Including the Honda Bay tour and PPUR, spending three days and two nights in Puerto Princesa is just enough to see the local sights around. To help you decide which places to go, I have come up with a list of places to visit just enough for a three day stay.
To start, it is best if you hire a tricycle to get around the city. You will find a lot the moment you step out of the airport. Instead of taxis, tricycle drivers will greet you and ask where they can take you. They will offer tours that you might get interested in. You may get the city tour package. They have fixed prices for each tours but a little haggling won’t hurt like I did. They will tell you which places are included in your tour. If you have some places in mind that are not mentioned in the package, feel free to ask if they could add them in the list for an additional fee of course. Otherwise, you can just hail a tricycle anywhere or take jeepneys/multicabs.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CATHEDRAL
Built in the 1800’s during the Spanish colonization, this church served as a religious refuge since then. Its Gothic design makes you dream about European architecture, although it’s made of cement. The interior boasts stained glass windows and pointed arches. If you’re a Catholic, it’s worth a visit before heading elsewhere.
This is just across Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It is a walled leisure park with rich history. This is a place where approximately 150 American soldiers were burned alive by Japanese in the bunker where a bronze marker now stands on top. Those who lived to tell the story swam their way to Iwahig while the remains of the rest of the Americans were buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, United States. It is overlooking Puerto Princesa wharf so you can totally enjoy the view while sitting and relaxing in one of the benches under the mango trees. Entrance is free!
PALAWAN SPECIAL BATALLION WW-II MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Rizal Avenue, Brgy. Bancao Bancao
This is a privately owned historical museum by the Mendoza’s. It was built primarily as a memory of the owner’s father who was killed by Japanese troops. There is a minimal P30 entrance fee. Operating hours is from 8am-12nn and 1pm-5pm every day. You will see a vintage Buick Roadmaster sedan and a Willys MB Jeep upon entering the compound. Inside the museum are different armors, artilleries, tools and clothes used during the war.
If you’re tired of seeing places and just want to relax, going here after a day of sightseeing is a good idea. Honestly, there is nothing special about it but I find it perfect for killing time, reading a book, taking pictures or just walking around watching people, vendors and the boats that pass by. When night falls, small food stalls behind begin to open where you can buy shakes or heavy dinner while going cheap.
IWAHIG FIREFLY WATCHING
It was a bit far from the CBD and would take around 20-30 minute tricycle ride that will cost you P500. The boat that will take you along the river costs P1,300 with a capacity of six or more people. Iwahig River is long and filled with mangroves on both sides. The tour lasts for about 30 minutes. Most boatmen and guides are sons or relatives of employees in the Iwahig Penal Colony. Guides are totally knowledgeable about the life cycle of fireflies and facts about mangroves plus they are fun too. They even crack jokes about fireflies. You will see hundreds of fireflies nestling on barks and leaves of mangroves. They look like giant Christmas trees! It is best to go there on a clear night to see the stars too. The guides also know about astronomy and they will tell you where the North Star, Venus and constellations are! Iwahig River is also filled with planktons. You’ll know when you dip your hand in the water and your hand glows! Amazing, isn’t it? You can have your picture taken and claim it after the tour. Bring insect repellant and wear long pants or long sleeve shirts.
PALAWAN WILDLIFE RESCUE AND CONSERVATION CENTER
Puerto Princesa South Road
Formerly known as Crocodile Farm and Nature Park, it has now become a home not only for the endemic Philippine crocodile but also for different wildlife creatures like bear cats, porcupine, bearded pig, hornbill, eagles and several types of birds. Entrance for people above 18 is P40, P30 for senior citizens, P20 for children from 7-12 , and kids age 6 and below are free of charge. Tour guides will assist you and tell you everything about the place and the crocodiles. It is optional if you want to go around the nature park behind without a tour guide. The main building will greet you with a huge skeleton of a saltwater crocodile sealed in a glass cabinet caught somewhere in the island while its skin hangs on the wall. A short walk from there will lead you to the Hatchling House where newborn crocs are placed. Taking pictures are allowed but it is advised not to stick your hands or cameras anywhere near the cages. There’s a souvenir shop where you can buy customized printed tees. You can also have your picture taken with a baby crocodile for a minimal fee.
BUTTERFLY ECO GARDEN AND TRIBAL VILLAGE
Brgy. Sta. Monica
You may take a multicab going to Sta. Monica or like I said, hire a tricycle. The garden is a screened area so butterflies fly freely. There are displays of cocoons and pupae and the guides will tell you the butterflies’ life cycle as you roam around. Aside from butterflies you will also be introduced to a scorpion, bear cats and stick insects. Behind the Butterfly Garden is the Tribal Village where you can meet and greet natives of Palawan. There is no entrance fee; however, you may give donations as you please. They have several native products for sale like sandals and home decors. Learn how they survive the life in the mountains and the weapons they use to hunt for food. Also, see their pet, an albino python.
Brgy. Sta. Monica
After visiting the butterfly garden, head to Mitra’s Ranch located in the same area. You will pass by Bakers’ Hill. You need to rent a tricycle since no passenger jeepneys go here. Entrance fee is free! You may stay for an hour or so and do horseback riding fo P100, zip lining for P500 or just sit down on one of the chairs and relax while viewing Honda Bay islands.
Brgy. Sta. Monica
Head to Bakers Hill for your last stop to buy your favorite pasalubong. Don’t forget to bring home boxes of delicious hopia. I must admit it was the best tasting hopia I have ever tried. Take pictures around. If you feel hungry then this is the place to be. Dine in one of the restaurants before going back to your hotel.