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Ultimate Guide For Expat Entrepreneurs In Davao City

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

As we’ve mentioned before, one of our goals is to nurture and expand the ever-growing entrepreneurial scene that’s been popping up in Davao City, Philippines in the last 12-18 months.

We’ve seen an explosion of growth in this area and are hearing from and meeting more and more people that are coming to the city to get their business or freelancing careers started. This post will be dedicated to them and will be a reference post we can use to share with those looking to come to this city and get started. We’ll add and update this post over time, providing entrepreneurs the best information they can find about getting started and building a business in Davao City, Philippines.

Note: This is a bit of a break from our typical or traditional posts here at Empire Flippers. Please feel free to skip this one if it doesn’t apply to you, but we’re hoping it will stand as a great resource for the network we’re looking to build locally.

Our Growing Community in Davao

Last Updated: 4/8/14

I’ve mentioned a short-list of expats that are here and looking to build their businesses and I thought I’d give a brief introduction and explain who they are, what they’re working on, etc.

  • Business Networking in DavaoJustin and Joe – Yours truly! We are both Americans in our late 30’s and run our publishing empire here through our brand, Empire Flippers.
  • Vincent – Our Marketing Director from the US joined us here in November 2013 to help us grow our business.
  • Damian – Runs and helps small business entrepreneurs with strategy and setup of Ontraport / Infusionsoft.
  • James – British transplant – he works on websites in the online gaming niche and stopped in and is staying a while to hang out, work with his local VA, etc.
  • Andrew and JayMar – They run multiple local businesses here in Davao City including Outback grill, Zoofari, and others.  You can find out more about them and our life in Davao in this post.
  • Paul – Just made the move with his wife and kids to Davao looking for change and opportunity in a low-cost environment.
  • Daniel – Runs an outsourcing company here in Davao with his partners and is primarily involved in lead generation and sales for US companies.
  • Dave – An AdWords/Regargeting expert that helps eCommerce and service-based businesses (like us and TropicalMBA) setup and maintain their paid advertising budgets.
  • John – Experienced in the restaurant industry, John’s working on WP themes and add-ons for developers and restaurant owners.

There are other foreigners in Davao looking to build their business, but these are the people we network with here on a regular basis and we’ll add to the list as the community continues to grow.

VISA Requirements

Tourist VISA

You will need to have an outbound flight ticket when visiting the Philippines. It’s better to do this ahead of time online so you don’t get stuck buying an expensive ticket last minute at the airport. The ticket can leave from anywhere in the Philippines, so your best bet is picking up a one-way out of the country with one of the budget airlines like Air Asia, Tiger Air, or Cebu Pacific for as cheap as possible. You can always ditch that ticket and purchase a new one when you’ve decided on a new destination.

The Philippines offers a 30 day visa on arrival for most countries. If you plan to stay in the Philippines for more than a month, you could get a visa in another country beforehand (i.e. your home country or another country that you are visiting). In the United States you can get a 60 day visa for $60 by visiting the Philippines Embassy. To be clear, though – it’s awfully easy to extend your visa in the Philippines. You can arrive on a 30-day visa and extend as long as you’d like, typically.

If you decide to extend your stay in Davao, you will need to go to the immigration office located across the street from Victoria Plaza on JP Laurel Avenue. The office is open Monday through Friday until 5pm. You’re better off avoiding Mondays and Fridays as the office tends to get quite busy on those days.

The office of an immigration attorney is located on the 2nd floor in the building to the left of the Immigration Office. If you need help, you can go there and pay 500 PHP for them to help you with the process, but this is largely unnecessary – the process is pretty straightforward.

To extend your visa you will need your passport, a copy of your passport information page, a copy of your most recent visa/stamp, 1 passport/visa photo, and a completed visa extension form. They have a copy machine there if you need to make copies (3 PHP per page).

You can get the visa extension form at the Immigration Office Window 3. The form will ask for your basic contact info (local phone number, local address, home address, etc). It will also ask for a local reference. I don’t think this part is a big deal, so you can just put down someone’s name, phone number, and address that you know here.

It will cost you roughly 2,000 PHP per month for visa extensions. Bring cash. The good news is that you do not have to leave the country, you can just go straight to the Immigration Office and keep extending. You can extend 2 months at a time (4,050 PHP).

You will need to provide your passport, passport copies, local address, phone number, and complete an application form. They will charge you mandatory express fees and require you to purchase a national ID card (~3,500 PHP and valid for 1 year) on your second extension.

The Visa Extension Process: Go to window 3 to pick up the required form. Complete the form and give it to the guy/girl at window 3. He will check it to confirm everything is correct, and then give you a number. Sit down. When your number is called (about 30 minutes later) you will pay the total extension fee in cash (PHP). Sit down. In about 30 minutes your name will be called and your passport & visa will be ready. Check the visa to make sure it is correct before leaving.

Important Note: If you leave the country, your visa will reset to the 30 day visa on arrival.


The Special Visa For Employment Generation (SVEG) was signed into law in 2008 and allows foreigners a permanent, multi-entry visa to both live and work in the Philippines. There are specific requirements to get it (Must employ 10+ registered Filipinos in a professional position, must be a major stakeholder in the company, etc.) This is worth getting if you meet the requirements as it can’t be denied like some of the other visas available. I won’t go into all the specifics about it right now, but you can read more about it here and here.

Frustration: The Philippines doesn’t do the best job at providing information online, explaining what forms you need, what the requirements are, and what the process is, so you’ll need to be a little patient here.

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Business Resources In Davao City

We want to share with you with some useful links, tools, and resources to help you as you build your business and continue your entrepreneurial journey in Davao:

Doing Business In Davao and in Davao – These are currently the best step-by-step resources regarding setting up a company or business in Davao City. Neither currently have the forms you need to begin the process and we think the timelines given are aggressive, but these will definitely help to get you started in setting up your company here.

American Chamber Of Commerce Davao – This group has been around for many years in Davao but have just recently begun a campaign to attract more foreign investors and business owners to the city. We decided to join in December, 2011 with the intention to assist them in providing assistance and advice in promoting investment and business opportunity here.

Blinque Tech Electronics (and their FaceBook Page) – Getting all of your electronics needs in Davao can be a bit of a pain in that there aren’t many one-stop shops that specialize in that here. Luckily, we’ve come across these guys and have had FANTASTIC service from them in setting up multiple offices, getting our computers serviced, etc. Highly recommended.

If you’re interested in setting up a business here in the Philippines, make sure to reach out and contact us.  We have some rent-to-own services where you only pay a percentage over cost and can effectively rent our license and contacts to get everything setup quickly.

Housing Options In Davao For Entrepreneurs

There are quite a few suitable accommodations across a wide range of budgets available for business travel in Davao City. Below we’ll give you a brief run-down on places we’ve stayed and had friends, acquaintances, and guest stay at here in Davao.

