Most often, tourists come to Puerto Princesa for a day or for only 2 days, (i.e. this city is like a buffer zone on the way to El Nido).
It’s interesting that if you take a detailed map of the surroundings of Puerto Princesa at the airport, you will be able to see a lot of attractions that are not written in guidebooks. That’s why, instead of two days, that I planned at the beginning, I decided to stay 5 days and a little explore both Puerto Princesa City itself and some places nearby!
It turned out that there are so many interesting places and natural beauties all over Palawan Island that you can stay here for a whole month to slowly try and explore every nook! Unfortunately, I had only 8 days to explore the whole island so I tried to choose the most interesting points for me.
The high-resolution photo of this map can be downloaded at the end of this story! 😉
Lamis and I arrived in Puerto Princesa around noon, so there was time to see something within the city. First of all, we needed to figure out where to rent a bike for a reasonable price. I have already described in detail where exactly you can rent bikes in my article “Puerto Princesa Underground River: how to get there on your own”. I only recall that the best option is to turn right after exiting through the central gate of the airport and walk a couple of minutes. There are several bike and car rental points, and bargaining is appropriate. I managed to get an excellent Honda Click 125i for only 450 pesos per day.
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa
After we took the bike, it was necessary to get to our hostel and hurry to catch something to see.
I was so happy with our choice of stay that I decided to allocate a little space in the article and describe it in more detail. There are a lot of offers where you can stay for a night in Puerto Princesa, but if you want something special …
Quite by accident, I booked a hostel with the lovely name “Marieville”, but after 5 days in this place, I felt like a member of the family of a very friendly and cheerful couple Stella and Matt. The conditions they have are almost for everybody – there are separate rooms for two people, there are rooms for a family with children, and there’s even a huge room for a big company of 8 people! Some rooms have air-cons, but you can use fans in any room you pick! The Internet connection in the furthest rooms is not very good, but it is not the main thing!
The highlight of this hostel is that they have a huge dining area-restaurant, where you can not only meet interesting tourists and chat with the owners but also try a very diverse cuisine!
Ate Stella (you usually use “Ate” in the Philippines for women as a sign of respect which means “Older sister”) will cook for you incredibly delicious dishes! The prices are reasonable! My favorites for such a short time were: chicken teriyaki (Japanese cuisine), chicken curry (common in India, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean) and adobo (a traditional Filipino dish).
After we settled in this nice hostel, we had a few hours left to manage to visit a couple of places in Puerto Princesa.
1. Crocodile Farm
The first point that I marked on my map was a place with a very intriguing name – “Crocodile Farm”. I’ve heard about various animal farms, but for crocodiles to be raised there – this was the first time I saw one!
This “Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center” is located just 15 kilometers from our hostel, so we went there!
It’s very easy to find this place following the excellent road and signs. There is a huge parking lot for cars and motorbikes on the territory.
After we bought tickets, we were asked to wait for a guide.
The guide waits for the group and conducts a tour every 30 minutes, during which he will tell in detail about the center and show huge and small crocodiles.
Right at the entrance, we were met by an almost world legend – the skeleton of a huge crocodile, which was caught in the Bataraza province in the south of Palawan. This crocodile died of stress! So, try not to worry and avoid stress as much as possible! 😀
PS. Lolong is the world’s largest crocodile also included in Guinness World Records!
In the same hall, you can get acquainted with the history of the center, as well as learn more about the life of crocodiles in the Philippines.
Then the guide invites you to visit a huge hangar, where there are various types of freshwater crocodiles, as well as those that can live in salt water. Since this is a crocodile farm, so there are also a lot of rescued and newborn little crocodiles! They will be released when they grow up.
After exploring a huge variety of small crocodiles, the guide will announce to go through and see the real giants! Honestly, crocodiles are so huge that it seems as if it’s in some kind of movie!!!
After that, the tour ends. Also, you can visit a small zoo here with various birds and snakes! Only here you can see a rare animal – Bearcat. In fact, this is not a bear at all, and certainly not a cat, it simply has the name “Bearcat”. This subspecies of animals can be found only in Palawan. It feeds mainly on wild fruits and berries. It takes an important role in the ecosystem of the island – it helps plants distribute seeds through droppings.
Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00 (tours every 30 minutes, starting from 08:30, with a lunch break from 12:00 – 13:00).
Tickets: adult – 40 pesos, pensioners – 30 pesos, children (4-12 years) – 20 pesos, children (up to 3 years) – free of charge.
2. Butterfly Ecological Garden
On this day, we decided to visit another place with an equally interesting name – “Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village”.
When we arrived at the place, we had only a little more than half an hour to quickly explore everything. A few Bearcats met us right at the entrance, and only then we went to a large aviary with tropical plants. There are butterflies of different species and colors flying slowly from all sides, without paying any attention to us at all. I had a slightly different idea of what a “butterfly garden” might look like, but what I saw here was amazing. There is a special area where the entire “chrysalis” becomes a butterfly. There are also places where butterflies dine. All in all, it’s very interesting!
There is a guide too who will gladly tell you all about butterflies and answers any question. The guide prompted us to move to another territory, which is located behind the aviary with butterflies. It turns out that here you can find out the history of the Palaw’an tribe – the ancient people who inhabited the territory of Palawan. Also, you can get acquainted not only with them personally or with their way of life and customs, but also listen to their folk songs!
