1. It’s cheap. You’ll spend about 60% less on a trip to Puerto Princesa than when you go to its neighboring destinations (Coron and El Nido) to see (almost) the same beautiful islands, especially if you know the right people. I actually have a contact I always text or call when planning a trip to the area, and she always gives me the right prices. Right Ate Cha?
2. You’ll see the longest underground river in the world. True, it is a cave full of bats and birds, but it does induce a sort of calm and wonder when you go through the one hour tour. Just don’t look up with your mouth open (For reasons stated at the beginning).
3. The stopovers are amazing. At Sabang beach, the port before you end up at the Underground River, you will be served lunch with your tour. Heaps and heaps of grilled stuff at a lunch buffet that is perfect eaten from the beachfront huts they are served from. You can even buy the mangrove worms of Bizarre Foods fame from local vendors if you want to get a little adventurous.Expect the same treatment of food, beach and service at your island hopping tour as well!
4. The delicious drinks. At Sabang beach, we go to two beachfront resorts while our friends or family go visit the Underground River, the Daluyon Resort and the Sheridan. Both serve uber refreshing cocktails and delicious eats as you relax in your lounge chairs, and have impeccable service. Tip: Get the Cherry Bloom (or blossom i always forget) at Daluyon and find yourself waking addicted. At Ka Lui, one of the go-to restaurants in the city, get one of the vegetable/fruit shakes (I had the ginger calamansi shake, it was delicious) for a healthy, refreshing accompaniment to your meal. Last but not the least, when you go to Bona’s chaolong, order the Yakult shake (a steal at P25) with your vietnamese beef stew with noodles and find a sweet finish to a spicy bowl.
5. The people are nice. Granted, it’s a tourist town, but people seem extra nice at PP city. Most of them offer pleasant advice on where to eat when asked, give you good directions when you need it, and the restaurant staff at any establishment very accommodating. That is to say, there are still some abusive personalities who try to take advantage of foreign tourists and the like, but 90% of the time, you’ll wonder why this niceness can’t be found in the metro.
6. The food is delicious and affordable. Prepare to spend less than a P100 per person per meal at PP city for an everyday establishment, and less than P300 for one of the pricier ones. Good food is surprisingly cheap for its quality at any establishment, and there is a range of options for the hungry man or woman. Filipino, Japanese, American, fast food franchises and Vietnamese places abound at different price ranges for you. Just a bit of a warning, some places might need a reservation to get a table at busy nights. One place we know for sure to need a call beforehand, Ka Lui. That’s okay though, you can just ask your hotel to call ahead for you to reserve.
7. The carinderias are Vietnamese. Okay, this is more of a personal preference than anything, but I love that the carinderias of PP city are Vietnamese, brought abound by the Vietnamese asylum seekers who first moved to Palawan in 1979. A bowl of beef noodles will set you back about P40-P50 php, buy plain bread to go with it to dip for P8 to P12 pesos and have a cheap meal that will make your mouth feel like paradise.
8. You don’t feel the need to bikini up/dress up all the time. Since you’ll be based in the city and will have to commute to get around, teeny tiny bikinis with shorts and a tank top are not really the everyday garb for every tourist, saving the everyday girl who loves her carbs the stress she gets from bikini season. While you are free to bikini up (or down as the case may be) at the island hopping tours and beaches, it’s not really expected of most tourists so you won’t feel awkward in your semi-covered outfit if you’re not really feeling too confident about your shape. Bikini lovers, don’t worry, the locals don’t blink an eye at string bikinis if you want to strip down, foreign tourists are often found sunbathing topless (covered) on Sabang beach.
That is my appeal for you to go and visit Puerto Princesa for vacation this year. And please, take me with you. I miss the chaolong.