It’s funny the reactions I get when I tell people I love outdoorsy adventures. It seems I come across as so, but I’m really not that girly. Well, I do have an obsession with makeup and all things beauty-related, but I wouldn’t hesitate going on new adventures, jumping into rivers, zipping across lush greenery on a rope, cycling 60 feet above ground.
Some things on my Bucket List: swimming with sharks, skydiving, and hang gliding. I hope I get to accomplish these in this lifetime.
So of course I said YES when presented the chance to go on an adventure-oriented trip to Davao, Philippines!
This trip opened my eyes to the incredible sights and sounds of Davao City and here I share 12 things I didn't know (but now do!) about Davao, Philippines.
1. That It Exists
When people think of the Philippines, they think of Manila, Cebu or the popular beach capital that is Boracay. When I first got wind that I was going on a trip to Davao, my response was “Huh? Where?” and so were all the responses when I told my family and friends where I was going. Haha.
It’s okie if you’ve never heard of Davao before either because it was, and still remains, a well-kept secret to mass tourism. That’s why they have plenty of unspoiled white sandy beaches and marine-rich waters filled with underwater creatures still unacquainted with humans.
Davao city is located in Southeastern Mindanao and is approximately 946 km southeast of Manila over land, and 971 km by sea.
2. Be Close To Nature
Being close to nature and embracing Mother Nature’s beauty is a great respite for city dwellers (ME) who are cooped up in a cocoon of concrete walls. We didn’t get lighting fast internet connection all the time, but that forced us to put our phones aside and simply take in the glory of what this Earth has to offer instead of living through our screens.
The government has been actively developing and promoting an eco-tourism program to exhibit the diversity of the country and the activities it has to offer.
At Eden Nature Park's Butterfly Garden, thousands of butterflies fluttered around us, pollinating flowers, mating, and basically just going about their daily business, while we screamed in silence when a butterfly gently landed on us. LOL.
3. Drop, Hang, Ride
One moment it was this tranquil nature ride on the buggy (you can choose to walk too),
and the next moment I was greeted with this:
A loud ‘BANG!!’ ensued and the two tiny people were dropped at an exhilarating speed of – oh, I don’t know, 100km/h (seemed to me) – and they screamed like there was no tomorrow.
Whuuutttttt!!! Nuuuuuu I cannotttt!!! >.<"
Okie, I love nature and adventures, but one thing I cannot take is ‘THE DROP’. No rollercoasters, no sudden drops, please. I think Final Destination 3 ruined my life, if you know what I mean. I am okie with heights, you can hang me there for a week and I’ll be fine, just don’t drop me suddenly.
Luckily, there were other fun stuff to do - ziplining and skycycling. I LOVE ziplining. I’ve done it several times in Singapore and Penang and it’s always an extremely enjoyable experience every time I zip across. In that moment, it’s just me and the scenery, with wind blowing through my (helmet-clammed) hair. Ah, how serene!
Skycycling was something I’ve never done before and was looking forward to! Basically you get on a bicycle that gets mounted onto a metal wire, and off you go, across the sky 60 feet above ground! I asked the staff whether the bicycle would topple halfway and he said it’s so safe I can try pedaling hands-free, which I DID, for 3 seconds hahaha. You do not need to know how to cycle to execute this.
4. Such Beautiful, Pristine Waters
We took a boat out and docked somewhere at Samal Island, home of rich marine life and gorgeous waters. Philippines is home to more than half of the world’s coral species making this country the most populated underwater address.
Giant clams! They contract when we touch them and felt like... shiitake mushrooms. Lol.
Here, I went to the bottom of the sea to get these Baby South Sea Pearls for you:
Here's how you can win this precious pair of pearls that I hand-carried back > Davao Giveaway (stay tuned!)
Thank you to Billabong Singapore for the beautiful swimwear and accessories! I love this beautiful floral bikini so much I must find another opportunity to wear it again! 😀 A good bikini really does make a huge difference.
5. Just 30 Minutes From Islands To Highlands
An island is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life and you can just spend the entire day out at sea when in Davao.
The Giant Waterslide at Maxima Aqua Fun Resort is 40 meters long, built along the cliff and constructed to send you in grand splashes into the sea. I loved the adrenaline rush! It’s not that fast, really, at least nothing compared to a death-defying rollercoaster. Remember to pinch your nose so water doesn’t get in. But don’t be an idiot like me who pinched so hard I got a bloody nose HAHA how silly! 😆
I wish we had time to go trekking on the swinging hanging bridge, or the canopy walk and jump off at the end, or bounce on the trampoline that would make us fly into the water ala Running Man style.
6. White-water Rafting Anytime Of Year
Clearly my favorite activity of the trip!
