Many people treat Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital of Palawan, merely as a stopping point on their way to El Nido and Coron. For example, a widely popular itinerary involves sleeping there for only 1 night, taking the underground river tour the following morning, then heading off straight to El Nido by van. Since the underground river tour is by far the biggest attraction, we have a created a special page just for it, which you can find here. Information regarding ll other day tours in Puerto Princesa can be found by reading this page.
While it is true that other Palawan destinations offer much more exciting adventures, that doesn’t mean there’s noting to do in Puerto Princesa. Below you can find detailed suggestions for day tour and activities which can easily keep you busy for a few days. Puerto Princesa’s biggest advantage over El Nido and Coron is how much more developed this place is – it’s much easier to find decent hotels with steady electricity and Wi-Fi for example. This makes the city a good choice for anybody who values comfort, especially for families with small children.
Private tours are also available for an additional charge. Unlike at other locations, here we don’t feel those are quite necessary. Even group tours include pickup from your hotel and a local guide will be right beside you for the whole day. Group tours also offer the chance of meeting new people, which is especially nice if you are travelling with kids, who would surely enjoy being around someone their age.
After doing extensive research, we have decided to only work with 2 different tour operators in Puerto Princesa. Both are locally owned, and are the only ones we found who have enough experience to carry out these tours smoothly. They are well established in the business, and put a lot of emphasis on being punctual and professional.
Most hotels work with these companies as well, so you can always book your tours directly from the front desk. While it allows for greater flexibility, the problem is you might find out certain tours are already fully booked. Moreover, booking from the hotel is substantially more expensive. For there reasons, we strongly suggest you let us book your day tours in advance and enjoy a worry-free vacation.
Aside from the underground river tour, this is Puerto Princesa’s most popular attraction. While it does resemble similar tours on other islands, the main advantage here is it’s much less crowded. You can book this tour with a private boat and guide, or can join a group of 8 and share a bangka, which will make the whole trip much cheaper. Group tours cost 35$ per person. For private island hopping tours, please contact us for a quote as it depends on availability and your exact requests.
There are quite a few beautiful islands to visit, and most of them are also ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Pandan and Dos Palmas islands have the beat beaches, but are privately owned so an admission fee per person is required. If you are on a budget, you can skip these 2 and go to the smaller islands instead. Luli islands, Snake island, Starfish and Cowrie are typical inclusions in this day tour, all offering beautiful quiet beaches and great coral reefs to snorkel at.
|Honda bay island hopping itinerary|
|07:00 - 07:30||Pickup from hotel|
|08:15 - 09:00||Arrival to wharf, safety briefing and start of tour|
|9:30 – 13:30||Island hopping tour|
|13:30 – 14:30||Complimentary lunch buffet|
|11:00 - 11:45||Underground river tour|
|15:30 – 16:00||Drop off at hotel|
The exact itinerary of this day trip can only be determined at the day of the tour, based on weather conditions. Special requests and customization are possible, especially if you booked the private tour. Snorkeling gear is not provided, but you’ll be able to rent it either at the Honda bay wharf or once you reach any of the islands. You’ll also have to pay 150P (3$) environmental fee at the wharf. Bringing swimming attire, towels, sunscreen and extra water is highly advised. A complimentary lunch buffet is included.
This is another highly popular attraction among tourists – since the tour goes out in the evening it can be easily added to most travel plans. The tour takes you down the Iwahig river, a 10-meter-wide river surrounded by trees and mangroves from all sides. The entire surrounding is lit up by the fireflies, creating a colorful and magical ambiance resembling a Christmas celebration.
As with all other activities, this one can be booked as either a private or group tour. There isn’t really a need to book a private boat, since the paddle boats are small anyway and you won’t share them with many people. A light dinner at Baker’s Hill is included prior to the tour itself. You’ll be escorted by a local guide throughout your trip, and the total price for each person is 28 U.S dollars.
|Firefly watching tour itinerary|
|18:00||Pickup from hotel|
|18:39 - 19:30||Complimentary dinner|
|19:30 – 21:00||Firefly tour|
|21:30||Expected arrival back to hotel|
Please make sure to follow the safety instructions at all time, and stay on the boat unless your guide says otherwise. Avoid using flash while taking photos, as it scares away the fireflies. Chances are you won’t get really wet, but keep in mind towels aren’t provided so you might want to bring your own. Delays in pickup time are possible, and the latest you can go on the tour is 7:30 PM – but please make sure to coordinate that with us in advance.
Even though this tour is somewhat underwhelming, it’s still a nice way to pass a few hours in Puerto Princesa. The tour is quite short, and is very cheap costing only 10$ per person, so you get a very good return for your money. We recommend this day tour mostly to families, as we think small children will find it both entertaining and educational.
The city tour will take you around all the various points of interest in Puerto Princesa and its vicinity. These include the immaculate conception cathedral, city plaza, the baywalk and the Puerto Princesa Coliseum. Notable out of town locations which could be added are the Crocodile farm, Mitra’s ranch (horseback riding) and buttefly garden.
All in all this tour takes 4 hours to complete. Standard pickup time from hotel is 1:30 PM and you can expect to be back at around 5:30. There’s no lunch included, so make sure you eat before and bring an extra bottle of water with you as well. This is a guided tour, meaning you’ll have a local tour guide with you all the way through, who will explain about the history of the various landmarks you visit.
As already mentioned, Puerto Princesa’s attractions are fairly limited and none of them really stand out, with the exception of the Underground River tour. Still, spending a few days at this location would certainly prove enjoyable and there’s no reason not to try the various activities offered. This place is especially recommended for families, as all tours provide a fantastic opportunity to learn about nature and history, and are all very safe.
Tourism is Puerto Princesa is fairly developed, and so tours are very cheap and very well regulated. You can expect to experience organization at the highest level, with welcoming and experienced guides. Large groups will find this a good choice, since taking a private tour in El Nido or Coron would cost you much more.
Overall, we definitely suggest you spend at least a night or 2 in the city, so you’ll be able to sample the popular day tours there. Puerto Princesa’s tours and attractions are a safe bet for anyone who looks to spend a few days there, and we are certain you will have a great time. Thanks to the fact the city’s airport is the busiest in Palawan, this is also the best place to start your time on the island. Puerto Princesa can easily be added to any of our Palawan packages, and that way you can enjoy everything this place has to offer, before heading out to other beautiful destinations.