When I saw my frst article on PAL’s Mabuhay Magazine, I said to myself, “can’t believe this is happening.” The article is a 2-day suggested itinerary called “TACLOBAN ON A BUDGET.” So when I learned that a second article was published last November I was lated, surprised and overjoyed. A lot of friends have informed me that they do read my article on board. And as the saying goes, “IT’S SWEETER THE SECOND TIME AROUND,” so its sweeter to be published once again in Philippines Airlines’ Mabuhay Magazine. More articles to come!
Here’s the unedited version of NOT YOUR ORDINARY PALAWAN. Its actually 5 things to experience (beyond the Underground River and Honda Bay tour) and 5 foods to try while in Puerto Princesa City.
NOT YOUR ORDINARY PALAWAN
There are at least 2 places being recommended to first time visitors in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan: (1) Underground River and (2) Island Hopping at Honda Bay. These two are a must-experience spots in Puerto Princesa City- you should not leave this island without taking some souvenir photos. Is there more this “City in the Forest” can offer to the curious traveler? I say, “a year is not enough.”
Being in loved with this island paradise I’m always on a look-out of places to see beyond the tourist traps, beyond what travel agencies offer. Something fresh, something extra-ordinary only available for those who want to experience something more. I prepared some things to experience, foods to try and more in Puerto Princesa City.
Things to experience:
Trek and Dip into Irawan Falls. Just a 30-minute drive by a tricycle and a 2-hour trek to the falls. The City Tourism Office can be contacted for a tourist guide to the falls. Along the journey you would cross rivers and streams flowing from the river. There are actually four falls, the first one for those adventurous enough to jump to as high as 30-ft, the second one has a natural slide measuring about 15ft, the third one for your souvenir photo and the last one has a natural basin about 4ft. deep for everyone to enjoy swimming. Bring some food and have your lunch on the flat rocks near the falls. Its like small tables prepared for the trek-tired guest. Entrance to Falls is free; just make sure you won’t leave any trash. (Transportation Cost: less than Php 200).
Discover Nagtabon Beach. You want to experience some unspoiled white beach? This is the place to be- west coast of Palawan facing the South China Sea. You just have to jeepney going there because no public transportation goes there. After about an hour and a half, you will be welcomed by pristine white beach, blue sea and an n unending horizon you would wish you live near this place. The beach is about a mile long of walk and stunning rock formations can be seen on your side. You should also bring something for lunch or if you want, you can buy from the local fishermen and just grilled it while the barkada is busy enjoying the beach and the small waves. (Jeepney Rental: Php2,000 or less, good for 16pax).
My friends enjoying the sand while I brave the heat and ride the waves
My favorite skimboarding spot in Puerto Princesa City- Nagtabon Beach
Enter the Palawan Museum. Learn history and culture of Palawan just near your hotel. The museum is home to a lot of collections which includes archaeology, history, culture, ethnology and anthropology of this distinct and diverse island. Do you know that the “manunggul jar” imprinted on your 1000-peso bill was discovered from a cave in Quezon, Palawan. The Palawan Museum is located near Mendoza Park along Rizal Street and is open Mondays-Saturdays between 9:00am-12:00nn and 1:30-5:0pm. (Entrance Fee: Php20, adult and Php10, children)
Capture the Sunset at Binduyan. (70 kilometers north of the city). Rest a motorcycle and drive all the way to Binduyan to see some of the nice rock formations Palawan can offer. Bask in the sun while enjoying the gray sands and colorful shells. Most of all, wait for the sun to set for a romantic silhouette photo with your special someone. (Motor bike rental: Php600 for 24hours)
Learn something from WWII at the Plaza Cuartel. This small memorial park can be found near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. This is actually an old garrison used by the Japanese to burn some 143 US soldiers during the WWII. Since this place is near the sea, you can also relax your eyes with the clear azul Puerto Princesa City inner sea.
Foods to try:
Sip the Most Expensive Soup in the World. Almost every tourist who visited the Underground River would notice those small birds flying in and out of the cave; they are actually “balinsasayaw.” Their nest is made up of their saliva and locals gather their nest because of its value. Class A bird’s nest could reach up to Php100,000/kilo. Why not try it at Balinsasayaw Chicken Grill at Rizal Ave. If you want to learn more about this soup, look for Kim, their Food & Beverage manager who is more than willing to explain the benefits of this soup. (Price: PhP300 good for 4 persons)
Get Worm-ed. When kids develop big round stomachs physicians suggest deworming. But when adults land on Palawan, locals suggest worms- the tamilok or woodworm is a local delicacy found on dead mangroves. Yes it’s slimy and a little bit fishy but I think you should try it. Kinabuch’s offer this on a very cheap price, pair it with some booze. (PhP115 good for 3, not including beer)
Eat some Unicorn (Spotted unicorn fish). I’ve been to a lot of wet markets in the Philippines but Puerto Princesa’s market still amazes me because of the colourful display of fish and shells found in the seafood section. I still remember my sister, Kit, taking some photos of orange, blue, red and violet-colored fish. Because you’re already in the market, try looking for the suran (spotted unicorn fish)- it’s my favorite grilled fish ever! Then ask your local restaurant to grill it for you- just pay for the service. Balinsasayaw Restaurant allows this. Its tender, juicy white meat is love. The best part is meat in the head. Go try it. (Price: Php100-150/kilo)
No other merienda but Chaolong and French Bread. When I’m in town I always look for these two. The best French bread is found in front of Palawan National High school (near Mendoza Park) and the perfect pair would be Chaolong from Chaolong house (beside Mang Inasal) which is just walking distance from where you bought your French bread. (Price range: Php75 for both the Chaolong and French bread).
Bring some “Palawan” home. Confused of what to bring as “pasalubong”? Buy some cashew nuts and honey from Tiange Tiange at Lacao. St corner Rizal St (near Chowking). It’s healthy, cheap and delicious too! (Prices- Pure Honey: Php150 350ml, Cashew Nuts: Php350/kilo )