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Friday, October 7, 2011

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, an island province on the north eastern part of the Philippines, is made up of one main island and many smaller islands. This region is known for the magnificent karsts, the rocky coves and the powdery white sand that lines its beaches.

Puerto Princesa (The Port of the Princess), the second largest city in the Philippines, is located in the center of the main island of Palawan. According to folklore, Puerto Princesa was named after a princess-like maiden who could be seen in the area on certain nights of a year. History, however, gives a more plausible explanation of the origin of it's name. The city was named after Queen Isabella II's dead daughter, Princess Asuncion. It was first called Puerto de la Princesa before the name was later on shortened to Puerto Princesa.

We stayed in Puerto Princesa during our first three nights in Palawan. We went on a seafood binge and had a motorbike ride to Sabang where we toured the underground river the area is known for. As a matter of fact, the subterranean river is one of the nominees for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Ugong Rock
Our first dinner in Puerto Princesa was in Ugong Rock where you can choose from the fresh seafood that they've laid out and pick the way you'd like to have it cooked. The seafood is priced per kilogram. And, you also have to pay a fee for having the food cooked. 

Clams (Halaan). We had our clams cooked with coconut milk, lemon grass and ginger.

Kinilaw na Tanigue. Since my boyfriend and I are both fans of ceviche, we got a Filipino favorite called kinilaw or kilawin.

Baked Clams. It would've been really yummy with all the garlic and cheese if they didn't put in any sugar. So, if ever you decide to try this, tell them to chuck the sugar.

Prawns Cooked In Garlic Butter Sauce

After dinner, we headed here for a few drinks and to play pool. And, we both thought that the motorcycle was a great decoration.

Badjao Seafront Restaurant
The next day, we had a late lunch at a beautiful restaurant by the sea. We were definitely impressed by the bridge lined with colorful banners and the mangrove below it. And, in the restaurant, we dined before a breathtaking view of the sea. We were also surrounded by wooden ethnic carvings and colorful banners. With the beautiful view, the warm and accommodating staff and the delicious dishes, dining here for a whole afternoon is a time well-spent.




The Subterranean River
Instead of joining a tour, we decided to rent a motorbike from a shop on Rizal Avenue and head to the subterranean river on our own. Having the freedom to stop anywhere and whenever we want made the trip more enjoyable. The only downside is that our butts were a bit sore after the long drive.

Getting a bike wasn't a hassle. We just needed to pay for the day's rent and come back with a full tank. And, the trip to Sabang was a piece of cake since there were barely any turns. When we got there, we parked the motorbike by the tourism office. We paid for the permit and entrance fees and went for a quick lunch while waiting for our boat. We were quite lucky since we were asked to share the boat with a tour group and didn't have to pay the full amount for a boat.

I liked the subterranean river in Palawan because it was untouched. Unlike the underground cave in Laos or the Halong Bay cave, no lights were installed. The tour revolved around the natural formations and creatures that can be seen in the cave. And, for an added amount, the boat can go further to take you to see the sea cow fossils. Unfortunately, seeing this added attraction maybe difficult to organize if you are sharing the boat with complete strangers who do not want to pay the extra amount or go deeper into the cave. So, if you want to see some sea cow fossils, better organize this before you get on the boat.

Honda XR. We rented a Honda XR from a nearby rental shop.

Stopover. We stopped by a souvenir shop with a fantastic view.

Daluyon Restaurant. Before getting on a boat to the underground river, we decided to have lunch here.

Karst Formations

The Entrance.

Crocodile. One of the rock formations in the cave is shaped like one.


Badjao Seafront Restaurant -- Round 2
The food here was so good we decided to come back for more before we left for El Nido the next day.



Lumpiang Palawan (Palawan Spring Rolls)

After a long mini van ride from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, going to Kalui for lunch was a welcome treat. The ambiance was positively amazing. The restaurant was beautifully decorated with wood carvings, chimes and paintings. And, you get to listen to lively Filipino music as you eat your meal. 

Kinilaw With A Seaweed Garnish

Seafood Sisig

Garlic Prawns

Grilled Blue Marlin With Mashed Sweet Potato Topped With Guacamole

Basa Fish Cordon Blue

The Flight Home

Quick Travel Tips:

Badjao Inn. 350 Rizal Avenue. It's clean and cheap. It's located on Rizal Avenue which is lined with restaurants and convenience stores. The staff is warm and friendly. And, they organize mini van trips to other parts of Palawan.

Cebu Pacific. We got some promo flights from Cebu Pacific. It was around $50 return from Metro Manila.
Caex Motorbike Rentals. We were able to rent our motorbike from a rental shop on Rizal Avenue.

Badjao Seafront Restaurant. Abueg Senior Road, Barangay Bagong Sikat. 433-99-12. 
Kalui. 369 Rizal Avenue. 433-25-80
Ugong Rock. Rizal Avenue (near Badjao Inn).


General Entrance Fee:

Cave Entrance Fee
21 – 59 yr. Old (P200.00)
18 – 20 yr. Old (P100.00)
13 – 17 yr. Old (P75.00)
6 – 12  yr. Old (P50.00)
Commercial Video Fee  (P 3,000.00)

*Filipino Senior Citizens 60 yr. old and above, Children 5 years old and below, and the handicapped are exempted from paying entrance for the Underground River Tour.

Other Fees
Van Rental from the City Proper
P 3,500.00 – two way (average van rental price)
Boat to Underground River Beach
P700.00 for 6 persons – two way

Your hotel can arrange a tour for you. It's around Php1,500 (around $30) per person. 

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