We were there in May, so the waters were pretty calm, very mild underwater currents, but still it was fun for a first time! At one of the fiercer rapids, I found myself suddenly thrown into the water and hitting my bum against the bed. The next moment I was excavated from the water like a ragged doll by the guide and everyone was cheering, including myself HAHAHA! 😆 If you want to experience the FULL FORCE of the waters, come during the rainy season in September!
This city offers whitewater rafting, diving, fishing, wake boarding, caving adventures, surfing, skim boarding, trekking rugged terrain of Mt Apo, the P’s highest peak at 2,954 metres above sea level. I’d love to return one day to do more. If you visit in August, you will be able to take part in the colorful Kadayawan Festival, during which locals give thanks for life, nature and the yearly harvest.
7. Durian Capital
Davao is also known as the ‘Durian Capital’ of the Philippines. Whether it smells like hell or heaven to you, the Philippines ranks 5th in the world’s top durian exporters, and Davao alone produces close to 80% of the total durian harvested, with the production volume and farm area increasing steadily. Here are some candy and snacks made from durian.
Davao grows an astonishing variety of fruits, and during lunch on the boat we got to try marang (below), a fruit that looks like a jackfruit and tastes like a cross between soursop and mangosteen.
8. Ten Ways To Cook Tuna
At Marina Tuna restaurant, the main star is anything and everything about tuna. Haha. The Ten-Way Tuna Menu incorporates tuna dishes cooked in ten different ways. Not one to usually order tuna sashimi myself, I was pleasantly surprised to taste how fresh and juicy the ones served to us were.
My top two favorite tuna dishes were the Crispy Tuna Tail and Grilled Tuna Jaw. The other one is the tuna’s sperm sacs which was…… an acquired taste.
9. Crocodile Meat Ice Cream
Not just any ordinary ice cream okie, it's pandan-flavored CROCODILE ICE CREAM. Looks and tastes like ordinary ice cream, only made with croc eggs, sprinkled with croc meat. Lol it sounds erm, adventurous, but it's actually tasty! Pandan leaves are used to add flavor and aroma. Crocodile eggs make creamier and thicker ice cream because there’s more yolk than white. They are actually more nutritious since they contain less cholesterol and provide more protein than ordinary chicken eggs. Compared to most other meats, crocodile meat is low in fat and low in calories. Oooh, yummy and healthy! Oh, it melted really quickly though.
While we’re on the topic of food, I wanna mention Halo-Halo, a local dessert that combines shaved ice, milk, different boiled sweet beans and fruits. Just like our ice-kacang! ‘Halo-halo’ literally means ‘mix mix’.
This plate of roasted pork served at Seda Abreeza Hotel Davao, where we stayed, was DELICIOUS. Very few places can do it right, but Seda Hotel did it exceptionally well. The hotel is just one street across Abreeza Mall, where we bought local snacks and I bought an international adapter coz I thought I didn’t bring mine but later found it in the abyss of my luggage. Sheesh.
10. Restaurants & Nightlife
From restaurants that open till to bars that close early in the morning, Davao has plenty to offer if you want to party the night away, .
Had the best steak ever in my life at White House Fusion Cuisine and Wine Lounge. I was super full already but found myself finishing the whole plate of medium-well done steak. I like my steak this way. =D
Lethal shots at one of the bars.
11. Is The 4th Safest Country In The World
Wouldn’t you feel safe if you lived in a place with 24/7 surveillance cameras planted carefully all around the city? That would make ill-doers think twice about their plans. The officers at Public Safety & Security Command Centre scan the city for any accidents and can immediately send appropriate help to the scene.
Not us, of course. 😆 Can't run far nor fast with my short legs.
One thing I really love about this city is that it is a place that is as smoke-free as it can be. If you want to quit smoking and find it hard because you’re surrounded by too many smokers, come to Davao! There are designated places for smokers to smoke, but in general I think I saw less than 5 smokers. Such healthy air! YAY! =D
12. Cebu Pacific Flies Direct From Singapore To Davao
Know why not many people have been to nor heard about Davao? That’s because previously you had to fly to probably Cebu, then take a loooonnngggg bus ride then maybe a boat, then maybe a car, and reach Davao in 2 months. Haha just kidding. 😆
Since December 2015, just 5 months ago, Cebu Pacific Air started launching non-stop, twice weekly flights between Singapore and Davao. In just 4 hours, you will reach Davao, home to clean streets, modern infrastructure, eco-adventure activities, huge variety of fruits and seafood, tranquil blue waters, and vibrant rainforests!
If you're an adventure seeker like me, I think winning a pair of air tickets to Davao must sound awesome! More details on my IG (@bunbunmakeuptips) soon. =D
You’ll never run out of things to do in Davao, really! This city has plenty of shopping options, from mega shopping malls to local malls to local markets, but if you get sick of city life, go on an adventure away from the city! 😀
Thank you Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Department of Tourism and Nuffnang Singapore for having us!