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View over the fisherman's village in Puerto Princesa.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Philippines > Western Visayas > Palawan

Puerto Princesa Travel Guide

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Puerto Princesa is the capital of the island province of Palawan. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. With a few attractions ranging from beaches to wildlife reserves, Puerto Princesa is a nature lover's paradise. 

However, most travelers stay only as long as absolutely needed in Puerto Princesa and head straight on north to the Bacuit Bay Archipelago in El Nido or the Underground River in Sabang

There is a useful tourist information office at Puerto Princesa airport next to the arrival hall. They hand out maps and give information about current events in the city. They do not book accommodation though.

The Underground River

Entrance to the Underground River near Sabang.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is more commonly known as the Underground River. That fits, because it isn't located in Puerto Princesa at all, but in Sabang

Travel time from the city proper to Sabang is about 1.5 hours (This can take closer to 3.5 if you choose to ride in a Jeepney, since you have to wait while they deliver goods along the journey).   At over 8 kilometers in length, the Underground River is reputably the second longest underground river in the world. With its crystalline waters and spectacular cave formations, the Underground River is possibly Puerto Princesa's most popular attraction. The site was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The winding path of the river is navigable via small pumpboats that depart from Sabang Beach. 

Note. A permit is now necessary to visit the underground river and only available in Puerto Princesa, though an online system is in construction.

Other Attractions

Honda Bay is the main attraction around Puerto Princesa.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

  • Honda Bay - often described as a mini version of the Bacuit Bay Archipelago around El Nido, Honda Bay consists of several islets with beautiful beaches. It is a place to go to for swimming, snorkeling as well as beach and island hopping. Accessible via the Sta. Lourdes wharf which is 25 minutes away from the city. Pumpboats at the wharf can be hired to take visitors to the various islets on the bay. Arrive before 11am to go island hopping if you require a small boat (1-5 people) and before 2.30pm if you require a larger boat.
  • Iwahig Penal Colony - a good example of a true correctional institute, the Iwahig Penal Colony is more of a farming community rather than a prison. Inmates often live with their families and are allowed to toil their farms to earn a living. Carving out handicrafts is also a common preoccupation and mahogany handcarvings are a good buy for tourists. The colony is about 35 minutes from the city center.
  • Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center formerly the Crocodile Farming Institute, and still referred to by locals as the "Crocodile Farm," is both a tourist attraction and a national research institute devoted to crocodiles. About 30 to 40 minutes from the city center, the Croc Farm also has a mini-zoo, which features some of Palawan's endemic species of wildlife. The place is open from about 8:30 AM to about 4:30 PM. From Rizal Avenue you can take an 8-person covered pickup truck (labeled "Irawan")for 20 pesos and the Croc Farm is the last stop; a tricycle carrying only one or two people will cost 100 to 150 pesos. Croc Farm Tickets cost 40p for adults and 20 for kids. You start with an guided tour of the crocs which last about 15 minutes. After that you wonder around by yourself in the endemic species area, where you have to be careful not to fall through a few rotton and crumbling wooden bridges. Although this is not the best managed wildlife area, the endemic species are nonetheless worth seeing and deserve your support.
  • Butterfly Garden with native Palawan butterflies is located about half way to the Croc Farm (above) and along the same road. Open 7 days a week from 8 to 5. Entry is 50 pesos.
  • The Immaculate Conception Cathedral - one of very few sights in Puerto Princesa.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>
     Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. A very beautiful church that is decorated in blue and white.  
  • Palawan Museum, Mendosa Park (south side). 9AM-noon, 1:30PM-5PM. This is an old museum that is not very well maintained or labeled but which has a number of interesting pieces. It is well worth a visit on a rainy day. 20 P.  
  • PSU Museum, Palawan State University (About a 10 minute walk from the front gate of PSU, if you know where you are going.). Closed from 12 to 1 for lunch. This is a one room museum located inside a university building. You should ask for specific directions at the front gate, because not everyone knows about the existence of the museum. The museum is located in one small room but is clean, organized, and well-maintained, with an enthusiastic and helpful staff member. free.
  • Plaza Cuartel, Taft St. near Cathedral. A historical place.
  • Baker Hill, mitra rd, bgy sta monica. Check out the plants and animal in its natural habitat. 600.
  • Irawan Eco-Park (Forest Canopy Tours), Brgy Irawan (10 km from Robinson's mall on National Highway South), ☎ 723-5697, 8 - 5. Home to Asia's Longest CANOPY Zipline, this 1.3 km zipline with Skywalk, butterfly farm and Jungle Survival trail, is located in the Flora and Fauna Protected Area of the Puerto Princesa Watershed area inside Barangay Irawan. This is the protected forest of the "City in a Forest" that is Puerto Princesa. Set up together with the City Govt and the Forest Canopy and Eco-Parks Corp (originally from Costa Rica), this park is the gateway to the Puerto Princesa forest. Here you can smell the thick clean air and see the majesty of the most densely populated site of endangered Palawan birds. They live free here as the park's rangers protect from logging, mining, garbage and any other activity aside from the zipline. So here you can fly over the river to see the forest of Irawan Eco-Park. 799.

Activities in and around Puerto Princesa

Buy native products at the Tourism Association of Souvenir Shops, they offer handicrafts made by the native tribes like manunggul or wooden jar, bulol or tisot, good harvest and carved animals. Others are tingkop (rice baskets), fish baskets, bags made from bark of a tree, native accessories, weave curtains and table mat, rattan floor mat and other assorted cashew nut delicacies.

Honda Bay from the air.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Puerto Princesa offers good diving and is a fairly good place to take a PADI course if you plan to dive at some of the larger sites in El Nido or Coron. Moana dive centre, run by Paolo, offers PADI Open Water for 17500p. Good equipment, and pleasant instruction, with confined water dives taking place in the shallow parts of Puerto Princesa bay. Possible to see sea turtles, eels, lionfish, porcupine fish, batfish and snapper amongst others.

Leaving Puerto Princesa

El Nido is a popular yet still remote destinations on Palawan, known for snorkelling, diving and beatiful little islands. It is 6-7 hour drive from Puerto Princesa.

Sabang is the real place to access the Underground River. Sabang is located roughly 50km north of Puerto Princesa. Sabang also has a very nicewhite sandy beach.

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