When we speak of the island of Palawan, commonly what comes to mind to many people is the Puerto Princesa Underground River which made headlines when it was declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. But even before then, Palawan has always been every Filipino’s dream destination. Pristine white sand beaches, rich marine biodiversity, lusciuos rain forest, beautiful mountains, spectacular limestone cliffs, the list could go on for days! And oh boy, who can resist that? These and every other good reasons there is to this island paved a bankable tourism economy to the province and made Puerto Prinsesa the go-to city of every tourist who is seeking to know what heaven is like.
So what exactly does Puerto Princesa have aside from being the gateway to its more coveted neighbors Coron and El Nido?
A lot actually. Whether you’re in it for adventure and a rush of adrenaline or to simply kick back and seek solace wrapped within nature’s embrace, Puerto Prinsesa has it all covered. What’s even better is that this city has everything to fit your every need without hurting your budget. Not good enough? Then better browse further down.
HOW TO GO THERE
- From Luzon – Fly to Puerto Princesa from either Manila or Pampanga via Cebu Pacific, Phil Airlines or Air Asia. These airlines have occassional seat sales on going all year round. For Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque and Bicol area, ferryboat service might be another alternative to go to Puerto Princesa.
- From Visayas – Fly to Puerto Princesa from Cebu, ILo-iLo or Kalibo (Boracay) via Cebu Pacific. Alternatively, you can ride a ferryboat available in each of these locations.
- From Mindanao – Fly via Cebu Pacific to Puerto Princesa from Davao, Cagayan De Oro, Butuan and Zamboanga. Check for availability of flights as they might be limited.
SO WHY EXACTLY DID I SAY PUERTO PRINCESA HAS EVERYTHING? Wait til I tell you what you can do with only a budget of P5000.
During my previous posts, I emphasize how I am not really into fancy accommodation. But! There’s a big BUT! Here in PPS, I was completely in awe how my P650 have come a long way. Imagine getting a good night sleep in a room which feels exactly like home with a bed that was big enough for 2 people with the AC in full blast. And what could be sweeter with waking up in the morning with a delicious omelet and toast and a cup of coffee for breakfast?! Yeah. All that for a price of P650 in Villa Travelista Travel Lodge. A Very Quiet place. 10 minutes away from the airport and everything else (market, souvenir shops and restaurants). Owned and manage by a sweet couple and their 4 girls who will welcome you with open arms and make you feel like family.
(Choose among the following or combine 2-3 activities but still be mindful of your budget)
- Go on a city tour. I highly recommend you do the city tour DIY style. Whether you do it riding on a trike or driving yourself on a motorbike, it’s always pleasant as you own your time and doesn’t have a schedule to follow. Come see the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Butterfly Sanctuary and Crocodile Farm. Drive your way up to Baker’s Hill and delight yourself with sweet and tasty pastries. All these you can do for as little as P500.
- See the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. Commonly known as the “Underground River”, this is always worth seeing when in Puerto Prinsesa. For a fee of P1200, you get yourself to immerse with nature’s wonder, laugh at your tour guide’s old school jokes along with the other tourists and fill your tummy with a sumptuous buffet for lunch.
- See the Estrella Falls. I just love chasing waterfalls and Estrella Falls wasn’t the kind to disappoint. Have a picnic while tuning in to the sound of water gushing down. This you can do with a budget of less than P300.
- Go firefly watching. What could be more romantic with a river tour dinner lit with thousands of fireflies? And even if you are alone with no one to hold and warm you from the cold starlit night, this is still one amazing experience when in PPS. Delight yourself while spending as little as P1000 for this tour.
- Go Island Hopping. Discover paradise within Honda Bay by hopping one island after the other. Many people would take arranged tours for Honda Bay that normally cost P1000/person which includes a buffet lunch. But you need not to go along with the crowd. For a price of P1500, you and your friends (if you brought some) can rent a small boat and the boatman would serve as your guide. If he’s in the mood, he might even get you some fresh seafood and cook them for lunch.
- Food Tripping. Crocodile Sisig and Tamilok are just a few exotic dishes you can try in Puerto Princesa. There are a lot of good restaurants around town and boy you’ll be surprise how inexpensive they are. Oh, should I also tell you to try Noki Noc’s best tasting Halo-Halo? Yum!
