PUERTO PRINCESA is a slice of heaven which is not limited to the delectable dish served in a platter but extends farther beyond imagination. Choosing what to do and where to go first can become really mind-boggling especially when you’re on a limited time. “So many places. So little time.” fits perfectly to this kind of situation which is pretty much the same wherever you go in Palawan or anywhere in the entire Philippines.
To make it easier the next time you head to Puerto Princesa, I narrowed down all the most interesting things there is to this beautiful city into a list of 12.
1. See the Puerto Princesa Underground River
Considered as one of the 7 Wonders Of Nature, the Underground River is one of the reasons Puerto Princesa city is flooded with tourists from all walks of life of different ages coming from anywhere in the world every year. And why wouldn’t they? It is one best example of nature’s mystique. A journey to the underground river will tell you of a story that was molded for hundreds of years. Although the stalactite and stalagmite formations within the cave aren’t glowing like crystals, each of them has a fascinating story to tell. Added to that is the guide’s quirky manner of presenting his figment of imagination which most of the time will make you burst with laughter.
Price: P1100 – P1500 (Agency) P800 (DIY) per head.
How To Go There: Go to Sabang Port which is 2 hours drive from the city. Make sure that you already have a confirmed slot from the city’s local council to avoid inconvenience. From Sabang Port, ride an outrigger boat going to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park. Travel takes 15-20 minutes. Another option is to take the 1-2 hours Jungle trail to the Underground River Park which would start in Sabang Beach.
Tips: Book your slots at least 2 weeks before you fly to Puerto Princesa. If you fail to do so, you might still get one if you would personally go to the council’s office and present your departure flight details. They usually grant slots to tourists leaving Palawan the same or the following day. If you want hassle free transaction, you can book an underground river tour with any of the local tour agencies there.
2. Island Hopping
Within Honda Bay scattered various small islands and each is gifted with some rare species of fish and other marine animals. Head to Starfish Island and see starfishes of different colors and sizes. Snorkel and get a chance to discover paradise underwater. Afterwards, take time to see Luli Island. Named after the Filipino slang “Lulubog Lilitaw”, this some 2-kilometer sandbar disappears during hightide and reappears during lowtide. Lastly, relax next to a glass of mojito or mango shake in Cowrey Island. Meet and get to know some tourists and ask them to play beach volleyball with you. Have a great time and head back to the city before dusk.
Price: P1000/person (Agency)
Tips: You can rent small boats which is normally for P1500 and divide the cost with the number of people in your group.
3. Go to Dos Palmas Island
Still within the expanse of Honda Bay, fronting the Sulu Sea is a 20-hectare private island Dos Palmas. Surrounded with white sandy beaches and turquiose waters, this can be your perfect alternative over the very touristy Honda Bay Island Hopping tour. Hop on one of the native outrigger boats en route to the island and discover the intoxicating combination of nature and luxury in a one ultimate tropical paradise experience.
Price: P1800/person (Agency)
How to go there: Hop on one of the shuttle van going to Sta. Lourdes wharf. From there ride one of the outrigger boats going to the island. Tricycles are also one form of transportation going to the wharf.
4. Firefly Watching
Another very interesting experience while in Puerto Princesa is to watch thousands of fireflies lit mangroves under a starlit sky in Iwahig. Enjoy an hour filled with insighful learnings courtesy of your boatman who will take your journey from one constellation after the other, from mangroves to plankton and to every interesting detail there is to fireflies. Price: P1000/person
5. City Tour & Food Search
Wrapping Puerto Princesa city are amusement and wildlife parks, cathedrals, and great restaurants. Best known to be the Philippines city which has the richest wildlife habitat, Puerto Princesa did themselves well with preserving various endangered wildlife species. There they have the Butterfly Garden which is a sanctuary to different kinds of butterflies and other animals. Not far from the Butterfly Garden is the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park) which houses the Philippine freshwater crocodile with Mac-mac the biggest croc in the city as the main star. While in PWRCC, you may also want to give the infamous crocodile sisig a try. Couple of miles away is Baker’s Hill where you can get tasty pastries at such inexpensive prices and Mitra’s Ranch which offers a scenic view of the surrounding valley. Head back to town and drop by the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Plaza Cuartel to know a little history about the city. Stroll along Puerto Princesa Baywalk at sunset then enjoy the city’s lively night life after 6PM.
Tips: Rent a motorbike to do the city tour. Automatic scooters are rented for P400. Drive yourself around city and discover off beaten tourist spots.
6. Chase Waterfalls
Do you feel like chasing waterfalls? In Puerto Princesa it best done in Estrella falls. Enjoy its cold and refreshing waters. Relax, be one with nature and oblivious to world. Other interesting waterfalls you might want to check are Salakot and Bonton. Price: P300
7. River Kayaking & Cruise
Enjoy a hearty and delicious meal while entertaining yourself with the tranquility and beauty of nature. Get to learn something new about mangroves and its importance not just to the organisms who take shelter on it but to humanity as well. Price: P250 – P500
8. Zipline, Trail Walk & Spelunking
If you are looking for some rush of adrenaline and love jaw-dropping adventures then you might enjoy caving in Ugong Rock. Marvel at some awesome rock formations while climbing your way to the top. Finally, fly your way down through a zipline. This can be another activity to fill in your itinerary after your Underground River tour. Price: P500
9. Climb a mountain
Surrounding the “city in a forest” are range of some spectacular mountains. Inexperienced or pro mountaineers will find Mount Bloomfield worth adding to their bucketlist. Overlooking Sabang, this can be another reason why you should spare this side of the city a couple of days in your itinerary. Price: P400 How to go there: Ride a shuttle van going to Sabang. Register at the local tourism office, get information and other tips. Hire a guide if need be.
10. Dolphin Watching
Dubbed as one of the most adorable of sea creatures, who wouldn’t want to get a glimpse of this friendly homies in Puerto Princesa Bay. Watch them take your breath away as they dance, fly and swim in the middle of the ocean. Price: P500
11. Go to Arena Island Turtle Sanctuary.
Thinking about avoiding the tourist beaten path? Head to Arena Island where serenity is at its best quality.Have a sumptuous dinner by the shore under the moonlit sky. Worry about nothing else as you have the place all to yourselves or shared with some few tourists also seeking peace and quiet. Price: P800
12. Drop by Port Barton
2-3 hours drive away from Puerto Princesa is Port Barton, home to some breathtaking sunsets and sanctuary to colorful and rich coral reefs filled with various marine species. Whether you’re in it just to witness its unsung beauty or dig deeper into its unknown hollows, this place is definitely worth a visit. Price: P500 – P1500
How to go there: Ride a van or a bus going to El Nido. Alight the bus at the intersection/junction going to Port Barton. Ride a tricycle to take you to Port Barton. Tips: Make sure to ask how much are you gonna be charged for the tricycle service for you to avoid being rip off. P300 may seem to be a fair price which you can share with 2-3 other people.
There you go folks. The next time you visit PUERTO PRINCESA, make sure to have done one or two things in this list and I guarantee your stay in the city is one you would always cherish and remember. Anyhow whichever you choose to do, the locals in the city is sure to deliver quite an amazing experience to its visitors. They certainly took the time and effort be proficient in what they do through proper training. They may not be very conversational in English as one can truly be but they sure know how to try. . . 🙂 Also do check my Budget Travel Guide To Puerto Princesa for other ideas. Thanks. See yah. 🙂