Puerto Princesa, Philippines

Date: June 2015
Location: Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
Accommodation recommendation: Audissie Pension Hotel, Puerto Princesa
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Even after travelling a fair bit you still get those moments, or lessons if you prefer. Asking a tricycle driver to bring you to your hotel can be a challenge. When you call out the name of the hotel and they say 'yes' and start driving you might still end up in the wrong place due to language barriers. This time Audissie hotel was understood as Aziza hotel which gave a detour of about 30 minutes.

Going to the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm was another challenge. The tricycles give a bit more Asian experience than a plain taxi, a tricycle ride of about an hour one way started. For sure I didn't realize this when negotiating about the prize. Even at the fuel station when a full tank was added and the tires were inflated I didn't realize anything special - it happed a lot for short rides as well. After this long hour in the bumpy non-ergonomically seat I arrived at the entrance. Not knowing what to expect of visiting a prison as a tourist (aka Zoo?) I found out they close quite early in the afternoon. So after a long way over there I could go back with just a picture of the entrance, wow.

The driver asked if I wanted to stop at the Crocodile farm or Butterfly garden, this was too touristy for me. The handcrafts shops were well advertised so I asked him to drop me there. We arrived at a huge souvenir shop with handcrafts, T-shirts, and key chains, not as traditional as expected...
Luckily it was that time of year for Baragatan Festival. The area around the Provincial Capitol Building was filled with vendors selling the handcrafts - in a more traditional way - and you could taste a lot of different local dishes from famous hotels and restaurants from the district. Life music and dancing made it a proper festival.

Do's in Puerto Princesa:

  • Have lunch at Puerto Pension house, it's a beautiful building and the restaurant has bay view;
  • Shop for cheap (non-branded) clothes and products at the west-end of Rizal Ave;
  • Book hotel rooms online at least 24 hours in advance to make sure you get what you want;
  • Go to Tiki Resto Bar for live music, food and drinks.

Don'ts in Puerto Princesa:

  • Expect a beautiful beachfront city, it's just a gateway and day-trip area;
  • Go from Puerto Princesa to El Nido by minivan, especially NOT when you are tall or claustrophobic. With 14 people packed together without any leg space it's five long hours;
  • Book a daytrip to the underground river if you don't like waiting and tourist tours. It's a full day with about one hour at the actual river - but it's called one of the seven 'wonders of the world';
  • Forget to go to Baywalk for sunset drinks;

Some impressions of Puerto Princesa:

Baragatan Festival

Only for tax payers

Iwahig Prison & Penal Farm (from the outside ;))

First you can play hide and seek, than you can participate the pre-flight safety briefing quiz and win prizes!

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