0-2 Month Visits

  • Marco Polo hotel in DavaoMarco Polo – High-end, full-service hotel. The best in Davao. If you’re here for a short stay, are less comfortable traveling abroad, or are worried about security this is probably your best choice. You’re looking at $100 – $150 per night, depending on season, promotions, etc.
  • Park Inn by Radisson Davao – A nice business hotel in the newer part of Davao, right next to SM Mall, Lanang. Built in 2013, this hotel is new and has all the features a business traveler would need. Reasonably priced at $80 – $100 per night.
  • Apo View – A Tier 2 hotel that will meet most needs for business travelers visiting the city. Before the Marco Polo, this was the best hotel in town but is now showing some wear and tear and is in need of some renovation. Reasonably priced at $60 – $100 per night.
  • Pinnacle Hotel – Another Tier 2 hotel in Davao. The hotel itself seems to be much newer and nicer on the outside and in the common areas, but we found the rooms to be sparsely furnished. They didn’t have great long-term stay deals when asked. $50 – $80 per night, depending on the room selected.
  • Legaspi Suites – Smaller (20 rooms) mid-range Tier 3 option. The rooms are clean and the hotel is smack in the middle of downtown which makes it easy to walk to places, catch taxi’s, etc. The rooms are $30-$70 and easily negotiable directly with the hotel. They DO offer some pretty good longer-term deals for people, but staying there more than 2 weeks may leave you wishing you had a bit more in the room.
  • Ecoland Suites – Newer budget accommodation. It’s right across from SM Mall which is quite convenient, but a good 15 minutes from downtown. The rooms are clean, but small. The hotel has a 24 hour cafe and patio on the second level. They don’t offer long-term discounts, but you may be able to work something out. Priced at $20-$30 per night.

REALLY cheap options – There are a ton of options that are $5 – $20 per night and the value and cleanliness of these places will vary greatly. You’ll also have to put up with things like dormitory-style living, shared bathrooms, etc. If this is more of what you’re looking for, we would recommend one of the cheaper options listed above for the first week and then seeking out these really cheap rooms and hotels once you’re “boots on the ground” so that you can find a place that meets your needs as far as amenities, cleanliness, privacy, etc.

2-6 Month Visits

While Davao City offers some excellent accommodations when compared to most Western countries, you’ll find that the city’s a little less accommodating to those passing through with a mid-range length of stay. (3-9 months) The real problem is “cash-flow”…or the amount of money you’ll have to pay upfront for only staying a few months.  Many houses or apartments will require a 3 month deposit, first month’s rent, and a 6 month contract at a MINIMUM before allowing you to move in. (12 month contracts are likely.)

An exception to this would be some of the privately-owned condos at Magallanes. They’ll often take month-to-month renters with at least a one month deposit. The size and furnishings in these condos can vary greatly, so it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting into. The monthly price will vary from $350/month for a 1-bedroom to $800/month for a larger 2-bedroom place. You can see if they have any Magallanes places available here.

This can be a bit rough on cash-flow for an early entrepreneur without much business to speak of. If you’re looking for a really cheap place to come and work to get your business off the ground, we would recommend one of the hotel options listed above and then asking around locally once you’re here.

6+ Month Visits

There are plenty of resources online pointing to houses, townhouses, and apartments available in Davao, but you might find when you’re here it’s much more difficult in that the information is not always updated, the places have some serious downsides, getting around from one to another via transportation can be a pain, etc.

  • $150-$400/month range – Small but clean apartments for rent that might be a bit away from the more popular areas of town. These places will typically have a mix of western amenities along with local amenities. Running water, electricity, etc. will be included.
  • $400 – $800/month range – Higher-end apartments or townhouses and smaller houses will fall into this range. Most of the options here are in great communities, but you’ll want to make sure it’s not too far outside the main areas of the city.
  • $800 – $1,500/month range – Mid to high-end houses can be found in this price range. The houses might include 3 bedroom family homes to 6 bedroom mini-mansions. Some business owners will setup work/live situations in the large houses in the price range. The problem with the high-end options is that most of them are pretty far away from the main parts of the city.

We have some Real Estate friends that were EXTREMELY generous in taking us around to view a ton of available properties when we first arrived and have offered their services to others that have come to Davao more recently. It’s convenient in that you give them a price range and general requirements, they’ll set an appointment for you, and will then be able to pick you up and drive you around, place to place, to help you find the perfect place for you.

They went even further than that for us, helping us furnish our places here in Davao and getting us completely setup for a fee. They’ll give you the low-down on the landlords, neighborhoods, and pretty much anything you want to know about the property as best they’re able.  Feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to put you in touch.

Internet And Communication Options In Davao City

Green Coffee cafe in Davao

There are two main providers for home/office internet services in Davao City, SMART/PLDT and GLOBE. You’ll find the DSL lines to be considerably slower when compared to the US, but tolerable for basic tasks and web applications. The cost is around $35-$40/month.

Cell phones require a SIM card and you can use pre-paid cards to “load” your phone with credits. You can purchase SIM cards at any of the malls and you can load your phone at the same places or most of the convenience stores and even small, local stores will often carry load for you to top up. Using data normally can get quite expensive, so most prefer to use the weekly/monthly promo codes found at SMART or GLOBE. Keep in mind that if your phone requires a nano SIM, they will most likely just cut up a micro SIM so that it fits in the phone. (This will work)

Internet isn’t that reliable or fast in the Philippines overall.

WiFi: Internet speeds vary depending where you are. Some hotels/apartments will have something faster and more reliable, but most likely you’ll have to find another option.

3G: If you have a 3G connection on your phone or hotspot, you’ll find it’s fairly reliable around town, with minimal dead zones. Typical speeds are 0.1 – 2.0 Mbps.

4G/LTE: If you purchase a SMART LTE SIM card for a pocket WiFi device, you will get the fastest internet available in Davao. Be warned, 4G/LTE reception is not available everywhere, so you’ll want to test it before deciding on an apartment. Typical speeds are 8.0 – 26.0 Mbps when accessing 4G/LTE. Also, it may be challenging to find the pocket WiFi devices and LTE SIM cards because most places are out of stock, but they are available if you keep looking.

You can buy a generic prepaid LTE pocket WiFi device like Huawei from one of the general phone stores like Herrara Brothers. And make sure you purchase the SMART LTE SIM card because the regular SIM cards will not work. You may need to check multiple phone retailers to find this LTE SIM card.

Once you have the pocket WiFi device and your SMART SIM card, you will need to add load to the SIM card. You must purchase the Smart Bro Load, normal load will not work for LTE SIM cards. You can get unlimited data for 995 PHP per month if you text “LTE 995” to 2200. You will need to add load and activate the plan each month so set reminders in your calendar.

To add more load and activate the plan, you will need to insert the SIM card into your phone, add the load and text the promo code, then remove the SIM card from your phone and insert it into the pocket WiFi device.

SMART LTE provides you with 7 days of unlimited data when you buy the SIM card (350 PHP). After that you will need to add more load to the card and activate the monthly prepaid promotional plan (“LTE 995” to 2200).