And you can also try to shoot from a bow or an air gun, throw a spear, and if you are a very brave one you can even hold a real tiger python on your neck!
Opening hours: 08:30 – 17:00
Tickets: adult – 50 pesos, senior citizens – 40 pesos, children – 35 pesos.
After that, we decided to finish our adventure for today and return to the hostel to plan the next day.
3. Talaudyong Beach
I really wanted to get to some beautiful beach to watch the sunset. Stella (the owner of our hostel) recommended a very beautiful beach with clean sand, palm trees and of course with the most beautiful sunset in Palawan! I always follow the idea that really beautiful places are always hidden from tourist guides, and only the locals will tell you exactly where this “hidden-gem” is! Therefore, every evening I asked in detail what they could recommend me. So, I found out that one of the super touristic places with the name “Honda Bay” promoted by the guidebooks is absolutely not worth attention if you are going to visit El Nido.
Talaudyong Beach is located 37 kilometers from Puerto Princesa, so you can safely leave in the afternoon to see the sunset. We stocked some food and water and left our hostel at about 13:00. To get to this beach, you must cross the island through the highlands. Therefore, the road will first gain height, and then, wagging with a serpentine, go down to the sea. You will definitely enjoy the bends! 🙂
An hour later we arrived at the place. The whole beach is separated into “public” and “private” zones. The public part is just a city beach, accessible to everyone. You have to pay 20 pesos to leave here your motorbike, and if you arrived by car – then 50 pesos.
The private part is much more interesting! It is a beautifully designed area among palm trees, with a restaurant and cozy gazebos, where you can sit in a small company or with your family.
There are also lifeguard stations, showers, toilets in the territory! So, in general, you have everything you need for a comfortable stay!
The beach is regularly cleaned from rubbish, branches and other things that the sea or wind will bring! So, I can say with confidence that it is very comfortable and safe to relax here. Of course, all these benefits of civilization are not free and you will have to pay a small fee, but all the conditions are worth it!
Entrance fee: adult – 100 pesos, children (7-12 years) – 50 pesos, children (up to 6 years) – free of charge.
Additionally, you can rent:
- Beach Huts 6-10 people – 300 pesos
- Beachfront tents, good for max. 15 people – 500 pesos
- Double tent for 20-30 people – 1500 pesos
- Family Blue Cottage up to 30 people – 2000 pesos
We decided not to rent anything, and it was unnecessary, but just enjoyed the beach, water, and of course a stunning sunset!
On the way back we met a young family who stopped by the roadside because they got a flat tire on their motorbike. We could not just pass by, so we offered to help. The guy explained what happened without any English, anyway it was understandable without any words. I tried to pump the tire several times but to no avail. There was a hole somewhere that instantly blew all the air, no matter how hard we tried. It needs vulcanization! Since it was already getting dark, we decided to escort them at low speed to the nearest wheel repair place. It is good that it was not very far — only 5-7 kilometers along a mountain road! Everything turned out well, and at this vulcanization place, there was a master who could help them!
Never hold back to show your kindness or willing to help, because it is very easy and you might even save someone’s life! 🙂
4. Estrella Falls
A new day is coming which means – new discoveries! The next day, we decided to go to another part of the island to not only enjoy nature but also dive into the cool waters of the Estrella Falls.
The Estrella Falls is 90 kilometers from our hostel. The path is really far, but we came here to travel, not just lie on the couch! 😉
So, we woke up early, took some food, and off we go! The way was so diverse – you can see here mountains, fields, and even small forests!
After about 85 kilometers, the road turns right to go to the highlands, where the waterfall is located. Just after passing by a small village, you run into a very beautiful dead-end, decorated with bright multi-colored flags on both sides. This is our destination – Estrella Falls!
Walking along the path under the sign “Welcome”, you find yourself in a very cool forest, or I can say “the jungle”. A very well-groomed path goes along the river, here and there going to the right or left to the arbors. There are several river pools where you can not only swim but also jump from a bungee. So, you can also have a great time with children here, because the depth of these backwaters is not very big.
We headed to the very end to see the main attraction – Estrella Falls. The waterfall itself was not very big, but picturesque. The locals even organized a small photo zone! 🙂
In general, this place is ideal for relaxing all day. There are gazebos, barbecue and everything you need for a leisurely vacation! I would recommend you to take more food and make a barbecue here, like a huge company of Filipinos did!
Opening hours: 06:00 – 17:00
Entrance fee: adult – 50 pesos, bike parking – 10 pesos, table rental – 100 pesos.
We spent time here for about an hour and decided to get to another place before returning home. I didn’t plan to go there, but since we went so far, why not! And I did not lose!
There’s a small fishing village, Panacan just about 20 kilometers from the waterfall. I saw a lighthouse and the beach on the map, that’s why I decided to check these places.
Here is the result we got! 😉
5. Acacia Tunnel
I wanted to end this day with something fabulous, magical, so on the way back to Puerto Princesa, despite the excellent road, I decided to make a stop in a small forest called Acacia Tunnel. In fact, we already drove it along the way to the waterfall! But since it was a really good road and the weather was perfect, we drove through this amazing place at high speed! 🙂 The length of this tunnel is about 1.5 km.
I can talk a lot about how the trees intertwined intricately and froze in fairy-tale images, forming a natural arch filled with coolness and freshness, but its best just to take a short break and look at this miracle of nature!
At this fabulous moment, I want to complete my story, because the next place I am going to visit is a real paradise – El Nido reserve!