Getting to Puerto Princesa by air is fairly easy. There are a number of commercial airlines that offer daily flights. Cebu Pacific Air offers flights from Metro Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao to Puerto Princesa International Airport.
Traveling to Puerto Princesa by sea is the more economical choice. It's ideal if you are on a tight budget but patient when it comes to long journeys. Ferry companies like 2GO Travel offer cruises from Manila to Puerto Princesa City that last for about 29 hours.
How to Get Around
Tricycles are the main mode of transportation around Puerto Princesa. You can find them all over the city. For instance, there are tricycles even at Puerto Princesa International Airport that can take you to your chosen accommodation. They're slightly bigger than the tricycles that are common all over the Philippines. It's the ideal choice if you are traveling with a group as you can always split the fare among yourselves.
If you'd like to experience a unique way of discovering Puerto Princesa, considering renting a motorbike. Not only will it save you more money, but it also gives you the freedom to explore Puerto Princesa at your own pace.
If you can afford it and for a more comfortable and personal mode of transportation, there are car rental services in Puerto Princesa.
By Jeepney and Van
If you're doing a DIY Underground River Tour, you can take a 2-hour jeepney or van ride from San Jose Terminal to Sabang Port. It is where the pumpboats heading to the Underground River Entrance are docked.
What to See
Puerto Princesa has a rich history, as evident in its historical landmarks. Princess Eulalia Park is known as the site of the proclamation of Puerto Princesa's foundation in the year 1872. Another famous landmark is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Only a small church then, it was the site of the first mass ever held in Puerto Princesa also in 1872. It was reconstructed into a cathedral in 1961.
Just near the cathedral is Plaza Cuartel, a National Historical Site. This World War II garrison is where Japanese soldiers in December 14, 1944, burned 150 American prisoners of war alive. This event is referred to as the Palawan Massacre.
Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is also a notable landmark. An "open prison" where inmates work at a farm instead of being locked up behind bars, it was established by the Americans in 1904.
Although it is a highly urbanized area, Puerto Princesa has a great balance of urban attractions and natural wonders perfect for tourists who want the best of both worlds.
Of course, one does not talk about Puerto Princesa City without mentioning the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This protected area features one of the world's most amazing cave systems and features an impressive limestone or karst landscape. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, it houses the 8.2 kilometer-long Puerto Princesa Underground River, which is believed to be the world's longest navigable underground river. This spectacular river was named as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Aside from the world-renowned underground river, the park is also home to several species of flora and fauna.
After your Underground River Tour, you can walk along the shores of Sabang Beach and snap a few photos. You can even go on a Mangrove Paddleboard Tour and see the amazing forest river full of mangrove trees.
Meanwhile, Honda Bay is blessed with a number of breathtaking islands and going on an island hopping tour is the best way to see their beauty with your own eyes. Not only will you be able to visit them, but you can also swim and snorkel in some of the islands. Of the many islands included in the tour, the most notable are Pandan Island for its spectacular white sand, Lu-Li Island for its mysterious disappearing act during high tide, and Starfish Island for of its abundance of starfish.
Firefly watching at Iwahig River at night is also a magical experience that tourists simply must not miss. Boatmen take tourists on a boat ride along Iwahig River where they'll see glowing fireflies as well as bioluminescent bacteria.
There's something for everyone in Puerto Princesa. Whether you are a nature lover, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, you'll surely find your own kind of fun in this city.
For animal lovers, you can visit Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. Its main attraction is the Crocodile Farm but there are also other kinds of animals there. It functions not only as an animal farm but also as a research center. Mitra Ranch is another place you should visit if you are fond of animals, especially horses. This vast ranch is also perfect for sightseeing; it has an observation deck that overlooks a stunning view of Puerto Princesa.
Just like the city of Manila, Puerto Princesa also has its own Baywalk. It is the perfect place for a stroll and food tripping because of the many dining options and food stalls there.
Meanwhile, Baker's Hill is the ultimate destination for those with a sweet tooth. It offers a wide variety of pastries and sweet treats for pasalubong. However, Baker's Hill is more than just a place to get your sweet fix. It features life-sized statues of cartoon characters, making it an Instagram-worthy destination. It also has a mini-zoo as well as a restaurant and some snack stalls.
Events and Festivals
Puerto Princesa is a lively city, celebrating many festivals that promote local tourism. One of the most famous is the Seafood Festival, held on the third week of April where locals and tourists enjoy a feast of seafood specialties.
On the third week of June, you will be able to witness a coming together of all Palaweños as they celebrate the Baragatan Festival in honor of the founding of their civil government. Here you'll be able to witness scenes of merriment like street dances and bazaars where the locals sell food and handicrafts.