Hang-Out Spots In Davao

Coffee Shops

There are some great coffee shops with free WiFi popping up all over Davao City. The top places would include Bo’s Coffee, Bluegre Coffee, Green Coffee, Chicco Di Cafe, and the newest is our own Starbucks! Unfortunately, we’ve found the WiFi at Bo’s to be quite slow and Starbucks is still too new/busy to be an effective place to hang out and get some work done. We recommend checking out the Green Coffee on Torres or Chicco Di Cafe in Bajada for the strongest internet connections and a decent place to sit back and knock out some work.

My latest (favorite) spot is a sports bar downtown near the Apo View named Primo Cafe.  They’ve got a great, modern location, good food, and fast WiFi.  I’d recommend getting here in the afternoon…they usually have live music in the evenings and it can get a little too loud/crowded for a great work environment…but it’s a great place to knock out a few beers once the work is done!

Night Life

The nightlife in Davao is much more subdued than places like Manila or Cebu, but there are still plenty of regular places to go check out if you’re a night-owl and like to party. Most bars and party areas have last call at 1am and are closing down around 2am, so this is definitely not a party-round-the-clock town. (Although there are some after-hour “Speak-Easy” type places…let’s meet in person to check them out?) You’ll also find that (like anywhere else) the popular spots tends to change pretty rapidly. Weekends are usually better than weekdays, although there’s a bit of action on Wed/Thurs nights.

This list is by no means comprehensive – it just lays out some of the places we like to hang out when we want to let loose:

Matina Town Square (MTS) – A collection of open-air bars and restaurants. This is a more relaxed, laid-back spot in the Matina area that also includes a few coffee shops, a McDonalds, etc.

Bogsners – A laid-back, no frills bar at Times Beach that sometimes has live bands, fire dancers, etc. Not the nicest place in town, but they serve cold draft beers and are great for a casual meetup or place to get the night started.

Autoshop Area – This is a collection of bars/clubs all bunched into one block on Palma Gil Street in Obrero. This is the higher-end club scene in Davao, with Starr and Hybrid being the most popular of the two (small) clubs.

The Patio – Right next to the Autoshop complex, this is a newly built area that consists of inside/outside bars with a setup for a live band in the middle of the square. The most popular establishments here would include Business Class and The Brewery.

Legaspi Suites Complex – There is a small hotel at the corner of Legaspi and Rizal streets that has a small collection of bars and restaurants with a small patio in the middle. They often have BBQ served at the patio and one of the bars has a wide selection of imported beers. This isn’t much of a hangout spot to meet new people – better to visit with friends.

Some Place Else Bar – This bar is on Rizal street and just across from the famous Claude’s restaurant. There is a small collection of bars in this area, but Some Place Else serves the best margaritas in Davao.

KTV’s – These are karaoke bars sprinkled around town that cater to small-large groups of wanna-be and amateur singers. You’re better off heading there in groups and can be a great way to close out the night. The more popular KTV’s include World Palace (upscale) and K-1.

Costs In Davao

We’re often asked how much this or that costs here in the Philippines and Davao specifically and wanted to show you this GREAT purchasing power comparison resource we came across. Generally speaking, anything that is labor intensive (massage, maid services, etc.) is much cheaper in the Philippines and in Davao City specifically, but things like electronics tend to cost a bit more because of the out-of-the-way location for shipping the goods.

Safety In Davao/Mindanao

In our experience, much of what the media says about Davao comes across as quite alarmist. We’ve found Davao EXTREMELY safe when it comes to pickpockets, muggings, scammers, etc. (Much safer than Manila or Cebu when it comes to petty crime like this) We’re regularly out at all hours of the night and haven’t come across any real problems. There are certain dangers that come with any international travel and you should keep your wits about you, but I can safely say Davao City is probably safer than many major cities in the US. That being said, there are definitely places in Mindanao you should probably avoid and others areas you absolutely DO NOT want to go to under almost any circumstances. Still, the mayor (old and new!) have done a good job of keeping the city quite safe for tourists and visitors, albeit with some controversy.

Transportation/Travel In And Around Davao City, Philippines

Jeepney In Davao CityThe local transportation (like much of the Philippines) is the Jeepney and costs around $0.20 per trip. The Jeepneys have regular routes that are painted on the sides and can be a bit difficult for someone new to the city to figure out. You’ll most likely pay around $0.60 to get from one side of the city area all the way to the other side (Bangkal to Damosa, for example) but the real problem here is the amount of time it takes. (Anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours, depending) Good for the experience of riding in one, but a terribly inefficient form of travel.

Taxi’s are our transportation of choice. The same trip listed above would cost approximately $4.50 and can be done in around 30-50 minutes, depending on traffic. (Davao is quite large geographically) I’ve found the taxi drivers in Davao to be EXCEPTIONALLY honest when compared to other cities and you should have no problem getting to anywhere you need to go as there are a ton of taxi’s available. (Except when it’s raining!) If you’re going somewhere that’s quite out of the way and you might have trouble finding a taxi back, negotiate with the driver and most will be willing to wait for you as it means a guaranteed fare back to the main parts of town.

Personal Vehicles – I’m a bit biased here, but I DEFINITELY don’t recommend driving yourself around Davao. Most of the driving here would be extremely confusing for foreigners and very hard to navigate. The locals seem to do quite well with each other, but there are bound to be mistakes and we’ve seen some pretty nasty accidents around town. Most of the foreigners that drive themselves and have been here for more than a couple of years have been in at least one accident.

NOTE: We looked into buying cars, hiring drivers, etc. While it would be nice to have a personal driver, the cost and utility just didn’t seem worth it and taxi’s seemed the better route to take. We know a few locals and foreigners that have gone this route and their driver typically doubles as a bodyguard. My personal opinion there is that unless you are a celebrity or part of the 00.1% of top-end business people a bodyguard is highly unnecessary and probably stands to put MORE of a target on your back! (If you’re reading this I’m almost 100% sure you don’t fit into either of those categories mentioned!)

Food Options In Davao

I’ll expand this section a bit further later, but some other local bloggers like Ria Jose and Blogie cover this topic quite well in Davao, actually. Check out DavaoDeli, DavaoFoodie, and DavaoFoodTrip to find some great information on the restaurants in town. In addition to the local bloggers mentioned above, you might also like to check out a guy known as “Mindanao Bob” who runs the Mindanao Magazine and LiveInThePhilippines.

One of the things I LOVE about SEAsia in general is the street food. In places like Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, etc. you’ll find that some of the BEST restaurants or food options are from street stalls or tucked away restaurants you’ll have never heard of.

Unfortunately, most foreigners find the street food options in the Philippines less than desirable.

Aside from the unsafe health conditions of the food, it’s just not all that great. Still, if you’re here and brave you should definitely try some Balut (aka duck abortion!) or the Davao specialty, Durian. (I think it smells like rotten feet and tastes only slightly better…but so many SWEAR by it, I may be wrong?) While the street food is not so hot, there are some delicious dishes available you should check out, so don’t let me scare you off!

That being said, Davao has some AMAZING fruit options available. From amazingly fresh and delicious mangos, pineapples, and bananas to the more exotic fruits like Dragon fruit and Pomelo, you won’t be hurting for delicious fresh fruit on a daily basis. If you do venture around the city, make sure to stop by some of the fruit stalls and sample some of what they’ve brought in from the provinces.

