Palawan

Palawan is the westernmost province of the Philippines, the one with the largest land area and with probably the most pristine natural environment away from its settlements.The island of Palawan stretches from close to Mindoro in the northeast almost to Borneo in the southwest. It lies between the South China Sea to the northwest and Sulu Sea to the southeast.

Palawan island is known as “The Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines” and is voted the "Most Beautiful Island in the World". The northern part of the island is characterized by the clear waters, white beaches, and rich with many species of flora and fauna. The most visited places like El Nido and Taytay, characterized by limestone cliffs and underwater with many species of tropical fish and coral, also are present five species of endangered sea turtles. Jungle have about 100 different species of birds!

Source:Flickr

Source:Flickr

Before Palawan became a major tourist destination for many travellers and honeymooners, It was just a long island province in the map of the Philippines that have served a significant role over the years especially during those dark days of colonization from one colonizer to another.

The history of Palawan may be traced back 22,000 years ago as confirmed by the discovery of fossils of the Tabon cave man in Quezon, Palawan. AIthough the origin of the cave dwellers is not yet established, anthropologists believe these came from Borneo travelling across the land bridge that connected Palawan with Borneo.

Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines and is stretched between Mindoro in the northeast and Borneo in the southwest. It lies between South China Sea and Sulu Sea.There are several versions regarding the origin of the name "Palawan". Some contend that it was derived from the Chinese word "Pa-Lao-Yu" meaning "Land of Beautiful Harbors". Although the spelling and pronunciation have changed slightly overtime. When the Chinese first reached the Philippines, Palawan was one of the first places that they reached, traveling across land bridges directly in to the area.

Source:Flickr

Source:Flickr

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is situated off the coast of Palawan in the middle of the Sulu Sea. From the sky, this park may look like a sandy island with its light blue and white coloration, but that’s actually just the plethora of reef only discovered by a group of divers in the 1970’s.

Divers who want to get an up-close look will have to sign up for a live aboard boat where they’ll spend a couple days on the water. The trip is worth it to see the unspoiled wildlife in its natural habitat. In and around the reef, expect to see thriving populations of green sea turtles, manta rays, 11 species of shark, tons of colorful fish and more.

Source:Flickr

Starfish Island

Starfish island was named because of the starfishes that abundantly inhabit it. It is a small island with a few cottages that are available for picnicking island-hoppers. As you walk the shores and swim in the water, do watch where you step. From Pambato Reef, it takes about 15 minutes boat ride to get to Starfish island. Its main island made up of white sand and is surrounded by greenish waters. A few palm trees grow on the island with a mangrove forest grew on the eastern side of the island.

Source:Flickr

Tabon Caves

Another place to go for off-the-beaten-path adventures is Tabon Caves in Quezon town of South Palawan. This important archaeological site is where the Tabon Man was found. Filipinos who have been attentive in history class may remember that the fossilized remains of the Tabon Man was believed to be the earliest human remains known in the Philippines (until the discovery of the Callao Man in Pe?ablanca, Cagayan Province). For travelers, the Tabon Cave Complex is a great place to explore cave formations and learn about the archaeology diggings. There are also a few off-shore islands and beaches nearby.

Puerto Princesa City

Join a day tour to the city to experience the best of Puerto Princesa. You will be pedaled around the city in a comfy tricycle taxi while you visit historical sites like the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the WWI Plaza Cuartel, Baker’s Hill for treats, Mitra’s Ranch to visit the horses, the Crocodile Farm and more. You can ask to stop for food, snacks, and shopping at any time!

Source:Flickr

Firefly Watching

Firefly watching is another exciting activity to do. Get closer to nature and experience a night adventure on the water where you can kayak under the stars with glowing mangroves trees full of magical fireflies all around you.

At the Palawan Ecotourism center, the guides will give everyone a quick kayaking lesson on land. You’ll all put on your life jackets, take a paddle and together will practice paddling. This adventure is perfect for any person of any age, even kids. At the River you will transfer in to Paddle Boats, which will take you up a 10 meter wide stretch of the Mangrove perimeter. The River tour will last approximately 30-45 minutes.

Wreck Diving

Busuanga Island and Coron Bay is blessed with a wide range of dive sites to suit all levels of experience, from shallow reefs to advanced wreck diving. The major attraction however is undoubtedly the wrecks of the Japanese supply fleet sunk in September 1944. Now these ships make for the most fascinating wreck dives.

Cruise the Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underdround River is one of the new seven wonders of nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site, every visitor should experience. The 8.2-kilometer subterranean river runs under a protected cave that features spectacular formations of stalactites and stalagmites. With these and its limestone landscape, it is considered as one of the world’s most complex cave systems. You’ll have an incredible experience exploring the caves of Underground River.

