Puerto Princesa Attractions

Puerto Princesa: Top Attractions

This list will guide you through the most popular and breathtaking destinations in this Philippine city. From natural wonders to cultural landmarks, Puerto Princesa has something for everyone. Let's explore!

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Group of tourists visiting the Underground River

Puerto Princesa, known as “A City in the Forest,” boasts world-class natural wonders and a strong commitment to the environment. As the gateway to Palawan, it has hotels, resorts, and restaurants, making it an ideal destination for conferences and family holidays.

With its “cleanest and greenest city” recognition, Puerto Princesa is a must-visit for those seeking satisfying adventures and cultural treasures.

Explore the city’s top attractions and be enchanted by its beauty and ecological excellence.

Must-See Attractions:

Underground River

Located in the northwest, the Puerto Princesa Underground River is a must-visit destination for travelers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an 8km long river that runs through a half-submerged cave system. As you boat down the river, you’ll witness stunning views of limestone formations, cavernous chambers, and wild animals. It’s the second-longest navigable underground river in the world and is declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Honda Bay Island Hopping

After exploring the Underground River, don’t miss out on the Honda Bay Island Hopping tour. Departing from the charming, palm-fringed coast in the east, the tour takes you to several islets with lovely white sand beaches, including Starfish Island, Cowrie Island, and Luli Island. Enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the beach while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Historical Sites:

Visit Plaza Curatel during Puerto Princesa city tour

Legend has it that Puerto Princesa, located on the island of Palawan, was named after a princess-like maiden who roamed around the place on certain nights of the year. However, others attribute the name to its natural advantages as a protected seaport with a deep harbor that can accommodate any size of shipping. Spanish colonizers saw Puerto Princesa as a royal refuge for sea vessels, leading to historical accounts attributing the name to Princess Eulalia, daughter of Queen Isabella II of Spain.

Today, Puerto Princesa’s urban center offers a range of historical sites for visitors to explore, including Plaza Cuartel and Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Plaza Cuartel serves as a grim reminder of World War II atrocities, with restored ruins of an old garrison where Japanese soldiers burned 143 American soldiers who had become prisoners of war inside a tunnel. The Cathedral, built in 1872, is a unique angular-structured edifice.

In addition to these sites, Mendoza Park and Palawan National Museum are located less than a kilometer away. The museum features vital ethnological artifacts from the Tabon Cave complex, one of the archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

The Palawan Heritage Center is a captivating museum located in Palawan, Philippines. It serves as a repository of the region’s rich history, culture, and art. The center offers visitors a comprehensive insight into the diverse heritage of Palawan through its informative exhibits and displays.

A Melting Pot of Culture and Festivities:

Friendly Palaweño people at the Street Parade in Puerto Princesa Palawan

Over the years, Puerto Princesa has become a melting pot of cultures, with waves of migrants from other provinces in the Philippines and even from other countries settling in the city. Among the original inhabitants are the Cuyunons, who possess a rich legacy of folklore and traditions. In addition, the Bataks and Tagbanuas were also among the first to set foot on the island of Palawan.

These diverse groups have served as the foundation of the rich culture visible in the city during festivities and other events where their native culture and arts are exhibited. While each group has its own distinct dialects, they can also speak the native tongue of the Philippines, Filipino.

Visitors to Puerto Princesa can still witness traditional rituals practiced by some members of the Bataks and Tagbanuas. The best time to visit the city is during its many festivals, including the Baragatan sa Palawan Festival which celebrates the foundation of Palawan’s civil government, the City Fiesta which commemorates the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the Balayong Festival which takes place in March when the pinkish flowers of the Balayong or Palawan Cherry start to bloom.

These festivals offer visitors the opportunity to witness colorful street dances and parades with magnificent floats, showcasing the vibrant culture of Puerto Princesa.

