davao city and samal island

Travel Guide to Davao City & Samal Island: 2023 DIY Itinerary & Budget

Whenever people talk about Davao City, we either hear from people who’s been there “pakamusta kay tatay Digong” or “masarap ang durian dyan“. Furthermore, it has been marked to people’s minds that Davao is a province in the Philippines with one of the lowest crime rates. It is a place where you can do solo-traveling, ride a taxi at night without sending your families the plate number of the taxi or going to the night market while comfortably using your phones. As a result, traveling to Davao city and Samal Island DIY-way will surely give you the best and safest feeling on Earth!

To give you a bit of information, the region of Davao comprises 5 provinces namely (1) Davao del Norte, (2) Davao Oriental, (3) Davao del Sur, (4) Davao Occidental and (5) Davao de Oro. For my trip in this region, I was only able to explore the 2 provinces and the north and south since I had to go to Surigao for my next backpacking trip. Still, I had the best time seeing one of the stunning beaches and beautiful places in the 2 regions!

Getting to know Davao City and Samal Island

Davao in the Southern part of the Philippines is a very famous city in the Mindanao island and it is know to be home of Durian fruit. During my trip here, I can honestly say that wherever I go I always smell the fruit’s strong odor. And yes I think it’s the Durian capital of the Philippines, if there is such a thing, lol.

Is it safe to travel in Davao? The first thing I noticed during my first day was the incredible discipline and cleanliness of Davao. Courtesy of the previous mayor who is now the President of the Philippines of course. I think it’s really one of the safest places you can go on a vacation in the Philippines plus there are lots of things to do and see here!

What is the best time to visit in Davao City and Samal Island? The best time to visit in Davao is of course during summer or dry season in the Philippines which is from March – June. Although according to a local from Samal Island, they say that any month of the year is a good time to visit since typhoons and monsoon seldom hit the Southern part of the country. This is why they don’t have much reported climate disasters.

Pre-Travel Guide

Backpacking Davao or doing it the DIY-way is easy peasy lemon squeezy! Below are the relevant information you need to know or pre-travel guide for your upcoming trip. Learn how to travel to Davao city and Samal Islanf DIY way with my pre-travel guide!

Manila to Davao City

If you are coming from Manila, you can book flights from any local airlines like Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia for this route. Take note that the only airport in Davao is Francisco Bangoy International Airport (DVO) which is in Davao del Sur. There are no airports that caters public transportation in Davao Oriental or Davao del Norte.


General Santos to Davao City

Alternatively, you can ride a bus from General Santos to Davao via Yellow Bus Line. The fare usually ranges from PHP260.00 – PHP300.00 and the travel time is 3-4 hours. Below is the schedule and rates of the Yellow Bus Line.

First TripLast Trip
5:00 AM6:00 PM
3:00 AM7:00 PM
Multiple Stop
2:00 AM7:00 PM

Bislig to Davao City

Another famous gateway to get to Davao by land travel is from Bislig in Surigao del Sur. From Bislig, just proceed to the bus terminal and ride a bus bound to Davao Ecoland Terminal. The travel time is 4-5 hours and the fare is ranging from PHP360.00 – PHP410.00.

How to get around Davao City and Samal Island?

Getting around Davao is easy especially in the city itself. For public transportation there are taxis available, jeepney, bus, van and tricycles too. For budget solo travelers, the jeepney is best to lessen the fees. But if you are in a group, therefore your best option is to ride a taxi to reduce the hassle and split the fare in the group.

Take note that traffic is also frustrating in Davao just like in Manila. In my experience, I traveled from Roxas City going to the port to Samal Island for about an hour. It was truly exhausting and a waste of time for me especially that I am in a time-sensitive trip. Better avoid the rush hours and be extra early if you need to be somewhere else.

How to get around in Samal Island? There are no taxis available in Samal Island. The only mode of transportation available by land is tricycle and habal-habal and bus.

Where to Stay in Davao City and Samal Island?


Where to stay in Samal Island? A word of advice, the accommodations in Samal Island are very pricey compared to the hotels in the city. If you are planning to do an overnight in Samal Island, I highly recommend Camp Holiday Resort. It’s just beside Samal Ferry Terminal and the price for 2 in a single bedroom is reasonable. The location will be very convenient if you need to leave early the next morning.

Camp Holiday Resort

Furthermore, if you are looking for a resort you may check out in Isla Reta in Talicud Island or Kaputian Beach Resort in Samal Island.

Where to Eat in Davao City and Samal Island?

Roxas Night Market is the place for you when in Davao City! Enjoy grilled seafood of your choice and local street-foods too. If you’re up to try something new and unique, then you must try the durian-flavored foods like the buchi, durian ice cream and durian shake.