Source:Flickr

Caving and Ziplining

One of the tourist attractions of Puerto Princesa in Palawan is the Ugong Rock limestone formation tour. It is located in the scenic Barangay Tagabinet, a few kilometers away from the well-known Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and can be reached from the city of Puerto Princesa within 2 hrs or less by van or any land vehicle. Ugong Rock is part of a government-run environmental project whose aim is to preserve the rock. It is a 75 feet limestone formation in the midst of rice field and karst forests or forests growing on limestone substrate. It was named as such because a hollow limestone inside the cave makes an ugong or a reverberating sound when tapped

General information

You can reach Palawan Island via Manila and other areas of the Philippines. Palawan Is connected by air from the international as well as domestic airports at Cebu, Manila and Caticlan (Boracay) through four gateways: El Nido Airport, Puerto Princesa City Airport, and Cesar Lim Rodriguez Airport in Taytay and Francisco Reyes Airport in Busuanga. The other option to getting to Palawan Island is by sea. There are multitude of ferries from Manila to ports in Coron and Puerto Princesa. It takes between 20 to 28 hours to get ther depending on weather and speed of the ferry. Please note that you can not fly internally from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, so you must choose for one day shuttle van transfer (2 days return) if you want visit both areas.

Getting around the island is quite easy, even if some roads are irregular, but a new road is now being built from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Also you can choose boats instead to travel. When you are in El Nido, best way is by jeep because roads are narrow for other larger transport. You also can hired motorbikes and bicycles for other kind of trips. There is a possibility of transfer/shuttle services from Puerto Princesa to El Nido that takes 6 hours; from Puerto Princesa to Taytay takes 4 hours. Roads are not so accessible in the wet season, from June to September.

From Airport

When you arrive at Peurto Princesa, there are various modes of transport available. Ideally is to have your resort to arrange for transfer otherwise there are some options such as bus from Peurto Princesa to El Nido which available 4 services a day; 2 in the mornings and 2 in the early afternoon. Private shuttle bus can also be arranged from most airports to the resort of your choice.

Inland transport

The cheapest way to get around Palawan is Tricycle offer the cheapest way to travel short distance. It is available throughout Palawan Province. Tricycle is the best way to get around the countryside and remote areas. Tricycles can be fairly limited to certain areas and may not be able to go very long distances, so ASK before boarding. Do remember to state the road name and the district, as some road names are repeated.

The local jeepneys service. Jeepneys are converted jeeps which are the most popular and common mode of transport in the Philippines. They are available everywhere and operate on a fare type set up. This is a good way for touring around the island. On average

Visa

China passport holders may obtain a visa (for a fee) valid for 59 days on arrival.

Passport validity

To enter Philippines you must be in possession of a passport still valid minimum six months with a tourist visa or three months for a transit visa or without visa.

Currency

The Philippine peso (currency code: PHP) is the official currency of the Philippines. The colorful notes come in denominations of 10 (not common), 20, 50, 100, 200 (not common), 500, and 1,000. While traveling in the Philippines, you'll end up with a pocketful of heavy coins, usually 1-peso, 5-peso, and 10-peso coins — keep them! Coins come in very handy for small tips or paying jeepney drivers.

Tipping in the Philippines

Tipping in general is not required however, it is greatly appreciated. Try to reward people with a small token of appreciation who go the extra mile to help you out (e.g., the driver who carries your bags all the way to your room or for their friendly service.

Power and Adaptor

In the Philippines the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 60 Hz. the following plugs are used:

When to go

The best time to go to Palawan starts in December when the weather is at its best (unless there’s a typhoon, which usually affects the northern part of Palawan). The Philippines’ summer months of March to May serve as peak season. Prices of accommodation often shoot up during the Christmas and Holy Week season in the Philippines (Easter). If you were to travel here during this season, be sure to book in advance since some hotels can get booked out months prior.

Weather

There are two seasons in Palawan Island; dry and wet season. During the dry season, December to February has the coolest weather and the summer months are from March to May. Summer months are considered peak season for Palawan. From March to early June the seas are calm. The average max temperature is 31 degrees C with little variation all year. Average monthly temperatures vary by 2 °C (3.6°F). Rainy Season is from June to November which is considered as low season and July to October is also typhoon season.

English is widely spoken in the Philippines, it is common to hear Filipinos use a mixture English and Filipino words or phrases, known as "Taglish" (a mixture of English and Tagalog), in their everyday conversations. A steadily dwindling minority still speak Spanish, which had at one time been an official language.

Initial greetings are formal and follow a set protocol of greeting the eldest or most important person first.

A handshake, with a welcoming smile, is the standard greeting.

Close female friends may hug and kiss when they meet.

Use academic, professional, or honorific titles and the person's surname until you are invited to use their first name, or even more frequently, their nickname.

Although the Philippines is a walkable country, not all places would welcome you in your flip-flops and shorts. Churches, government institutions and some restaurants require proper attire. Besides, if you come well dressed, Filipinos will admire you, and it's always fun to dress up!

1. Do not litter on roads, trails, beaches or sea. You can help keep the environment clean and make the city a better place to live and visit.

2. To help protect, preserve and conserve the natural beauty of the place, please avoid damaging to forest, caves and corals, and don’t collect plant and animal species.

3. When entering ethnic and local villages, be sensitive to the local values and culture of the local people.

4. Entry permits and fees are required when visiting the Underground River and another attraction in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

5. Always seek the services of a duly-registered and licensed tour agency and a licensed tour guide of the city.

6. It is advisable to register in Visitor Centers / Tourism Information Assistance Centers, or with the Barangay (Village) office when visiting tourist spots or adventure destinations in the city, for better facilitation and assistance.

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