Puerto Princesa – City Guide

Puerto Princesa in Palawan, is a city located in the western provincial island of Palawan, Philippines. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. Palawan is a tropical paradise. It is blessed with amazing landscapes, abundant flora and fauna, exceptionally rich marine life and extraordinarily lush virgin forest.

Legend attributes the name “Puerto Princesa” to a princess-like maiden who in the early days is said to have roamed around the place on certain nights of the year. On the other hand, practical people attribute the name to the geographical advantages of the place as a seaport – naturally protected the whole year round and endowed with a depth that can accommodate any size of shipping – a royal heaven for vessels or a virtual princess of ports as thus indicated by Spanish Colonizers on the country’s map.

Historically, the place was named after Princess Eulalia of Spain, born in 1864 to Queen Isabel II and her consort, Dr. Francisco de Asis. When the princess suffered an untimely death, the Queen changed the name to Puerto de la Princesa. Eventually, the name was reduced to Puerto Princesa as it is known today.

 

Getting to Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa is slightly more than an hour away by plane from Manila. Air travel from Manila to Puerto Princesa takes less than an hour and is available daily via Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways and Philippine Airlines . The airport is practically in the city centre so you can ignore the overpriced tricycles waiting in front of the arrival and catch a tricycle on the main road for a fare of 7-10 pesos per passenger. Here are recommended place.

There are also other forms of transportation such as taking ferries like  Superferry and Negros Navigation. It is roughly 18 to 22 hours from Manila if you use this method. For example, It takes approximately 10 hours from Coron to Puerto Princesa on board Superferry and you can travel once a week using  Montenegro Shipping from and to Cuyo, Iloilo, Cebu.

By Air, From/To Manila – Air travel from Manila to Puerto Princesa takes less than an hour and is available daily viaAir Philippines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways and Philippine Airlines .

From/To Busuanga/El Nido – South East Asian Airlines flies to Puerto Princesa from Manila two to three times a week, oftentimes via Busuanga, Cuyo, and El Nido

From/To Cebu/Iloilo – Cebu Pacific operates flights from Cebu / Iloilo /  Puerto Princesa

By Sea, From/To Manila – It takes 18 to 22 hours from Manila on board the Superferry and Negros Navigation. Superferry calls on Puerto Princesa once a week.

From/To Coron – It takes approximately 10 hours from Coron to Puerto Princesa on board Superferry.

From/To Cuyo/Iloilo/Cebu – Travel on board via Montenegro Shipping once a week

When traveling within Puerto Princesa proper and on short trips to the suburbs, tricycles can be easily available at a minimal fare or on hire basis. Multicabs and jeepneys move around the city on specified routes. Travel to the outskirts and outlying villages can be jeepney or mini-bus.

Car rental service by air conditioned vans can be availed when traveling to most tourist destinations in the city. Bigger tour groups may arrange for coaster or bus service through a travel agency or a tourist transport operator. Sea transport to islands and coastal beaches in the city is usually by a motorized outrigger boat.

 

Places to Visit

For touring, it would possibly be a good idea to arrange special transport whether it be a jeepney or, for more comfort, air-conditioned vans or AUVs. This way, you will not be subject to the hassles of public transport availability. Here recommended places to go see while in Puerto Princesa:

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

A must-see for first time visitors and tourists in Palawan. The longest navigable underground river and reputedly the most beautiful subterranean river in the world.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area of the Philippines located about 50 kilometres (30 mi) north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The river is also called Puerto Princesa Underground River. Its main attraction is an 8.2 kilometer Underground River that winds through a spectacular cave before emptying into the South China Sea. The national park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. The entrance to the subterranean river is a short hike from the town Sabang.

At the mouth of the cave, a clear lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge. Monkeys, large monitor lizards, and squirrels find their niche on the beach near the cave. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, mountain trekking, and exploring the deeper part of the forest .

The park was declared a premier ecotourism destination and has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage lists for its outstanding universal value and ecological significance as a natural site of intense beauty.

Honda Bay

Just a few minutes north of the city proper, hop onto a boat and go island hopping at Honda Bay located in the mid-eastern coast of Puerto Princesa. Take your pick from dozens of white sand beaches. Honda Bay is the place to go to for swimming, snorkeling as well as beach and island hopping.

Dive sites abound here, as the entire area is studded with patches of coral and sand. Submerged reefs may be found close to the surface down to 24 meters. Small reef and aquarium fish can also be found here. Among the well-known dive sites here are Pandan Island which has good reefs near small drop-offs, Arreceffi Island  and Panglima Reef where coral boulders and gray reef sharks are found. 

Each island at Honda Bay offers different thrills. Snake Island has a sandbar that slithers on the surface of the sea, much like the critter that bears its name. It is best for  snorkeling, swimming or simply basking in the sand. It can be reached in an hour by pumpboat.  Bat Island, only 20 minutes away from Sta. Lourdes wharf, is literally teeming with bats which make their way out at sundown to look for food in the mainland.

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

A very beautiful church that is decorated in blue and white.

Palawan Museum

Palawan Museum, Mendosa Park (south side) (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.

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.

Taverna Luna and Kinabuchs

There is a famous saying that “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, this is definitely true if you get to vist these two places.