For a more comprehensive list of the things you can do while you are in Puerto Princesa, visit my other post 12 Things To Do in Puerto Princesa
- Fast food chains. Jollibee, McDonalds, Chowking and even Razon’s. Puerto Princesa has all your favorite fast food chains available within your reach.
- Ugong Rock. Serves inexpensive but delicious dishes. Also perfect for hanging out to grab some beer and cocktails.
- Noki Nocs. Perfect for snacking. Well known for its delicious Halo-Halo.
- Eateries and canteens. No need to fret if you’re already running out of juice. You won’t have to starve or cut your meal to save as for a price of P25, you can get yourself a delectable chowfan rice available in the many eateries scattered around the city.
OTHER BUDGET HOTELS IN THE CITY
- Remari Tourist Inn. Located in front of the PP Provincial Capitol. Rates start at P750.
- Baragatan Inn. Junction 1, San Miguel Puerto Princesa. Rates start at P300
- Badjao Inn. Located in 350 Rizal Avenue. Rates start at P350.
- De Loro Inn. Located in PEO Rd. Bancao-Bancao. Rates start at P700
- Casa Linda Inn. Located in Trinidad Road with rooms available for as low as P400.
TIPS AND OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION
- There are two types of tricycle service in Puerto Princesa, the airport and non-airport tricycle. Airport tricycle fare is P50 and it would take you anywhere in PPS from the airport and vice versa. Non airport tricycle fare is P10 and can take you to and from anywhere in PPS except the airport.
- Terminal fee for all passengers departing PPS is P150.
- For delicious pastry treat to bring home, Baker’s Hill is your best choice. From the famous hopia to chocolate crinkles and other sweet favorites, you can have it all for as low as P30/box.
- If you love collecting T-shirts and souvenir items from different places, you would be happy to know that T-shirts are sold for only P100-P130. Souvenir items like small key chains and fridge magnets are sold for P25 apiece, native coin purse are for P30 and beaded purses and bags are sold for P70-P250.
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES FOR
- 3D3N Hotel (shared with my travel buddy) @ P650/night – P975 for 3 nights
- Underground River Tour – P1200
- Honda Bay Tour – P1000
- Iwahig Firefly Watching – P600 (DIY)
- City Tour – P200 (Rented a motorbike)
- Food and Drinks – P500
- Pasalubong – P500 (Baker’s Hill goodies, keychains and t-shirts)
- Terminal Fee – P150
Total – P4925/person
***2-way airfare per person was only P600+ through Airsasia Red Hot Sale of P0.25 base fare in August 25, 2014. This also was an 8-Day Palawan Trip but we spent the first 5 days in El Nido. See my El Nido Budget Travel Guide for more info.
SAMPLE ITINERARY 3D2N (Following 24-hour format)
0900: Fly to Puerto Princesa
1000: Arrive in Puerto Princesa
1000 – 1130: Freshen Up. Check in Hotel.Settle Things. Rest a bit
1130 – 1300: Lunch
1300 – 1700: City Tour (PPS Cathedral, Butterfly Sanctuary, Croc Farm, Baker’s Hill etc)
1700 – 1800: Dinner
1800 – 2000: Iwahig Firefly Watching
2100: Back to the Hotel
2200: Lights Out
0600: Wake Up Call
0630 – 0800: Freshen Up. Breakfast
0800 – 0830: Pick Up time – Honda Bay Tour
0830 – 1600: Honda Bay Tour/Dos Palmas Island Tour
1700: Back to the hotel. Rest. Bathe.
1800 – 1900: Dinner
1900 – 2100: Roam the city
2200: Back to the hotel. Lights Out
0600: Wake Up Call
0630 – 0800: Freshen Up. Breakfast
0800 – 0830: Pick Up time – Underground River
0830 – 1400: Underground River Tour. Buffet Lunch. Other Activities
1400 – 1500: Shop for Pasalubong
1600 – 1700: Back to the Hotel. Pack Up
1800: Fly back home
Took me time to finish this. I hope I’ve written just about everything you might need for a smooth Puerto Princesa escapade. I’m more of a backpacker than a luxury traveler but if there’s anything you wanna ask me about, feel free to shoot me a message on the comments box below. Also do check my Budget Travel Guide for EL NIDO ever you also plan to visit this exquisite place. Thanks and See yah!! 🙂