Monday, September 30, 2019

Puerto Princesa: The Perfect Place for Palawan First-Timers

Puerto Princesa
Image from Pinterest
Puerto Princesa is Palawan’s urbanized capital city, one that is perfect for first-time visitors to the province. Why? For one, the tourism industry here is very organized. There are associations for tour guides, tricycle drivers and operators, and other sectors, which means everything is monitored and regulated. It also means that all sectors work seamlessly with each other to provide the best experiences for visitors.

Puerto Princesa City also has a perfect balance between urban attractions and natural wonders. It doesn’t have as many beaches like Coron and El Nido, but what it has are definitely beautiful and enchanting in their own right. In the city proper itself, you’ll find plenty of places to explore and fall in love with. Simply put, finding and booking a cheap Puerto Princesa tour package will be definitely worth every peso you spend. 

So without further ado, here are a few suggestions on what to do in Puerto Princesa.

Underground River

If you only have time and money for one Puerto Princesa tour package, then you should definitely go for the province’s world-famous underground river. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park features limestone karst formations, lush forests, and diverse wildlife. Upon entering the cave itself, you’ll be left to marvel at the magnificence of nature. The stalagmite and stalactite formations are particularly awe-inspiring; there are some that look like upside-down flowers, while others resemble delicate chandeliers.

Note that in order to preserve the site, there’s a limited number of visitors allowed in the park per day. This means no walk-in visits are allowed, so you have to register in advance. It’s advisable to work with a tour operator so that all you have to do is show up on time for your tour. More often than not, the fees you pay already include lunch, vehicle transfers, and an audio guide about the river. 

Honda Bay Island Tour

Those who love the sea and sand won’t be disappointed by Puerto Princesa. The Honda Bay Tour, in particular, will take you to three beautiful islands for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The first in the tour is usually Starfish Island, which, like its name suggests, has tons of starfish on the shore and in the water. Speaking of which, the waters surrounding this island are crystal clear. It can be deceptively deep while looking shallow, though, so be careful not to wander too far.

Honda Bay Palawan
Honda Bay
Image from Pinterest
Lu-Li Island, on the other hand, has powdery-fine, cream-colored sand. Its waters are blue and clear, which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It’s best if you can time your visit during the low tide, since this is when you’ll be able to see and visit the sandbar. In fact, the name “Lu-Li” is taken from the phrase “lulubog, lilitaw,” referring to the sandbar that disappears during high-tide and reappears when the tide recedes.

The last stop of the Honda Bay Island Tour is Cowrie Island. Like Starfish Island, it takes its name from sea creatures. This time, it’s the sea snail called cowrie. The small island is shaped a little like a boomerang or banana, with incredibly blue and clean waters surrounding it. Snorkeling is a favorite activity of visitors here, since it’s easy to see the colorful fish and corals. If you’re lucky, you can even see some flying fish! There are also plenty of lunch buffets offered on the island, perfect for replenishing your energy for even more swimming and exploring.

Iwahig River

Puerto Princesa is one of the cleanest cities in the Philippines. How do you know this? It has an abundance of fireflies, which cannot thrive in a dirty environment. For a truly enchanting experience, wait until the evening and visit the Iwahig River, an eco-tourism site. Hundreds of fireflies light up the mangrove forests and river here, looking more like a scene from a movie than one in real life. If you want to take photos, make sure to turn off the flash of your phone or camera. A bonus of the Firefly Watching Tour in Iwahig River is that it can also double as a stargazing opportunity.

Puerto Princesa City Tour

If you’d rather stay in the city proper, you’ll love the wealth of attractions that Puerto Princesa has to offer. One of the most popular destinations is the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, where you can get up-close and personal with crocodiles. There are also other animals here, like toucans and the Palawan bear cat.

Other attractions often included in a Puerto Princesa City Tour package are Plaza Cuartel, Palawan Cathedral, Mitra’s Ranch, the Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village, Binuatan Creations (where you can see traditional loom-weavers in action), and Bakers Hill (where you can buy delectable baked goods for pasalubong).

Coron and El Nido are undoubtedly beautiful, but these aren’t the only places worth visiting in Palawan. Book a tour one of these days, and experience how rich and colorful Puerto Princesa can be!

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