puerto-princesa-subterranean-river-copy2

The Budget Travel Guide to PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Philippines

Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan, is one of my favorite cities in the world and probably the local city I loved the most.  It is one of the largest cities in the Philippines based on land area. Yet, it is brimming with countless natural wonders, topped with good food, outstanding cleanliness, and friendly, disciplined people. The best part, the tourism industry here is so organized that exploring is never a problem even if it’s your first time to set foot on this unique paradise.

 

How to Get to Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa is a major tourist destination in the Philippines. Thus, all major airlines — Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Seair/Tiger Airways, and Zest Air — have direct flights here from Manila. Here are the airlines that fly to Puerto Princesa and from where:

  • Cebu Pacific Air – Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo
  • PAL Express – Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Busuanga
  • Seair/Tiger Airways Philippines – Manila
  • Zest Airways – Manila, Cebu

The airport is also within the city proper and most hotels and attractions are just a tricycle ride away.

Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa: Hotels and Inns

The biggest concentration of accommodations in Puerto Princesa is in the city center. Unless you want to spend the night on an island, then I strongly recommend staying in the city proper so you could also experience the sedated urban vibe. This will expose you to the many restaurants, bars, and shops that the city can offer.

Here are some of the budget hotels and inns that I have already had the pleasure of staying at.

  • Casa Linda. A small family hotel at the heart of Puerto Princesa, Casa Linda’s building and its furniture are built in bamboo and wood. It really has a homey atmosphere. Located along Trinidad Road near Rizal Ave, it is within walking distance of the restaurant lane which includes Kinabuch’s and Ka Lui.
    P900 per night for a double room
    048-433-2606 or 048-433-2309
  • The Legend Hotel. They used to have a budget option called PADS but it seems like they have stopped it and put it under the Legend banner, too. It looks like the PADS rooms were converted into their so-called Flats and Solo rooms. The rooms are small but cozy and sleek.
    P2100 per night for a double room (with free breakfast)
  • Marianne Home Inn. Another homey place to stay in the city proper, it is popular to backpackers. They have family, double, and single rooms. They also have a superior room that can accommodate up to 7 people for only P3500.
    P1,500 for a double room. P395 per extra bed.

I’ll be updating the list above as soon as I try more.

Where to Eat in Puerto Princesa: Restaurants

Rizal Avenue in the city center is flanked with a number of must-try restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines ranging from American favorites to Pinoy delicacies. Here are three establishments whose tables I have sat at.

where to eat in puerto princesa
Ka Lui
Ka Lui
Balinsasayaw
Balinsasayaw
Kinabuch's
Kinabuch’s
  • Ka Lui. Arguably the most famous in the city, Ka Lui offers Pinoy seafood specialties. They also give a complimentary fruit salad served on a halved coconut. You need to have prior reservation to secure a seat. Book in advance.
    Address: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa
    Suggested budget: P250 per pax
  • Kinabuch’s. An open-air bar and grill type. This is where you should head for if you want beer to go with your dinner. And in case you miss sampling the notorious tamilok, a mollusk best eaten raw, this is the place for that last chance to try it!
    Address: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa
    Suggested budget: P200 per pax
  • Balinsasayaw Restaurant. An unassuming restaurant offering cheap to mid-range Pinoy dishes. The place has this island vibe, thanks to the nipa and bamboo huts! A value meal costs P79 and a drink P49.
    Suggested Budget: P130 per pax

There are more. You’ll find them all lined up along Rizal Avenue. You might also want to try those barbeque stalls along the road and have some isaw!

What to Do in Puerto Princesa: Tours

Most hotels and travel agencies offer arranged tours. While they are convenient, many of them are easy to do on your own, which will bring down the cost dramatically. Below are the most popular tours in Puerto Princesa.

