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Puerto Princesa

Situated at the middle of the natural resource rich island province of Palawan, it serves as the main gateway to the island and the center of commerce and trade in the province.  The city currently is the largest city in the Philippines in terms of land area to which about 90% is still part of its virgin rainforests.  The city is famous for its eco-tourism and for being the cleanest city in the country. 

Currently the city is promoting its main tourist destination and the Philippines’ entry to the New 7 Wonders of Nature which is the Puerto Princesa Underground River. 

What To See

There are a number of destinations that the city offers to its visitors and listed below are among the most visited.

Puerto Princesa Underground River.  The world’s longest underground navigable river that stretches 8 kilometers into the St. Paul mountain range north of the city center.  Currently guided tours offer tourists a cruise through 1.5 km into the underground river.

Honda Bay.  Located a few minutes north of the city center, Honda Bay is host to a number of islands of different characters with some sand bars.  The bay has become a regular destination for island hopping.

Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.  Also known as the Crocodile Farm, it is home to a number of endemic Philippine crocodiles where the center is doing research into conserving and multiplying the population of these endangered species.

Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm.  It is a unique high security prison without bars.   Here the prisoners are free to roam around the penal farm to perform their assigned chores to tend the rice fields, the farm animals, and other farm needs.

Vietnamese Village.  Once inhabited by the boat people of Vietnam who took refuge to the island during the Vietnam War.  The province have granted them rights to stay in village until recently they have been granted opportunity to fly back home or to the US. 

Baker’s Hill.  Located on a hill near the city, it has become a common destination for locals and tourists for its garden and bakery.

What To Do

A range of different activities are available for tourists and other enthusiasts.

White Sand Beaches.  With its beautiful white sand beaches and numerous islands, one may find a serene spot under the sun.  Among Puerto Princesa’s prime island beach resort is Dos Palmas Resort on Arreceffi island.  Also island hopping in Honda Bay’s islands is a popular activity.

A tour into the Puerto Princesa Underground River is not to miss when coming into the city.   On board a paddle boat, tourists are lead into pitch dark river with spot lights to light their path. 

Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour.  Located in Sabang area, it is among the largest mangrove sanctuaries in the city where tourists are paddled through the thick mangrove forest.

Firefly Watching Tour.  A newer activity in the city where tourists are paddled at night at the Iwahig River to gaze through the star field sky and the mangroves on the riverside that is lit up by beautiful fireflies that flicker at night.

Dolphin Watching and Swimming with Whale sharks.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling.  With the city’s rich marine ecosystem, it is among the countries best dive sites. 
Getting There.

How to Reach

Puerto Princesa is the main gateway to the island of Palawan and is served by Puerto Princesa Airport for domestic air transport.  For travelers intending to fly to the city from abroad, one may take an international air flight to Manila or to Cebu to connect to Puerto Princesa.  Below are the local airlines that fly in and out of Puerto Princesa.

Philippine Airlines.  For connections through Manila
Cebu Pacific Air. For connections through Manila and Cebu
Zest Air.  With flights between Puerto Princesa and Manila.
South East Asian Airlines. With flight between Puerto Princesa to Busuanga, Boracay (Caticlan), and Kota Kinabalu
Getting Around

Puerto Princesa may be a large city but the urbanized area is not as much that local transport within the city proper is mainly by tricycle.   A tricycle is one of the most common form of public transport in the Philippines, next to the jeepney.  It is a regular motorcycle with a side car which can ferry upto 4 people at a time.  It is like a taxi which you may hail anywhere and will drop you off in front of your destination.

For longer trips to the outskirts of the city or to nearby towns, multicabs and minibuses are available as well. 

What to Buy

Cashews and dried fish is among the main specialties of the city and they are easily bought in the city’s Public Market.   Also, one may be able to buy woven products and small carvings in the market.   Within the Iwahig Penal Colony, a souvenir shop sells different items from key chains to decorative items that are hand made by the prisoners and adds income for the people inside. 

Where to Stay

Within the city, one may opt to choose to stay in its hotels or pension houses.  Basically, they are differentiated with the services each facility has to offer.  For budget travelers, pension houses are a good choice.

The following are some of the hotels and pension houses that are available:

The Legend Hotel Palawan.  Malvar Street, Puerto Princesa
Hotel Fleuris.   Lacao Street, Puerto Princesa
Asturias Hotel.  Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa  
Balai Inato Pension. Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa
Liberty Park Pension.  Liberty Street, Puerto Princesa
RAQ Pension.  Malvar Street, Puerto Princesa 

Nice To Know

Due to most of the city remains rural, mosquito repellants are very handy. 

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