What is our best adventure of all? It’s being in love with each other day by day. It has been almost one year since we whispered “I love you” on top of Osmeña Peak, and we’re still going as strong and wild as ever. We have fully supported each other to achieve our individual and collective goals; inspired each other to become better people; helped each other in our daily chores; stood by with each other to conquer adversities and problems; and, of course, explored and enjoyed the world together.
One year of love, success, and adventure is something that is worth celebrating. And there’s no better way to celebrate such special occasion than to visit the last frontier of the Philippines: Palawan. This virgin, paradise province actually consists of around 1,780 islands and islets with rocky coves, mangrove forests, and white-sand beaches that dot over 2,000 kilometers of coastline. The center of the main island features an immense backbone of verdant mountains, craggy hills, and karst topography surrounded by thick forests, mighty rivers, and vast valleys. Palawan’s fauna, many of which still remains unidentified, stays hidden in the many crevices of the province.
After a few months of careful research (this adventure needed to be very special for both of us), and through the help of Faye, Sweetie’s office mate, Sweetie and I decided to visit and tour Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan and the largest city in the island province. Today, with the official declaration of the amazing Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Puerto Princesa has become a world-renowned tourist city.
It was a long, jittery wait for four months; but the “moment of adventure” finally came on April 27, 2013, Saturday. For three days, Sweetie and I experienced our best backpacking adventure ever. Here are some snippets of our anniversary trip.
It was my first airplane ride for more than a decade. Thus, being several miles up in the sky was definitely an adventure for me.
Our first day comprised of an adventure around the beautiful, green, and clean city of Puerto Princesa. We have never seen a highly urbanized city as neat, tidy, and sustainable as the province’s capital.
We visited the Palawan Special Battalion World War 2 Museum. The museum gave us a glimpse of a soldier’s life during the most widespread global war and the deadliest conflict in the history of humankind. Furthermore, as a model builder of World War 2 miniature tanks, planes, and dioramas, I found this place a treasure trove of information during that era.
Crocodiles are such deadly and amazing reptiles as we read in books or watched in the National Geographic channel. During our vacation, we had a chance to actually see these creatures live at the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center formerly called the Crocodile Farming Institute.
After the exhilarating experience of facing dangerous crocodiles face-to-face, we relaxed at the Rancho Sta. Monica, known to the locals as Mitra’s Ranch, formerly the residence of the late Filipino statesman Ramon Mitra, which overlooked Honda Bay.
These tours can certainly make backpackers hungry. So, we headed to Baker’s Hill, a themed-park restaurant complex, probably the first of its kind in the Philippines. Walking along the cobblestone pathways of Baker’s Hill feels as if we were walking in an old European town.
Then, we tried our hand at the complex ancient art of weaving beautiful place mats, bags, and other products at Binatuan Creations.
We also headed out to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the historic Plaza Cuartel, an old garrison where 150 American POWs were massacred by Japanese soldiers in World War 2.
We arrived at the city’s coastline just in time to witness the majestic sunset in Puerto Princesa’s baywalk where one can rent bikes, take a relaxing afternoon stroll, or enjoy an affordable dinner with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the sea.
We ended our first day with a fear-factor meal at the popular Kinabuchs Grill and Bar.
On Day 2 of our Palawan Anniversary adventure, we explored the world-famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, recently declared as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
On our way back from the Puerto Princesa Underground River, we stopped by to admire the Elephant Mountain Karst formation, which could very well be the Philippine’s version of US’s Joshua Tree or Thailand’s Krabi when it comes to rock climbing destinations.
We capped our second day with an adrenaline-rush adventure: exploring a cave, climbing up a karst rock formation, and returning back to the jump-off point via zip line all at Ugong Rock Adventures.
On our final day at Puerto Princesa, we had a classic tropical summer treat: island hopping to three of Honda Bay’s islands.
Capping our last day in Puerto Princesa is a leisurely stroll at one of the affordable but stunning public beaches in the city, Pristine Beach. Best thing of all? The beach is just a 5-minute stroll from our hotel.