  • Honda Bay Tour. Travel agencies and hotels usually offer this tour for P1,100 per person. Pull a do-it-yourself and you’ll end up saving a lot especially if you’re part of a group. Take a trike to Lourdes Wharf and ask the driver to pick you up hours later. Roundtrip costs from P300 to P500. At the wharf, you can rent a boat for P1,100 to P1,300 depending on the size of the boat and the size of your group. The boatman will take you to at least 3 islands. You can easily split the cost among yourselves.
  • Underground River Tour. This tour will take you on a two-hour drive to Sabang Beach, which is the takeoff point to the Subterranean River. Arranged tours cost P1300 to P1600 per person inclusive of a buffet lunch and round trip land and boat transfers. I suggest arranging with a tour operator for this one if you don’t want to go through the hassle of doing the paperwork and securing a vehicle to Sabang Beach and back.
  • Puerto Princesa City Tour. A half-day tour that will show you around some attractions within the city. The itinerary usually includes Butterfly Garden, Mitra’s Ranch, Plaza Cuartel, Crocodile Farm, and Bakers’ Hill. Tour operators’ price tag on this tour is at P600 per person but you can hire a tricycle instead for P600 per tricycle, which can accommodate up to 4 peeps.
  • Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour. A night of watching fireflies and the stars. A small boat will take you deeper into the mangrove forest in pitch darkness and the boatman will help you spot these incandescent creatures and identify the constellations above. Pre-arranged tours cost P1500 per person. Do it yourself and you’ll end up paying P600 for a boat that can accommodate up to 4 people (including the boatman).

If you have more days, I strongly suggest going even further north to Port Barton or San Vicente. Or even El Nido!

Places to Visit in Puerto Princesa: Attractions

Here is a short list of places I have visited in Puerto Princesa. Give the photo a click to take you to a more detailed chronicling of my experience at each stop!

places to visit in puerto princesa

Honda Bay
Honda Bay

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Sabang Beach
Sabang Beach

Palawan Wildlife Rescue Center (formerly Crocodile Farm)
Palawan Wildlife Rescue Center

Palawan Butterfly Garden
Palawan Butterfly Garden

Mitra's Ranch
Mitra’s Ranch

Baker's Hill
Baker’s Hill

Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Plaza Cuartel
Plaza Cuartel

Sample Itinerary

Ready to fly to Puerto Princesa now? Not quite. It’s time to build an itinerary. If you’re gunning for only a weekend trip, you’re in luck. Below is my suggested itinerary for a 3D/2N getaway.

Day 1: ARRIVAL, HONDAY BAY TOUR
08:00 am: Arrival, check in at the hotel
10:00 am: Honda Bay Tour
03:00 pm: Rest, freshen up
06:00 pm: Early dinner at Ka Lui
07:30 pm: Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour
12:00 am: Sleep

Day 2: UNDERGROUND RIVER
06:00 am – Wake up, quick breakfast at hotel
07:00 am – Underground River Tour
12:00 nn – Lunch at Sabang Beach
04:00 pm – Back in city proper
07:00 pm – Dinner and inuman at Kinabuch’s
10:00 pm – SLEEP

Day 3: CITY TOUR
06:00 am – Wake up, quick breakfast
07:00 am – Half-day city tour
12:00 nn – Lunch at Balinsasayaw Grill
02:30 pm – Fly back to Manila

Needless to say, please make the necessary adjustments to match your flight schedule. Again, if you have more time, I strongly recommend paying San Vicente, Port Barton, or El Nido a visit, too. :)

Budget

To give you an idea on how much you might be spending on your trip, here’s the breakdown of my expenses during my last visit to Puerto Princesa. I can’t promise you that you will be spending as much. This is just to give you an idea.

  • P900 – Accommodations (Casa Linda, P900/night for a room for two)
  • P375 – Honda Bay Tour (P100 for trike fee and P275 for boat rental)
  • P1300 - Subterranean River Tour (inclusive of transpo and buffer lunch)
  • P300 – City Tour (P600 per tricycle, 2 people per trike)
  • P1100 – Total food expenses (incuding Ka Lui and Kinabuchs dinner)
  • P500 – Pasalubong (Baker’s Hill)
  • P200 – Tips to drivers and other things
  • P250 – Terminal fees
  • Php 4,925 – TOTAL EXPENSES

If you can avail of a cheaper fare, do so. Also, you can still bring the cost lower if there will be more of you in the trip. We were a group of 4. Say, if there were 6 in the group, it could have been A LOT cheaper.


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Yoshke Dimen

Captain Dreamer at PhilippineBeaches.org
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 Philippine Blog Awards and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.

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  • http://jeffzapanta.com JeffZ

    Hi Poor Traveler.

    I was just wondering if may mga vans for rent rin instead of tricycles for the city and honda bay tours? which will be good to up to 8 pax? :)

    Thanks!

    • admin

      I’m sure there are. Unfortunately, I don’t know any contact details. :(

  • http://www.amazingpalawan.com Plypox

    Not bad for a budget trip, I estimated 10k for the most on a 3 day trip. Cool Photos, specially the croc.

    • The Poor Traveler

      Thank you! :)

  • Tresors Caches

    Can I get the contact number for casa Linda? TY.

  • charmcaster

    _Thanku for the info.. we are already booked for puerto princesa this coming january.. wet got the no.of kuya ding for our transportation when we get there.. Again Thanku ^_^

  • http://fruitypc.blogspot.com Glen

    Hi!

    I superlike your site. Got me inspired to visit Palawan.
    And this kuya Ding is supercool.

    I wonder if he still has that number. I’m planing to visit Palawan on October, 2012.

    • Rina

      PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR IS FULLY BOOKED FOR THE WHOLE OF APRIL AND MAY 2012
      As a result of the award of New7Wonder of the Natural World. The Underground River Tour is very popular.
      We would encourage early bookings (at least a week prior to arrival) to avoid disappointment as there is only a very limited number of people per day are given permits to visit this natural wonder.
      This limitation was made in an effort by the local government to lessen the environmental impact that humans may bring to the natural habitat of endangered species which are endemic to the Underground Caves.
      Important: Please bring a valid Identification Card during the tour in order to validate your permit at the tourism office in Sabang Port prior to your departure for the Underground River

      • The Poor Traveler

        Thanks for sharing this Rina! Very helpful! :)

      • Diwa

        Where can we book early? We are headed there for June especially for the underground river tour.. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003407267015 Abhi

      sir this is a great site pls help me also to promote my shop, i can send you the pctruie right away and all the prices of rentals, and rate if we are going to pick-up the motorcycle in elnido, with very low price thank u sir, i hope if you visit puerto again we will meet.

  • http://fruitypc.blogspot.com Glen

    Hi!

    Can you verify on your expenses for the accommodation? It says P900/N.

    If you stayed for 3D/2N then would it be 1,800?

    Thanks.

    Glen

    • online_me

      I think it’s correct since the room is good for two already..

    • Theo

      Hi Glen,
      Are you still going to Puerto in Oct ’12? I am going w my bro-in-law and nephew for the first time and am interested in the possibility of joining another small group (or two) to curb our expenses. No worries either. I can be emailed @ jojo_tupaz@yahoo.com. No pressure to reply if you don’t feel comfortable…Tnx.

  • jannah

    can you recommend other cheap hotels or inns in puerto princesa?

  • Lena

    Hi! Is it okay if I also contact Kuya Ding for his services? (since you posted his number, might as well ask for this, right? haha)

  • genny polido

    hi.. is kuya ding’s number still existing.. hehehe.. thanks

  • Vanda

    Hello, congratulations on the website! I am a Brazilian professor and I am writing a book about world heritage sites. I saw the photos of Puerto Princesa Underground River and I am coming to ask about the possibility of having permission to use some of them to illustrate my book. All the credits would be given. I thank you for the kindness of an answer.All the best,

  • renen quinto

    nice “diary.” my wife and I together with my two kids are planning a trip there. I’m just waiting for the CEB promo rate, I almost got one good flight sched, but didn’t happen, anyway, i only got a very small budget, but when i found your site, i smile and realized that my budget is enough for a city tour and honda bay tour, i’ll pass (maybe) on the ppur, because my youngest (3 y/o)may not enjoy it (she’s too young for a cave maybe).

  • dex

    Hello, I would like to ask some details about the events below:
    (1) How many hours required for the Honda Bay Tour? Can a half-day be OK?
    (2) Your Underground river tour started early and ended what time? Because if it ended before lunch and you had lunch at sabang and so, you have the afternoon free? Because we are planing to have our City tour after the underground river. is that possible?
    (3) Is kuya ding’s number still the same?

    Anticipating for your response. Thanks! ;)

  • Brew

    Hi,

    Nice site.

    yung air fare po ba standard or my nga low prices po? tuwing kelan?

    saka estimatedly kung 2kami, magkano kaya dapat budget kasam airfare, accommodations saka ung mga side tours?

    thanks! :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Brew! Nope. We got promo seats! You just need to be quick in booking. Follow airlines on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to know when there’s a SALE. :)

  • michelle

    this is so helpful! ive gone to puerto princesa years ago with my friends and paid almost similar to what the hotel was asking from you for the tour packages. I’m going back there in March (i booked early via airphil’s promo) this time with family (there’s 6 of us so imagine how much this would cost) and the info you included here slashes more than 50% of what I was expecting to pay for the packages. Did I say this is a HUGE help? hehe. Thanks!

    Ndi ako makaget over! i love u na! haha! Sana yan pa din number ni kuya ding! :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Glad I was able to help, Michelle. If rates have already changed, let me know so I can update this post, too! :)

  • veronica cruz

    I like your schedule I will do the same thank you for this.

