Welcome back to another edition of Philippines. First I would like to say sorry for people waiting for this edition as this edition delay from normal weekly schedule it should be. I am writing this in the middle of my trip which will be published soon after the Philippines series end around this month. Just wait for this month, you will find interesting destination ahead posted.
Most of the people especially people from outside Philippines familiar Philippines for the Boracay beach only. However, actually there are other interesting destinations which are comparable with Boracay. One of these is Palawan. From all of my trip, Palawan is one of my favourite destination in addition to Boracay. Palawan offer more diverse experiences which not only beach as Boracay. Of course they also have interesting beach destination in Palawan, like Honda bay which I will explain further later.
For my last trip to Philippines, initially I did not include Palawan as one of my destination, but finally I managed to have the trip to Palawan for one day only, such a short trip which I think I should spend more time there.
How to Get There ?
You can visit Palawan via Puerto Princesa airport, capital of Palawan island from Manila or Cebu. This is domestic airport, hence no international destination served here. If you are going to Palawan only for visiting the El Nido, famous for snorkelling, diving and beautiful island, you can take chartered aircraft from Manila itself.
As mentioned above that places to visit in Palawan is quite diversed, several popular destinations are :
1. Honda Bay
For Honda Bay, you can take one day tour from Puerto Princesa airport for regular tour joining with others or if you want for private tour, you can as well book the van from the tour in the airport as well book for the boat for island hoping in Honda Bay. There are small boat which can accomodate 1-5 people or larger boat. Honda Bay is popular for doing island hoping and snorkelling. From the city, it takes about half hour to go to the jetty for doing the island hoping. You can even see sea star in one of your island hoping trip in Honda Bay.
2. Puerto Princesa Underground river
Puerto Princesa underground river has just been recognized recently as the new seven wonders for its nature. It is also known as Unesco world heritage in 1999. Same as Honda Bay, for underground river, the tour operator offer the package to start the trip in the morning. The journey itself will take 1.5 hours from the city center to Sabang beach which then change to pump boat to the underground river. People who are afraid in dark and claustrophobia are not advised to join the trip.
3. El Nido
El Nido is the most popular destination in Palawan for its snorkelling, island hoping and diving. Its location is a bit far from Puerto Princesa which will take you for about 7-8 hours . For people with limited time, it is not adviseable to visit this place or if you have much cash to spend, you can take the chartered flight from Manila to visit El Nido.
As my trip in Palawan is only one day, for my trip, I book the city tour from the tour operator in the airport. I think the tour is worthed as they toke us to places which a bit far from the city center which will cost you more if you want to do by yourself. From the airport, I take the tricyle, as the most common public transportation in the town. From the airport itself to Alta city Pension is quite near, about 10-15 minutes ride. From all the hotel and hostels I stay during my trip in Phillipines, I enjoy most in this hotel as the services provided from the staff especially the manager of the hotel, mr Roel who is proactive to assist for the guest staying there which surprise me and give suggestion on place to visit and assist to have reservation for famous Kahlua restaurant which normally fully reserved. The location of the hotel itself is in the middle of the city. From the main road, you need to go to the alley and there is security to look into the hotel 24 hours. From the hotel, you can walk to several eateries include Kalui for dinner and sasayaw for lunch. If you’re looking for night life, there are also available nearby within walking distance.
Alta City Pension
TTH Building, Rizal Avenue Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
Phone : +63-9178493358
The city tour itself starting around 1-2 PM after lunch. The first destination of the city tour is bay walk. The bay walk area is nice to walk along during the afternoon when the sun is not hot. If you would like to purchase some drink, vendors along the bay walk are available at your convience. Bay walk area as well is clean, perhaps it’s also because of law applied in Puerto Princesa which fine people who throw litter not on the proper place. As I know this is the only city in Phillipines which adopt such law, hence no wonder Puerto Princesa is known as greenest city in Philippines. As I visit Palawan in November, there is big and nice christmas tree put in the area. Remember the post before, Filipinos start to celebrate christmas as early around September – October around the year.
After visiting bay walk, we visit Cuartel Plaza. Cuartel Plaza itself like a park. This area is historical place to mark the world war II when japanese soldiers burnt 150 POW (prisoners of war) in a tunnel in which it is said there are 10 people managed to escape and told their stories on the event.
Nearby the Cuartel plaza, we visited the Puerto Princesa Cathedral which is painted in blue for the building.
From there, our tour guide toke us to the handicraft center, where traditional hand made handicraft is made. In the area, you can also tried to weave traditional mat. The journey continue to the Palawan wild life rescue, where you can find a lot of crocodiles in the area. In the area, you can also find the skeleton and skin of previous biggest crocodile found in Philippines before Lolong, current biggest crocodile in the world was captured in Bunawan September 2011.
In the area, you can find baby crocodile up to huge size crocodile. One of the main area is the ponds where the visitor walk on the metal bridge to cross the ponds. Perhaps my imagination become so wild, thinking of what will happen if suddenly, there are visitors accidently fell into the pond or fell due to the bridge unable to support number of visitors with crocodiles waiting below. For lunch perhaps 😆
The city tour itself already cover the entrance fee to visit the area. If you want, you can have picture with small crocodile as well for souvenir. Of course for this, you have to pay extra.
If you are interested to try exotic meat, you can find crocodile meat as well in the restaurant in front of the wild life. They are available in many variaties from sausage, meat, or if you want, you can have crocodile sisig (crocodile meat cooked in Filipino way) and serve in crocodile shaped plate.
For me, the taste of the meat itself like chicken meat. Our last destination of the day is Baker hill. There is restaurant and shop selling the cake made there.
The area is suitable for relaxing or picnic especially in the afternoon with friend or family or perhaps you would like to have dinner, you might consider the place as well.
As the trip end, our tour guide bring us to our hotel at around 6.30 PM. It’s time for me to take bath and prepare for visiting Kalui restaurant. During your stay in Puerto Princesa, it’s recommended for you to have dinner in this restaurant. Every night, they receive two sessions for dinner. One is at around 6 PM, and the other is around 7.30 PM (not sure, better check). For Kalui restaurant, you have to make reservation first to guarantee your site else you won’t get seat if you try to go there without any reservation. It’s a type of fine dining in affordable price. Prices in Palawan relatively much cheaper compared to Boracay as in Boracay, price has inflated due to its popularity for foreign tourism.
Kalui is famous for its ambiance and food. At the entrance, staff will guide you to take off your shoes/ sandals. Yes, it’s barefoot dining place in Kalui. Suggest to have grilled seafood there. As the set menu for grilled seafood is for 2 persons (too much for one person), I am ordering grilled marlin fish for my dinner. It’s served with fresh sea weed and sweet potato.
For dining in Kalui, you get the complimentary desert of fruits served inside the coconut with brown sugar on the top.
It’s time to get back to hotel to prepare for my next destination, Bacolod. See you in next post for Bacolod and Iloilo.