Okay, as you might have guessed, this is going to be quite a lengthy tale. Thus, we presented our story in segments. As each segment of our trip is written and published, we placed a hyperlink to each of our adventures from this page for convenience.
Day 1 Puerto Princesa City Tour
Day 2 Puerto Princesa Hinterlands and Sabang Beach
Day 3 Island Hopping at Honda Bay
Budget (for 2 Pax)
P 11,000* – Tour promo price which included:
- 4 days/3 nights accommodation at Kookaburra Hotel (inclusive of hotel-airport-hotel transfers and daily breakfast)
- City tour
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Tour (inclusive of lunch)
- Honda Bay Island Hopping (inclusive of lunch)
P 4,200** – Round trip Airfare (Cebu – Puerto Princesa – Cebu)
P 900 – Ugong Cave Rock Adventures
P 5,000 – pocket money
* This was the price of the tour promo that we bought. The price may differ depending on your travel agency, your destinations, tour package inclusions, and other factors.
** This was the price of a promo airfare. Your airfare may differ according to the promo you may have availed.
1. Tourism in Puerto Princesa and the rest of Palawan is exploding. However, the local government is extremely strict in controlling the tourist influx to protect their natural resources. Thus, be a responsible tourist. Do not litter and smoke in non-smoking areas; the LGU imposes heavy fines and severe punishment for these offenses.
2. To make it worth your while, we recommend not including visiting far-off destinations such as El Nido or Coron. Unless you’ll be staying in Palawan for a week or two, you will spend a huge part of your vacation time traveling. El Nido is 6 to 8 hours away from Puerto Princesa; Coron is even farther. It’s best to visit one place at a time.
3. Needless to say, you don’t want to make your vacation stressful and exhausting. You don’t want to line up for permits, waste time looking for public transportation to take you to your destinations, or spend the night looking for accommodations.
Thus, for first time travelers to Puerto Princesa, we highly recommend booking your tour through a trusted travel agency. Your travel agent can process your permits in advance so you can visit Palawan’s treasures. Having an agent to assist you in your adventure makes everything hassle-free, allowing you to simply and freely enjoy your holiday.
4. Our travel agency was Golden Ticket Travel Services. If you wish to use them, get in touch with them using the contact details below.
Golden Ticket Travel Services
Mailing address: Cluster 2-4C, UN Gardens Condominium, Cristobal St., Paco, Manila
Phone numbers: +63917-8956913; +63917-8556913; (02) 263-4653
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Contact Person: Vanessa de la Cruz (Owner)
5. A trip that involves touring Puerto Princesa’s adventure sites and destinations can cost you a lot of time, money, and effort—if you fail to plan it properly. Take time—and we mean, a whole lot of time—to plan out your destinations. We spent a few months planning our itinerary.
6. Of course, you can tour Puerto Princesa without the help of a travel agency. However, you will have to do everything yourself. You need to reserve a slot and apply for permits in advance, especially if you want to include the Underground River tour and Honda Bay Island Hopping. Apparently, it would most likely be a hassle if you try to do the reservations, filing of permits, etc. by yourself (hint: remember you’re dealing with government here).
Since it was an agency that booked our tours, we didn’t encounter any problem regarding the booking/reservation aspect. But that also means we don’t have any information about self-booking.
7. The rates of major destinations are regulated to avoid overpricing. As of April 2013, these are the published rates of the major activities/tourist destinations in Puerto Princesa.
Note that these rates can change without prior notice. It is best to keep yourself updated by getting in touch with the Puerto Princesa Tourism Office or the Puerto Princesa city government. Unfortunately, their website is down. We were only able to link to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River website where you can post inquiries, gather information, or perhaps make a booking. We’ll try our best to provide you with the LGU’s contact info.
8. Globe and Smart networks are used all over Puerto Princesa. There’s no Sun Cellular network. If you have a phone which uses the Sun network, then you’ll have to input a certain code to “hitch” your network to Smart.