Where to eat in Samal Island? For backpackers, don’t worry because there are lots of cheap restaurants in the place! A budget of PHP50.00 – PHP100.00 is already reasonable!

Sample 3 Days & 2 Nights Itinerary (Davao City + Samal Island)

Day 0 – Arrival in Davao

6PM Arrival in DVO airport
6:45PM Ride a taxi to Roxas City in Davao, check-in to your hotel
8PM Dinner in Roxas Night Market
9:30PM Lights out

Day 1 – Eden Nature Park and Davao City Tour

6:00AM Wake up time, breakfast, prepare
7:00AM Ride a Toril jeepney from Roxas near Ateneo de Davao. Drop off at Toril Mercury Drugstore. (1hour ; PHP25.00)
8:00AM Ride a tricycle or habal-habal to Eden Nature Park. (30mins ; PHP200.00 tricycle/group of 4 ; PHP60.00 Habal-Habal)
8:30AM Explore Eden Nature Park
11:00AM Travel back to Davao City
1:00pm Lunch
2:00PM Davao Crocodile Park & Zoo
4:00PM People’s Park
7:00PM Early dinner in Roxas Night Market/Jack’s Ridge

Day 2 – Samal Island

6:00AM Proceed to Sasa Wharf
7:00AM Ride a ferry to Samal Island Port. (10mins ; PHP10.00)
8:00-12:00 Land Tour
– Vanishing Island
– Bat Caves
– Hagimit Falls
– Bluebird View-deck
– Kaputian Beach
12:00-4:00PM Island Hopping
– Giant Clam Sanctuary
– Sightseeing of Pearl Farm Beach Rsesort
– Coral Garden Marine Park
– Wishing Island
– Malipano Island
– Sabang Cliff
5:00PM ETD to Talicud Island
6:00PM Check in at Isla Reta

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How to go to Samal Island from Davao City? Proceed to Sta. Ana Wharf and ride a Palboros boat to Kaputian, Samal (PHP60.00). Also, you may go to Sasa Wharf and ride a ferry to Samal Island Port (10mins ; PHP10.00).
  • How to go to Talicud Island from Davao City? Proceed to Sta. Ana Wharf and ride a ferry to Talicud Island. (1 hour ; PHP60.00). The first trip is at 9AM and last trip is at 4PM.
  • How to go to Talicud Island from Samal Island? From Kaputian Beach, ride a boat to Talicud Island. (PHP30.00)
monfort bat cave davao
Estimated over 2.5 million Rousette Fruit Bats
monfort bat cave
Monfort Bat Sanctuary
davao city and samal island
Bluebird Viewdeck
davao city and samal island
Vanishing Island
Sabang CLiff
davao city and samal island
Freediving in Samal Island. Freediving fins from Aquamundo.
samal island freediving
Coral Garden Marine Park
giant clam sanctuary samal island
Giant Clams Sanctuary! There are so many of them from all shapes, colors and sizes you can imagine!

Day 3 – Talicud Island

6:00AM Wake up time, breakfast
8:00AM Explore Isla Reta, FREE time
3:00PM Back to Davao City, airport

Important Contacts & Tips from Joan’s Footprints

  • Samal Island Tour: Kuya Jonelvin Singson
  • There are not much ATM machines in Samal Island. Make sure that you withdraw enough cash in Davao City before heading to the port.
  • Signals and internet reception in Davao City is very fast. However in Samal Island or Talicud Island, not all places has a fast data or phone signal.
  • Use coral-friendly sunblock especially in the Giant Clam Sanctuary in Samal Island.

Help me improve my Davao City and Samal Island travel guide! By commenting suggestions in the comment section below. I am very open to new ideas. Let me know what you are thinking! 🙂
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6 thoughts on “Travel Guide to Davao City & Samal Island: 2023 DIY Itinerary & Budget

  1. This is a really comprehensive and great guide. It is very helpful! One of my favorite go-to place in Davao City is the Malagos Garden Resort they have unique animal shows and great food too. You should try it out! 🙂

    1. I’ve never been to that resort, thanks for sharing! I’m going back to Davao this December. Although I’m not sure if my flight will be cancelled due to COVID. 🙁

  2. Thanks for sharing this. This is very useful. I’ll use this to my Davao Backpacking Trip. Also, just wanted to ask how were you able to book a tour in Samal Island? Did you just contacted Kuya Jonelvin? I’ll be doing a Samal Day Tour as well and be back to Davao City right after the tour. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Cen! Yes I just messaged Kuya Jonelvin, he is a local tour guide in Samal Island. 🙂

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