WARNING: Many governments, including the US , UK , Australia and China strongly advise against any travel to the island of Mindanao because of the threat of terrorist attacks, bombings, shootings and kidnappings of foreigners. Davao is considered safe but the surrounding areas are some of the most dangerous in the Philippines. Most insurers will not pay out if you need to make a claim while in Davao. Contact your embassy and insurer before traveling.
(Information last updated Aug 2015)

Davao is the largest city on the Philippines' second-largest island of Mindanao. It has a huge land area allocated to it officially, and the inhabitants like to think of it as one of the most crime-free large cities in the Philippines.


As in most of Mindanao, Cebuano (known locally as Davao Bisaya) is the main local language. English and Tagalog are also widely used and understood.

The elected officials have been accused of encouraging vigilantism and death squads. Whatever the truth of these accusations, it's certainly true that, as a visitor, you're certainly less likely to be the victim of robbery or petty larceny than most similar size cities in the Americas with the exception of Canada.

Get in

People's Park in Davao City

By plane

Davao is the third most important Philippines city after Manila and Cebu. Three domestic airlines fly multiple times per day between Davao and Manila. There are also direct flights available from many other Philippine cities. Davao is served by the Davao International Airport (more properly named as the Francisco Bangoy International Airport) (IATA: DVO), which receives both local and foreign traffic.

Cebu Pacific and Silk Air, the regional airline of Singapore Airlines, are currently the only international airlines directly servicing Davao from Singapore. If you have Davao as your main destination in the Philippines, you might want to consider coming in through Singapore as this might be the most hassle-free way to enter.

Outside of taxis, you can catch a Jeepney ₱15 to town center by walking to the highway (5-10min walk). A taxi from the Davao Airport to down town Davao costs about ₱180, as of 2016.

The airport has an tourist information counter (but not always staffed) where you can buy prepaid SIM cards.

The terminal fee at Davao airport is ₱200 for domestic flights and ₱700 for international flights.

Domestic Flights

International Flights

By ferry

The Davao River at Davao City

Davao is also served by a bustling sea port with significant cargo traffic.

There are passenger ferries going to and from Davao city from Samal Island and Talikud Island.

There are no longer any long-distance passenger ferries to Davao port. The nearest ports for Long distance passenger ferries from Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Bohol Island are now at Cagayan de Oro port or Nasipit port 27 km from Butuan city.

A good way to get from Davao city to Samal Island is by the Island City Express buses that use the 24/7 car ferry from Sasa over to Babak on Samal island. The ticket price for the bus and ferry combined is ₱30. If you just use the Car Ferry the ticket costs ₱10 per person. Island city Express buses go all the way to Kaputian on Samal island. From Santa Ana wharf (near Magsaysay park) boats also leave for Samal island ₱40.

By bus

There are buses from different cities, most of which are located within Mindanao, which usually stop at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT) located at Maya, Ecoland, Davao City.

There are also vans going to Cagayan de Oro for ₱485, Mati p230, Kidapawan ₱150, Cotabato City ₱250 and Tagum p 120. You can get the vans outside the Gaisano Mall and Victoria Plaza.

It costs ₱70 by taxi or p8 by Jeepney to go the 2 km from the Ecoland bus Terminal to downtown Davao.

Get around

By taxi

The simplest way to get around is by hopping into a taxi. A typical trip can cost about ₱70-90 or approximately USD2. Drivers in Davao do not normally bargain if they notice that you are a tourist, hence the cost of the trip is the same in price as a regular. Davao Taxi Drivers are regarded as the most honest taxi drivers in the Philippines. Taxi Drivers in Davao City do not charge tourists extra fare unlike their counterparts in Cebu and Manila. If you know the name of the building, establishment, area or street you wish you reach, this is still the fastest way to get to your destination. You can also call or send an SMS to the cab company directly to have a cab driver pick you up.

Taxis start their fare at ₱40 and will add ₱3.50 per few hundred meters. Please do say "thank you" or "salamat" once you have arrived at your destination. Davao Taxis issue fare receipts that list the name of the taxi company, the plate number, and the taxi number which could come in handy if one leaves valuable items or documents inside a cab. Just tell your taxi driver if you want to get a receipt.

