Travel list: Puerto Princesa in 48 hours

June 29, 2017 - 8:01 AM
5702
Puerto Princesa City has a lot to offer--island hopping, sight-seeings, vibrant local cuisine, and more. One of the popular destinations for tourists is Pandan Island. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

From white sand beaches to endemic wildlife, Palawan has many attractions that continue to charm both local and foreign tourists alike.

The country’s last frontier, the island has been endowed with lush landscapes and pristine waters—paving the way for it to be named as the World’s Best Island by US-based travel magazines Conde Nast Traveler, among other recognitions.

Palawan is known for its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Besides scenic and picturesque El Nido and Coron, Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa, is home to a number of must-visit destinations as well—including the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Make sure to experience the island’s boat tour and discover other attractions the city has to offer. Check our list of places to visit and things to do during a two-day visit in the city.

Inside Puerto Princesa International Airport. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

1. Explore Puerto Princesa’s new international airport.
Just this May 2017, Puerto Princesa International Airport has been inaugurated, and is now operational. According to reports, the project involved the construction of new passenger and cargo building, apron, taxiways and navigation facilities. Moreover, the airport is seen to boost the province’s tourism, and can accommodate about two million passengers annually.

A peek inside the vibrant rooms of Hue Hotel and Resorts-Puerto Princesa.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon

2. Have a relaxing stay at newly opened Hue Hotels and Resorts.
If you haven’t decided yet on which place to stay, check out the newly opened Hue Hotel in Puerto Princesa. It boasts of amenities including a spa, a roof deck pool, and gyms among others.

A destination in itself, Hue Hotel stands out from the rest by allowing travelers to experience the local culture through interior design elements from the hotel’s lobby to each of the 122 rooms.

Matiz’ ‘ginataang santol’ (left) and Sriracha chicken.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

3. Satisfy your cravings at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar.
Hue Hotels and Resorts-Puerto Princesa’s in-house restaurant, Matiz, is a worthwhile visit for some Filipino, Spanish, and Vietnamese fare. According to he hotel’s general manager, Chris Guballa, Matiz is currently the only Spanish restaurant in the city.

 

Matiz’ thrice-cooked bagnet. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Must-try dishes include some comfort food like their thrice-cooked bagnet, boneless crispy pata, and ginataang santol. Chef Gabby Pratts’ paella is from a three generation recipe and one of the restaurant’s bestselling dishes.

Try different activities at the island including their newest attraction, the helmet diving.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

4. Soak up the natural atmosphere of Pandan Island.
Local travel companies offer guided trips to Pandan Island. Legendary Tours, for instance, offers the use of speed boat, water activities such as snorkeling and helmet diving, a buffet lunch, and a side trip to Splash House, where one can learn from their aqua-culture educational tour.

5. Immerse yourself at the Vietnamese Village.

Viet Ville Restaurant.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Puerto Princesa has become a home to Vietnamese refugees since the 1970’s after the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese Village was built in 1997 and since then has paved the way for the locals to discover and love Vietnamese cuisine.While many of the refugees have already moved out of the city, the place has become a tourist attraction for authentic yet inexpensive Vietnamese dishes.

After your island hopping tour drop by the Viet Ville Restaurant, and have a hearty meal of pho, banh mi, and coffee.

6. Book an Iwahig firefly watching and stargazing tour.
A highly recommendable activity, the tour does not only involve watching fireflies magnificently illuminating the riverbanks of Iwahig; it also features a stargazing activity, where your trained tour guide—along with some humor—will refresh your knowledge about constellations.

Before the firefly watching tour, tourists feast on Filipino dishes first beside the river.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

The experience was calming—slowly cruising the serene river through a paddle boat while surrounded by the dancing lights of fireflies, and blanketed by a mesmerizing sight of the night sky dotted by numerous sparkling stars.

7. Visit Baker’s Hill.
If you want instagram-worthy photos, head to this place. Like a mini theme park, Baker’s Hill has attractions that are photo-friendly, has relaxing spaces to pass your time idly, and has a bakeshop famous for its freshly baked hopia and other pastry treats that are perfect for pasalubong (souvenir).

Snap a photo or two at Baker’s Hill’s selfie-friendly spaces.  Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

One of my unique finds in their bakeshop is tuyo pastillas, which looks unlikely at first but was surprisingly a good treat. It is a sweet, chewy treat covered in dark cocoa powder with tuyo (salted, dried fish) filling at the center. For me, the sweet and salty flavors just like the familiar taste of tuyo and champorado (chocolate rice porridge) is satisfying.

8. Buy local goodies at Department of Agriculture-Palawan multipurpose cooperative

?Buy natural wild civet coffee at the Department of Agriculture-Palawan multipurpose cooperative. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.
The cooperative sells delicacies like civet coffee, cashew nuts, tamarind candies, and other souvenirs that are all locally-made.