Puerto Princesa is a charming spot of a city situated on the island of Palawan west of the Philippines also known as “Dakbanwa sang Puerto Princesa” by Hiligaynons. Considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in the country, Puerto Princesa has been a magnet for local travelers and more often foreigners. As a child, I would always dream of visiting the place not just because of its beauty and grandeur but because it holds one of the Seven (7) Wonders of the World, The Puerto Princesa Underground River.
How to get there:
The best way to travel to Palawan island is by plane. We bought a ticket from Cebu Pacific or shall we say wait for a promo flight sale. From Iloilo City, a regular fare would cost you from 2,500 pesos up to 5,500 pesos per person depending on the date of travel but a seat sale only charged us for about 4,500 for two (2) back and forth.
I would suggest that you try to plan and buy your ticket a few months before your scheduled travel to avail of the seat sale it really saves a lot of money and give you more budget for foods.
Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa:
Options for places to stay in Puerto Princesa are plenty. From top notch hotels such as Hotel Centro, Palawan Uno Hotel and more or if you prefer a much friendlier place for your pocket you could always opt-in for Bed and Breakfast or Budget Inns, either way, its all up to you. For us, we first booked a hotel from booking.com a few months before our trip.
I found Libis Bayview Hotel to be perfect for us, it is located downtown near to Malls and other establishments and it was only 1,200 pesos per night. Faith intervene when GO Hotel Puerto Princesa held a promo which we immediately grab not just because it’s only 599 per night but it’s just 2 minutes or less away from Robinson’s Place Mall.
- The hotel is really near a mall.
- We were able to check in early with no charge. (We arrive at around 11:00 am)
- No electricity or Water pressure problem or never experienced one.
- The staffs are friendly and accommodating.
- House cleaning was perfect.
- They even have an electronic safe for your belongings.
- The rain shower feature in the bathroom was something new.
- They have RFID cards rather than a conventional door key.
- No free breakfast (Wouldnt complain because of the 599 price though).
- No Cabinets.
- Wifi is slow and working online was a little struggle.
- No restaurant, just a little coffee shop that serves breakfast for 150 pesos per person and a few snacks.
- The room is not 100% sound proof. Encountered this on our last night in the hotel, The TV in the next room was so loud.
Where to go and what to do:
Puerto Princesa Underground River – This trip is one of the highlights and the sole reason why we planned to visit Puerto Princesa. From Puerto Princesa downtown it would take you about an hour or so of driving to Sabang port, Another 15 or 20 minutes of boat ride from the port to the underground river park.
Please take note to book your slot ahead of time at the city’s local council due to the fact that they only allow about 700 visitors per day. The permit would cost your about 800 pesos per person if you do it yourself and about 1,100 to 1,500 if you hire an agency.
The place is extremely wonderful, Serenity and tranquility surround the place. The underground river tour would last for around 30 minutes, Just make sure you close your mouth every time you look up.
Honda Bay – If you like island hopping these ones for you. Going through an agency would charge you from 1,000 up to 1,200 pesos per person. The best thing you could do is hire a boat for about 1,600 pesos and divide it into your group or have the boat all to yourself.
We are able to visit 3 beaches namely Luli Island, Starfish Island and Cowrie Island. Our first drop was Starfish Island and since we started late at about 10:00 am we end up eating there also. Make sure to bring some money with you as there are plenty of cheap sea foods for sale and they will cook it as soon as you buy them, so you get them as fresh as they can be.
You can even buy a plate of lobsters and prawns for 700 pesos only. Next is Luli island shorten for Lulubug Lilitaw Island. The place is privately owned and there is a designated swimming area, a place to buy snacks and drinks and they even have a mini bar (Prices ain’t cheap though). Bring some bread and snorkeling gear as this place is great this kind of activity, A fair amount of fish can be lured using the bread and a platform for jumping in the middle that you should try. The last one, Cowrie Island is the most appealing.
Baywalk – We never stayed long here but you could go on an eating rampage with all the stalls and restaurant scattered uniformly in the area. The place is good for biking where you can rent.
City Museum – I like history a lot so this one is a must. It took us a bit of time locating the museum since the tricycle driver has no idea where the museum is, Luckily we got
Google Maps! It’s a 2 story museum filled with artifacts from the past. Entrance caused us 50 pesos per person and fortunately no guide to entertain us which I find distracting. I’d rather go and explore on my own or with my partner.
Plaza Cuartel – It was the stronghold of the American and Filipino soldiers. Sadly it was taken by Japanese invaders that they then converted into a prison. 143 POWs who were burned alive in this place and miraculously there were 11 who survive to tell the tale. A monument was erected for those heroes in the center of the plaza.
Crocodile Farm – Best known for its crocodile meat though not actually from the farm. The farm has a scheduled tour every day so should check what’s the perfect time to visit to avoid waiting in line. Don’t skip on the crocodile sisig!
Mitras Ranch – The place has one of the best views of the entire city. Owned by the late Senator Ramon Mitra, It is now one of the visited places due to its cool air and great atmosphere.
Bakers Hill – Famous for its “Hopia”, This place was worth the trip to buy pasalubong of baked goods and sweets. The place also has its own mini theme park, zoo, and a restaurant.
Where and what to eat
Ka Inato – Decided to spend our lsat night eating here. The place is well known for its Deaf-Mute waiters and waitresses. The place is fenced in by sculptors who I believe are a representation of natives of the land.
This place is near Go Hotel which is another plus. The foods taste great though the crab I ordered has less meat than I expected. Overall the place is a great especially trying to explain myself to the waiters using hand signs I just learned from the instruction in the wall.
Crocodile Sisig – It does taste like chicken! I must admit I don’t eat sisig anymore but this one is an exemption.
A packed of processed crocodile meat would cost you 150.00 pesos.
We bought ours at crocodile farm just after the tour of the facility, they have a small cafeteria inside and outside of the building. Sadly, we were not able to taste the crocodile tocino as we are already on a tight schedule and are not able to bring it with us because it’s only available frozen.
Tamilok – I had to convince myself a few times for this. You can find them usually on dead mangroves. They are a type of mollusk but people refer to them as a woodworm.
This information did not help at all as I attempted to bring one down my throat. I was able to buy one at Sabang port just before we went to the underground river. It was about 90 pesos per serve and comes with its own vinegar sawsawan.
Sea Urchin – For only 100 pesos at StarFish Island. It was my first time to ever try sea urchin. It tasted like the sea obviously and we just ate it raw out from its shell.
Feel free to comment any questions you have below!