Top Things To Do In Puerto Princesa Palawan Philippines

Are you looking for the best things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines? Discover the Underground River, Nabtong Beach, Baker's Hill and so much more!
Puerto Princesa Philippines is the capital of the region of Palawan. This sprawling and busy city is the most starting point for travelers looking to reach the famous Philippine beach destination such as El Nido and, the more remote, Coron. While Puerto Princesa Palawan is often overlooked by those rushing to reach Palawan attractions such as the Puerto Princesa Underground River, there are many incredible things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines that make a stay in the city worth an extra few days or more!

Our guide to visiting Puerto Princesa Palawan shows you how to get to some of the coolest hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Puerto Princesa Philippines that will satisfy the whole family. We’ll explore some of Puerto Princesa’s iconic destinations as well as some attractions that might leave you surprised! So put on your barong and get ready to discover the best things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines.

Explore The Top Things To Do In Puerto Princesa Philippines

Although many of the best things to do in Puerto Princesa are located outside the city (we’ll get to those further down the article), there are some amazing attractions in Puerto Princesa City that are worth visiting. You don’t have to leave Puerto Princesa Philippines in order to see the best attractions. Below is a list of some of the best things to in Puerto Princesa City.

Visit The Puerto Princesa Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Immaculate Conception Cathedral is one of the top attractions in Puerto Princesa. We love exploring churches when we travel. They so often capture the spirit of a community, and the Puerto Princesa Cathedral (PPC) is no exception. This Cathedral, which began as a small church during the Spanish occupation, is on Rizal Ave. in Barangay Liwanag.

Catholicism is a huge part of the culture in the Philippines, so much of the everyday life in Puerto Princesa, Palawan centers on PPC and churches like it. The beautiful pointed arches and bright coloring of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Puerto Princesa make visiting here a fun and lively experience.

things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Explore The Puerto Princesa City Baywalk

There are few places in Puerto Princesa Philippines that are better for an evening stroll than the Puerto Princesa City Baywalk Park. This 2 km (1.25 mile) walking path stretches along the waterfront between the U.S. Embassy to the Puerto Princesa Cultural Center. There are fantastic cafes and food vendors lining the way to help break up the walk as well.

If you visit the Puerto Princesa Baywalk at Christmas time you’ll see a staggeringly high Christmas tree on display. And visiting the Philippines at Christmas is easy since they celebrate the holidays from September to January!

Puerto Princesa City Baywalk

Wander Through Plaza Cuartel

Contrary to the bright atmosphere of the Puerto Princesa City Baywalk, Plaza Cuartel is a park dedicated to a dark time in the history of Puerto Princesa Palawan. Plaza Cuartel is located just across from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Rizal Park. The plaza was once a base for American and Filipino soldiers prior to the Japanese invasion in WWII. During the war, it was converted to a prison where American and Filipino soldiers were held and eventually killed.

But exploring the remains of the prison isn’t all there is to see in Plaza Cuartel. There are beautiful gardens and fountains to wander through as well. But the best part of the plaza is learning about the connection between Filipino and American history and how the events of WWII solidified a connection between the two countries.

The best things to do in Palawan for families stretch from El Nido to Balabac. Prepare for days filled with island hopping, caves, and white sand beaches!

Click Here To Read: The Best Destinations In Palawan For Families

Try the Local Delicacies

Because Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan, it’s one of the best places to experience the local delicacies of the region. One of the most popular local dishes is called Tamilok. Tamilok, made from woodworm, or shipworm, is a smokey mollusk soaked in a sweet vinegar. Although it’s a bit strange to look at, slurping down these slimy mollusks is quite good.

One of the best restaurants in Puerto Princesa for eating Tamilok is Kinabuch’s Bar and Grill. This open-air restaurant offers a fun, casual atmosphere, a great bar, and a pool table for those looking to hang out for the evening.

Puerto Princesa Philippines Tamilok at Kinabuchs Restaurant

Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center

The Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center is a popular place for tours in Puerto Princesa. The “rescue center” offers a chance to get up-close and personal with some of the most amazing animals in the Philippines. However, for us, the experience was a disappointment. While wandering through the grounds of this animal rescue center was beautiful, it was difficult not to notice the condition of the animal enclosures.

