Are you looking for the best tourist spots and things to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan? I have been to Puerto Princesa a few times, and Palawan is my favourite island in the Philippines. Puerto Princesa has been repeatedly awarded as the cleanest and greenest in the Philippines.
Every time I visited Palawan, I’d first stop for a day or two to enjoy the tourist spots and things to do in Puerto Princesa. “Puerto” as the locals call the city, became the main gateway hub of Palawan because of its big port and airport that connects Palawan to the rest of the Philippines.
Puerto Princesa is also a popular connecting stopover before taking a 6-hour road trip to El Nido and San Vicente which are one of the popular eco-tourist destinations in Palawan.
Let me share with you some of the best tourist spots and things to do in Puerto Princesa so you can enjoy and immerse yourself in the culture and experience the capital of the Palawan.
Best Tourist Spots and Things to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan:
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that has been noted on 12 November 1999. The natural park area is approximately 22 hectares and contains an 8.2 km long underground river. The highlight of the subterranean river system is that it flows directly into the sea.
I have been to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park twice with my husband and family. It never fails to amaze me how magnificently beautiful the rugged landscape of the national park is. The tour was made extra special with the help of the knowledgable guides who tirelessly navigates the underground river network.
As part of the sustainable tourism plan for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, they implemented to have audio guides for the tourists that will visit the subterranean river. The usage of the audio guides can help to reduce the noise pollution inside the cave that disturbs the bats and “balinsasayaw” or swiftlet bird that inhabits the cave system.
A visit to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the best tourist spots and things to do in Puerto Princesa. Make sure to include it in your Palawan travel itinerary.
The Plaza Cuartel was built by the Spaniards as a garrison during their occupation of the Philippines. During the Second World War, the Plaza Cuartel became the infamous location of the Palawan Massacre. The gruesome massacre of hundreds of American soldiers held captive by the Japanese during the end of WWII.
The remains of the fallen American soldiers who died were brought to their final resting grounds at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, USA.
The Plaza Cuartel is typically included in Puerto Princesa city tours.
Puerto Princesa Cathedral
The Puerto Princesa Cathedral is also known as the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish. It is a Roman Catholic church founded in 1872 during the Spanish colonial era. The construction of the cathedral almost took a century before it was completed.
Across the Puerto Princesa Cathedral is the Plaza Cuartel. These two landmarks of the city became popular tourist spots in Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa Baywalk
The Puerto Princesa Baywalk is a half-mile paved and landscaped promenade in the city. It is a popular tourist spot for locals and tourists for their gentle stroll and daily exercise. There is also a little flea market near the promenade.
The Puerto Princesa Baywalk looks fairly similar to the Manila Baywalk area along Roxas Blvd.
Baker’s Hill and Mitra’s Ranch
A visit to Mitra’s Ranch is one of the best things to do in Puerto Princesa. Located on the hilly side of the city with a relaxing view of Puerto Princesa and the sea. The ranch has a lovely viewing deck, benches for picnics, the around the area and other activities including the Ranch zipline, Baker’s Hill and the farmhouse tour.
The Mitra’s Ranch is owned by the late Philippine Senator Ramon Mitra Jr. that was born and bred in Puerto Princesa. They opened the ranch to the public and it gained popularity among the locals and tourists alike.
Popularly knowns as the Crocodile Farm but also known as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC). Located on the outskirts of the city and is one of the popular tourist spots in Puerto Princesa.
The PWRCC or the Crocodile farm opened in 1987 and has been the centre of the conservation efforts of the Philippine crocodile and the Saltwater crocodile that are endemic to the Philippines. The PWRCC also help to protect various wildlife animals that were found on the island for conservation and sustainability reasons.
MCA Market Pasalubong Center
The MCA Market Pasalubong Center is a perfect stop before you leave Puerto Princesa to buy little trinkets and gifts (locally called “pasalubong”) for your family and friends. The Pasalubong Centre is conveniently located near the Puerto Princesa International airport.
The MCA market Pasalubong Center is open from 7 AM to 8 PM. You can ask the local tricycle driver to make a short stop here before heading to the airport.
Eat Chao Long
A trip to Palawan is not complete without trying the local favourite noodle dish called Chao Long. This popular noodle soup has been a staple everywhere in Palawan due to the influx of Vietnamese asylums that settled on the island during the Vietnam war.
Chao Long is a localised version of Vietnamese Pho. The common ingredients of Chao Long are rice noodles, annatto (atsuete), braised beef chunks, beef marrow, bean sprouts, mint and calamansi (Philippine Lime). It is typically served with toasted bread with cheese with garlic.
There are loads of Chao Long houses or locally known as “Chaolongan” dotted around Palawan. The famous one in the city is the Bona’s Chaolong House located at Manalo St, Puerto Princesa. Trying and eating Chao Long is one of the best things to do in Puerto Princesa.
Honda Bay is a popular tourist spot near Puerto Princesa. It is known for its white-sand beaches and pristine clear water. There are lots of activities that you can do in Honda Bay such as diving, snorkelling and island hopping.
Some of the popular islands in the Honda Bay area are Luli Island, Cowrie Island and Starfish Island to name a few. Hence, a visit to Honda bay is one of the best things to do in Puerto Princesa when you love to hit the beach.
Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village
The Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village aim to promote sustainability and ecological preservation of the endemic species of butterflies that can be found in Palawan. It houses the various stages of butterflies and promotes awareness of their conservation.
Inside the Ecological Garden, a tribal Palaw’an village can be found. The Palaw’an tribe is one of the native indigenous people that live on Palawan island. The Palaw’an people share their culture and way of living with the village visitors.
It is a great experience to learn the ecological and cultural preservations of the flora and fauna as well as the valuable immersion in the indigenous people’s way of living in this modern times.
Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm
The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is a unique tourist spot and one of the best things to do in Puerto Princesa. This prison is not an ordinary prison that has bars and solitary confinement as we usually see. The inmates tend farmland instead of spending time behind the bars.
The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm were established in 1904 during the American occupation of the Philippines. It was then used as an overflow prison for those inmates from the Bilibid prison in Metro Manila.
Most of the inmates in Iwahig prison tend to the vast farmland of the prison and make handicrafts and other productive activities in their spare time. This also helps the inmates to have their own income while serving their time. Due to these creative endeavours of the inmates of Ihawig prison, this has become one of the best tourist spots in Puerto Princesa.
Ugong Rock Adventures
The Ugong Rock Adventures is an adventure tourist spot and one of the active things to do in Puerto Princesa. It is located at the outskirt of the Puerto Princesa on your way to the underground river.
The Ugong Rock Adventures offers zip-line and underground cave exploration tours. This tourist attraction has been made popular by the Amazing Race Philippines Season 2. Visitors can also enjoy the natural scenery and cave network for a spelunking adventure.
The Ugong Rock Adventure is an optional tour when you visit the Underground River. The Caving and Spelunking cost Php 200 and the Zipline is Php 250.