Islands and Beaches
Top 10 Things to Do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Danie Sedilla-Cruz | May 05, 2014
1. Cruise the Underground River
One of the new seven wonders of nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site, every Filipino should experience the majesty of the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Stalactites and stalagmites form very interesting features. It's a tour of natural beauty while riding a boat and cruising inside a cave.
How much? Php 1300 per head.
How to get there? From Puerto Princesa, take a one and a half hour travel by bus or rented van to Sabang. Take a 20-minute ferry ride to the cave's entrance.
Note: All visitors are required to secure a Visitor Entry Permit at the Underground River Booking office before proceeding to the park. Visitors are required to present valid identification cards and register individually prior to the tour.
2. Go caving, climb the top of Ugong Rock, and zipline down
It felt like a we were doing some treasure hunting. They made us wear some safety gear then made us climb rocks. We were all first timers but we were all for it.
We took turns swinging in a hammock-like baging. Our guide gave an interesting tour of the cave. There was also an easy trail to the top of Ugong rock. After which, you'll be given a choice to go down the trail or ride a zipline.
We chose the zipline. Everybody should try it. It was such an adrenaline rush. Ugong Rock is also ecotourism project of ABS-CBN's Bantay Kalikasan.
How much? Caving Php 200, Zipline (seating) Php 250, Zipline (superman) Php 300.
How to get there? We rented a van to the Underground River and requested for this side trip. You may also rent a tricycle to bring you to this place.
3. Paddle down the Iwahig River and go firefly watching
It was so zen. The night was so quiet. Then you see twinkling lights, like the trees were adorned with thousands and thousands of Christmas lights, only to realize that they're fireflies.
Then you look up and the stars are all shining brightly. The boatman will ask you to dip your hands into the water. It sounded scary because it felt like a monster would pop out from the river. But I'm glad we tried it because our hands glowed underwater.
The boatman said that it has something to do with the phosphorescence of plankton which inhabit the river. It was like magic. The Iwahig Firely Watching is an ecotourism project of ABS-CBN's Bantay Kalikasan. It's operated by the people of the community and this gives them livelihood.
How much? Php 1100 per head (inclusive of transportation).
How to get there? You may rent a tricycle or arrange a van service for this tour.
Note: It would be best to make prior arrangements. They're usually fully booked and the only way for you to be squeezed in is if someone cancelled or arrived late. If you don't want to lose precious time, I suggest you call and book in advance. You can request your hotel to make the arrangements for you. That's what we did.
4. Tour the city.
We should have taken a tricycle like the first time we went here. But comfort is also a priority since we've all come from a roller-coaster schedule, so a van rental became a good alternative.
We went to the usual places -- Mitra ranch for some zipline adventure (see number 5), Baker's Hill for some hopia, Crocodile Park for a photo-op with the crocs (see number 6), Pasalubong Center for some take-away goodies (see number 7), Plaza Cuartel and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral for some history and culture.
How much: Php 600 pesos per head (van rental).
How to get there: The tour van can take you here as part of the City Tour. You can also rent a tricylce for this, as it would be less expensive.
5. Visit Mitra Ranch and try the Rancho Zipline Adventure
Rancho Sta. Monica or Mitra Ranch has a viewdeck, a playground, a vast loitering ground, and a zipline facility. The Rancho Zipline adventure has 4 ziplines. And you have to walk from one zipline to another.
I didn't try this because I became the designated baby-sitter to S. But R came back with a wide grin pasted on her still sweaty face. I guess that's a good sign.
How much? Php 500 per head Mitra Ranch.
How to get there? You can rent a van or take a tricycle for a City Tour. Mitra Ranch is part of the tour.
6. Hold a real live crocodile at the Crocodile Farm
You can tour around the area to see how crocodiles are grown. And they have different tubs for crocs of different ages. There are some animals in the area but they're not as many and as fabulous as the crocs.
Before the tour ends, you can have your pictures taken holding a baby crocodile, of course with its mouth taped for safety. I suggest you hold the croc, it's still fun and weird at the same time, feeling the cold and somewhat scaly hide of this would-be monstrous reptile.
How much? Php 45 pesos (entrance), Php 75 for the photo.
How to get there? You can rent a van or take a tricycle for a City Tour. The Croc Farm is part of the tour.
7. Buy some pasalubong
We went to Delma's to buy some stuff to bring home and give away. I got some champagne-colored pearls for Php 3000. I think Palawan has good quality pearls, mine has very few bumps and dimples.
We also scoured the local market for food stuff. We bought some dried squids and dried fishes. We also got roasted cashews and cashew tarts.
How to get there? You can go to anywhere with a tricycle. That's what we did.
8. Go snorkeling and feed the fishes at Pandan Island
We've been to Honda Bay once before and feeding the fishes was my favorite. Nothing has changed. This is still my favorite activity. Amazing! The fishes are actually right at your fingertips and they're gnawing your biscuits and you can feel their tiny little mouths opening and closing.
We brought Skyflakes rather than bread. We felt that they're slower to disintegrate when it comes into contact with the water. But we really had a grand time. We finished several packs in no time.
How much? Island hopping: Php 1100 per head (inclusive of van rental, boat and lunch), Snorkeling gear: Php 150, Aqua shoes: Php 150.
How to get there? You may rent a van or a tricycle going to Honda Bay, then rent a boat for the island hopping. Pandan Island is usually the first island you'll visit.
Note: It would be better if you make prior arrangements for this. Just coordinate with your hotel so they can book you with an operator who'll welcome you at the port. Bring lots of feeds (bread or Skyflakes would do) for a more enjoyable time.
9. Ride a banana boat at Cowrie Island
It was my first time to ride a banana boat. And it was so much fun. Well, at least in my book it's fun. There were seven of us riding one banana boat with R as our youngest participant.
The banana boat was pulled by a motor boat, and with one deep curve we're all underwater. I always pinched my nose every time we were thrown into the sea. This was my way of preventing saltwater from entering my nostrils. We did it three times. It was grand.
How much? Php 300 per head.
How to get there: Cowrie Island is the last island in the Honda Bay Island hopping adventure.
10. Go on an exotic food trip
The crocodile sisig is crocodile's meat sauteed in garlic and onion, seasoned with soy sauce, and spiked with green peppers.
Tasted like the real thing, only tastier. We had this in one of the eateries at the Puerto Princesa Baywalk. A platter of tamilok or wood worms was served kinilaw-style at Kinabuch. Initially it tasted like oysters but once you bite into it, it tastes like wood. Or it has the aftertaste of wood.
Balinsasayaw is the Filipino term for swallow, an endemic bird in Palawan. It's also the name of the restaurant where this soup is served. Swallows build their nests using their saliva. This nest can be made into bird's nest soup, or more popularly known as the nido soup. Well, it didn't taste like how I imagined it, it tasted more like Knorr's nido soup.
I rank the crocodile sisig my number 1 for the taste, but for the "fear factor," tamilok tops my very short list.
May you fall in love with Palawan as much as we did. Happy trip!
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