Massive saltwater crocodiles are housed in small concrete enclosures with just small pools of water to bathe in. Among the poorly maintained paths are enclosures that seem almost forgotten about, and the attraction seems more designed to breed crocodiles than it is for rescue or re-integration. At the end of the experience, guests are invited to pose for photos with tired-looking wild animals including boa constrictors and caimans. We aren’t big fans of animals being used for photo opportunities, so we recommend avoiding the Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center.

things to do in Puerto Princesa Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center

Exciting Things to Do Near Puerto Princesa Palawan

Getting to Puerto Princesa Philippines, like most places in the Philippines can be a challenge. The 7,000+ islands that make up this island nation are filled with a mountainous landscape. So even after you’ve arrived at the airport, just getting to the cities and attractions usually involve winding drives or long boat rides. Luckily, Puerto Princesa town is located very close to the Puerto Princesa International Airport (airport code: PPS). Once you’ve arrived in Puerto Princesa you can get your adventure started right away.

The Philippine Islands are full of beautiful destinations, but there are still a few undiscovered treasured scattered throughout this paradise. San Vicente, located between El Nido and Coron is one of our favorites. Discover all the incredible things to do in San Vicente Palawan for the whole family!

Click Here To Read: You Should Skip Boracay And Head To San Vicente Instead?

Take a Boat Tour Through the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

OK, let’s get this one out of the way. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is the reason most visitors come to Puerto Princesa. Not only was the underground river in Puerto Princesa voted in as one of the 7 New Natural Wonders of the World, but it remains as one of the most incredible, and accessible underground experiences in the Philippines.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is located about a 45-minute drive north of Puerto Princesa City. It is in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the town of Sabang. While I highly recommend staying in Sabang (we stayed at the Daluyon hotel) to make the most of your Puerto Princesa underground river experience, you can do the cave as a day trip from Puerto Princesa City.

what to do in Puerto Princesa Palawan Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour

Go Island Hopping In Honda Bay

Honda Bay is one of the iconic sites in Puerto Princesa Palawan. The Honda Bay experience begins with the views overlooking this amazing destination from the shore. But, the adventure continues when you take a Honda Bay boat tour to islands such as Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island.

It’s easy to spend an entire day in Puerto Princesa Philippines exploring Honda Bay. Most full-day boat tours of Honda Bay include the legendary Filipino food experiences that we enjoyed in El Nido and Coron. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to snorkel, swim, or just laze about on the white sand beaches that helped make the Philippines such a famous beach destination. 

Things to do in Puerto Princesa Palawan Honda Bay Island Hopping

Take In The Views From Mitra’s Ranch

Mitra’s Ranch is a property owned by the family of the late Philippine senator Ramon Mitra. The property’s amazing views and the senator’s popular political history make it a destination for local tourists as well as foreigners. Mitra’s Ranch is located about 25-minutes from the heart of Puerto Princesa City.

Beyond the beautiful views, Mitra’s Ranch also has a zip line and horseback riding available for visitors (at a small fee). But beyond the activities, there are no entrance fees for Mitra’s Ranch.

Things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines Mitras Ranch

Enjoy Family Fun At Bakers Hill

Bakers Hill is a small theme park located outside of Puerto Princesa, not too far from Mitra’s Ranch. It’s a fun destination for families visiting Puerto Princesa. Baker’s Hill has fun games and playgrounds for children of all ages. Older kids and parents will love the bakery for which Baker’s Hill was originally created.

Things to do in Puerto Princesa Philippines Bakers Hill

Go Underground In The Caves of Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa Philippines is famous for its many intricate cave systems. Beyond the famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, there are several other incredible cave systems in Puerto Princesa. Some of the most adventurous are Ugong Rock, Elephant Cave, and Hundred Caves. You can also take in the view of Cleopatra’s Needle, an amazing rock formation carved to a point among the karst rock of Palawan.

Ugong Rock is the most popular of the three cave systems. Ugon Rock includes a huge zip line and a multi-level cave system. Elephant Rock has been made famous by its appearance on the show “The Amazing Race”. While Hundred Caves is a multi-level locally run experience that is just starting to become a popular attraction in Puerto Princesa. You can read more about the caves in Puerto Princesa here.

Cleopatras Needle in Puerto Princesa Palawan

Go on a Firefly Watching Cruise

The fun in Puerto Princesa Palawan doesn’t end when the sun goes down. A river firefly watching cruise is one of the coolest ways to end a day in Puerto Princesa. The mangroves around Puerto Princesa are overflowing with these glowing insects.

The Firefly tour in Puerto Princesa lasts for about 4-hours and usually includes dinner at Baker’s Hill. There’s no flash photography allowed as the light disturbs the fireflies.