As I mentioned, I’ll be adding more to this page in the weeks and months to come and will primarily use this as a resource for those looking to visit or setup their business in Davao. Big thanks to John N. for helping put this together!

Last Updated: 4/8/14

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  • Christopher McGuire says:

    What’s the latest on the internet situation there? Any improvement since this was written?

  • Evans Ndadzungira says:

    I am pretty much interested in establishing a business in Davao. Probably a restaurant or a bar. How much would it cost me for a modest restaurant like 60 square metres in floor area

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Unfortunately, we have only started online businesses in Davao.

      You’ll have to ask around the locals for property prices for your restaurant. I hope the endeavor goes well!

  • Tom says:

    OK, You guys are Awesome! Thanks for all the tips above. I am coming to Davao on Nov. 10th. I am meeting a girl that I have been Skyping/talking too for several months! We are in love-yes this defiantly can happen. She has family in Mati and we have rented a house down there. Her brother in-law is an attorney down there. I would like to invest/start some kind of small business sooner or later there; but I thought we could only have/own online businesses in Philippines? I have a degree in Business (Franklin Pierce college New Hampshire) and an associate’s degree in HVACR. I own and rent 3 houses in Northern NH/USA. And will use rental profits to survive here. I have been a maintenance mechanic for over 20 years; Gillette, Coca-Cola Etc. If anybodies got any business ideas for me, let me know. Small initial investment would be nice! Thanks again. Look forward to talking to all you guys-good to know I’m not alone!

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Tom!

      Check out our marketplace, tons of great businesses for sell. All of them already making a profit, can certainly help you bootstrap your way around Davao 🙂

  • John says:

    I am married to a local lady and am finally getting ready to move to a town about an hour north of Davao. Anybody have any tips about shipping some household goods and wood working equipment to Davao or to our home? I am hopeful to find a company that will do all the customs work and everything to get from my door here in Cali to my home in Sto. Tomas.

  • Graham says:

    Hi. Thanks for the informations. I’m intending to start a small business in Davao City but not sure where to start. It will be of a great help if any of you is able to help me along the way. Thanks

  • AlexSpice says:

    I lived in Manila for a couple of years. Then relocate to Thailand for 3 years. Now am back in Philippines after absence of 3 years.

    Thank you for the useful information about the Immigration office.

    Awesome post with good information about Davao.


  • Gwyn says:

    Great article! I am a Filipino currently reside in Qatar for almost 9 years now. I was born and raised in Metro, Manila. I have a friend who married to a Davaowenyo and been to Davao 3 times and absolutely loved it. What I like about Davao is a small city (less hassle and traffic compare to Manila and Cebu) and at the same time in an hour drive or less you can go to the beach or nature tripping (Eden Park) if you want to relax. My partner and I are planning to get a property in Orange Grove (maybe) and hopefully start a business in a year or two (restaurant, fish or shrimp farming) all depends of what the market like over there. I am looking forward to meet you all. Cheers!

  • Wayne Branch says:

    In Davao for the next six months. Looking to network. Any expat gatherings or suggestions.

  • Kamala says:

    My partner and I just arrived in Davao City yesterday and we’re looking for a place to land for a month. We’d like to be in a nice area and in a place with excellent wifi and affordable. We’re wide open for suggestions. Should we get a taxi and ride around and look at apartments? Does anyone know any listings available?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Kamala,

      If you’re going to be there a month, I’d really recommend just finding a nice, clean hotel room for your trip. I don’t really know your budget which would definitely change my recommendation on where you go.

      I can tell you that there are some decent/clean places without too many frills for 900 – 1,200 Php per night. ($22 – $28 USD) If you can swing $50/night or so, you’re looking at some quality Tier 2 or business hotels.

      AirBnB isn’t great in Davao and the concepts of “Serviced Apartments” is pretty much non-existent, unfortunately.

  • Hi , I’m Marcel from Sweden.

    I did came across this while looking for a good internet provider in Davao.
    I did not find much info about a provider , but I did read a lot of other interesting stuff.
    I do have internet website that I started 1998 ( http://WWW.50CC.EU) , and last year I had my Filipino girlfriend start up a small company and hire people to clean up all photo’s on the website .
    I was much better to just let a few people work there for me to take care of it , then do it myself.
    In the end of the 90’s digital cameras where not so actual like now , so I did make photo’s , and just scanned them to put on the website , and now that needed to be cleaned.
    they did do a great job for almost one year , but now it’s done , I don’t have any photo’s left to clean.
    I did try to find them extra job , but the economy is bad in Europe , so it’s hard to find work for them.
    So if anybody knows somebody that needs help with that kind of work , it will be highly appreciated.
    Me and my girlfriend did buy a house in Davao , and we do have our own small office and from where they do the work .
    If I’m not finding some extra work , I need to send 2 very good workers home next month , and I hate to do that.( they are both 2 young man with family )
    Or if anybody can offer them a job in Davao , that would also be a thing.
    They work very well with Photoshop ,and the average is about 50 photo’s a day p.p.
    I know them for about one year now , and I did meet them when I did get there a few months ago .
    They are very nice guys , and can really be trusted. ( I think that’s most important )

    Next year I will try to be working more outside of the company , because I have good staff , and a good system so I can login and do my work everywhere if I just have internet.
    That way I can spend more time at my house and girlfriend in Davao ( who I know for 8 years now ) , and work from there .
    I also can find more time to find factory’s here in Davao that can produce parts for me.
    I already did do business in Davao , and I had some parts made there , but it’s al going slow , and I think being there , will speed up things as well.

    Ok , enough talk about this , and now about Davao itself .
    I really love this city , and the friendly people .
    I’m a motorcycle lover , and for me it’s heaven.
    In the evening everybody is out on the street on the motorcycle here in my area , and food stands everywhere , and you just sit down a have a drink , and just enjoy the evening .
    I love just to get on a motorcycle and drive to Samal , or drive to other nice places in Davao.
    Next year I will take a motorcycle and drive along the coast to the Province Davao oriental ( Caraga) , I’m really looking forward to do that.

    Ok I hope I did give some idea’s to other people that consider about moving to Davao .
    If you need know something more , just ask.

    For now I wish everybody a Merry X-mas , and a happy new year , and maybe we meet each other in Davao.

    Marcel from Sweden and Ruby from Davao.

  • Steve says:

    Great resource page. Question – what’s the situation with co-working spaces in Davao? I saw a post by Justin on Quora (from Jan 2013) that mentioned a few places opening up, but other information on the web is scant. Seems like one of the main options is a place called The Cube. One Facebook link of theirs boasts 50 Mbps speeds – Is that legit? If you have some more info about these places, it would be a great addition to the post.

    • Steve says:

      I did some additional research on this and eventually found my way down the right rabbit trail. Below are some links describing The Cube’s (aka SBDC) offerings. Currently advertised shared internet speed is 10 Mbps. Daily rate for a co-working seat is 250 PHP. They also offer individual rooms, which can be reserved monthly/yearly. I guess the 50 Mbps mentioned in the prior post is a future target.

