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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL GUIDE #AirAsiaZestPuertoPrincesa

It's the start of travel season in the Philippines again. I am sure you already plotted your next destination. Either you did or haven't made up your mind yet,
here is a TRAVEL GUIDE ON PUERTO PRINCESA that I hope will help you on your next trip to the city.

TAKE NOTE: All the recommendations of accommodation, attractions, restaurants and food that I included here are only those that I personally experienced. I am sure there are more that one can add to the list but I can only attest to the ones here based on my experience.

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Puerto Princesa is no doubt one of my favorite destinations. It might not be the best in terms of attractions (as there are so many wow places in the country) but nothing beats Puerto Princesa when it comes to efficiency of managing tourists and making sure their convenience and enjoyment is utmost priority.

Easy on the budget, convenient, easily accessible, fun. That's Puerto Princesa City Palawan.

Flying In via 
AirAsiaZest

One good thing about Puerto Princesa is that you have a lot of flight options. AirAsiaZest for example flies 4x daily to the city. Having flown AirAsiaZest has already made me familiar and confident with the brand. New planes, professional staff, good safety record. I am sure many of you who have tried their service can relate. The plus factor is when they transferred to NAIA-4 from Clark

One thing I like about AirAsia is their all-year round low fares. I noticed that with the competitors, you need to book at least 6 months or even more than a year ahead to get a really low value, but if you have decided to fly a month or two weeks later, AirAsia is the way to go.

Be sure not to miss on their promo fares
by logging in to http://www.airasia.com/ph/en/home.page .

You can also download AirAsia's Mobile App
http://www.airasia.com/mobile/app-download/main_en.htm
Play Store link >>>here
and Itunes link >>>here
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Web Check-in
Never has web check in been as important as ever due to the hellish traffic condition in Metro Manila.

WEB CHECK-IN IS AVAILABLE FOR
Individuals, or group bookings with up to 50 guests.
All flights from 14 days up to 1 hour before departure for AirAsia (AK, QZ, FD, PQ, Z2, I5) flights and up to 4 hours for AirAsia X (D7, XJ) flights.

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Inflight Meal

AirAsiaZest has an exciting inflight menu which includes  Uncle Chin's chicken rice, Pak Nasser's nasi lemak, Chicken Adobo ala Mariles, Chicken Caesar Sandwich among others. A good combination if I may say.

I wanted to try nasi lemak during my recent flight but it was not available so I tried chicken rice and their sandwich instead. Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice is love. Kung ganito ang mga on-board meals, mapapagana ka talaga. 
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WHERE TO STAY


Dangkalan Resort
http://www.dangkalanresort.com/
Our first time in PPS was in 2009 and Dangkalan was where we stayed. I don't know what the staus of this place is now but I heard it is still in business. It's a small resort located in the quieter side of the city. What I like most about it is that it is next to a small beach. I love going out at night, sitting by the huts on the seaside and feeling the breeze before going to bed. You will also look forward to waking up early in the morning to see the sunrise.

READ Full Review>> here

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Marianne Home Inn
http://www.marianne-palawan.com/aboutus.html
Marianne Home Inn is located at the heart of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It's only 5 minutes away on foot from Baywalk and the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. From the airport, it takes around 8 minutes on a tricycle.Marianne Home Inn has 17 air-conditioned rooms, each with private bath and hot and cold showers.It opened in March 31,2011 so it's relatively new. That means you have little to worry about sanitation. This was where I stayed with other bloggers during a familiarization tour of PPS. Try their dormitory room if you are travelling on a budget. I am sure you will like it. ^^

Marianne Home Inn
Quezon Street Extension Barangay Tagumpay
Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines

Read Full Story >>>here

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Marrianne Home Inn

Hotel Centro Palawan
http://www.hotelcentropalawan.com/

We had a very short stay at HOTEL CENTRO but it definitely left a mark on us. It is a top notch hotel with a pool that is the envy of others. It was our third time in the city and we were set to go to El Nido but decided to spen the first night in PPS because of this hotel. The pool is really lovely at night so mapapa-swimming ka talaga kahit ganu kapa kapagod. It is perfect of business and leisure travelers.This is also great for the locals as they don't have to travel far to get the good accommodation they deserve.

