Located in the island province of Palawan, Puerto Princesa boasts several nature attractions that earned it the moniker "The City in the Forest". Popularly known as the site of the world-renowned Underground River, the city rewards travelers with an array of other natural, cultural, culinary, and historical places to explore.
Puerto Princesa is also known as the gateway to another top Palawan destination, El Nido, but it's worth spending a few days here to enjoy the attractions it offers. Explore the local food scene, heritage towns, and great outdoors surrounding the city as part of your Puerto Princesa itinerary.
To help you plan your trip, here are some highly recommended Puerto Princesa tours you shouldn't miss when visiting this Palawan destination:
Experience a cultural immersion and nature learning by visiting the Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village. Aside from seeing an assorted set of colorful flapping butterflies, you will also learn about their life-cycle and mating behaviors. Other attractions of the garden include several endemic wildlife creatures such as the Palawan peacock and the Palawan bearcat.
On the far end of the Butterfly Garden, you will find the tribal village built to mimic the traditional villages of the original settlers of Palawan. At the village, you can interact with some members of the Palaw'an tribe (or Palau-an tribe) as they show you their crafts like their ancient language called the "Palawan paleography" and make you listen to them playing their musical instruments.
Take advantage of this tour by also buying some handicrafts and woven products from the Palau-an tribe members as these objects are considered as some of the finest souvenir items you can buy in Palawan.
One of the main highlights of a Puerto Princesa City Tour is the historic Plaza Cuartel, a ruins of an old garrison housing a network of tunnels underground. This is a landmark that commemorates the grim events of the infamous Palawan Massacre that happened during World War II. On December 14, 1944, Japanese soldiers executed more than 150 Filipino and American prisoners of war by burning them alive. They were doused by gasoline, according to the accounts of 11 survivors.
The heroism of the soldiers now serves as a reminder of the grim realities of war through an outdoor war museum and shrine built in Plaza Cuartel. After your visit to Plaza Cuartel, you can walk towards the nearby Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral which started out as a small chapel until it was converted to a Cathedral in the 1960s.
The name of the late former Philippine Senator and Speaker of the House Ramon Mitra Jr. is a familiar name in Philippine politics. In Puerto Princesa, the name is even more respected thanks to his family's property, the Rancho Sta. Monica or popularly known as Mitra Ranch. It is one of the city's most popular tourist spots.
A tour of Mitra Ranch will reward you with a chance to relax with nature. You can also try outdoor activities like horseback riding, zip-line flying, jumping on a trampoline.
Mitra Mansion also doubles as a mini-museum housing various memorabilia of the family. There is also a view deck where you can see the surrounding countryside.
You don't have to waddle in the waters of a swampy river to see crocodiles up close. In Puerto Princesa, you can join a crocodile farm tour to the Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Conservation Centre or simply known as the Crocodile Farm.
Doubling as a research center for crocodiles and other local endangered species, it is a great place to learn a thing or two about nature conservation.
The more than 8-acre conservation center houses hundreds of saltwater and freshwater crocodiles. A mini-zoo is also located inside the property as well as a hatching area where you can see and even pet adorable newly-hatched crocodiles with supervision.
A project of a community-based sustainable tourism project gave birth to this outdoor attraction catering to adventure seekers. Centered on a 75-feet tall moss-grown limestone rock called the Ugong Rock, visitors here can enjoy an array of thrilling activities like rock climbing, spelunking, and base jumping.
There is also a zip line where you can experience flying like Superman while enjoying the 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and lush fields.
Ugong Rock is a popular stop for tourists coming to and from the World UNESCO Heritage Site Puerto Princesa Subterranean River or Underground River, not only because of its proximity but also due to its adventure appeal.
Ugong Rock was also selected as a pit stop for one of the challenges shot in Palawan for an episode from one of the earlier seasons of The Amazing Race.
The rivers of Iwahig and Irawan, both hidden inside a canopy of mangrove forests, hosts thousands of fireflies that light up the darkened sky during the night. A tour to either of the two rivers, will take you on a paddleboat cruise over its still-waters and slicing through a jungle dotted with mangrove trees.
On a clear night, you will see the gleaming illuminations of the fireflies and the clear constellations of the sky, all conspires to create a fascinating picture of what the real beauty of nature is all about.
Travelers riding a motorcycle sporting a good tan is a common sight here because beach-hopping by land is always a top thing to do in Puerto Princesa.
Other than the island-hopping tour on a boat, you can easily explore beaches in Puerto Princesa by land as it is surrounded by a lengthy stretch of magnificent shoreline gleaming with white sands and azure-colored waters.
Beach destinations like Sabang Beach, Nagtabon Beach (also a surfing spot), and Talaudyong Beach are just a few of the popular ones. Lined with towering coconut trees and covered with powdery sands, these beaches are the perfect places to enjoy a morning or an afternoon of beach relaxation.
When you're in Nagtabon Beach, do check out the vegan food truck called "Surf Surf Cafe" where you can even ask the owner James Betia for some surf lessons as well.
If you fancy a good meal with a great ambience, head out to Baker's Hill. It is located on top of a hill near the city center of Puerto Princesa.
They sell a variety of baked goods and is particularly known for their version of the hopia (bean-filled pastry) which comes in different flavors. Aside from these savory snacks, they also serve a wide selection of dishes of pasta, pizza, sandwiches, chicken varieties, and some local specialties such as the Palawan delicacy Tamilok (woodworm drenched in vinegar).
Before or after your meal, spend some time walking around the property's spacious garden where you can have a picture taken with the many fun statues and colorful flowers seen all over the well-manicured garden. Baker's Hill also has a view deck where you can gaze at the picturesque panoramic view of Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa is often overlooked in favor of more popular Palawan destinations like Coron and El Nido. But the islands dotting the coast of Puerto Princesa possess their own charms that would appeal to the lovers of the great outdoors. White sandy shores edged by waters teeming with marine life characterize the islands around Honda Bay.
Honda Bay is easily accessible from the city center of Puerto Princesa via a short ride to the wharf where you can board motorized boats for your island-hopping tour.
Island hopping in Puerto Princesa will let you exploring the soft sandy beaches of of Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island.
Most Honda Bay island hopping packages include a sumptuous lunch at Cowrie Island with the beautiful backdrop of the ocean. Take your time frolicking on the sandbar of Luli Island and snorkel to see the marine life-rich waters of Starfish Island.
Doing the Underground River tour to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a must-add to any Palawan itinerary.
As Puerto Princesa's main tourism draw, this natural marvel more than lives up to its billing. The Underground River's 8.2-kilometer explorable length is laden with spectacular limestone karts featuring impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations that were shaped by nature for hundreds of thousands of years.
A tour here is also made more memorable by the anecdotes from the tour guides who describe each cave attraction in a comedic manner to make the experience more memorable. The Underground River is surrounded by a lush forest inhabited by playful monkeys and a host of creatures such as a variety of bird species, reptiles, and other mammals.
If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you can opt for a hiking tour from Sabang and into the forest going to the Underground River. Most tourists though, prefer the usual Underground River tours via a motorized boat. Whichever tour you prefer, expect a marvelous time at the Underground River of Puerto Princesa.
Explore the Wonders of Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa is a natural marvel of a destination itself. No wonder it remains one of the main tourist destinations of the Philippines because of the countless gems it has to offer to travelers.
Puerto Princesa offers vacations with a laid-back vibe, endless stretch of beautiful countryside, powdery white sandy beaches, thriving gastronomic scene, and a fascinating set of historical and cultural sites. Filliping up your Puerto Princesa itinerary will be easy with the many wonderful places to visit and activities to do.