Other attractions:

Day trip to Nagtabon Beach

Puerto Princesa, located in the Philippines, offers a variety of unique experiences for travelers looking to explore the area. One of the most fascinating attractions in the city is the Iwahig Penal Farm, a penal colony where inmates are allowed to live, work, and roam freely with their families. Despite minimal security measures, attempted escapes are rare due to the specialized skills the prisoners are taught, including agriculture, fishing, handicrafts, and carpentry. A visit to the Iwahig prison offers a truly eye-opening experience.

Nagtabon Beach, located just 25km from the city center, offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and a long stretch of sandy shoreline. For those seeking more beach adventures, Napsan Beach, Tagkawayan Beach, Talaudyong Beach, and Simpocan Beach are also nearby. In addition to beach activities, the area also offers great opportunities for trekking and exploring waterfalls such as Tagkurring Waterfalls and Salakot Waterfalls. Visitors can also immerse themselves in the local village life and experience the culture of the region. With so many exciting options, Puerto Princesa is the perfect destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

 

Beautiful House in Puerto Princesa' Baker Hill

Travelers looking to escape the tourist crowds can venture to the northeast area of Puerto Princesa, where they can relax on non-touristy beaches and trek nature trails towards waterfalls. The Olangoan Waterfalls is a must-visit destination, with a 5cm cliff jump accessible after 45 minutes of trekking, crossing streams, and bouldering. Other sites worth exploring include Panglima Reef, Babuyan Twin Sandbars, and Mt. Cleopatra’s Needle for adventurous climbers.

Another must-visit landmark in Puerto Princesa is Baker’s Hill, a picturesque location with various structures, flora, and fauna. The site offers a playground for kids, benches for relaxation, a restaurant, and a bakery, all while providing stunning views of Honda Bay. Visitors can also admire the statues and take memorable photos.

For those interested in wildlife, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, also known as the Crocodile Farm, is an excellent destination. The reserve is home to hundreds of crocodiles, including both newly hatched and full-grown ones, as well as other animals considered “endemic” to Palawan.

The Butterfly Garden and Tribal Village in Puerto Princesa is a popular attraction that showcases the colorful world of butterflies in a lush tropical setting. The garden is home to a variety of butterfly species, including the Philippine Swallowtail, Golden Birdwing, and Blue Glassy Tiger. The Tribal Village features traditional houses of the indigenous tribes of Palawan. Visitors can learn about their culture, traditions, and way of life through the exhibits and displays inside the houses.

Tourists hiking to Olanguan Waterfalls

Classic Puerto Princesa Day Trips Options:

This UNESCO World Heritage site and New 7 Wonders of Nature is a must-visit for any traveler. Marvel at the limestone karst formations and crystal-clear waters as you navigate the underground river.

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Go on an island-hopping adventure and discover the beauty of Luli Island, Cowrie Island, and Starfish Island. Snorkel, swim, and sunbathe in these tropical havens.

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Get to know the highlights of Puerto Princesa and immerse yourself in the local culture. Visit historical landmarks, sample local cuisine, and get a glimpse of daily life in the city.

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Discovering Puerto Princesa in 4 days:

Day 1: Arrival in Puerto Princesa – Explore the City
Upon arriving in Puerto Princesa, take some time to explore the city and immerse yourself in the local culture. Visit historical landmarks such as the Plaza Cuartel or the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, or stroll around the Puerto Princesa Baywalk to enjoy the scenic view of the sea.

Day 2: Discover the Underground River
Embark on an exciting adventure to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Marvel at the stunning limestone formations, and witness the diverse ecosystem that thrives within the cave’s chambers.

Day 3: Island Hopping at Honda Bay
Indulge in a fun-filled day of island hopping at Honda Bay, located just a short distance away from the city center. Visit picturesque islands like Starfish Island and Cowrie Island, where you can swim, snorkel, or simply relax on the pristine white sand beaches.

Day 4: Departure from Puerto Princesa
After a memorable stay in Puerto Princesa, it’s time to say goodbye and head back home. Take with you unforgettable memories of the city’s rich history, natural wonders, and warm hospitality.