Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines, situated in the country’s southwest side. So if you’re going to the Philippines, make sure to include it in your list of must-see destinations!
A week in Palawan is probably just the right duration of stay to see everything it has to offer. When I spent a vacation there however, I only stayed for 5 days ’cause I only checked El Nido and Puerto Princesa. So I’ll definitely come back another time to visit Coron. 😉 In this post I’ll be talking about Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan.
Before that, here’s an overview; there are lots of travel agencies offering cheap deals for the complete Palawan experience. This is ideal for relatively large groups or those who don’t want the hassle of DIYing their itineraries. But for people (like me) who’d like to have a personalized trip, or perhaps you hate getting up too early, or maybe you just prefer to travel at your own pace, it’s best to come up with your own schedule with the help of some good amount of research.
Most of the accommodations in Palawan offer packages that you can avail upon moment’s notice (although to be sure, buy them at least a day in advance) which include the price for the tour itself, transportation fees (both by land and sea), and even lunch. The prices only vary a little bit for each hotel/hostel in Palawan. They usually don’t exceed 2,000php. In the case of Puerto Princesa, the Underground River and Honda Bay tours are the most in-demand tour packages around. You can purchase them individually or as a combination depending on your preference.
Honda Bay tour is an island hopping adventure and since we were headed to El Nido (which has lots of Island Hopping tours as well), we just settled on the Underground River tour. So from the city proper, it took us about 2 hours by van to get to the port where the boats to the Underground River are.
A VERY IMPORTANT TIP: DO NOT, BY ANY MEANS, SCHEDULE YOUR UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR ON A WEEKEND, especially during summer. We had to learn this the hard way ’cause our tour was scheduled on a Saturday. And guess what. We arrived there at around 10am, but we had to wait at least 2 hours to get to the boat, and almost an hour in front of the cave before our tour actually began!!
The tour guide will be the one to call you once it’s your turn to ride the boat. It will take you to the island where the underground river is. Upon reaching the shore, it’s just a short hike to the entrance of the cave itself.
The local boatmen are also the tour guides inside the cave, explaining how the various cave structures were formed, as well as providing a little bit of background info on the history of Palawan. Plus, they are very humorous!
It was an educational tour and I was amazed at how big the rock structures were inside. Even though we had to wait a long while, it was truly worth it. This was the highlight of our stay in Puerto Princesa. In my next post I’ll be talking about El Nido! 🙂