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Davao City and Samal Island Travel Guide

Samal Island

Before going straight to my Davao and Samal travel guide. Let me reiterate that Mindanao is safer than you think. There is a perception in Mindanao which is associated with violence. But one who visited this part of the country often will realize it’s not true. Many areas in Mindanao are safe.

It’s so sad to feel that the entire Mindanao has been generalized and stereotyped. As if it’s just about kidnapping, bombing, or terrorism. I can’t blame you as that’s what you usually saw on media.

Let’s be realistic—it happened, it is still there on some parts of the island. But let’s see Mindanao in a bigger picture. It’s so huge to be generalized. It’s the 19th biggest island in the world. It’s even bigger than the whole country of Ireland. If you are still doubting if you will book that flight ticket going to Mindanao. I’m telling you, you are missing most of the best places to explore here in the Philippines.

Davao City

Looking for a flight going to this part of the country. I noticed that flight to Davao from Manila or Cebu is cheaper compared to other parts of the region. So if you are planning to start exploring Mindanao, I highly recommend starting your trip in Davao City.

Photo Credit to

2 nights stay in Davao city is just enough to explore around. This is my second visit in Davao and I don’t find Davao city an exciting city compared to other cities in the Philippines. Please don’t get me wrong. Davao is a nice place to visit, it’s generally clean, organize and I feel safe. But something is missing in Davao that can convince me to add it to my favorite list of cities in the Philippines.

If there’s one thing that is highly noticeable in the street of Davao City during my recent visit. It was the removal of the electric wiring along C.M Recto street. It was really pleasant to see the downtown part of the city without the electric wires.

Where to stay in Davao City?

I intentionally book a room along Roxas st. to enjoy the street market at night. But compared to pre-pandemic time, the street market wasn’t that fun anymore. I enjoyed the street market during my first visit. There were varieties of food and things to buy. The ambiance now was different compared to before. Nonetheless, this is still a good area to book your accommodation.

I booked a budget room at RedDoorz @Roxas Street and paid around P900++ or $18 for a private room for 2. The place was very basic, just a decent place to sleep. It was clean, the heater and air-condition were functioning and the best thing was, they have strong wifi. This is very important for me because my job is very dependent on a good internet connection. If you need a budget room to stay in Davao you can get a discounted rate by clicking this link.

Where to Eat in Davao City?

Tola restaurant and Glasshouse coffee can be both found at Obaza Heritage place is must visit in Davao city. This is just walking distance from the Davao City hall. It’s a very nice restaurant in downtown Davao—a heritage property that was converted into a proper sit-down restaurant on the 2nd floor, a bar place on the ground floor, and a glasshouse cafe in the garden.

Photo credit to glasshousecoffeeph

The ambiance is great, where you can experience fine dining feels but the food is priced affordably considering the generous portions and quality. The glass house coffee is a nice place to slow down and drink some coffee as the entire place is surrounded by plants, perfect for people who just want to chill in Davao.

Samal Island

A visit to Davao is not complete without staying at Samal Island being just a few km away from the city. I choose to stay on Samal island and enjoy the beach rather than spending my time in the city. This small island is blessed with pristine beaches, snorkeling, and diving sites where luxury to budget resorts are available everywhere.

Since my work is highly dependent on the internet my priority is to look for an affordable and nice resort that has a good internet connection. I stayed at Paradise island park and beach resort which is one of the budget resorts with a nice private sandy beach area that is facing the city.

samal island

From our hotel in the city, we took a taxi going to their small port that brings me directly to the resort. The boat fare is P50 or $1. We booked an AC room without breakfast for P2,500 or $50 per night. The room is spacious, clean, and working hot water shower, a decent wifi connection, and a good cellular signal.

The place could be crowded on weekends so it’s best to stay on weekdays. They have a spacious dining area where there is a live band during lunch and dinner. We didn’t go outside of the resort but instead enjoy a relaxing time at their private beach area.

Their service was excellent and all the food that I ordered are really good but their halo-halo was my favorite. We spend an average of P2,000 per day on the food with 2 dishes, rice, and dessert that is good for 2. You can book Paradise island park and beach resort via clicking this link.

If you want to explore Samal island there are tricycles and habal-habal that you can rent, the resort also offers a land tour where you can visit falls and caves. You can also do island hopping, snorkeling, and diving. I highly recommend snorkeling on Samal island since I enjoy it during my first visit to Samal.

If you are looking for a quiet vacation that is close to Davao city or wants to enjoy adventure activities, then Samal Island should give you the best of both worlds. They have many white sandy beaches, a beautiful underwater world, caves, and waterfalls to explore. 

On your next visit to the Davao region, make sure to include the Island Garden City of Samal on your itinerary. 

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