I’ve been to Puerto Princesa many times, both for work and for pleasure. So if you’ll ask me about it, I can give you a hundred reasons why you need to visit. I can also give you a quick summary on the places to see and even on what to eat. My first time in Puerto Princesa was way back in high school for a summer camp, and it was a really fun, memorable and special trip. From then on, I still think of it as a special place.
So if you’re planning on a trip to this wonderful place soon, checkout these spots to visit:
One of the main reasons why Puerto Princesa is always flocked with tourists all-year round and from all over the world is the Underground River. It’s a boat ride underneath a huge cave with different and pretty amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations. When I went for the first time, I was lucky because the trip was a bit longer, and we were able to explore the river a lot farther. But I think now, because of the number of tourists and the government’s goal to protect the underground river for environmental and security reasons, the boat trip had been cut shorter. Nevertheless, I still think it’s a must!
Insider Tip: The tours are only open in the morning, so be wise and get up early to maximize. You also want to avoid the long wait for the boat ride.
Island Hopping in Honda Bay
A trip to Palawan is not complete without a beach trip, and the best way to experience that in Puerto Princesa is to book for a Honda Bay Island Hopping tour. We did this for one whole day and it was really fun.
Insider Tip: Most tours already come with packed lunch and/or snacks, so bringing food or knowing where to eat for lunch during island hopping is not a problem. And the food they prepare ain’t that bad either – they serve with meat, seafood, vegetables and fruits for dessert.
Firefly watching in Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm
The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is already a different itinerary in itself. It’s like the Alcatraz of the Philippines, except that it composed of huge and vast hectares of land where prisoners can freely roam about. Well, except those in the maximum security prison of course. There’s nothing much to see, but if you’re interested to see what and how an actual prison is like, it could be an interesting place. The prisoners themselves take care of the place such that they can build their own huts, plant their own veggies, catch their fish for food, and make souvenirs for the tourists.
However, should you not like that thing, there’s always the firefly watching tour to book. To me, this is one of the most amazing and surreal tours I’ve been to, and I’m so glad it’s in the Philippines. They say that you can tell how healthy an ecosystem is if there are fireflies existing in the area. And for Palawan, they have millions of different species of fireflies! I won’t tell you how it’s like, because it’s supposed to surprise and amaze you – but I can give you a tip – it’s a boat ride!
Baker’s Hill and Mitra’s Ranch
In the upper or northern part of Puerto Princesa, there’s the Baker’s Hill and Mitra’s Ranch. In Baker’s Hill, there’s a mini zoo and garden with different statues and sculptures. Mostly, it’s for taking your basic Instagram photos. It’s also the place where you find the best fresh hopia in Palawan. In Mitra’s Ranch, if you like ziplines, this is where you can try it.
Viet Ville Restaurant
Did you know that Palawan had been a place of escape for Vietnamese refugees during the war before? Hence, don’t be surprised to find small restaurants in Puerto Princesa that sell Pho (their famous beef noodle soup). While most of them already went back to Vietnam or were transported to other places, there is still an existing Vietnamese community in Puerto Princesa. One of them is where you can find the Viet Ville Restaurant. This is as close to authentic Vietnamese cuisine as you can get.
Insider Tip: It’s a bit outside of Puerto Princesa, so better come for lunch or early dinner. Unless you booked a van, hire a tricycle and tell the driver to pick you up on a certain time and just pay extra, because there is no access to public transportation in the area, especially in the evening.
Badjao Seafront Restaurant
Finally, if you want to dine with a nice view of the beach and mangroves, here’s the restaurant to visit in Puerto Princesa. I can’t say anything much on their food – really nothing spectacular, except when they do have fresh seafood available. But the ambience, the vibe, and the view already complete the experience.
If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Princesa soon, here’s a list of good and affordable hotels to help you plan your trip from Travelbook.