Explore Puerto Princesa in Just Three Days!
November 27, 2019
Puerto Princesa City is the capital of the Provine of Palawan in the Philippines. The city boasts a combination of urbanization and tropical paradise from its historic landmarks to its breathtaking white sand beaches, virgin mangrove forest, and subterranean river.
My latest visit to Puerto Princesa was in April this year (2019), which is the best time to visit the city according to locals because the seas are calm and the weather is just right. I stayed there for three days. For my trip, I availed a travel package that includes Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Honda Bay tours.
First day – DIY City Tour
Exploring some of the tourist spots around the city proper can be done in half a day. So, I opted to remove it from my travel package and did it DIY. I paid PHP1,000.00 (including tip) to a local tricycle driver to be my service and guide around the city. Below are the places I visited and their corresponding entrance fees, if any:
– Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral
It is said that the Spanish friars declared Immaculate Conception of Mary as the patroness of the city.
– Plaza Cuartel
Located just across the Cathedral, this plaza has ruins of a tunnel were American soldiers were imprisoned and killed by the Japanese soldiers during Worl War II. As much as it was a death tunnel, it also served as an escape route for the eleven American soldiers who survived the massacre.
– Puerto Princesa City Bay
The Bay is surrounded by restaurants that offer seafood dishes. These restaurants open in the afternoon and until late hours.
– Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center – Entrance Fee: PHP40.00
The Center houses crocodiles, birds, mammals, and other reptiles endemic to Palawan. Inside are the displayed skin and skeleton of a crocodile, as well as eggs and hatchlings, and of course, adult crocodiles in their individual cages. After the mini-tour hosted by the Center, guests are free to roam the Nature Park. Near the exit is a photo booth where guests can take pictures with a crocodile hatchling; print out thereof costs PHP250.00.
– Butterfly Garden and Tribal Village – Entrance Fee: PHP50.00
A garden indeed. Aside from butterflies, millipedes, roaches, and stick insects, the Garden also houses different animals. Here, guests can observe beautiful butterflies emerge from their pupas.
It also has a tribal village for the indigenous people of Palawan, the Palau’ans. A village was built so that Palau’ans who descent from the mountains can have a place to stay and share their hunting tools, songs, clothing, etc., through a show, to the guests. After the show, guests can hold their pet python for free and take pictures with it or the Palau’ans themselves.
– Mitra’s Ranch
If you want a panoramic view of the city, you can have it here for free. There is also a zip line for those looking for extra activities aside from taking photos of the picturesque view.
– Baker’s Hill
This place is filled with flowers, sculptures, birds, and mammals. There is a posh-like but comfortable restaurant where servings were plenty at a reasonable price. Of course, there is also a bakeshop where you can buy their famous and delicious hopia.
Second day – Virgin Mangrove Forest Tour and Subterranean River National Park
The Subterranean River National Park is one of the Seven Natural Wonder of the New Worl. The tour requires a whole day because queuing for boat rides can be lasting. From the city proper there is a 2-hour drive to Sabang Port and from the port a 1-hour (more or less) boat ride to Sabang beach.
While waiting for the boat transfer at the Sabang Port, tourists can join other side tours. I joined the Virgin mangrove Forest tour which I found informative whilst enjoying the scenic centuries-old Mangrove trees (virgin indeed!). Once the side tours are done and no boat is available yet, tourists can take their lunch, which I did, as many restaurants surround the port.
From the Sabang beach to the entrance of the National Park, tourists need to take a 2-minute walk in the Sabang Mangrove Forest. Monitor lizards and monkeys roam the forest.
At the entrance, I was lucky that the queue was short. The inside of the National Park is as breathtaking as the outside – stalagmites and stalactites sculpted by nature for centuries decorated the cave. Careful not to open your mouths while looking at stalactites as bats may discharge anytime.
Third day – Honda Bay Island Tour
This is also included in my travel package and took a whole day. I was with other tourists. Before starting our island hopping, we stopped over at a rental shop for snorkeling equipment. The rental fee was reasonable considering that the equipment was regularly sanitized. All the islands have restrooms, stores, lifeguards, and designated swimming areas to make your visit comfortable.
Starfishes can already be seen under the clear waters surrounding the Starfish Island. We had our lunch there, which was prepared by our tour guide as part of the tour. Apart from the prepared food, tourists can also order seafood dishes from the servers on the Island – I ordered sea urchins at PHP100.00 for three pieces.
The next island we visited was Luli, which has a short but beautiful sand bar. Lastly, we visit Cowrie Island. Cowrie is a kind of corals that were once abundant in the Island. There are cottages, restaurant, and juice bar here – a perfect place for capping the island hopping with fresh fruit juices while lying on the white sand.
Even though my visit was short-lived, I enjoyed it at its best. I still believe a 3-day tour is enough to explore the prominent places in the city unless you want to visit El Nido, Coron, or Balabac, which are all at par in beauty with Puerto Princesa. Next time, I will visit more places, experience other activities like instead of taking the boat ride going to Sabang beach, I will try trekking.