“Wow,” I say as I stepped off the plane.
I looked around. It was all trees everywhere except for that small establishment where the aircraft faced.
I breathed and it was fresh air, a surprising change from the usual Manila air.
I walked down the ramp and smiled at the huge sign that said “Puerto Princesa Airport”
I was in Puerto Princesa. Alone. For the first time.
3 years ago, I didn’t know this experience would mold me to who I am today.
Palawan. I am in love with this place. And this is also the place where everything started.
Despite having written a few blog posts about Puerto Princesa, I realized I haven’t updated it much since visiting Puerto Princesa more than 4 times now. So today, instead of repeatedly referring, I will write everything in one post.
Where to Stay
I’ve stayed in this place once already. For P350, the room was pretty basic. It had two single beds (the P250 for one single bed was not available), and one table in the middle. There was one fan. The shower room and toilet are both common. Location is great as it is only a short walk from the center.
107 E. Valencia Street
Mobile Phone: 0917-5530605 / Landline: (048)433-2873
This is one of my favorite places to stay. For P1500, we were able to get a room for 5 pax, aircon. It’s also pretty close to everything else so it’s a great option for those who don’t want to walk or take a tricycle to the city center.
Address: 26 Old Buncag Rd
Mobile Phone: 09122536728
This is where I stayed at during my first time in Puerto Princesa. The rates must have changed already, but during our time, we only paid P1200 for 3 pax (the room was actually for 4 pax, I think) and the room was huge. It was also exceptionally clean and big, with a separate room for the dining and comfort room. The pension is also a short walk from the baywalk.
31 Malvar Street
Mobile Phone: 0917-568-8564
For a different atmosphere, this is the place to stay. It may be a little old and rusty at the moment, but it still has a unique environment compared to any other hostels or pension houses in the area. It is also commonly liked by foreigners because of its atmosphere. On the other hand, Banwa Pension is located pretty far from the city center. A room costs about P650.
Mobile Phone: (048) 434 8963
I’ve never really stayed here, but it has been one of my choices to stay in Puerto Princesa because it is pretty cheap. At only P300 per person or P600 per room, it’s a pretty cheap choice.
11 Carandang Street Mangahan
Mobile Phone: 09199678558 / 09157595296
What to Do
The Underground River
Everyone has got to do the Underground River once in their life. It’s crucial that you give your own thoughts and opinions about one of the 7 Wonders of the World, instead of listening to what other people say. A tour to the Underground River will start at around 8am (they pick you up from the hotel) to 4pm. The travel from Puerto Princesa city center to Sabang is around 2 hours. There is a short stopover that has a look-out to the seas where you can buy souvenirs. When you arrive in Sabang, most groups will go for a buffet lunch right next to the beach. While waiting for your group’s turn at the URT, you can do the mangrove tour (costs about P200). To get to the URT, you’ll have to take a boat and then do a short trek to the entrance. It is definitely beautiful from there. If you get a funny, smart boatman, you’re in luck.
The Underground River tour costs P1500 all in. You can do a DIY and save about P500, but it’ll save you all the trouble if you go with a tour agency. Besides, registering for the URT is already a lot of hassle.
Iwahig Firefly River
This is one tour that you shouldn’t miss. Highly missed out because it isn’t as popular as the other tours, make sure you take one evening to do it. It’s only about a 3-4 hours tour. The trip to get there will cost P700 (tricycle, good for 4 pax) and will take about an hour. Best to get there by 6pm. The roads going there are okay, it’s paved so it won’t be too hard. However, do note, that you will be going through the Iwahig Prison and Farm and it’s common that you will see prisoners walking down the streets. Don’t be afraid though, these people are pretty harmless and they work really hard to fight back for their life. If your tricycle driver is also willing to tell the stories and you’re ready to hear it, the roads getting there can be pretty creepy on a paranormal note.
When you get there, you register (or ask the tricycle driver to register you beforehand so you don’t have to wait). The cost of each boat is P600, good for 3 pax. If you’ll get the package with a buffet dinner, the cost is P1200 per pax. Bring lots of mosquito or insect repellent as you will be touring in a river. All boatmen are smart, funny and educated. If you’re touring on a moonless night, expect your tour to be awesome. Lucky too, if you get to see falling stars.
The City Tour
If you have time, you need to tour the city. There’s a lot of history there and it’ll be nice to get a glimpse of it. Do make sure to visit Baker’s Hill. They have the best polvoron ever! Mitra’s Ranch used to be this really, really nice overlooking place but today, it’s now a “fun park” with a zipline. A city tour costs about P600 – 700 via tricycle (max of 4 pax). Make sure to drop by the baywalk too. There’s nothing more relaxing than seeing the water along a beautifully paved boulevard.
Why not head to the beach while you’re in Puerto Princesa? Even if they closed some of the islands (Snake Island, I think?) from the time I did it a few years ago, most of the open islands are beautiful, especially for kids. The tour costs about P1100 per pax I think, inclusive of lunch (I’m sure I paid less, but I don’t remember how much). There is a way to DIY the island hopping, but I’m not sure how they did it.
On the other hand, if you’re heading to El Nido anyway, skip the tour. It’s a great alternative if you’re not going to El Nido. But to be frank, the island hopping in Honda Bay has nothing on the island hopping in El Nido.
Where to Eat
Ka Lui Restaurant
One of my favorite places to eat in Puerto Princesa. The atmosphere there is so chilled out that you’ll enjoy every second of your meal there. Every guest has to remove their shoes before going in. The food is gastronomically good, especially their seafood. Meals are about P150 – 300. Try their sinigang. They mix it with a bit of coconut, so its juicier than usual. The restaurant is ALWAYS full so reserve a table a day before.
369 Rizal Ave
Located right along Rizal Street near Jolibee and Unionbank, Balinsasayaw has some of the best and cheapest food in Puerto Princesa. Try their gambas. Delicious. Price ranges from P80 – P250.
Kinabuchs Grill and Restaurant
Looking for a great place to eat a little late at night? Kinabuchs Grill and Restaurant has an open, relaxing area where they have good bands or shows on a huge television. Price ranges from P150 – 300. This is also a great place to eat tamilok, or the delicacy of the wood worm.
(048) 434 5194
For fast food type, Nokinoks is a different version of Jolibee and McDo. It has local food displayed and it’s also cheap, with a price range of P50 – P150. This is where I usually eat before going to the Iwahig Firefly Tour.
Corner North Rd, Rizal Ave
Sample 3D2N Itinerary
11am – Arrival in Puerto Princesa
12 noon – Ka Lui lunch
2pm – Check in at hotel
3pm – Half day city tour
8pm – Dinner at Kinabuchs Grill and Restaurant and try the tamilok.
8am – Pick up for Underground River Tour
12 noon – Buffet lunch
1pm – Mangrove Tour
4.30pm – Back to Puerto Princesa
6pm – Quick dinner at Nokinoks
8pm – Head to Iwahig Firefly Tour
9pm – Arrival at Iwahig Firefly Tour. If you arrive this late, there’s a chance there will be a line for the tour. It could take 1 – 2hours or less to get to the boat. The tour takes 45 minutes.
11pm – ETD for Puerto Princesa
12midnight – ETA in Puerto Princesa
7am – Leave for Honda Bay Tour
12 noon – Lunch at Balinsasayaw Restaurant
2pm – ETD for Manila
Who to Contact
Kuya Ryan – 09154261966
Kuya Rommel – 09198799501
Kuya Danny Abad – 09391894648
Kuya Allan Sumalinog – 09393473700, 09069129827
Enjoy Puerto Princesa!