When we talk about The Philippines (one of my personal favourite South East Asian country), we often think of well known destinations like Manila or Cebu. Nowadays, thanks to new media and technology, we are better educated about traveling destinations. So what about Davao? haha
Before embarking on my adventure journey last weekend, I only know that Davao produces one of the best durians in the region. Now, this article would enlighten the unenlightened :-). In fact, there are many things to do in Davao. It is the gateway to the southern Philippines, a hub of commerce, industry and transportation in the southern Mindanao region. The Davao International Airport (Francisco Bangoy International Airport) is the busiest airport on the island, offering numerous flights from and to major cities including Manila and Cebu. Not forgetting those international airlines to Singapore! 🙂
Davao Oriental is located in the Davao region in Mindanao, the eastern province of the country. Along the coast of Davao Oriental sits Pusan Point, which is where the sun rises first in the Philippines. It is one of the six regions in Davao, and its capital is Mati City (a 3-4 hour drive away from Davao City). Mati City is known for its gorgeous beaches and landscape, as well as its agricultural products (coconut and pomelo). Summer is the busiest time of all, especially at the Philippines beaches.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the city is also a premier eco-adventure destinations, with many outdoor activities on offer ranging from sky-cycling, white water rafting, to exhilarating ultra-light planes rides. Definitely, an exciting destination that will not bore you.
#1 President Duterte’s Residence
To be honest, before this trip, I don’t quite understand why the Filipinos love President Duterte? To an ignorant foreigner like me, we are merely exposed to how media portrayed him as a rough and tough leader of the Philippines. But during my recent visit in Davao, I realized President Duterte was the one who built Davao city as one of the safest cities in the region. He is dedicated and showed his softer side to his people in his country. After dark, he even drove a taxi as his part time “job” to inspect his city. Imagine taking a taxi ride from your president? haha Better not to think too much! haha
President Duterte’s residence is located in Dona Luisa Subdivision in Matina, Davao City. The president usually stays in Manila from Mondays to Fridays and returns to this residence during the weekend. Visitors can attempt wefies with his standee outside the house, which was fun for me. I enjoyed talking a picture with his standee as it was humbling to see a president allow people to come near his routine life. One of the cool and unique things to do in Davao, hence I gotta put this as my first highlight! 🙂
#2 Davao’s Durian
Come on, who don’t like the king of fruits – DURIAN!!! Unless you are genetically designed not to eat durian! For example, one of my friends described the taste of durian as a “mushy, rotten, onion!” haha While we think it is the sweetest fruit ever! Best consumed when chilled. So, it either smells like hell or smells like heaven, depending on which tribe you are in! haha Choosing a good durian is more than an art, it is a complex science! While the Malaysians claim to produce great D24 and Cat Mountain King durians which we are all familiar with, Davao claim to produce great durians like the Durio Graveolens (a denser, creamy, less sweet and strong smelling durian), Duyaya (a fleshy bright yellow flesh durian, think 55% flesh), GD-69 (The flavor is sweet, fibrous and not too fatty), Kob White (It’s extremely fatty, dense and very bitter) or Kob Yellow (something milder than Kob White). I am actually drooling as I write about them. 🙁
Anyway, on this trip, I went to the Apo ni Lola Durian Candy Factory! This place is a family-run business which was set up by Arnel “Jojo” Raakin, a third generation descendant of Abondia del Puerto Raakin, or Lola Abon, who made durian sweets. This is a must try item for every visitor to the city, as well as a well-loved everyday item enjoyed by the locals.
#3 Sleeping Dinosaur
The Sleeping Dinosaur is one of Mati’s most famous landmarks where many travellers stop over for a photo opportunity. The landscape resembles a dinosaur lying on its belly and is located along Badas Point in Barangay Dawan in Davao Oriental. A majestic view!
Even if you can’t see the dinosaur, this place is amazing and beautiful. The colours of the mountains, sky and sea make it a perfect photo stop! 🙂
#4 Snorkeling at Pujada Island
As you drive away from the bustling city of Davao and enter into Mati City in Davao oriental, you will see life gets simpler and slower. Same goes with locals as they lead a simple yet beautiful life and are very welcoming to foreigners. If you wish to relax in a corner of a paradise, where they are not many people. Or you wish to try leading a life on a beautiful beach island by yourself, you can give Pujada island a shot!