Top things to do in El Nido for Families

Click Here To Read: Top Activities In El Nido Palawan For Families

Soak Up The Sun At Nagtabon Beach

While there are closer beaches to Puerto Princesa City, it’s worth the 30-minutes it takes to visit Nagtabon Beach. Especially if you are looking to spend a day at the best Puerto Princesa beach. While Nagtabon beach isn’t the most popular beach in Puerto Princesa, many locals consider it to be the best.

Nagtabon beach has very few visitors compared to the beaches closer to Puerto Princesa. And the soft sand is free from sea urchins and sharp coral. The beach is part of a small reserve, so there are few vendors or crowds to disturb you. And if you like surfing, it’s one of the best beaches in the area.

Puerto Princesa things to do Nagtabon Beach

How to Get to Puerto Princesa

There are a select number of international flights that fly directly into Puerto Princesa airport. However, most international flights still land at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. So, to get from Manila to Puerto Princesa you must take a domestic flight. The flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa takes about an hour with regular flights on the major Philippine airlines.

You can also travel from Manila to Puerto Princesa by boat. There are once a week connections from Manila via the Superferry. Although the ferry from Manila to Puerto Princesa takes about 22 hours.

The Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort is an eco-resort in the town of Sabang. It is one of the best hotels near the Puerto Princesa Underground River. With excellent amenities and a restaurant known for great local dishes, it has become one of the best hotels in Puerto Princesa. But does it live up to its reputation?

Click Here To Read: Puerto Princesa Hotel Review – Daluyon Beach And Mountain Resort

Best Restaurants in Puerto Princesa Philippines

The Philippines is one of the most amazing countries in the world. But with all the incredible experiences that the Philippines has to offer, the absolute best thing is the food. Filipino food is overloaded with flavor and will leave you begging for mercy at the end of the meal. Here are some of the best restaurants in Puerto Princesa Palawan to experience local flavors. I was so in love with the food here that I put together this collection of easy Filipino recipes to make at home.

Kinabuch’s Bar and Grill

Kinabuch’s Bar and Grill in Puerto Princesa isn’t just a great place to try tamilok. It’s a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Kinabuch’s is casual dining with great food and a chilled-out atmosphere.

Ka Lui Restaurant

If you don’t mind a slightly pricier menu than Kinabuch’s, then Ka Lui is a great option for food in Puerto Princesa. They have a focus on amazing seafood with an indigenous twist.

Badjao Seafront Restaurant

For one of the most unique restaurants in Puerto Princesa, head off-the-beaten-path to Bajao Seafront Restaurant. Badjao Seafront Restaurant sits on the water, literally, on the water. The restaurant is among the mangroves and is built on stilts. If you are planning on a sunset dinner, there are no better places to dine with a view.

Kinabuchs Restaurant in Puerto Princesa Philippines

Best Hotels in Puerto Princesa Palawan

Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa

Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa is located very close to the Puerto Princesa Airport. Its convenient location near Honda Bay means easy access to Puerto Princesa island hopping tours. The hotel has huge pools and excellent restaurants. There is also free WiFi and available childcare. You can see the prices and availability for the Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa on here and on Agoda here.

Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel

Conveniently located on Rizal Ave. the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel is a great value with an excellent selection of rooms. The Ivywall Hotel has two restaurants, an indoor pool, and free WiFi. You can see the prices and availability for the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotels on here and on Agoda here.

Dolce Vita Hotel

If you aren’t looking for luxury, but do want a great place to stay with HUGE rooms, the Dolce Vita Hotel is a great option. This is our hotel of choice when we are in Puerto Princesa. Dolce Vita Hotel has a big property located in a converted estate. The property has on-site outdoor spa services and a playground for children. It also has a lifesized topless statue dedicated to Marilyn Monroe courtesy of the former estate owners that adds a touch of curiosity to the ambiance. You can find the prices and availability of the Dolce Vita Hotel on here and on Agoda here.

Have you traveled to Puerto Princesa Philippines? Tell us about your experiences in the comments. Or swing over to our Facebook page and share a photo. We would love to share in your journey.

About the Author

Kevin Wagar is a professional traveler and family travel expert living in the Greater Toronto Area. His beautiful wife Christina impressed on him her love of travel and they have made exploring the world an integral part of their life. With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that traveling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.

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  1. What a beautiful area. I would just love the boating cave tours and island hopping. Puerto Princesa Philippines looks like a wonderful area to spend time.

    1. Thank you so much Kathryn! You’ll be happy to know that in the Philippines, the hearts of the people are as beautiful as the landscapes. It’s a perfect destination for families.

  2. I’m a Palaweño leaving in Texas, I really appreciated your factual descriptions of our beloved city.Good job and mabuhay!

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