Cities & Towns

Puerto Princesa City Visitors Guide

Written by Patrick

ABOUT SEE & DO EAT & DRINK STAY BUDGET ADVICE

Travel Insurance

ABOUT

If you want to see what the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines looks like, then book a trip to Puerto Princesa City. It boasts of a number of attractions within the city proper, beautiful beaches less than an hour away from the city center, lots of restaurants with delectable and unforgettable dishes, and of course several hotels to fit anyone’s budget. It is also the access point to the famous Underground River which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It may not be a shopping mecca because of the limited number of malls but you may want to set aside some budget for shopping… for pearls which the city has an abundant supply considering its natural resources. Puerto Princesa is the capital and the only city in the province of Palawan however, it isn’t as busy as other highly urbanized cities in the country. Actually, it is more like a big town with loads of tourists on a daily basis.

Great for those who are in constant search for adventure, Puerto Princesa has something to offer to tourists of various ages, economic status, and nationalities.

This brief guide to Puerto Princesa City will let you know how to get there, what to do, eat, and drink, where to stay, and must-see spots.

Location

Puerto Princesa Location Map

Best Time to Visit

It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season.  Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April.  These are the summer months in this country.

Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.

The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.

TIP:  Booking for summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.

The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances.  Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well.  This happens frequently so beware!

This guide recommends traveling to Puerto Princesa City in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.

Fast Facts

Destination Name:
Puerto Princesa City
Local Time:
PST (UTC+8)
Best Time of Year to Visit:
December – May
Population:
Approximately 255,166
Language(s):
Tagalog, Cuyonon, Hiligaynon, English
Currency:
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Exchange Rate:
Approximately 1 USD = 50 PHP click for exact exchange rate
Location:
Luzon (MIMAROPA)
Geographic Coordinates:
9.9672° N 118.7855°E
Area:
2,381.02 km2 (919.3 sq mi)
Neighboring Cities:
None
Neighboring Islands:
Tapul Island
Climate:
Tropical
Clothing:
Lightweight casuals
Religion:
Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Baptist
Best Known For:
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Major Industries:
Agriculture, mining, logging, fishing, oil production, and tourism.
Electricity:
Standard voltage is 220V
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
International Phone Code:
+63-048-XXX-XXXX
Bus Terminal(s):
San Jose Bus Terminal

Getting Here

There are many ways to get to this destination depending on your starting point.  This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while in Puerto Princesa City: Rome2Rio and PHBUS.  The major ports of entry for this destination are provided below.

BUS TERMINAL

Bus Terminal

San Jose Bus Terminal

PH Bus

Getting Around

The following are the modes of transportation available in Puerto Princesa City …

Bus

Bus

Car for Hire

Car for Hire

Car Rental

Car Rental

Jeepneys

Jeepneys

Motorized Outrigger

Motorized Outrigger

Shuttle

Shuttle

Taxi

Taxi

Tricycles

Tricycles

Motorcycles

Motorcycles

Bicycles

Bicycles

Rome to Rio

SEE & DO

The following are popular places to see and activities to enjoy while in Puerto Princesa City.

1 | Puerto Princesa Underground River

Your trip to Puerto Princesa City wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Puerto Princesa Underground River, officially called the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range, the park has a stunning limestone karst mountain  landscape and is navigable by boat. The park boasts of its flora and fauna making it an ideal habitat for biodiversity conservation. Tourists, both local and foreign, always flock to this UNESCO World Heritage Site hence it is advisable to arrange your tour ahead of time so you can secure a slot for yourself.

2 | Honda Bay

Honda Bay is a must-see destination for beach-bummers when exploring Puerto Princesa City. Sta. Lourdes Wharf, the jump off point of Honda Bay island hopping tour, is approximately 30 minutes away from the city center. Islands usually included in the tour are Pambato Reef, Luli Island, Pandan Island, Star Fish Island, and Cowrie Island.

3 | Kamia Bay Inflatable Island

Puerto Princesa is more than just beautiful beaches and lush greenery. It boasts of its man-made attractions too such as the new Kamia Bay Inflatable Island. Located in Binusalian Bay, this inflatable island is approximately 40 minutes away from the heart of the city. It has a huge floating obstacle course that will challenge your balancing, climbing, and sliding skills. It has a huge floating inflatable slide too so get yourself ready for this adventure.