HOTEL CENTRO PALAWAN is located at
San Pedro National Highway, Puerto Princesa City Palawan Philippines
Phone Number: (48) 434 1111

READ Full Review>> here
HOTEL CENTRO PALAWAN
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Banwa Pension House
One of my favorites in the city. Unfortunately, it was destroyed y fire only a few months after my visit. Really saddened by the news. I still included it here with the hope that they can rebuild the place soon.

Banwa Art House was destroyed by a fire on the 7th October 2014.
As a consequence we are unable to accommodate any backpackers.
If you had pre-booked, please contact banwa.fireupdate@banwa.com

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Palo Alto 
http://paloalto.ph/

The latest accommodation in PPS that I have tried. I haven't actually written a separate post on the place because it has been less than two weeks since we came back. Like Dangkalan, it is a bit off the city center but the commute back and forth downtown is worth it, sooooo worth it. Visit their website and the photos there will make you visualize a relaxing weekend retreat. I drooled over the photos there and I was suddenly imagining my vacation. Seeing it in person is another level. I call it "feel-good-place". A silent sanctuary in a city.

I can't wait to tell you about the whole experience. Soon. For now I would to say that I found a new favorite place in Puerto Princesa!

PALO ALTO PALAWAN
Libis, Angel Cabanag St, Puerto Princesa, 5300 Palawan
LANDLINE: +63 (2) 850-1142
MOBILE: +63 (917) 800-8117
EMAIL: INQUIRE@PALOALTO.PH

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Fersal Hotel Palawan
http://www.fersal.com.ph/palawan/

Fersal and thier upscale brand Hotel Elizabeth have always been close to my heart since I have worked with them on a project in 2012.
I have literally blogged all Fersal Hotels in Manila >>>here
and Hotel Elizabeth >>here

Fersal Palawan is the latest in their growing portfolio (I heard they are planning a Hotel Elizabeth branch in San Vicente Palawan) so I wanted to write about. I feel privileged my courtesy call to the hotel was warmly accommodated I can finally introduce it to my readers.

And many will surely like the place. I was surprised at how this branch in PPS is a fusion of Fersal and Hotel Elizabeth in many aspects, epecially the rooms. I have actually mistakenly called it Hotel Elizabeth couple of times because it really felt like one. The Executive and Junior Suites will surely appeal to business travelers while their standard and deluxe rooms will surely lure backpackers and those who go here on a budget. They have couple of spacious function halls for corporate events too.

One major advantage of Fersal Puerto princesa is its location. What better address than a few blocks from the city''s airport terminal. Yes, it is only a few meters away from the airport. Ilang tumbling lang nasa lobby kana ng hotel. haha!

Will write a full review soon.

Fersal Hotel Palawan is located at
Rizal Ave. Extension Brgy. Bancao, Bancao Puerto Princesa
Telephone No.: (634) 8433 8000

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Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn
http://purplefountain.weebly.com/

Another accommodation I am soooo looking forward to to try when I return to PPS is Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn. It is a quaint and cozy 10-room inn in a quiet neighborhood in the city and the winner ofTripAdvisor's 2014 Traveler's Choice Award for the B&Bs/Inns category of Puerto Princesa. Only 25 inns in the Philippines received this award.

This Inn is not just photogenic, it is an eye candy in person. Every angle is beautiful and colorful. Women will love it because it feels like being in a life-size doll house. Men will love it because it is neat and fully functional. Families will love it because it makes people feel like home and groups will enjoy it because rooms are available for sharing. Will write a full review soon.

Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn
296 Manalo Extension Puerto Princesa City
Telephone: +63 48 434 2430
Mobile 1: +63 917 537 2772 (Globe)
Mobile 2: +63 999 882 5800 (Smart)
email: purplefountaininn@gmail.com

 
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ATTRACTIONS:What to See and Do in Puerto Princesa
There is no shortage of attractions in Puerto Princesa. Simply put, there is something for everybody.


Underground River

Puerto Princesa and the Underground River are synonymous to each other. PPS has capitalized on this UNESCO World Heritage Site and made it a brand out of it and I admire how they developed the place while keeping it protected. The underground river is in the opposite side of the city with the airport and downtown on the Eastern Coast while the Underground River is on the Western side facing West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). This means more than an hour ride if you are staying downtown. That's how big Puerto Princesa is. Tours are all standardized and are well regulated by the city government and The Department of Tourism.

Sabang is the set-off point to this attraction. From there you have to take a pump boat for around 20 minutes. You will dock to a beach next to the underground river, walk a few meters through the forest then ride a paddle boat to get into the Underground River.

I have been here three times. The first experience was "wow" for me. The 2nd time was more of a routine, seen this, seen that. The 3rd time, I thought "nakakasuka na" but surprisingly, I enjoyed it! That was two weeks ago and tourist arrivals in PPS is just starting to pick up and we came early in the morning so we got to enjoy the stillness inside the cave. Less the noise, I got to appreciate the place again.

Underground River Booking Office
No. 350 Rizal Avenue, Bgy. Bancao-bancao
Puerto Princesa City Philippines
Telephone Number: +63(48)7230904 (Sabang)
Telefax: +63(48)4342509
E-mail: info@puerto-undergroundriver.com, undergroundriver_ppsrnp@yahoo.comFor more information: http://www.puerto-undergroundriver.com/

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SABANG BEACH
The dock in Sabang serves as the set-off point for the Underground River. By the time tourists arrive here, they immediately check in to make sure they get the first boat to the UNESCO HERITAGE site. That means the best thing you can do is to appreciate the view of the surrounding, take a few photos and then leave for the Underground River. People therefore often don't pay too much attention to the place.

For some reasons, locals and even guides discourage swimming here. Jellyfish and strong waves are some of the reasons they say. But one can stroll the wide beachfront and enjoy having a tan. A few resorts dot the beach and this is where lunch buffets included in the tours are usually setup. There are also some shops if you feel like buying souvenirs. Some locals approach you to sell their goods and if you are lucky, you might come across a vendor of tamilok which is an exotic food in PPS.
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SABANG BEACH
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MANGROVE FOREST
At the Northern end of Sabang beach is another alternative attraction-Mangrove Forest. Literally
a forest of bakawan and you see deep into it because of the river which cuts through the mangroves. very similar to the orientation of underground river except that this one i9s above ground. 

A separate fee of 200php per person is all you need for a 45minute boat ride. Don't worry so much about the cost coz I guess it's worth it. 80% of that amount will go to the volunteers who maintain the area, and the boat paddlers of coarse.  Along the way, you get lecture from your boatman. Expect lots and lots of humor too. The boat paddlers even sing songs about the environment during the final stage of the tour. Both educational and entertaining.

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ISLAND HOPPING HONDA BAY

HONDA BAY is another famous tourist destination off the coast of Puerto Princesa known for it's sand islands. According to our guide, it got its name from a Japanese word which means "sudden deep". That's a definition I never heard of before but I observed that it's true, the waters suddenly get deep only a few meters from shore so better wear those life jackets when you go here. At any rate, the Philippine coast guard maintains a heavy presence here so the guides would really require you to wear it whether on the boat or when snorkeling.

Honda bay is in the Sulu Sea side of Puerto Prinsesa City. It takes 20-30 minutes from the airport to Sta. Lourdes where there is a small port. From there, you will take the boat for another 15-30 minutes depending on your island of destination . Tour is for 1, 100php per head. That would include 3 areas. It's up to you if you want to request for another island to hop in, comes with an additional charge of coarse.

I loooove Honda Bay! The islands are mostly flat characterized by sand bars and mangroves. The flatness could mean boring landscape if you are in the middle of nowhere but the towering mountains of mainland Palwan makes for the dramatic background appeal. Snorkeling, fish feeding, swimming the clear waters of Honda Bay is bliss.
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BINUATAN Weaving Creations
Here, they manufacture handloom woven products utilizing Palawan's indigenous fibers like field grasses, buri etc.Among the products they produce are bags, placemats, table runners, window blinds and curtains, ref covers and coaster wall hangers that are top quality they are being exported all over the world.

Binuatan weaving
Binuation weving creations
Binuatan creations



BAKER'S HILL

It's actually a place with a series of villas where a famous a bakery is also found. It is 20 minutes away from downtown on the hilly part thus the nameBaker's Hill. But it has expanded to more than just a bakeshop selling goodies from cakes and pastries to other pasalubong delights.  It's not just the famous hopia mongop that you can bring home to loved ones but even souvenir shirts. The place has transformed to include manicured lawns, unique life size figures like that of Marilyn Monroe and other Walt Disney characters and a few food stalls.

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bakers hill
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MITRA'S RANCH
It's more than a ranch. The place is famous because of the park by the hill overlooking Honda Bay. This is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike if they want a more quiet place. It's a little off downtown so you need a privatevehicle to get here. It is part of tour packages so access is easy. There is also a zipline here as an added attraction. Mitra's Ranch is near Baker's Hill.

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mitra's ranch

VIET VILLE

Viet Ville is a special village set up by the local government of Puerto Princesa to house the displaced Vietnamese Asylum seekers who wanted to live in a free world outside the shackles of communist Vietnam . It was originally conceived by the Center for Assistance to Displaced Persons (CADP) of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines (CBCP). This was also made possible by the financial support of the Vietnamese communities around the world. This community of refugees built this immigrant zone from the ground in their pursuit of self-reliance.

The village was set up in 1996 with as much as 1,500 residents. However, in recent years, the population has dwindled down to less than 150. A good number of them have assimilated with the Pinoy communities, opting to live outside Viet Ville, setting up noodle houses and selling jewelries in markets and commercial spaces. Moreover, the governments of the U.S. and some European countries have opened their "doors" for these displaced people, welcoming them into their greener pastures, and this has become more economically viable as an option for the refugees. >>source 

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VIETville
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PUERTO PRINCESA CITY CATHEDRAL
(Imaculate Conception Cathedral)
and PLAZA CUARTEL

Another popular landmark in the city is Imaculate Conception Cathedral. It is near the end of Rizal Ave. which is the main street running parallel to the airport. The angular structure of the church is unique from the conventional religious architecture of most churches in the Philippines.
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Next to the Cathedral is Plaza Cuartel which is a testament of the painful memories of World War II during Japan's attack. A marker is at the center of the plaza detailing what happened in this spot.

Plaza Cuartel is a restored ruin of an old garrison where, in the evening of December 14, 1944, Japanese soldiers burned around 150 American Prisoners of war in a tunnel found beneath the park's portals, which now stands as a grim reminder of World War II astrocities. The remains of those who died where buried at St. Louis Country, Jefferson Barracks, National Cemetery, Missouri, U.S.A in 1952. Only 11 prisoners survived to tell the story. >>source

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BAYWALK

Baywalk is Puerto Princesa's answer to Manila's boardwalk except that here the crowd is smaller and the breeze coming from the sea is fresher. I looove strolling here at night. It serves as a therapeutic activity after a long day around the city then wrap things up by having a good meal and a few bottles of beer at one of the stalls along the walk. Nice.

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FIREFLY WATCHING

If you don't feel like partying downtown at night, why not head to Iwahig river to witness a different kind of party. This one involves fireflies, thousands of them nestles in the large mangroves of Iwahig river. An awesome view indeed. Watch a big mangrove tree light up whenever the boatman points an infra-red light into it. Then it becomes dark again, and then another tree and another colony. In between, you get to appreciate the stars dotting the night sky, the placid flow of the river and the gentle paddling of your boatman.

