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Travel Guide Asia Philippines Palawan

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Introduction

Coron, Palawan

Coron, Palawan

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Palawan is located to the west of the main bulk of Philippine islands. Distinctive in being a long and narrow strip of an Island, there are also a number of other smaller islands surrounding it. Fabled for being one of the more untouched islands in the Philippines, it's popular with backpackers, honeymooners, divers and those that like to go off the beaten path. Not to mention the odd movie star.

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Geography

Located to the west of the Western Visayas, Palawan is about 450 kilometres in length but only about 50 kilometres in width. It sports one of the most versatile landscapes in the Philippines. Rich white sand beaches dot the coastline, alone with pristine blue waters and coral reefs. Volcanic rock is everywhere along with a eco habitat unique to Asia.

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Cities

  • The capital Puerto Princesa is located in the centre of the island and is the second biggest city in the Philippines. It is host to the world's longest navigable underground river.
  • Brooke's Point is the last major city to the South.
  • Port Barton a remote beach side paradise.
  • El Nido a small town to the north fabled for diving and tiny islands. It is home to world class island resorts.
  • Coron is a municipality in the Calamian group of islands north of the main island of Palawan and is known as a diving destination.
  • Quezon is a municipality south of Puerto Princesa where the Tabon Cave is located where the fossilized remains of the Tabon Men was found.

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Sights and Activities

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Underground river

Underground river

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Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area and UNESCO Heritage Site of the Philippines located about 80 kilometres north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The river is also called Puerto Princesa Underground River. The national park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the western coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. The entrance to the subterranean river is a short hike or boat ride from the town Sabang.

In 2010, a group of environmentalists and geologists discovered that the underground river has a second floor, which means that there are small waterfalls inside the cave. They also found a cave dome measuring 300 metres above the underground river, rock formations, large bats, a deep water hole in the river, more river channels, another deep cave, as well as marine creatures and more. Deeper areas of the underground river are almost impossible to explore due to oxygen deprivation.

On November 11, 2011, Puerto Princesa Underground River was provisionally chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. This selection was officially confirmed on January 28, 2012.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Juvenile barracudas

Juvenile barracudas

© All Rights Reserved monkyhands

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle of Sulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls (named the North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef covering a total area of 97,030 hectares. It is located 150 kilometres southeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan province. The uninhabited islands and reefs are part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan, located roughly 130 kilometres to the northeast of the reef.

In December 1993, the UNESCO declared the Tubbataha Reefs National Park as a World Heritage Site as a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-metre perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.

The national park and the rest of the Philippine archipelago is part of the Coral Triangle, recognized as a center of marine biodiversity containing 75% of the described coral species and 40% of the world's reef fish. The area is under a grave threat due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. Research of scientists visiting the reefs since the 1980s revealed that the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park contains no less than 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Iwahig Penal Colony in Puerto Princesa where the prisoners roam free.
  • Palawan Crocodile Farm and Conservation Center in Puerto Princesa.
  • Butterfly Conservation Garden in Puerto Princesa.
  • Sabang - Home of the world longest underground river, a monkey trail, sea waterfall and jungle treks, not to mention long white beaches.
  • Port Barton - A small remote beach perfect and nearly untouched.
  • El Nido - A tropical paradise town to the north of Palawan, diving, climbing and blue waters await.
  • Coron - Sail out to this island chain to visit the Dugong's (mermaids) and a short hop back to Manila.
  • Brooke's Point - For a taste of town life on an island head here, not too exciting, but it is local.
  • There are countless diving and snorkeling resorts all around Palawan, and all with very different prices.

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Events and Festivals

Around the start of March there is an annual festival, though being the Philippines there are many more throughout the year.

Warning:
During festivals make sure to book your bus tickets way in advance, take names and numbers of the person you buy from and the owner of the company. There's a fair amount of overbooking taking place. Check back a few days a before you are due to leave.

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Weather

The sun is a near year round treat on Palawan. But like the rest of the Philippines this is a tropical climate and monsoon season means rain. Keep a eye on the weather if you are planning to take a ferry to or from Palawan. Likewise when taking a banka from Sabang, Port Barton to El Nido or any other boat trip. The sea can get very rough in bad weather. Temperatures are mostly around 30 °C during the day and around or above 20 °C at night.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are multiple daily flights from Manila and Cebu to Puerto Princesa with Cebu Pacific Air and Airphil Express have most connections. Other airlines that fly into the Palawan islands are Philippine Airlines, Sky Pasada, and Zest Airways which may also connect to Coron.

The main airport is in Puerto Princesa with another smaller one in El Nido. Another airport serves the Coron island through the Busuanga Airport.

By Car

A car can be brought on a ferry, but it's not worth it and quite expensive. Better to rent a car locally.

By Boat

There are multiple ferry's linking Palawan to the rest of the Philippines via Puerto Princesa. Best to check in the region you are departing from for times etc., as they change frequently.

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Getting Around

By Plane

It is possible to fly from Puerto Princesa to El Nido however it's expensive! There are also flights between Puerto Princesa and Coron.

By Train

There are no trains on the Island.

By Car

You may rent or charter a car. The roads are not all paved though, however none are too off road.

By Bus

There are plenty of bus and minivan services linking the cities of Palawan. You may reserve seats on minivans that are air conditioned, but its still prudent to show up early. Likewise with local buses which are half the price, take one third longer and have no air conditioning.

By Boat

There are motorized boat (banka) services linking Puerto Princesa to Sabang, Port Barton and El Nido. However prices vary, and going in a group is much cheap than being solo. There is also a weekly service leaving El Nido for Coron, though it's not regular.

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Eat

Food is very fresh all over Palawan due it's remote island status. Fresh seafood is easily available everywhere. In many of the resorts western food is available. Vietnamese food is popular in Puerto Princesa. Popular fast food restaurants like Jollibee and Chow King are in Puerto Princesa but not outside of the capital.

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Drink

San Miguel Beer is once again King in this part of the Philippines.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
El Nido Four Seasons ResortEl NidoGuesthouse-
Summer Homes Beach Resort and CottagesPurok Pag-asa Brgy. Port BartonGuesthouse-
Lally & Abet Beach CottagesEl NidoApartment-
Monkey FamilyQuezon St. Port BartonHostel-

Accommodation in Palawan is generally of a high standard. Many resorts start at €30 and go upwards, the high class resorts can sometimes be in the US$100's. There are however, a few cottages and small guesthouse in each city where you can stay for as low as 250 pesos.
Note that accommodation during Easter is often booked out in advance.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 9.446231
  • Longitude: 118.392942

Accommodation in Palawan

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This is version 30. Last edited at 9:04 on Jan 12, 16 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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