By jeepney

Alternatively, if you opt for more adventure, then do as the locals and catch a colorful jeepney. Simply ask around for which route to take to avoid getting lost. They are usually available 24 hours and cover most of the nooks and crannies of the city. This is the cheapest option for getting around. The usual cost for a jeepney ride is ₱8 for every 4 km ride, and about a ₱1 increase per km when going beyond the 4 km (for regular passengers). a Jeepney from down town Davao to the Davao airport cost ₱15 and takes 45min.

To pay, pass your fare to the person next to you, all the way to the driver or the conductor, by saying "bayad po". Paying the exact amount is highly recommended. To stop at a certain destination, say "lugar lang", "para", or knock your coins hard on the steel handle.

By car

Another alternative ride aside from the jeepneys and taxis, is to rent a car. There are many cars for rent. If you don't know the routes you can hire drivers by asking the attendant of the rental company. Local companies tend to be cheaper than the national ones.

Avis Car rental. Airport view hotel. J Camus street. Tel 63-82-2216430.

By bus

Buses are also available, but these tend to ply exclusively along the north-south route and going out and in the city area. Air conditioned buses to Calinan go from Bankeroham Public Market. Island City Buses go to Kaputian Samal Island via the car ferry at Sasa; these buses go past Magsaysay park ₱30.

By water taxi

Another mode of transportation around Davao Gulf is through a water taxi. Water taxis serve the daily commuters and visitors of Davao City, Samal Island, and neighbouring coastal municipalities around Davao Gulf. It will get you to the island, waterfront restaurant, or beach resort you wanted with comfort and ease. The pioneer water taxi service in the Philippines is found in Davao City and has the swift, safe and secure water transport, the best and most professional skippers and has a customer friendly and positive attitude, all incorporated to make your transfer easy and pleasurable.


Jack's Ridge


Davao City has many malls where almost all of them have cinemas.

Due to security concerns, it is routine for security guards to lightly frisk people as they enter shopping malls in Davao, and indeed in most of the Philippines. The guards endeavour to be sensitive and invariably the guard is either female or there are separate lines for male and female entrants.

Banks & ATMs

Most ATMs in Davao city have a p200 fee for overseas bank cards and a limit of p10.000 per withdrawal. an exception is the ATM at

There are many money changes at the Aldevinco shopping center. C M Recto street (over the street from the Marco Polo hotel). The exchange rate for cash is extremely good.

Electronic & book stores

Shopping Malls & Supermarkets

Launary shops

there are Laundry shops all over Davao from p18-25 a KG.


Durian Monument in Davao International Airport

Davao is renowned for its durian and pomelo. Eating durian is admittedly an acquired taste but those who do end up liking it will swear that the bad smell is worth it. Pomelo is a citrus fruit that most closely resembles a grapefruit and s quite common in South East Asia. Beware of bringing durian inside airplanes as well as hotels and other establishments. They may have strict regulations on allowing durian inside and some do not allow durian to be brought in at all.


There is the local Tanduay Rum, billed around town as "the Number One Rhum".

Mindanao has a large Seventh Day Adventist population. Adventists do not drink and any stores they own will typically not sell alcohol.


View from a house on a hill in Illang Davao in 2006

There is no shortage of accommodations in Davao, ranging from the four-star accommodations of the Marco Polo Davao on Claveria, the Royal Mandaya Hotel and the Apo View Hotel, where Casino Filipino 2 is located, to lodges and inns, pension houses, backpacker Hostels all around the city. or one can find townhouses or apartments for rent, all for negotiable rates. you can find a place to stay from p 175 a night.

Budget under 1000

Stay safe

Visiting Mindanao has its risks. Foreigners have been kidnapped, murdered and held for ransom. For this reason, many governments advise against all but necessary travel to Mindanao, Davao being included. Although rare, terrorists have attacked the city many times in the past few years, with the most recent being the September 2013 bombings in malls. In most cases this means your travel insurance will not pay out if you need to make a claim. Please contact your embassy and insurer before travelling.

Because of the work of the local government on strengthening security during the past decade Davao is generally a safe city even for travellers and violent crime is rare except few parts of downtown Davao are unsafe at night. Armed guards and security forces can be seen everywhere, guarding malls, hotels and public events. Your biggest concern should be pickpockets, who are active in downtown Davao and on jeepneys. If you leave the Davao proper, please ensure you do your research as to the safety of the area as the chances of something happening to you, i.e. kidnapping rapidly increases if you are a foreigner.


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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 31, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.