Beaches

Sizzle under the sun, beneath the sea or while strolling along the beaches of Davao. Beach resorts and seaside restaurants border the Matina, Talomo and Toril shorelines of the city. Davao City is also a gateway to Samal, an island known for its white beaches, diving, and snorkeling spots . Davao Gulf is also an exciting site for kayaking, windsurfing, jetskiing, boating, game fishing and whale watching.

  • Diving in Davao

Get wet as you explore into unforgettable dive sites beneath the waters of Davao Gulf. Dive sites are within 45 mins. To 2 hrs. away via pump boat from the main land wharf. The crystal clear waters, coral gardens, and sunken wrecks off the islands are a delight for scuba divers and other aqua sports enthusiasts. Or go wild as you go island hopping on the outlaying islets that shelter coral reefs, pulsating with marine life, dropping by various resorts, interspersed with coconut trees ringed with secluded coves of white sand beaches

  • Island Tour

One simply does not get bored in Davao. There are just so many options for a pleasurable stay. Go on a tour to Island Buenavista and enjoy the privacy and serenity offered by one of the Philippines’ most secluded island resorts.

Explore the Great Outdoors

  • Conquer Our Country’s Highest Peak

The challenging trek to the Philippine’s highest peak towering at 10,311 feet, traverses through creeks, ridges and waterfalls with an amazing panorama of rainforest and fauna. Mount Apo, the grandfather of all the Philippine mountains. Trek your way to the highest peak of the Philippines and rediscover the first successful ascent led by Don JoaquinRajal, a Spanish Politico General dating back October 10, 1880. Climbing Mt. Apo requires time, preparation and an experienced guide. Climbers reaching the summit are rewarded with the most spectacular views to be seen anywhere in the Philippines.

  • Wild Waters

White water river rafting along the winding Davao River is one of the latest adventure activities in the city. A high adrenaline adventure, it cruises through challenging rapids from Barangay Tamugan to Barangay Lacson in Calinan District. BaganihanBaganihan Trekking Site. Only an hour and a half drive from the city proper, Marilog take pride of its wonders such as spring resorts, caves, waterfalls and jungle trails. The district is also one of the city’s main sources of agricultural produce. Enjoy the mountainous and forested area with  more or less 400 hectares and  it’s suited for agricultural and Tourism project due to its weather (coldness) and preserved ecosystem of the area. Trekking site is accessible by foot or horseback.

  • Sports

Davao has its share of world-class golf courses.  Whether you plan to play golf at Rancho Palos Verdes and Apo Golf and Country Club, you are assured of the full advantages of  gently rolling terrain to provide you a challenging game.   At the end of the day, enjoy an excellent view while relaxing with a cool drink at the clubhouse.

  • NCCC Mall Bowling
  • Golf at Palos Verdes
  • Biking

And for those who want to try wakeboarding, Davao’s Deca wakeboard Park is the first cable wakeboarding facility in Mindanao.  This 8-hectare recreation resort uses Reixen Seilbahnen, the world’s leading manufacturer of cable wakeboard and waterski system.  The resort also has restaurants, cottages and cabanas.

  • Extreme adventure

Davao also offer extreme activities for the fearless and adventurous.  Tourists and locals can enjoy white skimboarding, white water rafting, ziplining and spelunking at very affordable costs.

  • White water rafting
  • Adventure Racing
  • Spelunking
  • Skimboarding in Davao
  • Ziplining
  • Diving in Davao City

Experience a rush of adrenaline with zip lining, one of the city’s most popular outdoor activities.  Enjoy a panoramic view of the city by ziplining at Zip City, Outland Adventure and Eden Nature Park.

 Another must-try activity when in Davao City is white water rafting.  Go white water rafting along the winding Davao river and cruise through 24 challenging rapids from Barangay Tamugan to Barangay Lacson in Calinan District.

Cultural heritage sites and tourist attractions

There are several cultural heritage sites in the city, such as museums like Davao Museum (in Insular Village, Lanang), Mindanao Folk Arts Museum (Philippine Women's College, Juna Subdivision, Matina), Davaoeño Historical Society Museum (at Magallanes and Claveria Streets), Philippine-Japan Museum (Matsuo Compound, Calinan), and Japanese historical sites like Japanese Tunnel (used by Japanese forces during World War II), Japanese Cemetery (burial site used in the 1900s, Furukawa Fiber Plant (used by Yoshizo Furukawa as abaca and banana plantation), and many others.

List of Tourist Attractions


  • Japanese Memorial Shrine/Cemetery
  • Talomo Beach
  • San Pedro Cathedral
  • Old Japanese Houses (Old Davao)
  • Battle Memorial
  • Bonifacio Rotonda
  • Camp Domingo Leonor (Formerly PC Barracks)
  • City Hall
  • City Social Services development Office
  • Commemoration Marker
  • Cortez St.
  • Daliaon Elementary School
  • Davao City National High School
  • Early Davao Settlement
  • Furukawa Plantation Site
  • Golden kris
  • Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine/ Cemetery
  • Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Elementary School
  • Memorial to a Brave Son
  • Mintal Marker
  • Osmeña Park
  • Ohta Memorial Shrine at Mintal Elementary School
  • Peace Monument
  • Philippine National Bank Building
  • San Pedro Cathedral
  • Sangguniang Panglungsod Marker
  • Sta. Ana Elementary School
  • Terraza Mileza Bulding
  • The Fort of Davao
  • U.M Gymnasium
  • University of Mindanao
  • University of Immaculate Conception
  • Uyanguren Landing Site
  • Washington Marker


