It’s almost the end of summer now in the Philippines and our local travel destination this year was Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Our goal or rather my goal is to visit at least one Philippine destination every year. Hopefully and if possible, a new place we haven’t been to yet. Be it road trip, air or sea. It will not only be a fun bonding time with the family but an educational one especially for the kids. The family will get to discover places, have a chance to immerse with the locals and hopefully learn something from their culture.
During one of our local carrier – Cebu Pacific Air (www.cebupacificair.com) fare sale in late 2015, I was able to buy tickets for the family to Puerto Princesa. We’ve been planning a long time ago to visit this place but it’s always been put off in favor of other destinations. Finally, this year it finally pushed through! After purchasing the air tickets, the next thing to do was look for accommodations. And so I checked Agoda (www.agoda.com) for hotel deals. Puerto Princesa City have good resorts and hotels but some are a bit expensive and beyond my budget.
Luckily, I found one hotel that I liked. A bed and breakfast hotel named Ala Amid (www.amidpuertoprincesa.com) which is run by a family. Don’t be put off with the name of the hotel. It’s actually the owner’s surname spelled backwards. 😄 The place is cozy, clean and nice. It matched the laid back atmosphere of Palawan. They served complimentary juice drinks upon arrival which is not common for small hotels. The buffet breakfast is good and the little “cafe” at the lobby area named Sabie Bakes had yummy cupcakes! My kids also enjoyed their Say Cheese pizza and the pasta.
We stayed in Palawan for 4 days and 3 nights. The cost of the superior room was Php 2,300/night inclusive of buffet breakfast for two. I booked two rooms to ensure we are not cramped because we were six travelers and so that we can really enjoy and relax during our vacation. Mind you, the rooms were bigger than we thought and the bed was comfortable. Two thumbs up!👍🏼 Not only that, the hotel helped us book for our tours too which made life easier under the heat of the sun. The hotel owners were pleasant and friendly. They accommodated my inquiries and provided enough information before and during our stay.
Since we arrived in the morning, we decided to take the city tour (cost: Php 600/pax) in the afternoon which brought us to the Crocodile Farm, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Plaza Cuartel and the souvenir shop that sells authentic South Sea Pearls at prices that can only be found in Palawan! 😍 Definitely the South Sea pearls they were selling were a whole lot cheaper than in the big city. I’d rather not tell how many I bought. 😅 Ha!ha!ha! My recommendation is to tell your tour guide to take you to Laila’s Pearls instead of Delma’s Pearls first. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Laila’s then go to Delma’s which is just a few hundred meters away.
While waiting for our turn to go inside the Crocodile Farm, we went to a restaurant for refreshments and while there we decided to try the sizzling crocodile meat for Php 180 per order. It was a bit spicy but good. Now I know, crocodile taste like chicken. They probably eat chicken a lot!😜 My kids had fun posing for the camera holding a small crocodile. Good thing the crocodiles mouth were clamped shut or else I think a lot people will lose a finger or two!😅
The price of the South Sea Pearls at Laila’s Pearls was Php 1K for an 8 mm earrings. The bigger the pearls, the more expensive it becomes. Discounted price of a 12.5 mm size is Php 2.5K, 13 mm size is Php 3K. Bigger pearls range from Php 4.5 to 5.5K but you will not regret getting a pair once you see the price in the jewelry stores in the big city. So, I highly recommend buying some pearls while in Palawan!😄 And while you’re in the souvenir shop, try to buy the roasted or fried cashew nuts too.
We spent our second day in Sabang to visit the Underground River which is a Unesco Heritage site and one of the new wonders of the world. It took one hour and a half travel time to Sabang. Then a 20 minute boat ride towards the entrance of the river in a pump boat. The tour is already high tech unlike before wherein the tourists were the ones holding the halogen light. Upon arriving, each person will be given an audio set and a short distance away the boats are waiting to take you inside the cave. Instead of the boat man talking, you can now to the listen audio voice while he uses his LED light to show the wonders inside the cave which is in sync with what you are listening. It’s a 45 minute boat ride inside the underground river beneath St. Paul mountain. Truly an awesome experience and a must see. We booked our tour in advance and it cost Php 1,740 including buffet lunch. It’s more convenient since you need permits to enter the place and they limit the visitors per day. The tour guide will take care of everything and you can just sit and wait.
There will be numerous photo opportunities while in the place since they have an official photographer and you can buy a print out for Php 180 (small) and 250 (big). I usually don’t buy but I had a change of heart. I just think of it as a once in a lifetime trip so better get those souvenirs! 😄 Doing so probably helped the staff earn a little more money.
Back at the wharf, you can see stalls selling fruit shakes and more! Buy one or two to quench your thirst. 😄 The cheapest that we found was the stall in the pic at Php 50 only for a medium sized drink.
Our third day was spent island hopping in Honda Bay. If you plan to do this, better bring aqua shoes with you. Your tour guide will recommend it to ensure you are protected from a stone fish sting/bite. And if you are particular with using snorkel gear rental then better bring your own. However, if you prefer to travel light then you can rent them before you sail away to the islands. A bit costly at a rental fee of Php 150 each for the Aqua shoes and Snorkel gear. The tour will bring you to 3 islands. First is the Star Fish island then Luli Island and last would be Cowrie Island where the buffet lunch is served. The first two islands will let you go snorkeling to your heart’s content. My children had so much fun!
Listen to your tour guide or boatman. If they say do not swim in a particular area then don’t! Lots of jelly fish lurking and you don’t really want to get stung by one. 😄
It was a fun filled summer break for the family. We hope to visit Palawan again in the future as El Nido and San Vicente are waiting to be explored. For now, the memories will stay with us until our next visit.
Remember this when in Palawan:
Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, keep nothing but memories…
the traveling KANGaroo