Puerto Princesa: Gateway to the Underground River
WHAT’S NEW IN PALAWAN
July 19, 2017 – We’re excited! Now that we decided to settle in Puerto Princesa, Palawan we’ve launched a Facebook page. It’ll be easier for us to share tips, adventures and up-to-date information. If you have any questions please contact us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/thefeists/
Puerto Princesa is the urban gateway to Palawan. Known as the ‘city in a forest’ it’s the most developed city in the province with a population of only 250,000 (2015). It boasts a Robinson’s Mall, and soon to open SM Mall, a movie cinema and the usual fast food joints like Jollibee, Chow King, and McDonald’s. Most people come to here to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour and use it as a springboard to El Nido. It’s a low-key city where you can explore more ‘urbane’ attractions like museums, a craft brewery, various music & arts festivals and still do outdoor activities like island hopping, kiteboarding and kayaking.
What’s it like in Puerto Princesa? Check out this video.
- Cebu Pacific – Daily flights from Manila, Cebu and Iloilo.
- Air Asia – Daily flights from Manila and Cebu.
- Philippine Airlines – Daily flights from Manila, Cebu and Clark.
- Air Juan – Small 9 seat charter airline that flies within Palawan to Coron, San Vincente and Cuyo. It also has flights to Boracay, Manila, Cebu, Iloilo & Bohol for a hefty fee.
Schedules subject to change. There is a 200 peso terminal fee when you depart from Puerto Princesa.
Boats and Ferries
There’s a large ferry operating from Manila to Puerto Princesa with a stop in Coron midway. The 2GO Ferry departs from Manila every Friday and Tuesday at 1:30pm, arrives in Coron early next morning 4:30am then arrives that night in Puerto Princesa at 9pm. That’s a long trip.
The city has two seasons: 6 months dry (November to April) and 6 months wet (May to October). The temperature usually hovers around the low 30s degree Celsius but can spike in the mid 30s in the months of March and April. Humidity is always high so it’s hot and sticky most of the time, perfect for t-shirts and shorts. Wet season is usually overcast and cloudy with some sun peaking through. It may rain for a few hours during the day or night.
WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO PRINCESA
There are many excellent choices of accommodation ranging from cheap backpackers dorms and friendly B&Bs to resort style hotels. Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa is the only 5 star resort in the city and boasts a huge salt water pool. There’s also some good boutique hotels like the newly open Hue Hotels & Resorts right beside Robinson’s Mall and Canvas Boutique Hotel very close to the airport and just across the street to one of the largest souvenir places. If you like the global brands there’s the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel in a great location and close to some of the best restaurants in Puerto Princesa.
I like using a multi-search website like HotelsCombined to book and compare prices. It saves you a lot of time and usually a little money. I’ll also check with Tripadvisor for their reviews.
In 2011 we were in Puerto Princesa for only 2 nights but we had an excellent stay at the Hibiscus Garden Inn. It’s a small place with charming character and is a quiet oasis in the middle of the city. We still go to their restaurant for the brick oven pizza. It’s still ranked #1 on TripAdvisor. You can read my review ‘Great Value & Excellent Service‘. It’s a small place and fills up quickly so if you decide to stay here book early. You can booked it online at HotelsCombined.com.
Not far from Hibiscus is the quiet, homey, little B&B, By the Bay Jacana Bed & Breakfast. Before finding a more permanent place to call home we stayed there for almost a month. Here’s the review we wrote on Tripadvisor.
By the Bay, Jacana B&B is located a few minutes from the airport in a quiet part of the city. Its 7 rooms are nestled beside the mangroves and face a serene garden which includes an open kitchen, dining area and lounge that’s so comfortable to hang out in you will end up socializing with other travellers.
A young couple, Sandra & BG, run the place and are so hospitable you start to think of them as your friends. Their staff are equally friendly and will gladly attend to all your needs. One time I asked one of the staff about a native fruit I had read about and a few days later it showed up at the breakfast table. Another time I was having a conversation with Sandra about the filipino food my mom used to cook for us kids and the next day I was surprised by a bowl of champerado (rice with chocolate) just like my mom used to cook. It’s this type of personal service that makes Jacana B&B stand out from other accommodations.
Originally, we had planned on staying for a week but ended up staying for almost a month.
