Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Palawan: Puerto Princesa City Tour


When you are visiting Puerto Princesa Palawan, a city tour is highly recommended.

A half day city tour is usually included in tour packages offered by travel agencies and their hotel partners costing about 600 pesos per person although you can also do it yourself if you'd like. What's good in taking a package tour is that you will be sitting in an air-conditioned van, have a licensed driver and tour guide to take you around and entrance fees and permits are included. This is recommended especially if it is the first time you are visiting Palawan and/or your time is very limited.

Ours was included in the package and we went on a city tour on our 3rd and last day in Palawan. Pick up time was at 8:00 am from Hotel Casitas De Az Pension where we are staying. It was a shared tour with a couple from Germany but for some reason, they couldn't join the tour so by chance, it suddenly became an exclusive guided tour for me and my family, without any extra cost.

We went as planned and our driver and tour guide showed us the city and the places he is most proud of. It was a total four-hour sightseeing tour starting from the ones farthest from the city center.

Crocodile Farm (Palawan Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Center)
Mitra's Ranch
Baker's Hill
Plaza Cuartel
Puerto Princesa Cathedral
Puerto Princesa Bay Walk
MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center

Click photos to enlarge

It was about thirty minutes of scenic ride to our first destination.


The roads in Puerto Princesa are mostly covered with huge trees making it look like passing through a tunnel which was really amazing and you know how much I really love greenery.


Also, the view of the countryside with vast fields and rolling mountains of Puerto Princesa in the morning was so beautiful and very relaxing. 

We reached our first stop at Crocodile Farm (Palawan Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Center)

Entrance Fee: 40 pesos/person


A guided tour of the center runs every half an hour. We arrived just in time for a new tour that was about to start. It began in the main hall where a giant skeleton encased in a glass box and skin of a seawater crocodile hanging on the wall was displayed. It was amazing how a seawater crocodile can grow. Unfortunately, this croc became a threat to the community after it devoured a person so they have no choice but to put it to death.

If that's the case then why are they breeding them? The answer is simple.

Philippine crocodiles are on the list of endangered species hence the center's role is to protect them and increase its population to prevent them from extinction. It is all for the sake of ecological balance.


Moving on, we walked to the Hatchling house where eggs and small crocodiles are kept. We were forewarned not to give any food or try to touch/extend any limbs near the baby crocs as they can leap and snatch us.


Older crocodiles are housed in separate concrete cages and segregated according to their maturity. By the time we were atop these dens, I was very careful with the step I take while watching my kids very closely.



At the end of the tour, we had the chance to have our photo taken with one of the smaller crocodiles in the center, with its mouth sealed with tape. Its skin feels cold to the touch and this small crocodile weighs about more than 5 kilograms, really heavy. A seawater crocodile can grow the largest up to 20 feet and can weigh up to 2,000 lbs.


Other than crocodiles, the center also cares for the endemic animals like the Palawan Bearcat, Palawan Hornbill, and Grey Imperial Pigeon.


The center also has its own souvenir shops where we got Prince a crocodile plushy he calls crocki.



Mitra's Ranch was our next stop.

Entrance Fee: Free/ Php 10 if you'd like to take a tour of the house

Mitras Ranch is a private ranch owned by the late House Speaker Ramon Mitra and his family. It is open to the public from 6 am to 6 pm except for the house.

This country style house sits on top of the hill on the ranch. It was completely made out of wood and surrounded by a wooden balcony. Its double doors open wide which allow fresh air to flow through the house.



From the balcony and the ranch ground, one can marvel at the breathtaking view of Puerto Princesa City and Honda Bay Islands.




Activities like zip lines and horseback riding are available at Mitras Ranch. The zip lines are operated by Palawan Rancho Zipline Adventure and offer three zip lines for 500 pesos per person only. Since we already did zip lining at SabangXZipline, my kids asked for the horseback riding instead.




Baker's Hill

Entrance Fee: Free

On our way to our next destination, I didn't know what to expect, except for the fact I was told about. Baker's Hill sells the best hopia (bean-filled-pastry) in town. Our tour guide was raving about it in the van and he even promised to treat us with a box of ube-flavored hopia when we get there.

There are several restaurants in the compound that offer various dishes from different cuisines but the most popular, the bake shop that sells the bean-filled-pastry. It was too early for lunch so we snack on the box of hopia our tour guide gave us. Indeed it was delicious. Freshly baked, the pastry was thin and flaky and the filling, soft and delicious.


It comes in many different flavors but the ube flavor instantly became our favorite.


Beyond hopia and food, Baker's Hill is a nature lovers paradise. It is built on a hill with many tall trees and has a well-manicured garden.

It was beautiful and was so tranquil. A welcome respite from the tropical heat of the island.





Plaza Cuartel

Entrance Fee: Free

Our next stop was a no ordinary park plaza. It has a colorful past during World War II that we were not aware until we visited this place.

To begin with, Plaza Cuartel is a small yet serene patch of nature shaded with huge trees.


It also has a great view of the sea and the Iwahig Penal Colony


After our tour guide told us about its tragic past, we will never view this place the same ever again.



The marker says

"Sa pook na ito na dating tanggulang militar noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig naganap ang pagsunog ng mga sundalong hapon sa humigit kumulang 150 Amerikanong bihag ng digma noong 14 Disyembre 1944. Ilang nakaligtas ay lumangoy sa dagat patungong Iwahig. Ang mga labi ng nasawi ay dinala at inilibing sa St. Louis County sa isang panlahatang libingan sa Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, United States, 1952."

The English translation of these words is:

"In this place which was a military fort of World War II, the burning of more or less 150 American POW was done by Japanese soldiers on December 14, 1944. Some managed to survive by swimming their way out from the sea to Iwahig. The remains of those who died were brought and buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, United States, 1952."




Puerto Princesa Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral

Opposite Plaza Cuartel is the century-old church of Immaculate Concepcion

Entrance fee: Free


A visit to any place in the Philippines is not complete without visiting its churches. The Philippines was once a Spanish colony hence a huge number of beautiful churches can be found in the country and the City of Palawan is no exception.

Our elderly used to tell us that when we say our prayers to churches we are visiting for the first time, it has more chances of being heard and given. For Catholics like me, it became a practice which I impart to my children as well.


We also prayed for the souls of those Americans killed long ago at Plaza Cuartel. That story is quite disturbing and dampens our moods a little hence we lift them up to God when we were in the church. I asked in prayer that he takes away the heaviness in our hearts brought by that tragic story.




Puerto Princesa Baywalk

Entrance fee: Free

Next and second to the last stop of our city tour was at Puerto Princesa Baywalk.

We were not aware that this place is only six minutes tricycle ride from our hotel. Our tour guide said that this place comes alive at night. I wish I knew that. We could have come down here on our first night at Puerto Princesa.


It was almost noon time when we get here and the place was deserted.


I wanted to stay just to stare at the view a little longer but it was hot and humid even with overcast skies plus we have one more stop and it is one of the places I seek.

Also, we are getting hungry so we just took few souvenir shots before bidding goodbye.

This place was really beautiful and spot clean. Palawenos are truly blessed and lucky to live in a city like this.



MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center

Our last stop was at the popular MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center to get presents and souvenirs.

The prices of the products here are reasonable and cheaper compared to shops outside. I thought I could make more savings buying from outside but when I compare prices, I get items a lot cheaper from this place. A visit here is highly recommended.



That was the last stop on our city tour. I hope you enjoyed our city tour experience as much as we did.

And since it was lunch time, we asked our tour guide to drop us at KaLui. A famous restaurant in the city which I will tell you about on the next blog post here.

Ciao for now!

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