Sprawled beautifully on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, Davao City prides itself for having a wealth of picturesque sceneries, a variety of natural attractions and a host of fun activities that attract both local and foreign tourists.  The city is now considered as one of the country’s top tourist destinations, offering a mix of urban and rural living experience.

Data from Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) shows a steady increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the city in the last three years, wherein majority of the visitors were domestic tourists and returning overseas Filipinos.

In 2018, the city attracted some 2.39 million tourists, surpassing its record of two million visitors in the previous year. American visitors topped the list of Davao City’s international visitors with 21,324, followed by Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Australians. Other nationals included in the top 10 international arrivals were Indians, Canadians, Singaporeans, British and Emiratis.

The city of Davao comes with a good mixture of both man-made and natural attractions. Tourists can visit and stroll at the city’s museums, try different adventures in parks and resorts, or indulge in the beauty of nature.

Davao Museum of History and Ethnography — Wikimedia Commons

For one who wants to know the rich history of Davao, visiting the Davao Museum is the best way to start. This two-storey building, located in Insular Village Phase 1 in Lanang, showcases the cultural heritage of Davao which rooted from the large variety of tribes that populated the region.

The museum houses photographs of the city’s historic events, large-scale versions of old maps of Mindanao and the country, centuries-old Asian trade jars, antique religious artifacts, burial urns, weaponry, musical instruments, tribal clothing, handicrafts and pottery, among others. It also features life-size dioramas depicting Davao’s diverse culture, including weaving and healing ritual.

Museo Dabawenyo or the “Museum of the People of Davao” is the other museum located in Davao City, specifically and originally situated along Fr. Selga Street going to Pichon Street. The museum is divided into four rooms: the Indigenous People’s Gallery, the Moro People’s Gallery, the Contemporary Gallery, and the Memorabilia Gallery.

The management of Museo Dabawenyo, however, announced that the museum is closed temporarily to give way to the construction of the new City Engineer’s Office (CEO) building. The museum will be relocated inside the People’s Park — one of the most visited tourist attractions in Davao today — with a bigger building. The new structure will have five floors and will be inspired by the iconic durian fruit.

Aside from visiting the said museums and the People’s Park, a four-hectare wide cultural-theme park featuring a mini-forest, man-made falls, a dancing fountain at night, fish ponds, children’s playground and a giant durian dome, tourists can also explore the Davao Crocodile Park.

As the name implies, the park houses hundreds of cultured Philippine crocodiles. The Davao Crocodile Park showcases a ‘state of the art’ crocodile farming system, equipped with modern facilities and equipment. Apart from crocodiles, the park is a home of other animals, including birds, tigers, wild boars, apes, and pythons.

Philippine Eagle Center — ARMAND DOMINGUEZ | philippineeaglefoundation.org

To complete one’s animal sightings experience, tourists can also drive their way to the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC), located at the foothills of Mt. Apo in Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City and situated within the Malagos Watershed. The PEC primarily operates as a conservation breeding facility for the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and other birds of prey. A number of other birds, mammals and reptiles — most of which are endemic to the country and some are considered rare —can be also sighted in the center.

For tourists looking for a secluded place where the gifts of nature abound, Loleng’s Mountain Resort is probably one of the best options. The resort is located at Eden-Bayabas in Toril, and is just a 20-minute ride from the heart of Davao City. It offers superb accommodation, places for recreation, and luscious yet affordable meals, which make it a perfect getaway from the bustling city life.

For those longing for more, they can also visit the Gap Orchard Resort, a sprawling 10-hectare farm orchard, dedicated to durian, rambutan, pomelo and other tropical fruits.

The farm is a popular destination in the city frequented by many tourists to spend leisure time. Tropical trees and fruits, exotic flowers, plants, and colorful flora and fauna are the main things that can be seen in the farm. There are also some landmarks scattered throughout the farm, including the old World War II Japanese carved tunnel, a Santo Niño chapel and Mother of Perpetual Help, as well as mystical statues. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino