— by Marek Bron & Ela Teodosio
With its lush jungles, white sand seashores, caves, dive websites, and unspoiled nature, Palawan is likely one of the true highlights of The Philippines.
On this mini-guide, I’ll share with you the most typical journey route by way of Palawan and impressions of the most important stops alongside the best way, together with El Nido, Coron, and the city of Sabang.
(Up to date in 2018 by native contributor Ela Teodosio.)
Easy methods to get to Palawan
Palawan within the western Philippines is an archipelago of its personal with some 1,780 islands and islets. It’s an extended however slender strip of a few of the greatest seashores and marine life you will notice in Southeast Asia.
From Manila, it’s roughly a one hour airplane trip to the capital Puerto Princesa. This metropolis is comparatively urbanized in comparison with the remainder of the province, however you’ll meet plenty of foreigners right here who now name Palawan their house. For a lot of although, Puerto Princesa is barely a gateway to the province’s extra majestic options.
There are not any scheduled ferries between Manila and Puerto Princesa (nor from different islands within the archipelago), so flying is one of the best ways to go. There are nevertheless good ferry companies between El Nido and the island of Coron. Take note there are additionally no sea connections between Palawan and Indonesia or Malaysia—though it’d appear to be these locations join effectively on a bigger journey, the one option to journey between these locations is to fly to Manila first.
Due to many funds carriers in The Philippines, discovering an reasonably priced flight to Puerto Princesa shouldn’t be too tough. Test with Cebu Pacific, Zest, or AirAsia, to call a number of. In addition to Puerto Princesa, El Nido additionally has a tiny airport serving a restricted variety of propellor flights, principally operated by Air Swift.
A notice on Palawan’s tourism – when you can all the time discover independently, it is extremely organized and plenty of locations will be seen on organized day excursions. All excursions and costs are regulated and all boatmen and tour guides can converse English.
Locations to go to in Palawan
Many vacationers take into account the spotlight of Palawan to be El Nido, with its spectacular karst surroundings and in style island hopping excursions. We advise including El Nido to your itinerary by default, and including extra locations relying on how a lot time you could have. Listed here are suggestions for a few of the high locations in Palawan.
Sedate city life and unique meals
- Get pleasure from a meal of shipworm and crocodile
- Spend a night with fireflies
Regardless of being generally known as a stopover, Puerto Princesa is value spending not less than an evening – a type of warm-up for the journey of a lifetime.
Palawan’s capital and solely metropolis (inhabitants: round 200,000) is wealthy in historical past, although there may be not a lot to see other than a monumental tunnel in Plaza Cuartel. However what it lacks in sights it makes up for in meals! Puerto is teeming with native eating places, a lot of that are nearly unimaginable to ebook with out reservation. Their most iconic dish is tamilok (or woodworm), a slimy mollusk discovered on mangrove bushes. It could not sound precisely interesting however there’s an awesome probability you’ll be bullied into tasting it!
Don’t fear, it doesn’t style unhealthy, only a bit bizarre – like creamy, slimy jelly. Suppose oyster, solely richer and a bit saltier. One other uncommon factor to attempt is croc sisig, which is minced crocodile meat served on a scorching plate.
You’ll discover numerous full-day excursions on provide for island hopping and snorkeling across the close by Honda Bay. This will make for a enjoyable day, however there are truthfully higher seashores and islands on Palawan. When you don’t have that a lot time, chances are you’ll want to skip these excursions in favor of El Nido, Sabang, or Port Barton.
At night time, take into account heading out from Puerto Princesa on a firefly watching tour to Iwahig River. You possibly can hire a ship and revel in the serenity of paddling by way of the darkness, till reaching the spot the place the fireflies dance across the mangroves. To say it’s magical is an understatement.
Quiet seashore city close to the Underground River
- Lounge at a white sand seashore
- Trek by way of the jungle and meet wildlife
It’s such a waste that vacationers consider the quiet city of Sabang as a mere jump-off level to the Underground River.
The seashore right here is surprisingly stunning. I didn’t anticipate one thing so stunning early on on this journey. Greater than the creamy sand and the clear waters, I used to be amazed by the seclusion of the place. You possibly can sip contemporary coconut whereas watching the waves crash on the shore – watching vacationers take and go away the boat to and from the subterranean river.
Only a few of them linger, however I believe that’s the allure of it. Sabang is all about being one with nature. I loved mountain climbing, chook watching, paddling throughout the mangrove forest, and seeing wild animals of their pure habitat. When you’re planning on visiting the well-known Underground River, it’s higher to remain right here than come all the best way from Puerto Princesa.
- Be a part of an organized boat tour (or plan your personal) into the long-lasting Puerto Princesa Underground River
Thousands and thousands of years in the past, the Puerto Princesa Underground River snaked its means beneath the St. Paul Mountain Vary and have become one of many only a few of its variety that flows on to the ocean. It has been the satisfaction of the Philippines because it was named among the many New7Wonders of Nature in 2012 (in addition to gaining recognition from UNESCO). It boasts eight kilometers of underground channels, 4 of which will be explored.
There are two methods to get to the subterranean cave – taking a 6-kilometer trek by way of wealthy rainforest or taking a 20-minute scenic boat trip overlooking karst mountains. Each start in Sabang. You possibly can avail of a hassle-free packaged tour or you possibly can do it by yourself. Simply notice that you simply want a allow to be allowed entry to the Underground River. This it’s important to get on the Metropolis Coliseum in Puerto Princesa.
It’s a brief however eerie and magical 45-minute boat trip by way of the alternating big chambers and slender channels of the cave. Stalagmite and stalactite formations are mentioned to resemble figures starting from Jesus Christ to Hollywood stars. An audio information is offered for many who need to perceive the cave higher, however perhaps you’d a lot slightly benefit from the sounds of water dripping, swallows chirping, and bats flying above.
