Hello to all the foreign first time visitors of my beloved hometown! Davao city is more than just a haven for the Philippine Eagles. More than the regional capital of Mindanao or as simple as where you can sniff the epic stale-smelling, spiky Durian. The fruit which lots of my foreign friends hated and loved. The country’s largest city boasts an unspoiled vast of a classic panorama, apart from an island that nestles in front of the Mindanao’s capital. The city also offers traditional spots for foreign visitors who will enjoy Davao for the first time. After a delightful 6 years of work-hard, play-hard in Manila, I finally decided to fly back to my hometown to spend a week at the Little Hagimit Waterfalls. So the moment I got off the plane, I knew right away that the atmosphere has changed. Davao has definitely exhibited more of a touristy destination now than years ago. It’s been a while since the last time I have stepped a foot to where you can’t inhale polluted air.
It was timely that 2 months later, Dale Wennberg, my partner in crime who hails from Minnesota USA, made his first Philippine tour and joined me in my get-to-know Davao city-trotting. Frugality is a necessity, and it is as important as choosing a straightforward budget hotel that is accessible to the malls, restaurants, pharmacies, local stores and the list goes on. You can also check out online booking sites like Traveloka.com to search for accommodations in the city. Dale was able to get a good rate with Bagobo House Hotel. The place sits in the heart of Gov. Duterte street nearing the famous landmarks of the city, San Pedro, Roxas, and Palma Gil streets. Bagobo House Hotel is also surrounded by restaurants, a few steps off from a hospital, pharmacies, and just a few blocks away from People’s Park.
A Contemporary Dining Experience At Bistro Ni Tuding
Being a local and having to tour a Western buddy around the city was utterly exciting. For the most part of his 10-day vacation in Davao, we skipped the restaurants serving foreign cuisine. I introduced him to some of the most traditional places around the city. We both want to indulge but not splurge, so we picked a resto bar along the streets of San Pedro. We found ourselves in Bistro Ni Tuding, with the name itself, it’s easy to tell that they serve home-cooked meals. Their menu truly represents the traditional Filipino cuisine, a fusion of Kapangpangan and Davaoeno flavors. Their Hometown Salad (with smoked milkfish strips) that yields 2-3 persons, only 200 pesos. A single serving of Aligue rice (Crab fat rice) is only 50 pesos. They offer organic yogurt parfait special, which is only 100 pesos.That already includes your choice of toppings and flavor of liqueur.
The Classic Vibe Of San Pedro Street
What makes San Pedro street quite a fun street to cruise around for foreign first time visitors are the tons of stores selling an astonishing range of merchandise. It is perhaps the busiest street in Davao, but it isn’t going to be a surprise if you constantly dodge over slow-moving window shoppers. Moreover, food stalls are everywhere offering street food, just like the humongous rice cake we call Bibingka. Foreign tourists especially backpackers can feast their eyes with a bunch of very affordable shopping choices. Walking there reminded me of my student days wherein I spent hours under the sun hanging out near the municipal building, facing the San Pedro church. Dale was definitely enjoying his time checking out each store we pass by, the look on his face makes me laugh. But, I guess I would feel the same if I am in another country seeing stuff that the Philippines don’t have.
The Bankerohan Public Market
The oldest and the largest public market in Davao city and was even ranked by TripAdvisor as one of the best attractions in the country. If you like to feast your eyes to all the goodies from a pile of veggies, fruits, seafood, to various street food. There are tons of native handicrafts and a whole lot of interesting products. Absolutely vibrant and lively place to roam around. Whenever I had the chance to go to Bankerohan, I go to the streetfood section where you can smell the captivating native delicacies. I blogged about it years ago, Hello World! Meet My Favorite Philippine Sweets! This public market is often very crowded as soon as it opens at 3:00am. You’ll see lots of vehicles parking on the small streets for their shopping. And if you compare it to other public markets around the country, Bankerohan is clean. Yes, the floors can get damp and a little muddy. Bankerohan is just a few blocks away from San Pedro street. It is almost adjacent. Sadly, I have not taken Dale to Bankerohan because we were busy exploring other places.
Enthusiastic Smiles And Hospitality
The City of Davao is best known for the hospitable people. In San Pedro Church we met manong Leonel Morial Sr. He’s been selling various candles and religious figurines for over 25 years. Foreign visitors will also appreciate Davaoeno cabbies and also the vendors for the same impressive friendliness. They earned a reputation for being honest and reputable service providers as reported by CNN early this year. Regardless of the routinary rigors of public transportation, Davaoeno cab drivers don’t rip off passengers. They return items that are left in the cab, and most importantly, they don’t take more than what shows on the auto fare meter. Even if your change is just a few cents, they will return the exact change.
The hot weather in Davao City can sometimes be an adjustment for foreign first-time visitors from cold countries. Dale enjoyed strolling around the streets for an entire day, didn’t even notice his neck and cheeks turning ruddy. He was quite amused of the ”ice cream-on-wheels but not as ice cream trucks.” The ice cream men or what we call “manong sorbeteros” are found almost everywhere in Davao city.
Curious? Let’s go!