Puerto Princesa is a tropical haven located at the southwestern part of the Philippine archipelago. It stands firm and proud with its lush greenery and teeming wildlife and marine life- thus the name “the City in a Forest.” Considered as the second largest city in the entire country, but also the most sparsely populated, Puerto Princesa is definitely a place of beauty and serenity.
The city’s name has two etymologies; the first is because of the geographical advantage of the city as a royal haven for vessels hence, Princess of Ports. Second is when Queen Isabella II of Spain named the Island “Puerto de la Princesa” after her daughter’s death. No matter what the name’s origin is, the truth still stands that Puerto Princesa is a paradise on earth.
Where to Stay
Since the city is flooded with tourists every day, there are a lot of hotels here that can definitely fit your budget. For the backpacker or the budget-conscious traveler, Hibiscus Garden Hotel is a wise choice. They have 14 spacious, Mediterranean-inspired guest rooms for a very reasonable price. But if you have the money to spend a night on a plush resort in this tropical paradise, try booking a room at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa.This newly-opened beachfront resort offers only the best for its customers, starting from their stunning rectangular outdoor pool down to the very polite and accomodating staff.
Where to Eat
Every visitor of Puerto Princesa has to agree that the most visited restaurant in the city is Ka Lui. The restaurant is a native wooden house with well-polished floors so when you dine inside you will be asked to leave all foot wears in small lockers. Once dinner is served, you’ll feast on their sumptuous dishes.
If you are opting for something new for your taste buds, you can try Bona’s Chao Long. Palawan has been home to Vietnamese refugees since 1975, so it is not a surprise the city has some of the best Vietnamese cuisine in the house. If you’re up for the challenge you can try their yummy sweet and spicy Chao Long (rice noodles) and pair it with their Mango Yakult Shake. You’ll have a happy tummy without spending too much cash.
Where to Go
A day in Puerto Princesa is absolutely not enough. You have to have two days minimum. First stop would be the world famous New Seventh Wonder of Nature, Puerto Princesa Underground River. And once you’re inside, words are not enough to describe the beauty of the limestone cave full of amazing figures formed by stalactites and stalagmites from millions of years ago.
After the refreshing trip in the underground river, visit the Crocodile Farm where you can see a lot of real salt-water and sea-water crocodiles roaming around (not in the farm) but in their respective cages. You can even picture the former-world’s largest captured crocodile. You’ll definitely thank the heavens it has been captured already!
You can drop by Iwahig Penal Colony before you go back to the city. It’s a prison alright, but no need to worry because it’s more like a modern farm because the prisoners are allowed to roam around the farm. The minimum-security inmates are actually planting rice and harvesting it for a living, some of them do fascinating handicrafts and are displayed in their recreational hall which also serves as a souvenir shop. So, if you’d like to buy keepsakes from Palawan, do buy them here because the profit goes straight to the prisoners and their family.
After buying souvenirs, you can try going to Baker’s Hill to buy delicious pastries and goodies. Be prepared to fall in line because almost all tourists try to buy out the whole store every time. Their Hopia and Choco Crinkles are a must-try.
And the last stop in the city would be the sky-colored Immaculate Conception Cathedral. The cathedral may be vibrant today, but it hides a grim past which can be evident on the adjacent Plaza Cuartel. Listed on a concrete pedestal are the names of the 150 American soldiers who were burned alive during the Japanese era.
Puerto Princesa has a lot to offer. A blog like mine cannot list all the interesting stuff you’ll get to witness and experience once you visit this blissful city. So, why not, book a trip, pack your bags and experience them yourself? And don’t forget to let us know about your travel! ;)