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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BANWA PENSION HOUSE Puerto Princesa: a place where you wouldn't feel like leaving

this from their website:

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

I wouldn't say I am picky with accommodations but I still prefer a soft bed at the end of the day. Also, always think of the possible scenario of being stuck due to bad weather and other unavoidable circumstances and it is better to get stuck in a place where you wouldn't attempt to kill yourself out of boredom.

It would be great if you chose an accommodation close to the sights you want to see. I recently read an article that I found in Lamudi, and it talked about living close to landmarks. (Here is what I read.) I was quite taken by the idea, and back in Puerto Princesa Palawan, I finally found a place where I could stay and not ever think of going somewhere else.


Puerto Princesa prides itself as a garden city. Oddly enough, 99% of accommodations here are modern and bear western appeal. One can hardly find a garden setting like the one at BANWA PENSION HOUSE.

To start with, an inn with a garden setting in the city? I thought this is unheard of. But Banwa Pension House and In has been around for 17 years! Where have I been? I never learned of this place until a few days before flying in. The reviews over tripadvisor are compelling but the place even exceeded my expectations.

At first glace you can see a house which old and is in constant battle with the elements. This place has survived time. I have nothing but respect for its longevity especially because most of the materials used to build it is wood.

The concept of Banwa is that of an alternative space for people to appreciate art.

The place is filled with installation art works, works of local and national artists, and last but not least the tribal crafts of the indigenous people of the island, Palawan including that of the owner of Banwa herself. The artworks on show are incorporated into our main living area, the veranda, in the rooms and more so in the Cafe area.

The cool thing about it is that these artworks are actually for sale. If you get to like one, ask the front desk and you could see yourself going home with it.

The one in charge of the reception area was nice. A lady in her late 30's with a calm voice and relaxed mood. I came in without any reservations and she answered my queries with warmth. I booked my room for two nights at around 9am. T'was too early for check in so I went downtown first to try a restaurant and returned before 12 noon. Still too early for check in so I was encouraged to wait at the cafe first while they prepared the room.
there is a hut at the backyard where you can lazy around

I stayed in an 8-bed mixed dormitory room for only 350 pesos per night. Very good value. This is one of the reasons why it is very famous for backpackers mostly whites. I was as a matter of fact the only Filipino in the room.

This is only a fan room but I had no complain at all with the temperature. The wooden floor and wall made of native materials makes the room cool even during June when monsoon season in the Philippines is characterized by high humidity. The room is a little dark if I may say so but it adds to the quiet and intimate appeal of the place which is then overall mood in Banwa Pension House.

For those who prefer a personal space, private rooms and rooms with en-suite are available.
Our room has its own toilet and bath so at least you don't have to go out to shower and stuff. Water pressure is fine and the toilet works quite fine. There is a shower head but no hot and cold. It is being cleaned only once a day (in the morning) so it could get a bit messy later in the day depending on the occupants of the room.


This is my favorite spot. The reason why I could stay in Banwa Pension House for days and wouldn't even feel bored. The cafe is an oasis.  A living space, a breathing space. Not only that you get to enjoy the ambiance, (the high roof and semi open balcony setting which keeps the place cool throughout the day) this is the place where you mingle with other guests, mostly European and American backpackers with their travel tales and adventures. Each interaction is a cultural exchange and therefore a learning experience. Banwa Art Cafe provides a perfect venue for such exchange where you can be just yourself.
I got to meet this French guy who has travelled Southeast Asia extensively. He is into less touristy places. He even got to live with a particular tribe in Sarawak Borneo for one month. Insane! While I was in Banwa, he went to this seaside community in Puerto Princesa city and interacted with the locals there. Everything happens spontaneously for him. He is so friendly he ended up buying soda for the kids who greeted him and he ended up being invited by a family there to join them for lunch. Talk about authentic local experience.

There also happens to be another local during my stay, a young, very motivated woman ---Ky. 
She leads I AM HIP ( Helping Islets in the Philippines) a charity group she created which helps remote communities in the Philippines.I have nothing but admiration for her. Her dedication for what he does emanates from her innate passion to help those in need. No wonder why she gets a lot of support from local and international volunteers. Much of the financial help she gets from Germany where she has links to NGO's and locals because of the trust she earned for her cause.

Her group's sincerity for reaching out to these remote communities was put to a test in the aftermath of Yolanda when they adopted a community in Northern Cebu to recover from the devastation of the super typhoon. Learn more about I AM HIP and how you can help by visiting their Facebook page >>> here.

Ka, I am too busy saving my own world for now but I hope to share in your cause one day. Thanks for the good conversation and the singing together while you play the ukelele. ^^


At night, Banwa Art Cafe becomes the perfect setting to chill around. With dim lights and mellow music being played, the mood at the cafe is rather intimate. A lot of socializing happens here where guests gather in groups and share good conversation over food or beer. I had fun time here while talking to new found friends while drinking my favorite ice cold beer.
Another reason why you would not want to leave is the food. Banwa Art Cafe is not only about ambiance, it also offers food you will crave for. They have the floppiest of all pancakes, authentic tasting green curry and the best eggplant pasta I have ever tried. I will write another post on the food I tried at Banwa Art Cafe.

Good value, location fit for a garden setting, cool crowd, warm staff, authentic art cafe experience and great food all add up to make you don't wanna leave. Yes, I finally found a place in Puerto Princesa where I can just lazy around the whole day and never feel bored at all.

Flew to Puerto Princesa City via AirAsia and you too can experience this city and its gastronomic offering as AirAsiaPh flies 4x daily to Puerto Princesa from NAIA Terminal 4.
Book your flights at http://www.airasia.com/ph/en/home.page

You can also download AirAsia's Mobile App
Play Store link >>>here
and Itunes link >>>here

BANWA PENSION HOUSE is located at:
Liwanag Street, Puerto Princessa
City, Palawan Island, 5300, Philippines
Call: Local 048 434 8963 Internationally: 0063 48 434 8963
email: reservations@banwa.com

1 comment:

  1. Nice article about Banwa. I am missing it a lot!

    And thanks for promoting HIP.

    Hope to bump into you someday soon!


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