10 Hours of Puerto Princesa

April 06, 2015

Scenario: I'll arrive in Puerto Princesa City before noon and I wanna catch the last overnight bus that leaves for El Nido at 9PM. How can I maximize those 10 hours without tiring myself? 

As a born and bred Palaweña currently residing in Metro Manila, I get this question a lot. Not the same 10 hours, the what-to-do questions whenever friends will be in Puerto Princesa for only a short period of time before they go off to wherever. Of course, if you're not staying overnight, the options will be lessened as well. Through the years, I have made myself some sure-fire itineraries that kept my Manila friends more than happy.

In this blog post, which I'm planning to do as a series, I'll let you know about insider information on how to DIY Puerto Princesa like a Palaweña would for her Manileñan friends.

Puerto Princesa's public beaches are stunning. Emphasis on stunning because you can't really see anything like that near Metro Manila. And by near, I meant this specific white sand beach is only 30 minutes away from the airport, 10 minutes away from our home. The entrance fee costs Php 10 per person and if my memory serves me right, the stilt cottages at the beach can be rented for Php 100 for one whole day.

For this trip, I took my friends to BM Beach, located in Brgy. San Pedro and nearby Robinsons Palawan. You can reach this place via tricycle or you can do what we did; rent a private van that can take you anywhere. The going rate for a half-day van rental is around Php 1000.

Intro to Seafood Coma. What better way to introduce friends to Palawan than eating seafood by the beach with bare hands?

The first meal my friends will eat is usually my family's treat to them. Mama will go to the wet market for crabs and prawns and cook them buttered-garlic style. I call this the Introductory Palawan Experience for my friends, because this usually sets the mood and the seafood benchmark for the whole trip.

These lunches end after two hours, three hours tops. During this time you'd want to slow down and maybe take in some greenery and overlooking scenery. (Oh hey, it rhymes!) Maybe, eat some of the best chocolate crinkles you'll ever taste, and gooey brick oven-baked four cheese pizza, too. Baker's Hill is where its at. You can relax at the mini theme park and garden, eat at the restaurant, and go to the overlooking deck to see the city from another perspective.

 [L-R. Wilgin, Chad] Photogenic Nature. This is the part of the itinerary where you should/can take lots of photos. 

When you have time, go uphill to Mitra Ranch. It used to be my favorite place in Puerto Princesa because it was just a bike ride away from our old-new house (don't ask!) Don't get me wrong, it's still a favorite now. It still has its charm, only that now it's more touristy. It even now has a zipline, so it's probably something tourists will look forward to do.

Then there's Leslie's Bulalo (yes, like the one in Tagaytay) and a Dampa sa Mansion Restaurant (paluto) in case you get hungry again. Puerto Princesa doesn't want you to starve, okay? There's practically seafood being served at almost every restaurant.

It will seem like it was just moments since we last ate, but moving around to take pictures and videos can get a bit draining. By 6:30PM, we were so ready to eat dinner.

For dinner, I booked the group a reservation at Ka Lui restaurant. The restaurant gets a lot of TripAdvisor and blog reviews which means it will also be perpetually unavailable for walk-in customers. Personally, I think Ka Lui is overrated. There, I said it. But for first-timers in Puerto Princesa, I still think it's a must to take them there that's why I always include this in the itinerary.

As touristy as this place has become since it got the rave reviews, you'll still find yourself falling in love with this place's ambiance and homey vibe. (Read: You need to remove slippers/shoes/sandals before going inside) And there's always a complimentary fruit bowl served in a fresh coconut to end the night.

[L-R. Migs, Diann] Fall in Love. Ka Lui has everything, from paintings, sculptures, pretty plants to hanging ornaments

By the time dinner's finished, we had to bustle to go to the San Jose Market and Bus Terminal. The last bus leaves around 9PM and sometimes 10PM on peak season. There are two bus liners that leave for El Nido: Cherry Bus and Roro Bus Liners, and a one-way ticket costs less than Php 400. Mama was the one who arranged our ticket reservations so we got the tickets at a lower price from Cherry Bus.

And if there's many in your group, you can always hire a shuttle van to take you there. It would cost around Php 500-600 depending on how you negotiate with the driver, a bit pricier than the buses because it has less stops and it's way faster.

So there you have it, a sample DIY itinerary totaling to around *Php 400-500 for the 10-hour stay in Puerto Princesa City.

OR you can always just spend those 10 hours at Robinsons Palawan, if that's your thing. Pro tip: The cinemas have Probinsya rates. You'll spend half of what you normally pay for here in Metro Manila.

To close this starting to get long post, I just wanna say Puerto Princesa is also a good destination in itself. It's a huge city so the beautiful spots could be a bit farther than when in, say, Coron or El Nido, but we do have hidden gems that can be worth your full Palawan stay, too. :)

*Mama covered lunch so...
 total = half day transpo + beach entrance fee + cottage + merienda + dinner

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