      Co-Working Space (17 seats):

      Solo Room Rental (35 rooms):

      Meeting Room Rental (1 room):


      • AlexSpice says:

        Where exactly is the Cube? I try to search online but can’t seem to see any information.

        I only see Dreamwork in MTS – I am staying in F Torres area, so would like to find some place nearby if possible.

        Then there’s KOM Lounge. Not much info on this online…anybody has info on this one?

        Thank you.

  • steve says:

    Great site..I would love to get in touch with Daniel about his sales outsourced business to see if we might be able to collaborate

    thanks in advance

  • George Jenson says:

    Im going to be moving to the phillipines,(Davao) and was told that a small Cajun and southwestern u.s eatery, would do very well, and would just like to hear more on that. I will be marrying my sweetheart to whom I have been engaged with for some timme. She a Filipina, and also thinks that a small eatery would not be too cost prohibitive to open, and that this type of food would do very well. Any insight on this would be helpful, and very much appreciated. Thank you

    • While I know nothing about the restaurant business, there was a very small cafe in Davao that offered “New Orleans Cajun” food and did pretty badly. They switched to just offering coffee and snacks.

      If you are going to be a successful eatery you are going to need to appeal to the local palate. Spicy is abhorred by most Filipinos and local fish and chicken seem to do best with unlimited rice. There is simply not a big enough expat market to appeal to. The high end market is saturated — we seen many a restaurant that serves good western food go out of business in just a few months.

      Best of luck!

  • Shawn says:

    So, how do you find an honest real estate broker that’s not going to show you the ‘western’ prices but the same ones that the locals get?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Shawn,

      An attitude like, “They’re always out to screw the foreigners” isn’t likely to get you very far with the people that actually ARE honest/helpful, to be frank. You’ll find most in Davao to be much more chill than the highly competitive Manila markets, too.

      In any event, if you want “local” prices you’ll have to shop like a local. There are plenty of boarding houses that you can find on the ground. Prices range from 1K Php to 5K Php per month. ($22 – $120 USD) Your best bet for that, though, would be to literally walk around where the boarding houses are and ask door to door.

      • Shawn says:


        Sorry if you think I feel any certain way. I’m just being blunt. I have a Filipina wife and I’ve lived in Manila since 2005, so I’m just speaking from experience and looking for some advice with regard to Davao.

        I’m actually looking to buy a home for my wifes’ parents to live in. I’m not poor but I don’t like getting ripped off, like I did for the first few years I was in the country. I can play naive and pretend there’s not 100 scams or ‘padding for every Westerner’ for every 1 honest broker but I thought being honest and upfront would yield me better results more quickly.

        So, if anyone has any actual connection or advice on a local level, please share.

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Sorry to hear things have gone so badly for you getting ripped off your first few years.

          I don’t have anyone I can recommend to you. Good luck with your search.

          • Shawn says:


            Wouldn’t call it ‘going badly’ so much. Most all of my long term western friends have had nearly identical experiences. It’s part of acclimating to a 3rd world country and being seen as wealthy because you’re a westerner thus getting a target painted on your back on some level.

            It’s just how it is and I’m sure it does not just apply to the Philippines but to call it ‘bad luck’ on my part says you either have no real ground experience in the country or you’re being overly kind about that fact and deceptive to your readers.

            Fact: 3rd world poor country makes you a target because you’re an obvious Westerner that has some cash. It’s not really a big deal but since you think I have an attitude or bad luck, I feel it’s important that I set a few things straight. Yes, if you’re not a Filipino, it’s much harder to pay fair prices on things or non-inflated prices. I can’t count the number of times I was quoted a ‘last price’ on something and my wife has gone in without me and gotten a much better price. It is what it is but please if you want to be honest to your readers don’t make it out to be my ‘attitude’ or ‘bad luck’.

            Anyway, I was just mostly posting this here in case any other reader finds out some valuable intel they can pass on.


          • Justin Cooke says:

            I never said “bad luck” – I think you make your own luck. I know some people who’ve been taken for some cash too, but those tend to be the kind of people who incessantly blame their situation on circumstances outside their control.

            It’s not a fact that you’re a “target” as you’ve put it. I think it depends on the crowd you roll with and your perceptions. Ours obviously differ.

            Claiming I’m lying about the situation or don’t have any “real ground experience” is just silly and I won’t bother with it.

          • Shawn says:

            Sorry man, I don’t mean to offend you but I’ve got about a dozen people that would disagree with you and half of them are Filipino.

            It’s not that I’m hanging around with dirt bags, that I’m racist or that I’m associating myself with any one specific group of people. It’s that I’ve been around a long time, done a lot in the country, have a Filipino family and lots of Filipino friends and I’ve gotten way past the whole being nice as not to offend anyone phase. I’ve got no problem calling a spade a spade. I love Filipinos, I married one but poverty creates dishonestly, it’s a simple human fact. I think of it as survival in rough conditions. As a westerner it requires you to do a little more due diligence for the aforementioned reasons, especially with a large purchase.

            I really thought most of this went without saying but after our little exchange I guess it required me to further elaborate on it.

            No offense to you Justin but do you mind if I ask what the extent of your experience in the country is? I find it odd that no one has ever tried to take advantage of you because of your status as a westerner. It’s a pretty normal thing and part of daily life living there as an expat.

  • mark scheele says:

    Hi Justin, great website, ive been looking for this for awhile now, My name is mark and ive recently married a a philippeno woman who is so amazing, i live and work in Australia and return after every 4 week. On july 5 im off to Davao to look at a place to buy so i can have my wife be comfortable before we start a family. III continue to work in Australia and go back to my wife after a month, i read that you might know some tricks to buying as i dont want to over pay for a property as im not rich, i would love to catch up and chat to you as i need to know so much, i will get a loan for a house so iii have a budget, the house market isnt good here in Australia so iii keep my house here, any information you can give me would be a life saver, thanks so much,
    Mark Scheele

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Mark,

      Congrats on getting married! My girlfriend is a Filipina and awesome – wishing you the best.

      Buy me a beer when you get here and we’ll talk real estate! 🙂

  • Todd Hirsch says:

    Hi Everyone. My name is Todd Hirsch. I have been living in the Philippines for about 2 years now. I have a 2 bedroom condo available for rent at Linmarr Towers. The unit is fully furnished very nicely. I am looking for at least a 6 month lease but can work with you. I included 10mbps wif-fi internet also. My Email is I can also show people around Davao and have a truck here.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Todd!

      I remember looking at Linmarr Towers and thinking they were a bit small. (and out of the way?) I say that and then I end up in Woodridge which is pretty outside the city center, hehe.

      With condos it really comes down to how it’s furnished and the wifi – so good to hear you’ve got that covered! Best of luck in getting it rented, man.

  • J C says:

    I am arriving in Davao tomorrow, going by your advice and will try Marco Polo hotel first 🙂 I will be staying for 6months+ do you guys have any recommendations ?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey JC,

      The Park Inn and Seda are viable alternatives, but there aren’t great options inbetween the 2K and 5K Php per night ranges. If you’re looking to save some $$, check out Ecoland Suites.