This uninhabited island is a 40-minute boat ride away from Blue Bless Resort in Mati City. It offers the perfect getaway for tourists who would like to escape the humdrum of city life without breaking the bank. Go for a swim or lie back on the beach to relax and enjoy the scenery. 🙂
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The sand may brush off, the salt may wash off, the tan may fade off, but the memories will last forever! 😉👍 . Wish you a happy Sunday! 😎👍 @CebuPacificAir #CEBTravels #VisitDavao . #solotravel #solotraveler #backpacker #travel #traveler #globetrotter #jetsetter #instatravel #vacation #trip #travelgram #travelwriter #travelblogger #travelblog #travelinstyle #instago #photooftheday #mytravelgram #igtravel #ilovetravel #wanderlust #travelpics #travelphotography #traveltheworld #instalike #homme #Philippines #itsmorefuninthephilippines
#5 SummerFrolic EDM Festival
Something similar to Zouk Out in Singapore, the SummerFrolic EDM Festival is a big summer party on the beach! And it is all about the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) music. SummerFrolic, in its 4th year, is a huge music event along the seven-kilometre strip of Dahican Beach. It is all about the celebration of life through good music and beautiful surroundings. This year’s featured international DJs are Marnik, Ron Poe and Jet Boado. It would be even cooler if Calvin Harris or Andrew Taggart was there! haha
#6 Mati City Beaches
Did I just mention about the Dahican Beach? This place can be sum up in two words: Great Relaxation. With its clean waters that have a milky blue effect, this beach has a long white and sandy coast that is quite unique compared to the other beaches I have visited. A perfect paradise to surf as the beach is connected to the Pacific Ocean which generates huge waves! Surfs up and Cowabunga!
The city has also played host to National Skim Boarding competitions and Frisbee tournaments on the Dahican Beach, one of the top summer destinations in Davao. I had fun trying out skim boarding and competitive Frisbee! Take note I used the word competitive! haha
Frisbee is really tiring!
#7 Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Province of Davao Oriental which is known for its century-old trees and home to a large variety of flora and fauna. In 2014, it was given the title of a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is the only one in Mindanao and the sixth World Heritage Site in the Philippines. As a protected area, the mountain range is restricted and access is only limited for scientific studies.
As an alternative destination, a Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park was built to allow visitors to have an interactive experience of Mount Hamiguitan. The Eco-Park covers 12.84 hectares and houses Natural Science Museum. It also has a research center, cabins for visitors, mountain trails, treetop adventures, hanging bridge, bird watching, butterfly trails, camping grounds, and beautiful gardens.
#8 Ultralight Plane
On this trip, one of the activity I was really looking forward to was the Ultralight plane experience. Mati city was one of the few places that offers this unique flying experience. What is it you ask? Well, you get into a small light aircraft with a professional pilot as he takes you up in a breathtaking flight to see the best views of Mati at 500ft. If that’s not good enough, he can also fly low as you swoop through Mati’s beautiful beach and watch the waves crash onto the shore right under you.
Each ride costs Php 1,300 (approx $26USD) for a 15-20 minutes flight experience. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience worth trying. However, because the planes were under maintenance when I was there, we didn’t have the chance to try the ultralight plane in Mati City! 🙁 Well, definitely a reason for me to return to Davao! Click on the link for another Travel Inspiration 360‘s coverage. haha
How to get there?
You may not know but Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is the largest airline in the Philippines that offers low fares and seat sales for twice weekly flights between Singapore and Davao. It also flies direct to four other destinations from Singapore, including Manila (32 times weekly), Cebu (seven times weekly), Clark (seven times weekly) as well as Iloilo (up to three times weekly). Click here to take a look at the promos, flights’ schedule offer by Cebu Pacific Air!
CEB also operates an extensive network across the Philippines with its 37 domestic destinations. Operating from six strategically placed hubs: Manila, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo and Davao, CEB is the preferred airline to explore the Philippine archipelago.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson