50+ Puerto Princesa Tourist Spots, Palawan
If you’re looking for Puerto Princesa tourist spots, you’ve come to the right place! Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan and is “The City in the Forrest”. It is the 2nd largest city in the Philippines by land mass but has the least population density. No wonder it has awards for being the cleanest city in the country.
For an outdoors lover that needs decent internet, Puerto Princesa is a great spot to live. There are plenty of tourist spots in Puerto Princesa Palawan within close range. And if you want even more, there is still the rest of the island.
In this article, I cover tourist spots in Puerto Princesa Philippines and up to a 2-hour drive away. I split them into 5 categories:
- Within the city center
- A 20-minute or less drive from the city center
- South Road access
- Honda Bay/North Road access
- Further North (Up to 2-hours from the city center)
For all these items, the distance from the city uses the mall SM Puerto Princesa as the starting point.
At the end of this article, there’s a map of Puerto Princessa in Palawan. It has all the areas marked out to give you a better visual. There is also a bunch of general information about travel and living in Puerto Princessa. it includes:
- How to Get to Puerto Princesa
- Accommodation In Puerto Princesa
- How to Get Around Puerto Princesa
- Where to go Shopping in Puerto Princessa
- How to Extend Your Visa in Puerto Princessa
- How to Get a Bank Account as a Foreigner in Puerto Princessa
- How to get Phil Health as a Foreigner in Puerto Princessa
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Puerto Princesa Tourist Spots
Puerto Princesa Palawan tourist spots get better outside the city center. And even more so towards areas 4 and 5. This is my personal opinion, but I’m sure most people will agree. Especially outdoors lovers.
Update 25 June 2018: I am currently in Puerto Princesa (again) so I upgraded this list and am still gathering photos.
Puerto Princesa City Center
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
This blue cathedral has a bit of a gothic feel to its architecture. It first opened its doors to worshipers in 1872 and continues to hold mass.
This cathedral is a good landmark in Puerto Princesa with lots of public transport going past it.
Across the road from the Immaculate Cathedral is Plaza Cuartel. It has a dark history of a massacre. During the war, it was a garrison for Filipino and US troops. Then the Japanese invaded and turned it into a POW camp. Many prisoners died.
On a lighter note, nowadays it is “lover’s park” with many couples going there. It has a nice little garden with a path going through it and some wildlife.
Baywalk is a popular place for tourists and locals to go relax at night. Lining the foreshore are seafood restaurants and sometimes there are events. People come to jog, watch the sunset, flirt with lovers, and get merry with their friends.
There isn’t much going on there during the day, but the view of the bay is better.
This is a big fresh market right in the middle of town. The catch of the day starts to sell at 5 am and continues till late afternoon. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat are cheaper here than the supermarkets. There are also souvenirs, clothing, and other items of sale.
The area around the public market is what I would consider the center of town. There are some shopping complexes, food, and lots of traffic.
Funded by government grants and donations, Palawan Museum showcases local history and culture. There are local artifacts including tribal tools, instruments, and more. It also has a library.
Across the road from the Palawan Museum is Mendoza Park. The park hosts many events thanks to its amphitheater. It also has a playground, various artworks, and ornamental plants.
Palawan Special Battalion World War 2 Museum
A memorial museum sharing the history of the Philippines during WW2. There are lots of artifacts and it also has some stuff on the culture of Palawan. You can find this museum along Rizal Avenue, a 15-minute drive from the city center.
Palawan Environmental Enforcement Museum
This is a private organization dedicated to the protection of the Palawan eco-system. Inside the museum, you learn about illegal activities such as logging &animal trading. You also learn about what they do to combat them.
Palawan Heritage Center
Located in the heart of the city, this museum focuses on the history and culture of Palawan. Inside you will see artifacts, photos, dioramas, and a hologram. Find it on Fernandez Street.
Asiano arts and Crafts
Asiano Arts and Craft is a shop with products created from materials they find in the mountains. It is a fusion of modern and indigenous arts and they have collaborations with the local tribes. If you want a unique souvenir from Palawan, this is the place to go.
Find Asiano Arts and Crafts on the corner of Dagumboy St. and Rizal Avenue. It is a short walk from the Palawan Heritage Center.
This item is more for those staying a bit longer in Puerto Princesa. There is a small public library near Mendoza Park. Anyone with ID can enter and read a book, but to take one away you need to be a member. And to become a member you have to live in Puerto Princesa. Once you live in Puerto Princessa for 3+ months they will let you join.
Well, that ends the “Puerto Princesa city tour”. Now a bit out of the main part of town for more Puerto Princesa activities.
20-minutes or Less from the City Center
“New market” is like the public market in the city, but bigger and better. One of the reasons I chose where I lived was because of the proximity to this market. It rivals the supermarket fresh food wise and is fresher and cheaper. Besides the fruits and vegetables, there are haircuts, coconuts, and lots of snacks.
This is also where the intercity transport is. You can get a Puerto Princesa to El Nido bus or van. There is also transport to almost every other city and town on the island leaving from here.
This is a small amusement park right outside Robinsons mall. There are rides, games, food, and loud music.
This is a popular Puerto Princesa beach for locals to picnic. There is a small “beach” section you can swim in, but most of it is picnic benches and huts looking over the water.
Some of the huts are even in the water. They are cheaper to hire.
Hartman Beach is a quiet beach close to the city with good facilities. There are huts, picnic benches, toilets, bbq facilities, and even showers. Go there in the morning for serenity, and in the afternoon for swimming.
Emerald Beach and Nature Park
Emerald Beach and Nature Park is a mangrove forest on the ocean. There isn’t a nice white-sand beach, but the water is calm and warm to swim in. There is accommodation there also.
Kuyba Almonica is a 40m underground cave with a religious theme. Inside it, you can see the “face of Jesus”. It also has the stations of the cross, displays of Saints, a couple of man-made pools, a fish spa, and some other stuff.
Find Kuyba Almonica in Barangay San Jose, about a 25-minute drive North of the city center.
Palawan International Circuit
Palawan International Circuit is a competition size go-kart track. It holds 2 main events a year. For the rest of the time, it is open to the general public. If you don’t want to use their go-karts, you can take your own motorbike and ride it around.
Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village
I love butterfly farms. They are usually small, quiet places that I can wander around undisturbed. This one wasn’t quite like that, but that’s because it wasn’t only a butterfly park. After paying the 50php per adult entry fee you get a guided tour, in English or Tagalog. Of course, there are butterflies, but there are also lizards and scorpions which you can hold. Other animals they have in enclosures are the native “bearded pig” and the Palawan Bearcat. These 2 animals are only in Palawan. They also had a saltwater crocodile.
After the little animal tour, you go to the “native village”. Here, actual Palawan tribal natives show you their instruments and survival skills. You can take pictures with them and their snake. They take turns coming to town to sell their handicrafts. The guide said it was an 8-hour drive and then an 8-hour hike up the mountain.
Bakers Hill is pretty close to the butterfly farm so I went straight afterward. It was not at all what I thought it would be. I was expecting a scenic viewpoint. I guess it was a scenic viewpoint, but the owner has spiffed it up a bit. There are statues of cartoon characters, an aviary, eateries, a playground, and more.
The viewpoint itself isn’t that spectacular, but since the whole place is free you may as well have a look.
Mitra Ranch is a small adventure park that offers some good views. It is free entry and the activities are a reasonable price. You can go on the hanging bridge, a zip line, a horse ride, and more.
The view from Bakers Hill and Mitra Ranch is almost the same! They are close to each other and overlook the same scenery.
This is another Puerto Princesa things to do item for the long-termers. Close to the State University (PSU) is a competition-sized public pool. It is free to use, but you need permission. To get permission you must write a letter to the manager. Go to the pool and ask in the office for more details. I wrote the letter and a couple of days later I had permission to use it for the next 6 months.
South Road Access
Palawan Crocodile Farm and Nature Center
The Palawan Crocodile Farm and Nature Center is a popular tourist attraction. It is both a research center and animal rescue shelter for endangered species. There are 2 tours a day at 8:30 am and 1 pm. Depending on traffic, it is a 20-30 minute motorcycle ride from the city center.
Irawan Eco Park
This was my favorite tourist spot in Palawan Puerto Princesa. A paradise for nature lovers, Irawan Ecopark is a 3,000 hectare protected area. Apart from the fauna and flora, there is a butterfly park, Asia’s longest zip line, walking trails, and more.
Iwahig Prison Farm
The Iwahig Prison Farm is one of the largest open-air jails in the world! Only 15km from the city, you can visit the farm and buy souvenirs made by the prisoners. Sometimes they even put a dance show on.
Balsahan Natural Pools
Balasahan Natural Pools is a swimming hole popular with the locals. The water comes in from a small waterfall. You can hike there from the Iwahig Prison Farm. It’s 3km through some agricultural fields.
You have to use the Iwahig Prison Farm entrance to get to Balsahan Pools.
Iwahig Firefly Watching
Take a 30-minute boat ride into the mango forest and see the natural light firefly show at night. If 30 minutes is too short for you, there’s a 3-hour mangrove tour also. Close to the prison farm, Iwahig Firefly Watching is about a 45-minute drive from the city center.
Santa Lucia Hot Springs
3km down a bumpy road will lead you to Santa Lucia Hot Springs. Inside there are a couple of pools with the shallow one being the hottest. There are also toilets and a couple of huts.
This 3 tier waterfall is a popular attraction. Some say it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Philippines. It is also home to some of the rarest butterflies in the world. To get here is about a 90-minute drive from the city.
At about 1,300 meters high, Mt. Thumbpeak is the highest point in the Thumb Range. It has the unofficial title of “Philippine’s last frontier”.
It is a 2-3 day hike, and along the trek, there is a small cave near the river where you can camp and watch the fireflies.
Note: You have to get a permit to hike Mt Thumbpeak.
Puting Buhangin Beach
Puting Buhangin Beach is on the small island of the same name. There are very few visitors and no services. If you want a beautiful and secluded beach, this is for you.
When we tried to find it, this is as close as we got. Then we got side-tracked.
While looking for Puting Buhangin Beach we got lost and came across this gem instead. It’s not much more than a photo spot but was a good adventure getting there. Around the cove is the beautiful Matahum beach which I didn’t quite make it to.
Honda Bay/North Road Access
Splash House is a 750sqm floating playground in the ocean. Some of the activities include snorkeling, wakeboarding, SCUBA diving, basketball, and more. Find it in Puerto Princesa Honda Bay. It is less than a 1 -hour drive from Puerto Princesa to honda bay.
Cowrie Island is only a 10-minute boat ride from the wharf in Honda Bay. It has pristine waters, fine sand, good food, and plenty of activities. From Jetsking to snorkeling to massages on the beach. There is something for everyone on Cowrie Island. It is an excellent day trip for those they like a well-developed yet pristine island.
Mt. Calvary is a religious destination between the Barangays of Santa Lourdes and Irawan. It has the stations of the cross with explanations in English and Tagalog.
I was quite happy when I found this during my research of Palawan tourist spots in Puerto Princesa.
“Viet Ville” is a small community of 150 Vietnamese refugees from the Vietnam War. Here you can find traditional Vietnamese Culture and my favorite thing about Vietnam. French-Vietnamese cuisine! There is also a noodle factory, a couple of churches, and a Buddhist temple.
Update: Turns out “Viet Ville” is the name of a restaurant on the side of the highway. That was all we could find of this Vietnamese Village, so we went onto Honda Bay instead. On the road that leads to the port, we saw the Buddhist Temple.
Pambato reef in Honda Bay is a great place to go snorkeling close to the city. It is a protected marine sanctuary so is well maintained and organized.
Pandan Island is the biggest island off the coast of Puerto Princesa. As its name suggests, there are many Pandan trees. Water activities are the main thing to do here. They include snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, and more.
Starfish Island is the closest “proper” snorkeling location to Puerto Princesa City. There are many starfish there of all sizes. With clear waters and white sand beaches, it is a nice island to visit even if you don’t like snorkeling.
Ai world is a mountain resort and “multi-park”. If you are like me, you think Ai World is going to be about technology. Instead, Ai is the Japanese word for love. Inside are a few pools, a flower garden, a couple of restaurants, and accommodation.
Maia Earth Village
This is definitely one of the more unique of these Palawan Puerto Princesa tourist spots. I am even a little reluctant to call it a tourist spot.
Maia Earth Village reminds me of Auroraville in India. It is an eco-village inhabited by an international community. They are into sustainability, alternative learning, consciousness, and much more good stuff.
You can find Maia Earth Village in Bacungan, a 45-minute drive from the city. You have to contact them first. Learn more here.
Nagtabon Beach is about a 45-minute motorcycle ride from the city center. It’s not the most popular beach around but that makes it perfect for some chill time without the crowds. You won’t find any snorkeling at Nagtabon Beach but its coral free waters make it good for swimming. You may even get a surf in on a good day.
Palawan Water Park
Under a 90-minute drive from the city in San Rafael, you can find the Palawan Water Park. Inside is a wave pool, a lazy river pool, a spiral slide, and more.
Batak Cultural Center
The Batak tribe dates back to 500AD making them one of the eldest in the Philippines. The Batak Cultural Center helps to preserve their living traditions. There are dances, music shows, and a souvenir shop where they produce and sell crafts. To get there is a 90-minute drive north of the city. It is a good idea to call ahead before going. You can find more information here.
Halfway between Puerto Princesa and Sabang Beach, you will find Ulugan Bay. Amongst other things, you can snorkel, kayak, swim, and explore the mangrove forest. It is also home to a popular dive spot, Rita Island.
Hundred Caves is an amazing place to go trekking, and if you are a bit more adventurous, you can go spelunking also. There are many tunnels with all the amazing cave stuff such as minerals and rock formations. Find it near Ulungan Bay in the village of Tagbinet.
Located on the east coast of Palawan, Binduyan falls is a 90-minute drive from the city. It is a nice trek through from the entrance to the 1st waterfall, 1700m on a jungle path. If you’re lucky you will spot some wildlife such as monkeys, monitor lizards, and butterflies.
Mt. Cleopatra Needle
Mt. Cleopatra Needle is a 3-4 day trek to the top and is a challenge even for experienced hikers. The mountain has plenty of wildlife, and if you summit on a clear day you can see Honda Bay as well as the city. The most popular starting point is Sitio Tagnaya in Brgy. Conception.
Underground River Tour
The Palawan Underground River is a famous tourist spot in Puerto Princesa. It is one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world. No surprise that it is busy, but it is well organized. The actual cave tour goes for about 40 minutes and is pretty impressive.
To get from Puerto Princesa to the Underground River is about a 2-hour drive. It is near Sabang Village.
Ugong Rock is a place to get a small taste of caving. It is an uphill climb through the cave and at the top, you can take a 400m zip line back to the beach. To get there is a 2-hour drive from the city proper. It is good to do when you visit the Underground River.
A picturesque mountain famous for its limestone. Many people consider this the best climbing site in the Philippines. This attraction is often included in Underground River Tours from the city. You can drive there yourself in 90-minutes.
Sabang Mangrove Forest
The Sabang Mangrove Forest is close to the Underground River and you can trek from one to the other. The main attraction of the Sabang Mangrove Forest is the paddle boat tour. An environmentalist started it as a way to help the locals earn money. The tour takes less than an hour.
This is one of the more secluded Puerto Princesa beaches. For me, this also makes it one of Puerto Princesa’s best beaches. If you want the best chance of a deserted beach, this is the one to go to. It is near the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Barangay Marufinas.
Puerto Princesa Map of Tourist Attractions
This map only shows the location of the areas I grouped the activities in. You can find the exact location of each activity on Google Maps.
Other Information on Puerto Princesa Palawan
Okay, this is where this post turns into a bit of a Puerto Princesa travel guide. Actually, it is a bit of a Puerto Princesa living guide since I was there for 4+ months.
How to Get to Puerto Princesa
This is a no-brainer. Catch a flight from almost any major city in the Philippines. The main airport for Palawan is in Puerto Princesa, and it is pretty close to town. I’ve never done it, but I would expect to pay about 50php for a tricycle from Puerto Princesa airport to town. 100php max!
The cheapest way to get from Puerto Princesa Airport to the city would be to walk out the front and catch a jeepney. This will cost you about 10php. Walking out the front is also the best way to get a cheaper tricycle.
If you are on a tight budget, you could walk. It will take less than an hour.
Use the form below to find the best flights to Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa Best Hotels and Accommodation
There is a good choice of places to stay in Puerto Princesa and beyond. Something for every budget. Whether you want Puerto Princesa city hotels, a luxury house on the beach, or anything in-between. If you are coming for a week or less. use www.HotelsLook.com to find accommodation in Puerto Princesa. You can use the form below to search for Palawan Puerto Princesa resorts, hotels, dorms, and more.
For longer stays, use Airbnb. Staying a week or more will usually give you a discount. And if you stay at least a month sometimes you get up to 50% off!
If it is your first time with Airbnb, use the link below and get up to $50 off your first stay.
If you plan to stay more than a month, rent locally. There are lots of signs posted around the neighborhoods. You can also use the Puerto Princesa House for Rent Facebook group. I managed to find a furnished place with PDLT wifi for 5,00php a month this way. I had to pay bills also, but they were no more than 2,000php a month.
Ways to Get Around Puerto Princesa
There are a few ways to get around Puerto Princesa. Let’s go from cheapest to most expensive.
The cheapest way to explore Puerto Princesa is on foot. This will be fine around town. You can explore most of the tourist attractions in the first group on foot. And if you are a keen walker, some of the items in the second group too.
The next cheapest way is by jeepney. They charge by distance. From town to about as far as Robinsons is 10php. You can go much further though.
Tricycles are next. There are official prices which every tricycle driver has stuck to their dash. But no-one ever follows it, so you still need to ask. Drivers often assume that tourists want a private ride, so you get charged more. You can flag down a shared tricycle and it will be cheaper. For example, from SM to Robinsons might be 40+php if you get the tricycle from out the front of the mall. But if you hail a shared one from the street, should only be 10php.
You can also hire tricycles for a day or tour. I’m not sure how much this costs. Make sure you agree on the price beforehand.
If you want to explore everything on this list, consider hiring a motorbike. The going rate seems to be 500php a day. But you can find it for 400php if you shop around. Also, if you hire it for a week or a month it will get cheaper.
If you plan to stay a couple of months or more, buying a motorcycle will be cheaper. 15,000php is enough to get something reliable for around town and a bit further out. Look on the Palawan Buy and Sell Facebook group.
Finally, if you have money to burn, you can hire a car. Either self-driven or with a driver. It will keep you dry when it rains, but motorbikes are better for traffic.
Where to go Shopping in Puerto Princessa
There are 2 malls and between them, there is quite a good selection. SM is in the city, and Robinsons is 10 minutes tricycle ride North of SM. Both have cinemas, good supermarkets, and lots of other shops. Unless you want something very specific, between them you can find what you need.
There’s lots of choice in town also. Unitop is a good place for homewares and other random stuff.
For fresh foods, the markets are the place to go. They are cheaper and fresher than the supermarkets. Also, much less wait time in line. If you are gonna go to the supermarket, get there early to beat the crowds. Robinsons supermarket open at 9:30 am via the side entrance even though the rest of the mall opens at 10:00 am.
If you want super fresh honey, like with a bee still inside it, drive along South road past the hot springs. People sell it on the side of the road. I’m not sure why they all chose that one specific spot on the highway, but that’s where they all are.
For fresh coconut water, new market is the place to go. You can get 2 coconuts worth of water in a plastic bag, with the flesh inside it or separate, for 50php. At once stage, I was getting it for 35php, but then school started and I guess that seller left to start uni or something.
How to Get a Visa Extension in Puerto Princesa
Getting a visa extension in Puerto Princesa is easy. The office is on the second floor in Robinsons. Go there with photocopies of your front passport page and your entry stamp (or last visa sticker). Also, bring your passport and cash. They have the forms there that you need to fill out. You can get photocopies from the National Book Store in Robinson’s. If their photocopier is out of order there is another place across the road from the main entry.
From the time I started filling out the form to the time I had my new visa sticker never took longer than 30 minutes.
You can only get 1 or 2-month extensions. If you want a 6-month extension you have to go to a main branch, e.g., Manila or Cebu.
How to Get a Bank Account in Puerto Princesa
This was the biggest hassle for me. I went to 4 different banks and they all wanted extra paperwork. I was going to get it but by dumb luck, I took the jeepney the wrong way. When I realized, I got off and was out the front of ‘Security Bank”. I gave the teller my passport and ACR card. She gave me a bank account and ATM card while I waited. It took about 90 minutes.
All the other banks (Metro, BPI, BDO) wanted rental agreements, proof of income, and other stuff.
I waited until I had my ACR to try to get a bank account. I doubt it’s possible without one, but I could be wrong.
How to Get Phil Health in Puerto Princesa
Having an ACR means you can also get Philhealth. PhilHealth used to be way cheaper. Now they charge foreigners more, but it is still cheaper than basic travel insurance.
To get it, take your ACR card to the PhilHealth main office. You want to go to the one along the main road north or Robinsons. There is a small one in Robinsons, but they can’t do it. On google maps, it says there is an office in town. It does not exist.
Once in the office, fill in the form from the guard and sit in line. There is no ticket system. The line moves and everyone moves up a seat. Waiting in line takes a while, but once you get to the counter the actual processing is pretty quick. You can choose to pay quarterly, or yearly. It was about 4,500php per quarter (more or less). The next time you pay, go straight to the pay window.
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Phew! That completes this list of tourist attractions in Puerto Princesa. There are more things to do in Palawan, but a 2-hour drive from the city is as far as I was willing to go. Any further and you would be well on your way from Puerto Princesa to El Nido! I’m sure its enough to fill out your Puerto Princesa itinerary.
If you have anything you want to add to this list drop it in the comments and I’ll write it in.
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