  • nick says:

    what is the fastest way for me to register a corporation company in Davao? I think the hotel at abreeza mall is great …. seda

  • Great resource on Davao, Justin. I would suggest replacing the Marco Polo with the new hotel by the mall. Yeah, I know that doesn’t help you, but that hotel is pretty nice, while I found the Marco Polo to be lacking. Internet was slow, service was weak, and it just seemed like a step below what Marco Polo is in Beijing, Shanghai, etc.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, man.

      Which new hotel did you mean? There’s the Park Inn by Radisson which is right next to SM Lanang (I haven’t been there, but heard it’s a great business hotel) and the Seda Abreeza Hotel which I was just at the other day. (New, decent hotel for business travelers, but I think this one is going to go downhill in 3-5 years) I’ll have to check out both and report back!

      The Marco Polo in Davao isn’t at the same level as some of the other Marco Polo’s in SE Asia, but I still think it’s the #1 hotel in Davao in terms of services, quality, staff, etc. MAYBE not the best value, though…

      • Yes, the Abreeza sounds right. Why do you think it is going downhill? It seems positively delightful.

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Hey man,

          Seda isn’t going downhill…yet. It’s still nice/new, but it “feels” like the kind of hotel that won’t be so hot in 3-5 years. My guess is management will let it run-down and not keep it up like the MP tries to, at least.

          Read your post on land in Mindanao the other day, btw – interesting stuff!

  • Victor Nobrega says:

    Excellent article! I learnt so much!!

  • Eric says:

    Great post. I’m currently based in Bangkok and am considering moving to Davao for a while next year. One concern I have is about the internet speeds. You mentioned they were quite slow, but how slow? I use VOIP a lot (skype and twilio) and need an internet connection decent enough for clear stable voice and video calls to the US.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      I normally get 5down 1up at my house. It’s not great, but good enough to usually handle interview recording for an hour on Skype. They recently introduced 4G/LTE which can get you 15-20Mb down, but it’s a bit spotty to use for phone calls.

  • Sunyoung Lee says:

    Hi, it’s a good post. I recommend you Coffee Bean in G-mall. Starbucks in Abreeza and SM Lanang got slow Internet connection.

  • Cathy Samorro-Handzic says:

    hey there,im from davao as well.. married to husband is currently in davao now with my family yet im here stuck in singapore for work.. Europe was not that great to us so we might as well settle in husbands there now trying to look for great ideas to start a small business.. any thoughts on this?? would really appreciate.. and great article by the way ciao 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey, Cathy!

      There are quite a few opportunities for local business here in Davao, although I’m primarily focused at finding online opportunities. Joe and I have some friends here that have done quite well with local businesses and have been expanding in recent months/years.

      • Michael Black says:

        Justin W Cooke…
        I am an American, working in AFGHANISTAN as a govt. Contractor…looking to buy a house in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, here in the near future…trying to look at different investment opportunities that would allow me to stay in the Philippines, and not have to come back overseas to work, or force me back to the United States for a job. I am not looking to get rich, If I buy the house and a Car in cash now, I would like some kind of investment that would allow me to pay my bills and have a small amount of money on the side. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. my e-mail address is CCWBLACK@YAHOO.COM thanks again Justin! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

        • Michael Black says:

          Currently I am in the Davao area about every 3 months for a 21 day stay…occasionally stop in boracay or malaysia for a while, I am a young guy, my background is in transportation and logistics mostly for the US Military…

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Hey Michael!

          Funny enough, I was in Tagum for the first time a couple of weeks ago. We went there to stay at a resort (Banana Beach) and then spent the evening in the town. I was surprised…it’s a pretty cool little area, actually…I thought it would be much more backwards than it was, hehe.

          Niche sites is definitely an option. You could either build from scratch or buy, expand, and sell…both are valid methods. Listen to our interview with Mark regarding buying/selling sites. With a bit of cash, I think that might work out for you. Or…check out our post on getting to $3K/month in 6 months. That’s the method I would use if I had to start all over again.

          We should talk before you buy property here. I’m not sure sure investment properties are the way to go, but if you DO purchase I might know a trick that will help you. 🙂 Let me know when you’re in Davao and we’ll meet up for coffee or something…

          • Michael Black says:

            Mr. Cooke,
            Yeah, Tagum is great, I understand what you mean as well. I too was expecting it to be a little more rural than it is. Banana Beach is great too, have been there before. Not as nice as Samal Island, but a great place to see none the less. Do you think that niche sites really is a valid option, being that I have no background in the website world at all? I was reading more about the 3k/month after 6months, and basically what I am asking is by using your guide, with no experience at all, is that a good idea? I already saw that on your site that you were very upfront in not making any guarentee’s about success, but is this something that would definitley require some kind of formal education? Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to respond to people like me. It is great to know that there are expats around the area that truly care about the well being of other expats. I will be back in that area sometime in november (I think) +/- a few weeks, and I would love to get together with you for a cup of coffee, or maybe a cold red horse haha. Also, I was not thinking of investment properties, but I was thinking of buying a house just for myself and my fiance. Zeroed in on one in Tagum for 1.9m that looks like It will do just fine. I wanted to pay cash for that and possible cash for a new vehicle as well, my thought process being that this will eliminate bills in the future, when my income might not be as good as it is now. MindanaoBob gave me some straight forward advice and advised me to rent first and then buy, but my main concern is once I start living there (possibly July-Sept. 2014) I dont want to have the extra expenses of rent/mortgage and a car payment. I understand that if I cannot adjust or if something goes sour, I will have to take a loss when I sell (I assume) but I think that is a risk I am willing to take. Also last thing, and I hate to barrage you with questions, but other than niche sites what are a couple good investment ideas in your opinions…just based on a little reading I have ruled out Sari Sari stores, Trike’s, Jeepney’s and Internet Cafe’s. I understand it is a hard question to answer as nothing is for sure a good investment, but just looking to expand my options, and I greatly value the opinions of people who are living there already. Thank you again so much for your time, and I hope we can meet in Davao sometime soon.

          • Justin Cooke says:

            Hey Michael,

            The 6 month strategy is not without risk, of course, and I can’t say whether or not it would be a good strategy for YOU…but it is the path I would take if I had to start over from scratch.

            IF you have the time…why not start out by building 10 sites/month on your own for 2-3 months and then sit back for 2-3 more months and see how they’re performing. That’s the safer route, but it will turn the 6 month plan into a 12 month plan. The benefit, though, is that you’ll be able to test through niche site creation on the cheap to see if it’s really for you.

            Red Horse? No way, man…we’re all about the SML – only the best! lol

            Bob’s been around Davao quite a while and can definitely help get you up and running. I tend to agree with him on the Rent Vs. Buy argument. If you ARE going to buy, I’d recommend setting up a PI Corp and having that corp owned by a US corp. That will allow you to (legally) purchase a lot and house without having to put it in someone else’s name. (scary prospect, that)

            A small fleet of taxi’s might work – I’ve done some napkin math and I think that has a shot. To be honest, though, I would try to stay away from the “typical” small businesses here that Filipinos can/do run. You’re much better off going upmarket, doing something out of the norm, etc. A good hook here in your local business can go a long way. When you’re here, I know some business owners that are (surprisingly) killing it with their local businesses and we can go over it in more depth.