  • Davao Museum
  • Ford Academy of Arts
  • T'boli Weaving Center
  • Sulyap Mindanao Cultural Center
  • Children's Museum of Davao City
  • Nieva's Arts & Crafts
  • University of the Philippines - Mindanao Cultural Center


  • Mt. Apo National Park
  • Baganihan Caves
  • Catigan
  • Tagurano Mountain Park
  • Tamayong


  • Eden Nature Park
  • Malagos Garden Resort
  • Riverford Nature Park
  • GAP Farms
  • Felis Resort Complex
  • GAP Farming Orchard Resort
  • Guino-o Beach Resort
  • Hilltop Vista Point Garden. Dencio's Kamayan Restaurant
  • Island in the Sky
  • Kadayawan Resort
  • Malibago Beach Resort
  • Palm Beach Resort
  • Puentespina Orchid and Tropical Plants Garden
  • Saavedra Beach Waterfront Resort
  • Jones Beach
  • Seagull Beach Resort
  • Seagull Valley Mountain Resort
  • Sunrise/Kalayaan Beach Resort
  • Vales Beach Resort
  • Vistorio's Beach Resort
  • Mergrande Ocean Resort
  • Villanueva Beach Resort
  • Bonguyan Beach
  • Minflo Flower Market
  • Mountain Breeze Resort
  • Yuhico Orchid Garden
  • Davao Casino Filipino


  • Sta. Ana Church
  • Redemptorist Church
  • St. Jude Church
  • Carmelite Monastery/Church
  • Baptist Church
  • Pink Sisters Monastery
  • Assumption Church
  • St. Joseph Church
  • Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name
  • Fatima Church
  • Muslim Mosques
  • Lon Wa Buddhist Temple
  • Mindanao Taoist Temple
  • Pieta
  • Sacred Heart Parish
  • San Pablo Church
  • Shrine Holy Infant Jesus of Prague
  • St. Mary Perpetual Rosary
  • Iglesia Ni Kristo

List of Accommodations in the City

  • 111 Pacific Residence Inn - #498 Quirino Ave.305-6183
  • Abi Yhors Inn - Matina Aplaya
  • Alta Pension House - J.P. Laurel Ave.
  • Ashnor Traveller’s Inn - #276 Mini Forest, Quezon Boulevard
  • BB Inn & Apartelle - #3 Panacan Ave.,
  • Big Apple Hotel and Bar - Mamay Road, Lanang
  • Casa Leticia Boutique Hotel - J. Camus St.
  • Courtside Princess Inn - J. P. Cabaguio Ave., Agdao
  • Cover Inn - Shanghai, Matina Aplaya
  • Danking Apartelle - #16 Sapphire St.,Gem Village, Maa
  • Davao Fortune Inn - R. Magsaysay Ave.
  • Davao Lodging Inn - C. M. Recto St.
  • Ecoland Suites - Tulip Drive Corner Walnut St.,
  • Elles Pension House - A&J Bldg., Mt. Apo St.
  • Emma Victoria’s Inn - New Bonguyan Beach, Matina Aplaya
  • Garnet Country Inn - #9 Garnet St., Marfori Heights
  • Hari Royale Suites - Narra St. corner Sta. Ana Ave. 3
  • Hotel Cabaguio - J. P. Cabaguio Ave., Agdao
  • Hotel Galleria - Gov. V. Duterte St.
  • Jen & Cats Family Lodge - 8-B Villa Abrile Hunry Bldg.
  • Leanzo’s Guest House - DIHO Subd., Buhangin
  • Marco Polo Hotel - C. M. Recto St.
  • Metropolis Suites Davao - Macopa St. Corner Cabaguio Ave.
  • Prince Court Hotel - J. P. Cabaguio Ave., Agdao
  • Rosewill Lodging Inn - #164 Vicente Bldg.,
  • Sunny Point Hotel - #30 Evergreen St., Brgy. Maa
  • Villa Carmelita Inland Resort & Hotel - Km. 14 MacArthur Highway, Toril

Getting There

By land

The common modes of public transportation are multicabs, jeepneys, tricycles, buses, and taxis. Multicabs and jeepneys ply 82 designated passenger vehicle routes around the clock. Tricycles ply the routes that are outside the main streets of the city. Taxis have several routes in and outside Davao City. In mountainous areas, the habal-habal passenger motorcycle is the main mode of transportation.

Davao City offers a wide bus network connection to major cities and provinces, not only in Mindanao but even as far as Manila and Pasay City in Luzon. The city is accessible by bus to and from points in Mindanao like Cotabato, Monkayo, Kidapawan, Midsayap, Digos, General Santos, Koronadal, Isulan, Tacurong, Tagum, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Butuan, and with Manila in Luzon.

The DPWH is proposing to build the Tagum-Davao City-Digos Light Rail Transit, which will be the first on Mindanao island, and the construction of the Davao-Samal Bridge, which will be like the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in the United States, to begin in 2017.

By sea

Davao is connected to Manila by a series of roll-on roll-off or inter-island ferry connection.

The city is served by domestic passenger ferries at Sasa Port and Sta. Ana Wharf, both of which are the international seaports of the Port of Davao, the busiest port in Mindanao. This port could service both inter-island and international shipments. It is located the Davao Gulf and its port of entry has two approaches; one is at the Pakiputan Strait between Davao and the water west of Samal Island.

By air

Davao City has direct flights to major cities in the Philippines and some Asian cities. The Francisco Bangoy International Airport serves the general area of the city and its surrounding areas.

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