Puerto Princesa, located on the stunning island of Palawan in the Philippines, is known for its crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and breathtaking natural wonders. From the famous Underground River to its vibrant local culture, Puerto Princesa has plenty to offer for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. Here are the top 10 must-visit places in Puerto Princesa that will leave you in awe and wanting more.
1. Underground River – Venture north of the city center, approximately 50 km away, to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, or the Underground River. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the river tour costs around P500 for adults and P250 for children.
It is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty and ecological significance. The river flows through a cave system that stretches for more than 8 kilometers (5 miles) and features unique geological formations, including stalactites and stalagmites.
Inside the cave, visitors can take a guided boat tour. Along the way, they can see various rock formations such as the “cathedral” and “cave curtains.” Additionally, the river is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various bat species, swiftlets, and other animals that are adapted to the unique environment of the cave.
2. Honda Bay – Northeast of the city center lies Honda Bay, a group of islands featuring Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island. Take a 30-minute boat ride for a cost of around P1,500 per person to explore this scenic paradise.
It is a group of small islands and islets with crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and rich marine life, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling and island hopping. One of the most popular islands to visit in Honda Bay is Luli Island, which is named after the Tagalog phrase “lulubog-lilitaw,” meaning “sink and rise.” It’s known for its sandbar that disappears and reappears depending on the tide, and visitors can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in its clear waters.
Another island worth visiting is Cowrie Island, which is known for its soft white sand beach, watersports activities and restaurants serving local cuisine. Lastly, Starfish Island, as its name suggests, is known for its abundance of starfishes. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling and seeing these colorful marine creatures up close. There are also several other islands to explore in Honda Bay, each with their unique attractions and beauty.
3. Baker’s Hill – Get ready for some fun and frolic at Baker’s Hill, located around 5 km southeast of the city center. A theme park and bakery with a mini-zoo, playground, and garden, it’s free to enter, but there are fees for various activities and food.
Known for its picturesque gardens, delightful pastries, and family-friendly attractions, Baker’s Hill is another popular attraction in Puerto Princesa. Visitors can stroll around the garden, take photos, and enjoy the scenic views. There are also other decorations that add to the garden’s charm.
Another popular feature of Baker’s Hill is its bakery, which offers an array of freshly baked bread, pastries, and cakes. Their specialties include hopia (a Filipino pastry filled with sweet bean paste).
4. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center – Head 25 km south of the city center to Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, a.k.a. the Crocodile Farm. Observe crocodiles and other animals for an entrance fee of P40 for adults, P30 for senior citizens, and P20 for children (4 to 12 years old).
Visitors can take a guided tour of the farm, which showcases the Philippine estuarine crocodile, one of the rarest and endangered crocodile species in the world. The farm serves as a breeding center for the species, and visitors can see the different stages of crocodile development, from hatching to maturity.
It also has other animals, such as bearcats, and various bird species, making it an excellent educational experience for visitors of all ages.
5. Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm – Experience a unique prison facility, the “prison without walls,” where inmates live and work on a farm located around 18 km south of the city center. Visitors can tour the facility and interact with the inmates for an entrance fee of P100 per person.
It is a unique tourist attraction in Puerto Princesa, known for its progressive approach to penal rehabilitation and its natural beauty. Visitors can take a guided tour of the prison, which offers a glimpse into the daily life of the persons deprived of liberty, their rehabilitation programs, and their sustainable farming practices.
The penal farm offers them a scenic view of lush greenery, rice paddies, and the surrounding mountains, where they can take a relaxing stroll around allowed areas and enjoy the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere. Furthermore, the prison has its own handicraft store where visitors can buy souvenirs made by the inmates themselves. These items include woven baskets, wooden furniture, and other handicrafts.
6. Balayong People’s Park – It is a scenic public park in Puerto Princesa named after the blooming Balayong tree. The park features a variety of attractions that showcase the local culture and natural beauty of the city.
A roundabout has recently been opened for public use at the Balayong People’s Park. The center of the roundabout features a unique and dynamic artwork that takes inspiration from the city’s rich flora and fauna, as well as the Batak tribe family. It is a 63-hectare park that is also a venue for sports and wellness events for residents and tourists alike.
7. West Coast Beach Getaways – The beaches on the west coast of Puerto Princesa City—Nagtabon Beach, Talaudyong Beach, and Napsan Beach—offer a diverse ranger of experiences for tourists looking for relaxation and escape from the stresses of everyday life. The sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the feel of sand underfoot can all help to create a calming and peaceful atmosphere.
Nagtabon Beach is a secluded and unspoiled 900-meter long beach that is perfect for those seeking a quiet escape from the crowds. It offers beautiful blue waters, fine sand, and stunning sceneries. Visitors can also enjoy surfing, snorkeling, and other water activities.
Talaudyong Beach is known for its stunning sunset views, crystal clear waters, and fine white sand. It’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Visitors can also enjoy beach volleyball, frisbee, and other outdoor games.
Napsan Beach offers a unique experience for visitors who want to witness the local fishing culture. It features a stretch of fine white sand, clear waters, and a stunning view of the sunset. Visitors can also watch fishermen bring in their daily catch and buy their fresh seafood.
Tagkawayan Beach is a one-kilometer-long open beach perfect for surfing, sunset gazing, and overnight glamping. It offers a picturesque view of the waters leading to the West Philippine Sea and boasts fine white sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s a perfect spot for visitors who want to enjoy a serene and relaxing atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
8. Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village – Delve into the wonders of nature and culture at the Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village, located approximately 20 km north of the city center. Observe the butterfly garden, botanical garden, and tribal village for an entrance fee of P150 per person.
9. Plaza Cuartel – Dive into history at Plaza Cuartel, a historical site located in the city center. Entrance is free, and you can learn about its rich history.
It serves as a reminder of Puerto Princesa’s past and the sacrifices made by prisoners of war during World War II. The site was once a garrison used by the Japanese as a prison camp where American soldiers were held captive. In December 1944, the Japanese soldiers burned the prisoners alive. Today, the ruins of the old garrison and a memorial marker serve as a tribute to those who lost their lives during the war, making Plaza Cuartel a significant site for both locals and tourists to visit.
10. Viet Ville – The place is located in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It is about 5 kilometers from the city center and can be easily reached by tricycle or taxi.
One of the highlights of visiting Viet Ville is the opportunity to enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the restaurant that can be found within the area. Some of the popular dishes that can be enjoyed include pho, banh mi, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes.
Enjoy your trip!