Puerto Princesa.  in Palawan, Philippines

Puerto Princesa

in Palawan, Philippines

Immaculate Conception cathedral, PP Photo © shankar s.

Cover photo full

Puerto Princesa

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	Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa. Photo by Ironchefbalara
Puerto Princesa is a busy commercial center of Palawan. It is situated in the western part of the province, with a population of over 230,000 people. The city has been acclaimed several instances as the cleanest and greenest city in the country. It is also the least densely populated city in the Philippines, making it one of the best locations for foreigners migrating in the country. Puerto Princesa is also the jump-off point to popular tourist destinations such as the Subterranean River National Park, El Nido, and the Tubbataha Reef.

History

The first settlement in Palawan was founded in 1872 by Spanish colonizers. According to history books, the Spaniards were looking for an ideal location for a settlement along the province’s shoreline. They came upon a hill and discovered an extensive plateau which they developed as an ideal place for their new colony, and later on, making it the capital of the province. The city was named after Princess Eulalia of Spain, daughter of Queen Isabel II (Wikipedia
	Article). When the princess suffered her untimely demise, the Queen changed the city’s name to “Puerto de la Princesa”, which was eventually reduced to “Puerto Princesa.”

Honda Bay - Honda Bay
Honda Bay. Photo by Asian Development Bank

Landmarks



Honda Bay

Just a tricycle ride north of Puerto Princesa is the Honda Bay. The famous landmark is a jump-off point for island hopping. Aside from the white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, each island has its own unique feature and exciting activities, such as swimming and snorkeling. For the diving enthusiasts, there are also several diving spots and amazing coral reefs to be explored. The beautiful islands you can visit when you go to Honda Bay are Pandan Island, Cowrie Island, Luli Island, and Starfish Island.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park

Puerto
	Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Most commonly known as the “Underground River,” it is simple the pride of Puerto Princesa. The natural wonder is currently one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature”, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river is 5 miles long and is recognized as the longest navigable underground river in the world. Aside from its magnificent cave system, the entire area that surrounds the river is a national park, with more than 800 plants species, over 195 bird species, and a very rich biodiversity of land animals.

Ihawig Prison and Penal Farm

The “prison without walls”, as locals would call it. The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is situated within 45,000 hectares of farm land and lush forest. Surprisingly, there are very rare cases of escape attempts in the prison, mainly because the inmate’s families can choose to live within the prison too. The relative freedom of the inmates has created their very own community, with several opportunities for livelihood and trade.

Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center

Formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park, the conservation center is one of the few places in the country that serves as a crocodile sanctuary for the endangered Philippine Crocodile. There are also other animals being cared for and protected in the center such as ostriches and bearcats.

Bakers Hill

What used to be a simply bakery has now become one of Puerto Princesa’s top attractions. Baker’s Hill is well-known for its special hopia, wide selection of handmade pizzas, and other local delicacies. The establishment also has its very own theme park, popular among tourists, especially kids. The area is also situated on top of a hill (hence the name Baker’s Hill) and has a beautiful panoramic view of the countryside.

Mitra’s Ranch

Also known as the Santa Monica Ranch, the vast area and wide grasslands is home to several cows and horses. The ranch is owned by the ex-senator Ramon Mitra and is open to the public. What really sets Mitra’s Ranch from other tourist destinations is its perfect location. The place offers its visitors a place of solitude away from the urban life, and also a breathtaking view of the city by the sea.

Rizal Avenue

Rizal Avenue is Puerto Princesa’s main street. Aside from it being the longest and oldest road in the city, it is also where most commercial strips, historical parks, and business-related establishments are located. From the best restaurants to the upscale nightlife hangouts, they can all be found along Rizal Avenue.

Shopping

Robinsons Place
	Palawan - Puerto Princesa
Robinsons Place Palawan - Puerto Princesa. Photo by unknown
Although being a small city, Puerto Princesa City has its own choices of shopping. The largest supermarket and department store in Puerto since the 1990s is the NCCC Mall located along Lacao Street and Rizal Avenue. Robinsons Place Palawan is the first modern mall in the city that features a cinema theatre. Robinsons also has a supermarket, department store, and other popular franchises. Along Rizal Avenue are commercial strips where tourists can visit and shop for souvenirs, clothes, basic needs, and other treasures they could find.