    • The Poor Traveler

      No problem, Veronica! :)

  • star

    can i have kuya ding’s #?

    thank you

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Star, it’s 09186620495. I’m just not sure if it’s still working. Try to reach him though. :)

  • ella

    Hi Poor traveler! I wonder kung kasya ang six sa tricycle and sa boat? And what is the name of the agency where you got the Underground River tour? Thank you very much! :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Ella, yes, kasya. But 6 might be too masikip and uncomfortable sa tricycle. Consider dividing your group into 2. I forgot the name of the agency. Wuuuu :)

  • http://yahoo.com debbie de leon

    HI THEO, DIS DSL WE ARE GOING TO PPS DIS OCT. WE ARE A GROUP OF SIX I WAS THINKING IF U WOULD LIKE TO JOIN IN OUR GROUP, THAT MAYBE LESSEN OUR TOUR EXPENSES.

  • karenderia

    500php lang ang island hopping ko :D nagcommute lang ako. may nakilala kung tricycle driver tapos sakto may kamaganak syang bangkero! hahahaaha tapos ako langagisa sa bangka.. Private pa! yabang.. Beat it!

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hahaha, thanks for sharing Karenderia! I’ll try my best to beat that when I visit PPS again!!! :P

      • shancelle

        hi there. im so happy to have fôund and read your pôsts. this is very helpful. thank u.

  • http://none Orale

    Hi Poor Traveler, im a budget traveler as well, how much does it cost now for the subterranean river tour?

    • The Poor Traveler

      Not sure about current rates, but the tour I booked two years ago was P1300. :)

  • Jun

    Hello there! I would like to ask if the honda bay tour can be started at around 2:30 PM or if meron po kayo nung schedule nila.. and how many hours will the tour take?.. 1:30 po kasi arrival namin.. hoping to catch all tours in PP.. I’d greatly appreciate your response! More travels to come for you! :) :) :)

    • The Poor Traveler

      Hi Jun! I think so. I’m not sure, though. But feeling ko meron pa ng 2:30.

      • genevierefreedman

        Lugi ka. If I were you, go with the city tour first para sulit Honda Bay experience mo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juntamor Hilario F. Tamor Jr.

    thank you, very informative…..

  • Drake

    Im planning to go there again by April 2014 with my partner. hopefully we can join other groups to lessen our expenses. And the itinerary was so perfect for our schedule.

  • http://www.chiaracokieng.com/ Chiara Cokieng

    Hi Yoshke, this is very helpful. Thank you.

    By the way, is it easy to hire a tricycle and boatman on the spot there? No need to contact one right now?

    Thanks so much again!

  • Monershesha

    Saktong sakto yung blog nyo. I just bought a promo tickets from cebu pacific roundtrip for me and my hubby. Sa july pa naman sya but really dont have idea kung paano pagdating namin don. Thank you so much its very helpful.God bless and more power! =)

  • Big brother

    Try Big Brother Condotel, 2,500 good for 6, then 1,500 good for 4. bed size for the 1,500 is 2 twin bed, medyo maliit but okay naman for that price. you can ask extra bed for 350. yung 2,500 naman has 2 twin bed and 2 single bed(double deck).

    It has nice bathroom (hot water, bidet, clean tiles), the smaller room has kitchen, you can cook there. it has cable and split type aircon, it was sulit!

    medyo madulas lang yung hallway lalo na kapag maulan, so be careful.

  • Jerome C. Eijansantos

    ahhahah – so ancina kita ara! mention2x ahaha

  • http://www.facebook.com/lorlyn.galut Lorlyn Galut

    a beautiful wonderful place…

  • Soube Morad
  • Harold Bobila Francisco

    See you next year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/palaopaz Paz Palao

    its so nice to be here

  • http://www.facebook.com/tove.kasmayr Tove Kasmayr

    Skønt :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/nae.bia Nae Widyawati

    i want to going there someday

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.schr.3 Peter Schr

    was inside…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/kraystle.c.quicoy King Canete Quicoy

    at the underground river entrance point

  • Ayie Sierra

    Hi, Dun po sa iterinary niyo. Ask ko lang po kung may half day lang po ba na tour for Underground River saka sa Honda Bay or Whole day po talaga siya? saka what time po ang start ng tour? 5d4n po kami. sa June po namin balak pumunta. Thank you sa blog niyo po marami rami po akong nakuhang tips. :)