There’s a extra intensive tour that covers all eight kilometers of the Underground River, however that requires a unique allow that takes longer to course of. It’s additionally not for the faint of coronary heart. Some areas are too slender, so you possibly can solely enter them by swimming.
Quiet cease on the best way to El Nido
- Get misplaced within the uncooked great thing about nature
- Spend days desirous about nothing
Port Barton is a less-known spot in San Vicente, Palawan. It’s nearly unknown to native vacationers however has been rising in reputation to foreigners lately. You possibly can attain San Vicente after a three to Four-hour land journey from Puerto Princesa.
After a brief boat trip from the town correct, you can be welcomed by a strip of white sand seashore dotted by palm bushes and nipa huts. Make sure you ask a information to take you to Pamuayan Falls, a 1.5-hour trek by way of the jungle and right into a cool pure basin.
There are additionally close by islands simply accessible by boat; we advocate Inaladelan Island’s lengthy seashore strip. It’s privately owned although so an additional price applies.
With electrical energy restricted solely from 5:30 PM to 12 midnight, Port Barton is an ideal place to get away out of your devices and get nearer to nature.
Karst landscapes and enchanting lagoons
- Be a part of numerous packaged excursions to different islands and inland seashores
- Seize a tricycle trip on the mainland to quiet close by seashores
- Put together to be amazed!
Nestled amongst tall karst cliffs and with two adjoining seashores, El Nido is well probably the most scenic places within the Philippines. Save for the variety of vacationers, which admittedly can typically be overwhelming, this city deserves all of the glory.
El Nido is located on the Baquit Archipelago, which suggests there are dozens of islands, islets, and lagoons so that you can discover. You possibly can select between 5 standardized excursions, labeled from A to E, or you possibly can simply keep for per week and take a look at all of them out. Excursions embrace lunch – freshly caught seafood cooked on an island and served with tropical fruits.
Relying in your tour quantity, you possibly can go to the white sand seashores of Helicopter Island, see the hidden great thing about Secret Seashore, enter the Secret Lagoon by way of a tiny gap in its limestone partitions, or soak within the majesty of the Massive Lagoon.
Throughout the mainland, you possibly can hire a tricycle to the close by (and usually empty) Las Cabanas Seashore or the farther twin seashore known as Nacpan-Calitang. Make certain to spend a couple of minutes at its viewpoint to understand how magnificent these back-to-back seashores are.
Baquit Bay boasts quite a few dive areas, notably the Dilumacad Underwater Tunnel discovered 12 meters beneath Helicopter Island. It goes on for some 40 meters and options black sweeper, cleaner shrimp and lionfish, amongst many others.
El Nido is teeming with vacationers and there can be plenty of occasions while you would want for some quiet — however the majesty of the archipelago far outshines this concern.
Busuanga Island & Coron
Breathtaking views, coral gardens, and wealthy historical past
- Be a part of day journeys to islands and viewpoints
- Go wreck diving
- Hike as much as Coron’s highest level
They are saying for those who like seashores, go to El Nido. When you love diving, then Busuanga Island is the place to be.
Busuanga Island is split into two sections – Busuanga and Coron – the latter being the most important vacationer cease. Busuanga and close by islands are house to lush rainforests, pure springs, and an entire new world underwater. You received’t discover plenty of seashores right here, however you possibly can spend days on finish exploring the various lagoons, dive spots, and swimming with wealthy marine life.
Coron is known for wreck diving, due to the variety of Japanese ships that sunk in these waters throughout World Struggle 2. Again in 1944, the US Navy launched a coordinated assault on the Imperial Japanese Navy docked in Manila Bay. The fleet tried to flee and conceal in Coron however they had been tracked and finally gunned down of their supposed shelter. Now, these shipwrecks are coated with colourful corals teeming with many various sorts of fish.
From El Nido, it is extremely straightforward to go to Coron. You possibly can take a ferry, quick craft or passenger ship from the west facet of El Nido’s most important seashore. Schedules are completely different, relying on what mode you select. Journey time ranges from Four hours on a quick craft to eight hours on a ferry or passenger ship. Greatest to test the schedules and ebook your tickets previous to make certain you get a seat in your desired day.
An alternative choice is to hire a non-public boat that provides you with an opportunity to cease on quite a few islands alongside the best way! If you wish to take it sluggish, the boatmen can counsel low cost rural lodging for an in a single day keep. You possibly can even convey a hammock and sleep beneath the celebs! Meals and drinks will be part of the tour.
Coron City could appear much less unappealing (components of it are a little bit of a shanty), although coming to Busuanga can positively be a worthy extension to your Palawan journey. There’s some good mountain climbing on the island too; a hike as much as Mount Darala provides you with 360-degree diploma views of the bay.
P.S. Palawan is much from the one vacation spot! Learn our information for extra high locations to go to within the Philippines.
Locations to remain
Urged hostels in Palawan
|Dallas Hostel||Puerto Princesa||Funky and conveniently situated hostel with backyard and hammocks.|
|Spin Designer Hostel||El Nido||Fashionable newly-built hostel with Four-bed dorms, BBQ nights, and kitchen amenities.|
|Our Melting Pot||El Nido||When you like a much less flashpacky ambiance, this is perhaps your selection. The recent showers are a uncommon characteristic!|
|Outpost Seashore Hostel||El Nido||Situated on the extra secluded southern seashore with spectacular sundown views from its two decks.|
|Kaba Kaba||Coron||Rustic huts among the many bushes, a brief distance exterior of the busy most important city.|