You can also book it online at HotelsCombined.com
Family Friendly Island Resort – Dos Palmas Palawan
If you’re looking for a family friendly resort on an island Dos Palmas Resort is a good choice for Puerto Princesa. Rooms are large and comfortable (although a bit dated) and there are tons of activities to keep your kids occupied. With two swimming pools, two pool tables, table tennis, darts, tennis and basketball courts, kayaking, and snorkelling what more could you want? The kids can even bike around the island while you go to the spa and pamper yourself. You can book them on HotelsCombined.com
Sabang: Home of the Underground River
If the Underground River is your goal and you want to chill and stay off-the-beaten path Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort in Sabang is a good choice. It’s beachfront (only a 5 minute walk to the pier for the Underground River, zip line and local town), has a pool and offers other activities such as kayaking, jet skiing and paddleboarding.
WHERE TO EAT IN PUERTO PRINCESA
We’ll be opening our Feisty Chef Resto soon but before that you can believe we’ve eaten at a good number restaurants. We’ll be expanding this section soon to include more detailed reviews.
There are many good places to eat in the city. Our favourites include Artisans (great steak, salads and burritos), Badjao Seafront (good seafood in a picturesque setting over the water) and perhaps the most famous restaurant in Puerto Princesa, KaLui (fantastic ambiance and good seafood). If you’re looking for Filipino food Kinabuch is very popular with tourists and locals alike. They also serve Palawan exotics like tamilok (woodworm) and crocodile.
If you like the bar and music scene you can check out the Tiki RestoBar (live bands, DJ), the newly opened Pinq Pineapple (local & international DJs), Chez Rose Beach Bar & Restaurant (local bands) or acoustic nights at Gypsy’s Lair Cafe. If you still need more Kweba Bar is the place to go when all the other bars close. That’s where we go when we want to satisfy our schnitzel craving.
Do you love a good craft beer? Well, Palawan now has its first and only craft micro-brewery and it’s owned and operated by women. Palaweño Brewery has a selection of beers like ‘The Tribal Beer’ (Honey Kolsh) and ‘Ahayay IPA’ (India Pale Ale). Visit them on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/palawanbrewery/
Here’s what other people had to say about restaurants in Puerto Princesa:
- Top Restaurants with Reviews on TripAdvisor Note that their list has a good many restaurants that no longer exist (like French Delight, the Loft, Mangan Kayon) and some of the reviews are obvious that they were made by friends of the restaurants to boost their ratings. We’ve tried to have them update it but to no avail. It’s still a good general list.
- (April 13, 2015) – 10 MUST TRY Dishes and Delicacies in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
WHAT TO DO IN PUERTO PRINCESA
The top things to do in Puerto Princesa is visit the Underground River and to island hop in Honda Bay. If you’ve already gone island hopping in El Nido or Coron you will probably be disappointed as it doesn’t have the spectacular scenery that those places have. However, it’s great for families and older folks as the islands are much easier to access.
In 2011, we were only in Puerto Princesa for two days so we only went to the Underground River. The trip arranged by Hibiscus Garden Inn took up one full day. I did get to try the famous mangrove worms which I wrote about in my post ‘NEVER SAY NEVER – How I came to eat a worm.’ We met up with my parents who happened to be visiting Puerto Princesa at the same time. They stayed an additional day so they were able to tour the city, visit Baker’s Hill, and combined a tour of the Underground River with a Sabang Mangrove Paddleboat tour.
- Top Things to Do in Puerto Princesa According to TripAdvisor
- 21 Must-Visit Tourist Destinations In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- 14 Incredible Things To Do In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- Baragatan Festival, a wonderful time to visit Palawan (June)
- Maoyon River Cruise
Do you have questions to ask other travellers? Check out these helpful forums.
Stories about Palawan on this Blog – The Feist’s Great Escape
- My Favourite El Nido Videos
- Recommended Travel Accessories for Palawan
- Be Prepared: Dangers in a Tropical Paradise
- The #1 Reason We Love Palawan
- ABANDON PARADISE: Camping in Palawan
- Living in a Pink House
- Amazing Grace
- Beautiful Busuanga
- The Other Side of Paradise
- Journey into the Unknown
- Coron in Pictures – Leaving our Worries Behind
- NEVER SAY NEVER – How I came to eat a worm
- TAO EXPEDITIONS: Adventure of a Lifetime
- Seduced by Palawan
Other Helpful Travel Information for Visiting Puerto Princesa
- March 2016 – 10 Days in Paradise: Palawan
- December 2016 – Biyahe ni Drew: Hidden adventures in Puerto Princesa (video – full episode)