        • Earl Wilcox says:

          Im also a American contractor and very interested in how you are getting along. I have the same plan and I think you might be a few steps ahead of me so please write me back

  • Erik Heyl says:

    So this is a permanent option for you? Frankly, I’ve been thinking of doing a “4 hour work week” thing, taking wife/laptop and going for a few months around Asia. It’s a BIG undertaking (at least it seems so) especially when you’re wife is also afraid of flying.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey, Erik…definitely a permanent thing for us! Well…at least semi-permanent. We’ve been in and around SEAsia for several years now and I don’t see that changing in the near future. I’m planning on staying in Davao through 2014 and then make take a 6-8 month travel break and go nomad again for a while…we’ll see!

  • Tung Tran says:

    it’s quite funny for me to read an article about Asian from a Westerner. I’ve never been to the Philippines, but I think it’s pretty similar to my country Viet Nam.

    Great article anyway Justin. I will meet you guys one day

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Would love to meet up, for sure man!

      There are definitely some comparisons between the Philippines and Vietnam. When I took my (Filipina) girlfriend to Vietnam, EVERYONE was trying to speak to her in Vietnamese, hehe.

  • Great article regarding Davao City! Thanks for sharing! Why not try Baguio City too “the summer capital city of the Philippines”? 🙂
    Lol, reading some comments above I think, men should think it more twice if you want to gain the great health benefits of Durian per se besides an “aphrodisiac” fruit.
    I do agree our pinoy street foods are not like our asian neighbors that are great for everyday food. Hope Filipinos’ street foods should evolve now through other entrepreneurs influence, training or education, I guess. Even sophisticated pinoys themselves won’t appreciate our street foods anymore except those boiled peanuts, boiled corns, coconut juice, etc not those fried foods. Enjoy all our tropical fruits and veggies! Avoid GMO foods that are being outsource to Filipino farmers from overseas, please encourage my fellow citizens to patronize organic farming and buy organic foods when you can. Mabuhay!

    Is there anyone out here tried Bayantel DSL in Davao City, any feedback please or new updates for best ISP? Thanks!

  • Kris Reid says:

    Hey Justin

    Great post! I’m an Australian that has recently moved to Davao.

    I have been running my online business for around 4 years and I thought it’s about time I move closer to my staff. So I have moved to Davao and opened an office in Davao.

    I think you and your followers could be very interesting in our services. We craft hand-made backlinks to help increase a websites ranking in the search engines. Ardor Backlinks is our name and backlinks are our game 🙂

    I would be more than happy if anyone wants to email me about backlinks or meet up for a nice cold beer 🙂



    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Kris,

      Man, I’ve had a good string of luck hooking up and chatting with some super-sharp Australian guys the last few months. You’re in Davao now? We should definitely meet up, man!

      We’ve cooled down a bit with building links to our niche sites, but I’d love to chat with you over a few cold SML’s and see how we can help each other out. Shoot us an email and we’ll setup a dinner or something!

    • Pabel Delgado says:

      Hi Alex.

      Thank you fir writing the blog on expat entrepreneurism in Davao.

      I’ve a company in US, Asterism USA, Inc., with a wholly-owed subsidiary in Japan, Asterism Healthcare GK. Due to rapid growth, we’re putting together a Creative team within the company. Creative will be located in Philippines–possibly Davao–and responsible for all product packaging, TV and print advertising and web-based campaigns.

      I plan to be in Davao this week, or the week after. Maybe we could have coffee.

      My professional bio is below.

      Thanks again.

      Best regards,
      Pabel Delgado
      +81 90 9164 1206
      pabel.delgado (Skype)


      Pabel Delgado majored in Biology at Hunter College, CUNY and continued his education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s Isenberg School of Business Management and the University of California, San Diego Extension where he studied Biotechnology. His professional background includes research at New York’s Rockefeller University and Weill-Cornell Medical College in addition to stem cell and gene vector therapy development in California’s biotech industry. In Japan, Pabel worked at RIKEN’s Center for Developmental Biology and the Osaka Biosciences Institute on projects with physicians from the Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (Beijing), the First Affiliated Hospital of the China Medical University (Shenyang), and the Fudan University Shanghai Medical College (Shanghai), before initiating a business career in Japan Pharma.

      Within Japan Pharma, Pabel was Manager of the International Business & Strategy Development Group at Alfresa Pharma Corporation. Alfresa Pharma is a Japanese pharmaceutical, medical devices and diagnostics company within the Alfresa Group companies, the largest pharmaceuticals wholesaler in Japan (turnover: USD 14.5 billion/year). At Alfresa Pharma, Pabel’s work encompassed technology search, licensing deals and new business development planning.

      Later, as Deputy Group Leader of Strategic Planning for the Pharmaceutical Development Division of Shionogi & Co., he was responsible for expanding the company’s Alliance Management & Business Development. As part of the company’s efforts to form an international network for industry-academic collaboration in research and development, Pabel’s expanded Shionogi’s international business, researcher and clinical networks; establishing core relationships and building sources of deal flow from outside Japan.

      About five years ago, Pabel co-founded Asterism Healthcare Plus, Inc. The company’s mission is to promote human health and wellness by positioning high quality Japanese healthcare products into middle-income countries, with a particular focus on Asian markets. Headquartered in Japan, the company has two primary business lines:

      (1) The formulation, production and marketing of healthcare products, including functional foods, OTC, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals, supplements and related offerings; and

      (2) Consulting, in-/out-licensing, and commercialization services regarding these products and across a range of companies within the life sciences industry, including biotechnology and pharmaceutical ventures.

      In June 2014, he founded Asterism USA, Inc. to capitalize on the strengths of both the US and Japan. The company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and closely tied to Japan’s pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industry through its wholly-owned Japanese subsidiary, Asterism Healthcare GK.

      Pabel’s “Asterism Healthcare Group” is a young business that is striving for excellence. Through it, Pabel seeks to procure, formulate, produce and market high-quality human and pet healthcare products, such as advanced foods, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, quasi-medicines, Japanese herbal therapeutics (or “Kampo Igaku”), OTC, generic drugs, and API.

      Alongside his business, Pabel also sought to impact Japan’s economic and industry development through the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) where he held the post of Executive Committee Member & Chairman of the Kansai Business Programs Committee. For the ACCJ, Pabel developed programming supportive of science and innovation-based businesses, and promoted licensing and R&D relationships between Kansai organizations and those in North America, EU, China and India.

  • Hello Gentlemen; Joel here, born and raised in Davao now living in NY but with serious plans of going back very soon for a business venture. Thanks for posting some info. My last trip was 7 years ago. I should be able to go back this year and initiate some plans. It’d be great to network with fella’s who are doing business there. Here’s looking forward to meet and share some business ideas over a chicken barbecue meal, Chinese food and San Miguel beer someday. BTW, IMHO Davao has the Best recipe in Chicken Bar-B-Q and Siopao. All the best to you guys!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Joel!

