Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, May 2016. When I first arrived here, its fair to say I wasn’t hat impressed with the place but the trip up to El Nido made me realise that actually there is something that I’m missing about Puerto – not the boozy Europeans or raucous Americans, not the incessant traffic and definitely not the food! It’s the people, yes that’s it. Puerto has a genuine warmth, depth of feeling and definitely a local vibe that visitors staying here for a few days will discover and begin to appreciate. All smiles and even a hug, yes a kid runs up to give me a hug as I wandered around the slum area – and if that doesn’t pull at your hart strings, nothing will! Puerto Princesa rocks!
So, as its the last day for me in the Philippines hers a quick rundown on the facts and figures for Puerto Princesa:
Sleeping: At Color Mansion, Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa. 600 pesos per night, double room, air-con, TV with shared bathroom. Google Map 20-25 minutes walking from the airport terminal, 10 minutes walk into downtown.Can pay with credit card. Free coffee in the morning, free boiling water anytime to make your own tea! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reservation or use booking.com.
Eating: The food corner at the 0 KM junction. Local food and delicacies, average cost of a meal here is 60 pesos, on Fernandez. (Google Map). Also the food counter opposite Maybank (Google Map) is another source of good local Filipino food and pancakes. A meal here averages 50 pesos, pancakes 10 pesos each.
Transport: Tricycles, around 40 pesos local journey for a tourist, bargain hard. Multicab vans average 15 pesos to as far as the Northern edge of town. Roro Bus to El Nido is 380 pesos air-con, Cherry bus to El Nido is 450 pesos air-con to El Nido all stopping at Roxas and Taytay. Non air-con buses are slightly cheaper but are packed out normally.
Free Sightseeing: Downtown Market between Rizal and Malvar, near the fish port (Google Map), Cathedral and historical area Western edge of the city (Google Map), See the slum area (Google Map), Hartman Beach (Google Map). Bay front walk, good for sunsets, scenery (Google Map), and local life..
Cheap Sightseeing: Pristine Beach 40 pesos entry (Google Map). Boat ride across the bay, public ferry, 40 minutes and 35 pesos each way. (Google Map) Good for scenery photos and a look at rustic village life. For serious photography, afternoons offer best lighting conditions.
Tours: Island hopping for the day is 1300 pesos, Underground river 1500 pesos plus tax plus a few other tours out of town, including a visit to a jail house, rides along the river and spotting fireflies. All rather pricey though!
Money: About 65 pesos to £1, banks and ATMs are numerous and all can be found on Rizal in the downtown. (Google Map)