Palawan for First Timers: Five Places You Absolutely Need to Visit in Puerto Princesa

September 21, 2017

Written by AVLCI

For those who have been to Palawan before, it is easy to understand why this island is consistently deemed as one of the best in the world. Its breathtaking land and seascapes are home to some of the most visited tourist destinations both locally and globally. A respite from the chaos of urban life, Palawan is a tropical paradise that stays simple and straightforward – bringing any visitor closer to nature.

Tourists will never run out of things to do in Palawan. In its capital city, Puerto Princesa, a unique escape awaits those looking for either an exhilarating adventure or a tranquil retreat. First timers might find exploring the whole expanse of the island overwhelming. Luckily, we’re giving you a guide on the top five things to do in Puerto Princesa during your visits.

Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center

Palawan Rescue and Conservation Center
Photo source: David De Jesus (@dmdjph)


Take a walk on the wild side with this eight-acre reserve, which houses thousands of species of animals, most of them endemic to the Philippines. It is one of the city’s eco-preservation efforts, serving as a sanctuary to many endangered creatures, allowing them to roam around freely. Guided tours are offered to those who are interested in a more in-depth knowledge of the animals present in the center.

Cleopatra’s Needle

Legend has it that Cleopatra’s Needle is a mystical mountain that hides many secrets. The tallest mountain in Puerto Princesa, this natural wonder got its name from the oldest rock structure found at its summit. While serious climbers take three to five days to complete a full trek, beginners can also explore this diverse ecosystem by hiking up their novice trail.

Cleopatra's Needle in Palawan
Photo source: Edgar Haz (@Edgar_Haz)

The foot of the mountain is also home to the Batak, the Indigenous tribe of Palawan. Ecotourism has served as a sustainable livelihood to some members of the community, who now serve as the local tour guides of Cleopatra’s Needle. Aside from hiking, other activities available are wading through the various natural swimming spots found in the area, as well as educational activities on its conservation efforts.

Palawan Heritage Center

If you would like to know more about the history and culture of the Palaweños, the Palawan Heritage Center is your next best stop. The building, located beside the legislative building in Puerto Princesa, is an interactive museum with artifacts, photos, interactive dioramas, and modules, as well as touchscreen videos and holograms. One of the most visited exhibits is the pop-culture section where props and facts about films shot in Puerto Princesa are showcased.

Activities in Palawan Heritage Center
Photo source: Malaya Business Insight (@malaya_businessinsight)

Their entrance fee of 50 pesos per person entitles visitors to have a tour of the entire museum. Guided tours are also available upon request. Young and old alike will certainly find the tours entertaining and educational.

Starfish Island

A trip to Palawan will not be complete without a visit to its majestic beach and islands. One of the hidden gems that Puerto Princesa has to offer is Starfish Island located in Honda Bay. True to its name, the island is brimming with a plethora of starfish, big and small, found in the shallow waters of the island. While it is okay to pick them up and take a photo, visitors are advised to be careful, so as not to damage the gentle creatures.

Starfish Island Puerto Princesa Palawan
Photo source: Carrie Audette (@keribelsssss)

Most tours in Puerto Princesa offer an island hopping experience with Starfish Island being one of the essential drop-off points. Tourists can rent a boat for the whole day and have lunch at one of the islands. (Insert that visitors can also take advantage of snorkeling on the island because it has a diverse range of marine life as well).

Baker’s Hill

A trip to Puerto Princesa won’t be complete without buying pasalubong for your loved ones. Tourists flock to Baker’s Hill to buy locally-made treats and pastries, available at the numerous food stalls found in the area (shopping hint: their hopia is said to be one of the best). Aside from being welcomed by the sweet scent of their freshly baked goods, visitors can also expect a colorful day of sight-seeing and picture-taking when they visit Baker’s Hill.

Bakers Hill Puerto Princesa
Photo source: dengembuido (@dengembuido)

The area itself is a theme park where you can find a playground, a mini-zoo, a botanical garden and a viewing deck where you can have a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. After all that walking, guests are welcome to stop over their in-house restaurant, Baker’s Kitchen, and sample their brick-oven pizzas.

While most people consider Puerto Princesa a jump-off point to other islands in Palawan, it has proven to be more than just that. With all the sights and sounds you can experience, you will surely never run out of things to do in Puerto Princesa.


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