White Sands Beaches

Pristine, powdery white sand beaches are found in almost all islands and islets in the province. Strands of white sand beaches hugh the coves and bays of Palawan’s coastline, providing a scenic contrast to the green canopies and the emerald or blue waters.

The islands on the nearby Honda Bay offer beach lovers unspoilt and uncrowded havens so rarely found anywhere else. There are dozens of white sand beaches beckoning from the clear blue waters; travelers may go to dive, snorkel, or swim in the beautiful still waters of the bay, or just sit on the sand and soak up the sun.

Each island offers different attractions, and there are plenty to choose from. Among the most popular are Snake Island, with a sinuous white sand bar, and Bat Island, from which a thick horde of bats can be observed flying out at sundown to feed in the mainland.

Nagtabon Beach. A lovely stretct of white sand beach with crystal clear waters offshore. The beach stretches 800 meters long and 15 meters wide and is ideal for sunbathing, swimming and other watersports. Small resorts offer food and lodging facilities for visitors. Bacungan’s other natural attractions includes panoramic views of mountains, fruit plantations, and 600 hectares of dense forest. Bacungan is 45 kilometers west of the city proper. Jeeps depart daily from the jeepney and bus terminal in San Jose.

Napsan Beach. Nestled on the western coast, two hours south of the city proper, Barangay Napsan offers a tranquil and rustic setting for a beach vacation, with its long stretches of white sand beaches punctuated by rocky promontories.

 Scuba Diving

Dive sites are located from 5 to 40 minutes away from the beach by speedboat inside Puerto Princesa Bay. The closest dive sites are White Beach and Red Cliff, both located inside Puerto Princesa Bay. These are preferred sites for open water training dives as they offer slopes and walls that begin 20 (7m) feet from the surface. Colorful reef fish are common and various coral colonies can be observed in one dive. Turtles and rays are usually sighted amongst soft corals and sandy portions of the site.

Manta rays, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and other megafauna have been sighted in these waters. But because these animals are wild and free-swimming, we can not promise you an encounter or set a schedule of their appearance. Suffice it to say – you may be diving with one of nature’s most fantastic marine creations in Puerto Princesa!

Dolphin Watching Expedition

See long-snouted spinner dolphins! These warm-blooded and air-breathing mammals known as “lumba-lumba” are very acrobatic animals with a triangular dorsal fin. Its color is dark gray on the sides and white on the belly.  Dolphin watching at Puerto Princesa Bay is the newest water adventure being offered to tourists by the Puerto Pricesa City Tourism Office. See the dolphins at play and enjoy the fun.

Chances of seeing a dolphin are best when the seas are flat. Agitated seas, high winds and execessive glare make it more difficult to see them.

 

Accomodation

Puerto Princesa is ideal for both business and leisure trips, making it the perfect getaway. Sights and natural wonders of the place bring you to your ideal vacation yet the bustling urban center provides all the conveniences of the modern life. Everything you need is here.

Recommended hotels in Puerto Princesa

Here is the list of recommended hotels you can stay:

Hotel Hibiscus Garden

Hibiscus Garden Inn is just a newly-opened establishment catering to local and foreign tourists who are looking for a modern but affordable place to stay in the city of Puerto Princesa. Conveniently located just 3 minutes away from the airport and accessible to any commercial and government establishments in the city. With 14 spacious Mediterranean inspired rooms, set in a quiet and relaxing ambiance of colorful flowers and native arts. All the rooms were built with the thought of giving “comfort” to its occupants.

Floral Villarosa Pool

Luxury, privacy and exclusivity…Floral Villarosa is located at Villarosa Road, Barangay Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It is a five minute drive from the airport and ten minutes to the city proper and in walking distance to Nasin aw beach.Floral Villarosa is our family creation. At first to be our family house here in Puerto Princesa, it became a great place to stay for people who seek for privacy, luxury and exclusivity. The six (6) rooms good for two person were personally designed by us including the unique set up of the big comfort rooms with live stones and woodcrafts collected from the Palawan forest, which gives the place a natural environmental atmosphere. Added to this, a perfect sized swimming pool two steps away from the rooms with waterfall and a native hut for your relaxation and spa give you peace and total relaxation.

Tarabanan Resort and Restaurant

Tarabanan Resort is a small family-run establishment in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, the westernmost province of the Philippines known as the country’s last frontier and voted as the world’s best island destination by Travel and Leisure magazine. Ideal for nature-tripping, camping and relaxing vacation, Tarabanan Resort is situated 70 kilometers north of the city center of Puerto Princesa. It has a great view of the open sea of the Honda Bay.

Royal Oberoi Resort Hotel

With a mix of 10 elegantly appointed deluxe rooms and 5 suite villas, the Royal Oberoi provides a truly unique getaway destination on the beautiful island of Palawan. Whether for those on a quick staycation, the more discerning business traveler wanting functionality but tranquility or those on longer vacations relaxing and exploring the delights of Palawan, the Royal Oberoi Resort Hotel provides something for everyone.

Visit Puerto Princesa and let nature’s magnificent backdrop of mountainous landscape that only sun, sea and the wind of time can create take you to a place where you can relax and unwind.

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