If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for the most beautiful tropical destinations.
Thankfully, I live in the Philippines, so I didn’t have to look too far. The Philippines is an archipelago with over seven thousand islands; many of which are different versions of the ideal tropical paradise, depending who you ask.
But if you ask me, my version of paradise are the islands of Palawan. With a total land area of over 14,600 square kilometers, Palawan has much to offer for paradise-seeking travelers. These are the 5 experiences you shouldn’t miss in Palawan:
- Visit a subterranean wonder at the Puerto Princesa Underground River (Puerto Princesa): The 8-kilometer long subterranean river in Puerto Princesa is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The experience is breathtaking from beginning to end. A small boat takes you through the inner cavities of a river located right underneath the St. Paul Mountain Range, where jaw-dropping caverns, cathedrals, and limestone create the illusions of forming shapes and sizes that will have you taking a second look!
- Learn about ancient history at the Ille Cave (El Nido): On the surface, El Nido brings memories of luxury resorts on water, towering limestone cliffs, and the clearest turquoise waters you’ve ever seen. But did you know that El Nido is actually home to an important archeological site? That’s because the El Nido area was already inhabited by ancient Filipino tribes more than 12,000 years ago, making it a significant location for archeology and the birth of Philippine culture. The discovery of artifacts, bones, and fossils just a few years ago in Ille Cave have been well-preserved for visitors to enjoy.
- Be amazed at Kayangan Lake (Coron): Kayangan Lake is one of the most popular postcard images of Palawan and for good reason: the crystal-clear waters are nestled in between rugged karst limestone formations that are guarded by the Tagbanua tribes. A short but steep ten-minute climb will take you to a viewpoint where you’ll be able to take in amazing views of the emerald and turquoise-colored waters, and rocks covered by lush greenery.
- Indulge in al fresco seaside dining: Tropical islands, beaches, lakes, and rivers aren’t the only worth experiences in Palawan. The food alone is worthy of a visit! If you love seafood, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the freshest and most delicious varieties cooked for you. Palawan’s native chickens, seaweed, and fresh vegetables will provide you with the sustenance you need especially after a hot day out at sea. Most tour packages are already inclusive of meals; and, depending on your itinerary, may have you enjoying sumptuous Filipino dishes with a view of the ocean. Wash it down with fresh coconut juice!
- Explore with an island hopping tour: El Nido and Coron are two of Palawan’s most popular tourist destinations. Both are home to several outlying islands and lagoons that are only accessible by boat. It’s extremely easy finding a tour agency in either Coron or El Nido that will take you to explore many different destinations in one day. The boats are simple outriggers that are comfortable, so you can discover the beautiful islands that make Palawan a true paradise – in style.
Palawan Travel Information:
Other essentials that you shouldn’t forget for your Palawan trip include sunblock, mosquito repellent, protective clothing, and waterproof bags.
There are also several domestic and international airlines that fly directly from Manila to Puerto Princesa, Coron, and El Nido. Direct flights to El Nido are the most expensive since the area still relatively lacks infrastructure. However, for travelers on a budget, there’s also the option of flying to Puerto Princesa from Manila, then taking a 5-hour air-conditioned van to El Nido. If you’re lucky enough to avail of a promo rate, taking this route can sometimes cost more than half of a direct flight from Manila to El Nido.
When it comes to accommodations, Palawan has a wide range of hotels to suit all budgets. There are a number of affordable hostels, as well as high-end resorts to choose from. Getting around Puerto Princesa, Coron, and the El Nido town proper is usually through hiring a tuk-tuk, known locally as a tricycle; there are also motorbikes that you may rent or hire for getting around to short distances. In Puerto Princesa, a busy city, the main roads are filled with cars and a taxi is the ideal mode of transport for longer distances.
- If you plan to visit El Nido, it’s recommended to take cash with you as the town only as a few working ATM’s. At the moment, there are very little restaurants that can accept credit card since it’s still considered a fairly remote destination. On the other hand, Coron and Puerto Princesa are well-developed and have access to more facilities.