Dining

Since Puerto Princesa is one of the top destinations in the country, it has successfully maintained a high standard in serving great food both to its local diners and foreign visitors. Aside from serving wide selections of all-time favorites, it also has flavors unique to the province. The most popular restaurant in the city among tourists is KaLui, popular for its alluring native ambiance and exceptional Filipino cuisines. A local favorite which makes great homemade pizzas is Neva’s Place. To complete your Palawan experience, head out to Kinabuchs Grill & Bar and taste the exotic tamilok (shipworm) and their selections of crocodile meat recipes.

Another unique thing about Palawan is its diverse ancestral background. The Vietnamese Pho or what locals call “Chao Long” is definitely a must-try. If you’re looking for authentic Vietnamese flavor in the entire country, it can only be found in Puerto Princesa. Pho can be tasted at either Bona’s or Rene Saigon.

Nightlife

The city’s nightlife can be found all around Rizal Avenue. The best videoke bars are found within hotels such as the Salo Bar and Restaurant in Legend Hotel, and the Scenario Bar in Asturias Hotel. Aside from great food and live music, Kinabuchs Grill and Bar is also a great spot for tourists to enjoy a few rounds of beer with their friends. The most popular discobar is Tiki Bar at intersection Rizal Ave/Puerto Princesa North Road.

Safety

Puerto Princesa City has been one of the safest places in the Philippines for tourists and foreigners. Although there was one incident of kidnapping in the affluent Dos Palmas Resort in 2001 by local terrorist groups, the overall security of the city has improved since then. Since the city is driven mostly by tourism, most establishments in the city are focused on ensuring the safety of its visitors, both foreign and local.

Getting There and Transportation

From Manila, Puerto Princesa is easily accessible by air travel. Domestic flights are offered daily and takes less than an hour to get there. For tourists coming from Cebu, flights are offered four times a week. The city is also accessible by sea, ships from Manila to Puerto Princesa are offered by Superferry (2GO Travel) and Negros Navigation one a week. The travel time usually takes 18 to 22 hours.

When traveling within the city proper, tricycles are the most common for short trips. Jeepneys and multicabs that serve specified routes in the city are for longer trips. For those tourists who want to explore other towns and municipalities in the province, they can easily commute by bus. When visiting tourists spots in Palawan, tourists can rent private cars or private shuttles from travel agencies. Unfortunately, there are currently no taxis in Puerto Princesa.

Hotels and Accommodation

Being the eco-tourism center of the country, several hotels and resorts have thrived in catering to the thousands of tourists and foreigners visiting the city every year. The best hotels around the city are simply the Legend Hotel, Hotel Fleuris, and the Asturias Hotel# a few minutes away from downtown. Most accommodations features fully furnished guest rooms, valet parking, and modern amenities.

Popular resort hotels in Palawan which are just a few hours from Puerto Princesa are usually found along the islands of Miniloc and El Nido.

Budget



Comfortable

Landmarks near Puerto Princesa City



El Nido

El Nido
El Nido
The Municipality of El Nido is a managed resource protected area in Palawan. It is also where most five star resort hotels can be found such as Club Paradise and El Nido Resorts. Due to its beautiful white sand beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and breathtaking views, El Nido has received plenty of recognitions, including the “Best Beach and Island destination” by CNNGo and one of Lonely Planet’s best summer destinations in the world.

Tubbataha Reef

The marine park and sanctuary located at the east of Palawan is one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Boats that can take tourists to Tubbataha Reef can depart from the city’s port area, the travel time from the city to the reef is usually 8 hours. The beautiful marine and coral reef sanctuary can only be visited during the months of March to June due to the Philippine’s climate.

Tabon Cave

The Tabon Cave located in Lipuun Point in Quezon, Palawan (Wikipedia
	Article), it is where the earliest evidences of man in the Philippines were found. The cave was named after the large-footed bird that resides within the area. Aside from the fossils discovered within the cave, stone tools were also found to prove the existence of the “Tabon Man” in Palawan. The Tabon Cave is recognized as a National Cultural Treasure and should be included in every tourists’ itinerary visiting the province.

Travel Tips

  • Puerto Princesa is recognized as the cleanest city in the Philippines. Tourists are advised to observe proper waste disposal when visiting. Littering on roads, sidewalks, and beaches are highly discouraged. (The city even implements a fine for those caught littering).
  • When going around the city, light casual wear is always a practical choice. Tourists wearing flashy clothing often attract unwanted attention from locals.


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    Author: radiantan. Last updated: Jan 13, 2015

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