Davao - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Davao


Davao is the gateway to the southern Philippines, a hub of commerce, industry and transportation (sea and air) in the southern Mindanao region. Although as an urban metropolis Davao has little to recommend it, the attraction of the city is its accessibility to a beautiful surrounding rural landscape of hills and fertile valleys, dominated by the massive 9,692ft (2,954m) Mount Apo, a dormant volcano that is the Philippine's highest mountain peak. Among the valleys live the ancestral tribes of the Philippines, like the Bagobo, Manobo, Mandaya and Bilaan, with their rich and colourful cultural heritage, ethnic art and handcrafts.

Davao is centre of the Philippines fruit- and flower-growing region, and an annual festival (the Kadawayan Festival) is held in August to celebrate the bounty of the fields and the different tribal cultures. The region is also home to the endangered Philippine Eagle, and the rare Vanda Sanderiana orchid. Like the rest of the Philippines, of course, the Mindanao region and its many islands also offer thousands of tropical beaches and dive sites, most accessible only by the most intrepid of adventure travellers.

Information & Facts


Davao has a tropical marine climate and its weather is characterised by a uniform distribution of rainfall, temperature and humidity. Temperatures generally range between 75°F (24°C) and 90°F (32°C) year-round and, due to its geographical position, Davao does not experience the typhoons which plague surrounding areas.

The official language of the Philippines is Filipino, but English is widely spoken. Tagalog is the most predominant of the many dialects or local languages spoken throughout the islands.

The currency of the Philippines is the Peso (PHP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the cities and tourist destinations. Banks do not always accept travellers cheques, but a receipt of purchase is useful. ATMs are available in the major cities. US dollars are widely accepted in Manila and other tourist areas and are the easiest currency to exchange; otherwise Euros and Pounds Sterling can also be exchanged in banks and hotels. Banks open from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, but their ATMs are open 24 hours. It is best to carry pesos when travelling outside of major centres.

Local time is GMT +8.

The tiny island of Camiguin on the north coast of Mindanao is renowned for the friendliness of its people, epitomised in its lively annual festival dedicated to the humble lanzones fruit, which also happens to be one of the island's major sources of income. Fruity and friendly this pear-shaped island certainly is, but it also has some other attractions to recommend it. There are no less than seven volcanoes, some still active; a multitude of hot springs; stunning beaches and offshore islets; and a spring that emanates natural soda water. The island has 35 resorts and plenty of restaurants. Mambajao is the capital, situated on the north coast. Most popular pursuits on the island (apart from enjoying the beaches) include climbing Mount Hibok-Hibok, an active volcano that last erupted in 1951 leaving a death toll of 500; snorkelling through the sunken cemetery at the barrio of Bonbon; reading gravestones that were submerged in a volcanic eruption in 1871; and taking a swim at Ardent Hot Springs, inland from Mambajao.

About seven miles (12km) from the Davao City centre at Insular Village, Lanang, the Davao Museum is devoted to showcasing the various tribal cultures of the people of the region. The main gallery is a repository of tribal art, local costumes, jewellery and handcrafts. There is also a gallery of paintings, sculptures and ceramics, and a souvenir shop that sells native crafts. Local women can be seen at work at the nearby T'Boli Weaving Centre, weaving cloth from the fibres of the native abaca plant featuring patterns that depict the folklore of the tribe.

The region of south Cotabato in Mindanao, several hours' journey from Davao City, is for those who are courageous enough to seek 'off the beaten track' eco-adventures. Lake Sebu, near the village of Suralla, is surrounded by rolling hills and forested mountains; and is home to the T'boli, a highland tribe famous for their colourful costumes, intricate beadwork, woven work and brass ornaments, as well as the Tasadays, a cave-dwelling people. The area abounds with waterfalls, natural caves and springs.

The powerful, large Philippine Eagle (also known as the monkey-eating eagle) is found only in the mountains of eastern Luzon in the north of the archipelago, and in the heavily forested area of Mindanao. The breeding camp for these magnificent predators is sited at Malagos, in Calinan near Davao City. Also at Malagos is an orchid farm, sanctuary of Philippine native orchids, which offers a restaurant and swimming pool as part of its facilities.

Just a short ferry ride south of Davao City, in the Davao Gulf, is the island of Samal, part of an archipelago of islets that offer a getaway from city life and some adventure activities. The island offers fabulous sunrises and sunsets and a fascinating topography of rolling hills, white sandy beaches and dozens of caves, which are popular with spelunkers and hikers. The coastline has the usual coconut palms, mangrove swamps and coral reefs, together with some little fishing villages washed by clear, clean water: all the delights of a tropical island within a stone's throw of the city.

Davao City's oldest church is named for the city's patron saint. Don Jose Uyanguren, known as the 'Spanish Conquistador of Davao', built the San Pedro Cathedral in 1847 during the Spanish colonial period. The original altar, carved with images of saints, has been preserved and can be seen in the right wing of the cathedral.

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