4 | Baker’s Hill

Originally a bakery, Baker’s Hill has evolved into what it is today – a bakery with a theme park and additional establishments such as pizza house, snack bar, souvenir shop, and view deck. If you are looking for something to bring home to family and friends, this is one of the places not to miss.

5 | Mitra’s Ranch

Not so far from Baker’s Hill is the Mitra Ranch. The location offers a stunning view of the city but apart from that, there’s nothing much to do here.

6 | Puerto Princesa Cathedral

This famous landmark has a unique architectural design that is flocked by devotees to worship and hear holy mass.

7 | Plaza Cuartel

This small spot just across the cathedral may look like an ordinary park with trees and benches but it played an important role in the city’s history. The old garrison and tunnels which the ruins can be seen up to this day are the areas where American soldiers were burned alive by the Japanese during World War II.

8 | Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center

Formerly called the Crocodile Farming Institute, the institution now caters to other animals as well thus the current name. Tourists get to explore the place in batches together with a guide. It has a mini forest too where you can see other animals aside from crocodiles. Interested in seeing a skeleton of a crocodile with the body as long as an SUV? This is where you can find it.

9 | Iwahig Firefly Watching

Experience a magical night by watching a flock of firefly while you ride a small boat amidst the lush mangrove forest. It is approximately 45 minutes away from the city center and the road can get bumpy but if you’re in for an adventure and interested in seeing what this is all about, then this is one of the activities you can do at night.

NOTE: The Balayong Festival occurs annually in Puerto Princesa the 4th of March

Klook

EAT & DRINK

The following are flavorful foods to enjoy and restaurants to try while in Puerto Princesa City.

1 | KaLui Restaurant

Good food and great ambiance? You can have both in KaLui Restaurant. The walls of this upscale restaurant are lined with paintings and wood carvings depicting Palawan culture and tradition. For the menu, you get to enjoy the freshest seafood cooked in various ways from lobster to tuna steak, shrimp tempura and so much more. The restaurant is often booked especially during dinner so make sure to make reservations ahead of time.

2 | Badjao Seafront Restaurant

Fancy eating in a restaurant in the middle of a mangrove area and with a view of the sea? Then head over to Badjao Seafood Restaurant. In addition to Filipino cuisine which is their specialty, this rustic al fresco restaurant serves international cuisines too. The restaurant is 20 minutes away from the city center but it often gets full so there must be something about the restaurant tourists need to check out. Making a reservation is highly recommended.

3 | Haim Chicken Inato

Lovers of grilled chicken should not miss this restaurant. This is one of the first chicken houses in the city and people often come back for its delicious chicken barbecue. Aside from chicken, they also serve seafood and other local dishes and refreshment.

4 | La Terrasse

Conscious about what’s in your food? Then La Terrasse is for you! The restaurant boasts of using the freshest ingredients and organic vegetables, and not using additives or MSG. Their adobo overload and Palawan nougat are a crowd favorite. Additionally, the restaurant’s great and classy ambiance completes the overall dining experience.

5 | Captain Ribs

This restaurant is known for its reasonably priced flavorful dishes, gorgeous atmosphere and friendly staff. The drinks are great too!

6 | Ayahay

Named after the local word, relax, Ayahay is a line of craft beers by Palaweño Brewery. Locally sourced ingredients such as honey, mangoes, coconuts, and chili.

KNOWN FOR: Tamilok

WHERE TO STAY

There are many different types of accommodations available in Puerto Princesa City ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts.  The following are our top choices for each price range.

1 | Hibiscus Garden Inn (Budget)

2 | Floral Villarosa (Mid-Range)

3 | Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel (Luxury | Resort)

When doing research online of where to stay for specific destination, we use the following sites to conduct our research:

Book your room with these trusted online booking sites.  Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive.  We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:

TIP: Hibiscus Garden Inn is the best property to experience this destination.

BUDGET

Suggested Budget

This chart is your guide to get an idea of how much to budget daily in Puerto Princesa City.   Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.

ACCOMMODATION
FOOD
TRANSPORTATION
ATTRACTIONS
AVERAGE DAILY COST
Budget
Accommodation: $7
Food: $5
Transportation: $5
Attractions: $20
Average Daily Cost: $37
Mid-Range
Accommodation: $30
Food: $15
Transportation: $10
Attractions: $25
Average Daily Cost: $80
Luxury
Accommodation: $70
Food: $30
Transportation: $15
Attractions: $30
Average Daily Cost: $145

Travel Costs

Accommodation

A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD).  For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).

Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast.  For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night. AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night.  For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.

Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD).  However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.

We use and recommend booking online to save money using HostelWorldAgodaBooking.com, and AirBnB

Food

Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD).  For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD).  For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD).  Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food.  Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.

Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD).  A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).

A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person.  However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!

Transportation

There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly. 

Public Transportation is cheap.  Bus services on the islands are inexpensive.  Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).

On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips. 

Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap.  Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.  

To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly.  There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option. 

Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD).  However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel.  It’s only recommended if you have limited time. 

We recommend booking online to save money using: SkyscannermomondoKayakkiwi.com.

Attractions & Activities

Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter. 

Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less.  You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!  

Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).

The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.

Always book your tours and activities when you arrive.  Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will.  Booking tours online is almost always more expensive. 

Typical Costs in Puerto Princesa City in 2020:

  • Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
  • Budget Hotel:  700 PHP ($14 USD) night
  • Mid-Range Hotel:  1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
  • Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
  • Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
  • Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
  • 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
  • Jeepney Ride: 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD) ride
  • Tricycle Ride:  20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
  • Taxi: 75-500 PHP ($1.50-10 USD) ride – use GrabTaxi app
  • Long-Distance Bus Ride: 400-500 PHP ($8–10 USD) ride
  • Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
  • Domestic Flight: 2,000-3,500 PHP ($40–70 USD) flight
  • Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip
 

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ADVICE

The following is some of our best advice on traveling to this destination. This is your guide on what you need to know BEFORE you go to Puerto Princesa City!

Tips & Hacks

These Top 10 Tips can help guide you when visiting Puerto Princesa City in the Philippines:

  • Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
  • Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
  • Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
  • Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
  • Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
  • Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
  • It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
  • Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
  • Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
  • Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.

For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Travel Tips & Hacks Guide for the Philippines

Money Matters

The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso.  Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found in  Puerto Princesa City.  If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.

READ MORE: Money in the Philippines: Everything You Need to Know

Health & Safety

Crime

While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Puerto Princesa City, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.

Consult your hotel, resort front desk, or tour guide as they are more likely to give you reliable information about Palawan Island than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.

READ MORE: How to Avoid Scams & Thieves in the Philippines

Safety

There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:

TIP: The best way to avoid problems and stay safe is to travel with a local resident.

Health

Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines. 

The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to. 

The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:

  • Maintain a Balanced Diet
  • Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
  • Get Plenty of Rest
  • Allow Your Body Time to Adjust 
  • Keep Active
  • Sanitize Often 
  • Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
  • Take Your Vitamins
  • Practice Safe Sex
  • Be Prepared Should You Get Sick

READ MORE: Stay Healthy in the Philippines: How to Avoid Getting Sick

Staying Connected

You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.

While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province.  So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.

Recommended Travel Apps

Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling.  Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.

The following is a guide to Top 10 most useful travel apps on our smartphones when traveling in Puerto Princesa City and the Philippines in general:

  1. Grab (taxis/ride shares)
  2. Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
  3. WhatsApp (phone calls)
  4. Skyscanner (flights)
  5. Rome2Rio (transportation)
  6. Agoda (accomodations)
  7. Booking.com (accomodations)
  8. AirBnB (accomodations)
  9. Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
  10. Klook (attractions & activities )

Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.

For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below. 

Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.

READ MORE: The Ultimate List of Travel Apps for the Philippines

Itinerary

Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options. 

We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip.  Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.

VIEW: Puerto Princesa City 7-Day Travel Itinerary

Packing Checklist

The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list.  This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing.   To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list.  Click the link below to download it for FREE now. 

Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: Our Ultimate Packing Guide & Checklist

Things to Remember

There are some things you need to keep in mind to guide you from doing prohibited or illegal activities in Puerto Princesa City or anywhere in the Philippines.

Smoking

There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas.  Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.

Alcohol

The minimum legal drinking age is 18.  Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores.  The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold.  Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit.  Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.

Drugs

Drugs are illegal in the Philippines.  Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana.  It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children.  The penalties are severe … up to and including death.

Nudity

Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated.  Most locals consider it offensive.  There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.

Foreigners & Expats

If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly.  Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.

READ MORE: Practical Information about the Philippines

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About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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