Puerto Princesa also celebrates its city fiesta every December 8 in honor of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Various religious activities are part of the festivities.
Where to Eat
Fast food chains
Since Puerto Princesa is a highly urbanized destination, you can expect to find your favorite fast food chains here. Jollibee, Mang Inasal, and Chowking can be found in Robinsons Place Puerto Princesa. Aside from these popular restaurants, the mall also has a food court, giving you more options for dining.
With the abundance and wide variety of restaurants in Puerto Princesa, even the most discerning appetite will be satisfied while there.
Popular restaurants in Puerto Princesa are concentrated along Rizal Avenue. One of the well-loved dining places here is Ka Lui Restaurant. This native-style restaurant is where you can find freshly cooked savory seafood dishes at reasonable prices. Meanwhile, Balinsasayaw Restaurant is a pocket-friendly choice which serves local dishes, along with its signature Balinsasayaw Soup or Bird's Nest Soup. More commonly known as Nido soup, it is made from swift's nest that is only found in Palawan.
For those who have a taste for the exotic, Kinabuch's Grill and Bar offers crocodile sisig and tamilok or shipworm found inside mangrove tree branches. Ideal for adventurous foodies, tamilok is marinated and eaten raw. Meanwhile, Viet Ville or the Vietnamese Village is also a highly-recommended place to go for a meal. The restaurant is said to be where Vietnamese refugees lived when the Vietnam War broke out. Expect authentic yet pocket-friendly Vietnamese food when dining there.
Carinderias and Street Food
For backpackers on a tight budget, there are lots of carinderias or eateries all around the city. Some of the food stalls, especially along Baywalk, sell sumptuous seafood dishes made from the freshest catches of the day. Craving for lobster? You can get it there for a fraction of the price as compared to other restaurants.
Bars and clubs
Rizal Avenue is also the center of nightlife in Puerto Princesa. Guests can choose where to grab a nightcap among the strip of bars and clubs there like Tiki Restobar and E-Republik Restobar.
Where to Shop
Puerto Princesa has a number of malls such as Robinsons Place Palawan and NCCC Mall that offer countless shopping, dining, and entertainment options. They are also the perfect places to hang out and just chill out after a tiring day.
If you are looking for the perfect place to buy pasalubong, head to LRC 908 Market Mall. You can find everything here from souvenir shirts and caps, handicrafts like woven bags and wooden statues to snacks like packaged peanuts and pastries and even accessories made from freshwater pearls.
For those who want to cook their own meals, take a trip to Puerto Princesa Public Market where you can buy the freshest seafood. Don't be shy to haggle if you find the price too steep for you.
ATMs and Money Changers
You need not worry when you suddenly find yourself short of cash. There are numerous banks and ATMs in Puerto Princesa. Some establishments also accept credit cards. For foreigners, you can find some money changers around town.
Fare: PHP 2000.00++
Many commercial airlines offer cheap tickets from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Also, be on the lookout for their "piso fare" promo to get the lowest possible fare for your trip.
Food: PHP 80.00 to PHP 500.00
For the Honda Bay island hopping tour, rates are inclusive of lunch meals so you'll only have to spend money on your breakfast, snacks, and dinner for one day.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
There's a wide variety of pasalubong and souvenir items to buy in Puerto Princesa. Make sure to visit markets and bazaars and haggle for the lowest price so you can save more money.
Accommodation: PHP 200.00 to PHP 7000.00
You'll find lots of accommodations in Puerto Princesa that will suit your budget. For backpackers, there are budget inns and dorm-type accommodations you can choose from. If you want to go all in on your vacation, there are also five-star hotels and resorts here like Princesa Garden Island.
Activities: PHP 600.00++
If you want an effortless and hassle-free tour in Puerto Princesa, availing of tour packages from the many travel agencies is a good idea. Rates are competitive among tour agencies so make sure to book not only the cheapest but also the most trusted agency. Underground river tours usually cost less than PHP 2,000.00 per head, while Honda Bay Tour is about PHP 1,300.00per person inclusive of lunch. There are also tours for Firefly Watching in Iwahig River. Rates are less than PHP 1,000.00 per person without dinner. Lastly, for a city tour, agencies would usually charge about PHP 600.00 per person. But if you are on a strict budget, it's possible to arrange a DIY Underground River tour. You can also just hire a tricycle for PHP 600.00 for the city tour.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 250.00++
The entrance to the Puerto Princesa Underground River may require a permit from the tourism office in the city. When availing of tours, be sure to inquire if the permit fee is already included in your payment.