The hubby and I both self-declared a long weekend last weekend. Justified naman because it was a milestone in our married life, hehe. March 17th, which fell on a Saturday this year, was our 6th wedding anniversary. So, we decided to spend it on a trip to a place we hadn’t been to yet. I suggested Puerto Princesa City (PPC) in Palawan and the hubby said yes in a jiffy. He said he wanted to experience the marvelous underground river tour the place is famous for. I, on the other hand, wanted the same and more.
So, I immediately booked our tickets and accommodation for a 4D3N vacation (March 15-18, 2018) at PPC which, we would later find out, is known as the “city in a forest.” We even had some company during the trip courtesy of Mame, my MIL, and my balikbayan aunt Laura. Gusto raw nila sumama, eh madali naman kami kausap, kaya go! Totoo naman pala talaga na maganda at malinis sa Puerto Princesa! Nakakatuwa at nakakamangha rin na napapaligiran ng mga puno at berdeng berde ang kapaligiran doon!
Just a warning, tons of photos from our Palawan escapade below PLUS some travel and tipid tips:
DAY 1 (Arrival in PPC, Check-in at By The Bay Jacana Bed and Breakfast, and Dinner at Ka Lui Restaurant)
Travel Tip: Get a tour guide that will show you around the city and give you good recommendations on where to go, what to do, and where to eat. Plus point if he’s a tricycle driver, too, that could pick you up from your hotel and take you to your destinations for the day and back to your hotel safely and on time. The tour guide we got for this trip with the descriptions I just mentioned is just a text or call away:
Bryan Elivera – 09202896170 (smart), 09152788528 (globe)
DAY 2 (Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour with Buffet Lunch, MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center, and Dinner at K’na Boyet sa Baywok)
Travel Tip: Wear comfy clothes AND bring a hat because summer is scorching hot in the Philippines (pun intended). You can DIY the underground river tour but I highly recommend availing the packages offered by travel agencies. This way, you don’t have to get a tour permit from the city government yourself and arrange for the other things you will need for the tour yourself (e.g. van rides, boat rides, lunch, environmental fees, terminal fees, etc.).
To give your more information, the travel time going to Sabang (the drop-off point to the underground river) is two hours by van. You will have to ride a boat for 10 minutes to get to the underground river and another boat ride (a kayak, this time) for the 45-minute tour itself. The waiting time for your group’s turn to ride the boat going to the underground river and eventually, to get inside it depends on the number of tours scheduled that day. Prices of the tour package range from PHP2,100 to PHP2,500 when I did a quick googling, and you have to pay in advance. I asked our city tour guide Bryan if he could get us a tour package and he said yes right away. The damage to our wallets? PHP1600 per head only, plus the PHP150 environmental fee which is really not part of the usual tour packages being offered by travel agencies. And the best thing about it? We only paid after we got into the van that picked us up at the bed and breakfast place where we were staying!
DAY 3 (Honda Bay Tour with Buffet Lunch by the Sea, Delma Pearl and Souvenir Shop, and Dinner at Neva’s Place)
Tipid Tip: While I highly recommend availing a tour package for the underground river tour, the island hopping activity called Honday Bay tour is better done DIY style, IMHO. It’s cheaper and manageable with minimal hassle. Instead of availing the PHP1,500 tour package rate from travel agencies, our group opted to go with Kuya Bryan’s suggestion to just hire his tricycle (and his friend’s for a total of two tricycles) in going to the drop-off point and from there, hire a boat that would take us to the different islands within Honda Bay. We chose three (Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island) and just paid the entrance fees when we docked on each of them. We also availed of the buffet lunch at Cowrie Island which is part of the usual tour package. The environmental fee we no longer had to pay for because the one from our underground river tour was still valid. We just showed them the receipts and paid for the terminal fee at the drop-off point and we were good to go. And that was it. I took care of everything at the drop-off point while my companions waited at the boat dispatch area.
To prove my point, let’s do a simple computation:
Tour Package (based on my inquiry)
1,500 x 5 = PHP7,500
1,200 — tricycle rides (two tricycles at PHP600 each, back and forth)
1,500 — boat ride (good for 6-8pax)
25 — terminal fees (PHP5 x 5)
250 — Starfish Island entrance fees (PHP50 x 5)
300 — Luli Island entrance fees (PHP60 x 5)
375 — Cowrie Island entrance fees (PHP75 x 5)
1,000 — buffet lunch at Cowrie Island (PHP200 x 5)
Clearly, we saved PHP2,850 and that’s a lot! The hubby, my MIL, and I also rented sanitized snorkeling gears (PHP100 per set) and aqua shoes (PHP150 per pair) from one of the shops lining the road going to the drop-off point to complete the experience. These are not included in the usual tour package but are a must if you plan to swim while doing the island hopping.
Tipid Tip: Ask your tour guide where you could buy pasalubongs for your loved ones back home at the most competitive prices. It will save you time and money, I tell you. That’s specially true if you plan to go south sea pearl (SSP) shopping in Palawan. Don’t forget to use your charm and haggle reasonably like I did! 😉
DAY 4 (Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Baker’s Hill, Mitra’s Ranch, Binuatan Creations, MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center, Departure for Manila)
Tipid Tip: Buy cashew nuts (kasuy) from the wet market where their prices are reasonable and not from pasalubong centers where they are sold at marked up prices. Do not leave Palawan without taking home ube hopias from Baker’s Hill. The big ube hopia fan in me looooove ’em! Hoard them if you must because each box of 10 (pcs.) only costs PHP45!
We immensely enjoyed our Puerto Princesa trip and we hope to go back there again someday. For now, kayod muna ulit para makaipon ng pangbakasyon, hahaha.
Have a fruitful week, friends! 🙂
May you choose happiness always,