      Yeah, my girlfriend is a Siopao fan, for sure! 🙂

      We’d love to meet up when you make your way back here. We love drilling down on business ideas over a couple of cold SML’s!

  • abdessalem nizar says:

    Good Morning

    I`m Nizar From Tunisia now I`m staying in Davao with my fiancée and I badly need to find a Job I was in Dubai for 8 years I speak French English & Arabic I`m an IT graduated I have UAE Driving Licence.

    I hope you can advice me to some contacts here in Davao , please don`t hesitate to help me my mobile number is; 09394261955

  • marco says:

    iam marco from mauritius island i am a tourist in davo lookin for forigners friends !

  • Charmaine says:

    Great information Justin. Currently I have a contractor in Davao and was considering setting up my offshore office in Cebu however after reading your article I am re thinking this.
    I will be there towards the end of July and it would be great to touch base. My company is based in Australia It is refreshing to discover that a number of professional ex pats are residing in Davao.

    Check out this blog post, although I am unable to verify where this information was obtained from it made for interesting reading regarding salaries world wide for web developers etc especially the final paragraph.

    “Interesting trend is that Australia offers highest salary to most of the jobs and Philippines has lowest salary. So for freelance developer it make sense to get clients from highest paying market.”

    • Charmine, thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post. We love Davao, so be sure to let us know when you get here and let’s meet up for a beer or two.

      Good post, thanks for sharing, but I always wonder how they come up with these averages as well. And what do they use for currency conversion? With the AUD being worth slightly more than the USD lately, it’s no surprise that Australian workers maker more.

      The biggest idea I can pull from the post though is those individuals with web design or development skills should consider moving to a place with a low cost living like the Philippines. Especially since these jobs can be done virtually. Just imagine the amount of capital you can build up making $100k a year while living here!

    • Thanks for sharing that blog post … super interesting, had no idea Australia would be top of the pile for a lot of salaries. Hope to meet you also when you are here 😉

  • Jason says:

    How is life for a single guy in Davao? Is there a cultural taboo for Filipino women to date American men? I’ve always considered moving to the Philippines and Davao has me intrigued but I don’t want to go somewhere that doesn’t have a good singles scene.

    • It’s pretty good. You definitely can achieve “rock star” status here pretty quickly by being a foreigner under 40 who is in decent shape. While there is no taboo about dating American man, there can be a certain stigma among upper class Filippinas who date western men as it is looked down on in some circles.

      Because of the educational experience and world exposure of most common Filippinas is so low, you might find it hard to relate on certain levels. It also something to note that religion can be a powerful force here even for the less devout.

      That said in general it is a great scene with lot’s a lovely girls who know how to treat their man. This comes form a guy who has dated worldwide pretty extensively — USA, Brazil and Italy. Trust me, it’s a good place.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      I disagree with Joe on a few points and thought I’d respond as well. I do agree that there is a certain “rock star” status that comes with being in SEAsia. (And it’s not limited to the dating scene…applies to business, meeting or hanging with “celebrities” etc.)

      I think there is a bit of a stigma for girls who are with Westerners, though. While they may not say anything, some will look down a bit on the girl and will gossip about you, for sure. It’s not THAT bad, but definitely something that happens here.

  • Kristian Primdal says:

    Thanks a lot for this article, really helpfull. Me and the better part of me are strongly considering staying in Davao for a longer time. So we will come down and look at some of all this later this year, maybe already in April.

  • Alex says:

    Thank you for the mention, guys! Ya’ll are money as always.

  • Bob Martin says:

    Just want to clarify something. Your article says that I operate the blog American in Davao. This is incorrect. I am not associated with that site in any way. My site is

    Thanks for the mention, though.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey, Bob…thanks for stopping by!

      Ack…sorry about that! I remember reading the “American In Davao” blog before I moved here. I thought that the original blogger had gone back to the US (to be a taxi driver or something?) and you’d taken over the blog, but I guess it was someone else? I just corrected above, hehe.

      • Bob Martin says:

        Thank you Justin for the correction. You are right about that blog, the fellow went back to the States. But my blog is much older, and much bigger than his ever was, so I didn’t have any reason to take that over! ha ha… take care!

  • Loloy says:

    I love Davao! Can’t wait to be back there for a short visit. Really great place to be…

    • JustinWCooke says:

      It definitely is. When was the last time you were here! We miss you! 🙂

      Davao’s really a great city in the Philippines, for sure. Very happy to have our business here and we’re hoping we can encourage others to get some things going here as well.

  • The Biggest Newbie says:

    Thanks for the tips guys. I’m considering Thialand or Phillipines to relocate and do IM. Your post was helpful. Nigel

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Awesome, Nigel, great to hear it helped you! The language barrier is a bit steeper in Thailand when compared to the Philippines and the cultural differences are more pronounced, I think.

  • Thanks for the mention buddy, great summary of this awesome city … I would just like to confess, I love Durian 🙂

  • Thanks for the mention Justin 🙂 so lucky to be able to network with you guys
    Nice info about our great home Davao. While there are some things we hate about living here for example- fairly slow internet and slow inefficient service at most places Id say overall Davao is an awesome place to live. Iv’e traveled round a bit and lived in a few places but Davao is one of my favorite places long term to stay, one big reason being price. Its so cheap to live here if your just starting up like we are. Id prefer so many other places over Davao in the Philippines for a holiday but I’m yet to find somewhere better to live. The only other place I would consider living would be Cebu. Id say its a bit more expensive (but still extremely cheap) probably better internet service also. For anyone coming here take not the first month its hard to get any work done. Settling in can take its toll and my advice would be (especially to any younger guys) not to let the partying consume you as it can be a pretty cool place for that.

    lol “Durian. I think it smells like rotten feet and tastes only slightly better” Totally agree here taste terrible dont know how they can eat that stuff. Id also have to agree on your street food comment. For me street food in Thailand and Vietnam and so much better than The Philippines

    • JustinWCooke says:

      You definitely have to account for some “transition time” when moving here, that’s for sure. Joe likes to say that Davao is a bit “sleepy” and while he’s usually referring to things to do here, I think it also applies to the way of life. Things can take a bit longer here to get up and running and it’s something you have to account for, I think.

      It’s great to have you guys here and glad to hear things are picking up for you and for your business!

  • Yes the street food is not great here, but there are some fantastic restaurant choices in Davao, good Italian, sushi, french, etc.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Damian!

      Yes, they have some great restaurants here and many more seem to be added to the list month after month. When I first arrived it seemed there wasn’t as much of a selection but Davao has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Now…if they can just get some good restaurants open late into the night. (The time I’m usually working, heh)

  • Did you try balut? I live in Turkey and they eat goat brains and intestines here (both are delicious). I think balut would be a bit hard to try, but maybe it’s good.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      I’ve had balut on several occasions, but it definitely requires a few beers for me first. I prefer the “younger” balut…if it gets a bit older it’s too bird-like for me and, well…it doesn’t go down very well!

      I’ve had fish stomach in Thailand and all sorts of crazy fried bugs that are common in the NorthEast, but I’ve yet to eat goat brains…sounds delicious? 🙂

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