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Driving in Davao

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Davao.
Driving in Davao

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Davao, like many other parts of the Philippines, can be a bit chaotic for those not used to it. Traffic rules are often loosely followed, and the roads can be crowded with a mix of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. It’s important to drive defensively and always be aware of your surroundings.

2. Vehicle Choice

Smaller cars are often recommended for driving in Davao due to the narrow roads and heavy traffic. However, if you plan on exploring outside the city, a larger vehicle like an SUV might be more suitable due to the rougher terrain.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Davao can be challenging, especially in the city center. Some areas have paid parking lots, but these can fill up quickly. Parking fees are generally affordable, but it’s always a good idea to have some change on hand.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in the Philippines with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to 90 days. After that, you will need to obtain a local driver’s license.

5. Obtaining a Local Driver’s License

To get a local driver’s license, you will need to go to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) with your valid foreign license, passport, and visa. You will also need to pass a written and practical driving test. It’s recommended to get a local license as soon as possible to avoid any potential issues.

6. Road Conditions

Road conditions in Davao can vary. Major roads and highways are generally in good condition, but smaller streets and rural roads can be rough and poorly maintained. Be prepared for unexpected obstacles like potholes and roadworks.

7. Be Prepared for Traffic

Traffic in Davao can be heavy, especially during rush hour. It’s a good idea to allow extra time for travel and to plan your routes in advance. Using a GPS or navigation app can be very helpful.

8. Be Respectful of Local Customs

As a foreigner, it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. This includes being polite and patient on the road. Aggressive driving is not well-received and can lead to unnecessary conflicts.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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