In a few minutes of tour, I learned so much about fireflies than my entire years on earth prior to going here. One cannot take pictures as it is prohibited because it will disturb the fireflies but you will surely bring wonderful memories. Something that you will not post on social media but in your heart.
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WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT

Puerto Princesa is also for those who believe that the food component of travel is an essential part of the trip. Food encapsulates the culture of the place and Puerto Princesa is a wonderland when it comes to food choices. I am really impressed at the diversity of restaurant and food choices in the city. Another plus factor for PPS.


White Fence Cafe
Our latest discovery in PPS. The restaurant wing of Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn consistent with the lovely appeal of the Inn. It's cozy and intimate especially at night, thanks to the artsy interior. Tastefully interiored as tasty as the food they serve. Try their version of Nasi Goreng, Honey Glazed Chili Wings (my favorite), Smokey Backyard Burger, Tomato Basil Parmesan and Carrot Cake among others. Yum, Yum, Yum!
And Oh, don't let the place intimidate you, it looks classy yes but food is not as expensive as you think. Actually is very reasonable for the caliber of the place and the quality of food.

Will write a full review soon.


White Fence Country Cafe
296 Manalo Extension, Bgy. Bancao-Bancao Puerto Princesa City
Telephone: +63 48 434 2430
Mobile 1: +63 917 537 2772 (Globe)
Mobile 2: +63 999 882 5800 (Smart)
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Nasi Lemak
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Honey Glazed Chili Wings
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Tomato Basil Parmesan 
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Smokey Backyard Burger


GYPSY'S LAIR
Gypsy's Lair is an art cafe which serves real good food. The ones I tried are Seafood Green Curry which I really like so much plus Pin Thai which is Filipino's answer to the famous pad Thai of Thailand. 
Read Full Review >>>here

GYPSY'S LAIR and Gypsy's Art Cafe
are located at:
Unit 20 Mercado de San Miguel | 
National Highway, Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines
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Seafood Green Curry 
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PinThai
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HEAVENLY DESSERTS By Dorothy
One of the highest rated restaurants in PPS on TripAdvisor and conveniently located downtown, you might wanna try here Tuyo Flakes, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake and Tiramisu Coffee. Yum!
Read Full Review >>>here

HEAVENLY DESSERTS By Dorothy
is located at:
Ground Floor Golraz Bldg., Lacao St., Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Phone: 0917 569 9988

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Tuyo Flakes
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Dulce de Leche Cheesecake



BONA'S CHAO LONG

And finally, this noodle house may look like an ordinary karenderya but don't underestimate it. I never knew about until two weeks ago when our shuttle driver from Palo Alto pointed it to us. And this is what they mean when they say good number of Vietnamese asylum seekers who lived in PPS have assimilated with the Pinoy communities, opting to live outside Viet Ville, setting up noodle houses and selling jewelries in markets and commercial spaces. A noodle house downtown. Finally! Authentic tasting Vietnamese noodles at very affordable price.

Try Beefstew with noodles, Pork buto-buto with noodles SBS, French bread longganisa and Yakult shake. Yan palang solve na solve na! ^^

Will write a full review soon.
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Kinabuch Bar and Grill
If you want something out of the ordinary, go to Kinabuch Bar and Grill along Rizal Ave. and try their "crocodile" dishes. I don't eat exotic food so I didn't write about the experience. Well, my wife and friends did and they said it's good. One cannot miss this place because it's along the main road from the airport and it is one of the most popular restaurants in the city.

#369 Rizal Ave, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
(048) 434 5194

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GATEWAY TO EL NIDO AND SAN VICENTE
For those who want a grander Palawan experience, heed North to San Vicente or El Nido. Or what about other unexploit mountains,waterfalls amd islands of the South. Puerto Princesa being at the geographical heart of Palawan is gateway to it all.
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Puerto Princesa has it all, world class attractions, nice beaches, history, accommodations from budget to high end, diverse food choices, easy transport access, very efficient system for tours, quality products, friendly people. No wonder why I keep coming and not grow tired of it. It seems that every time I go back, there is always something new to discover. ^^


Hope this experiential travel guide helps. Happy Travels!!!!

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