Home Travel Guides Things to Do Palawan: First-time Visitors

Palawan: First-time Visitors

For international travellers - as of Dec 2009, mostly cash-only in Puerto Princessa! For travellers used to swiping plastic cards to pay for stuff, this time, you need to bring CASH in Philippine Peso! You can exchange USA dollars at money changers along Rizal Ave (sort of a business area), not sure what other currencies can be exchanged. Bigger stores and hotels may accept credit cards, however, do not expect this as a rule.

There are ATM machines which accept international bank-cards but be prepared to get charged exorbitant fees on a per-transaction basis. A VISA ATM card use may trigger a $2.17 fee for each ATM use no matter what or how much (checking balance, withdraw, etc). It seems the fee is not specific to Palawan, but an international transaction charge based on where the bank card was issued from.

Credit card transactions could have accompanied transaction fees similar to the ATM usage. Again, similar to the ATM usage, this is not specific to Palawan.

INSECT-repellant : bring some for personal use, for some reason, mosquitoes and other insects like to nip foreigner skins! The locals didn't seem to be bothered as much.

Hand-sanitizer, toilet paper, toilet-seat disposable cover, handkerchief or small towel : some toilets have tap water for hand-washing but no soap. Also, most toilets do not have paper wipes. If you sit on the loo, bring disposable seat covers for health protection or at least disinfectant wipes to wipe-off the seat prior to sitting on. In lieu of hand-sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol would do to cleanse your hands regularly. A cloth handkerchief or small towel is useful for drying hands, some places do not have hand-dryers or paper towels.

No-littering law : bring a small re-usable plastic bag to put your trash in case you need to dispose of something and you can't find a trash receptacle. You don't want to spend free board and lodging in a Palawan jail for littering.

Taxis : there are no cabs or taxis in Puerto Princessa, however, there are lots of 3-wheeled shared transport called "tricycles" which can seat an average of 4 passengers. Minimum fare per person around town is 7pesos by daytime and a bit more at night (8-10 pesos). If the driver waits for you (say at Badjao Seafront), it may cost you around 150 pesos for 2 hours, enough to finish dinner. A day tour around the PPS city may cost about 500 pesos - negotiate the price upfront and find another tricycle if you feel you are being charged too much. There are lots of these tricycles unless you're in an out-of-the-way locale such as Badjao Seafront. When you find an honest driver, get his mobile phone number so you can text/call him when you need a ride the next time. Be sure to mention your hotel(or where you want to be picked up) and what time you need to be at your next destination so the driver can inform you what time you need to be picked up so you'd be on-time at your destination.

Mobile phones : if you have tri-band phone, it may be cheaper for you to buy a local SIM card and buy prepaid minutes in local currency rather than paying roaming charges from your international phone service provider. Well-known and reliable providers in the Philippines are GLOBE and SMART (there could be others but can't recommended by experience).

Licensed tour-guides : for first-time visitors, joining the official tourism tours with licensed guides is highly recommended. It is a bit more expensive but it'll be worth it. Some people off-the-street may offer to show you around for less and although you see the same stuff, you won't hear the history or background that adds flavor to the scenery and makes the visit more meaningful and enjoyable. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and can give you some advice and assistance when you have concerns.

Underground River Tour : you'll get a bit wet when you step on the beach for the short hike to the underground river, so dress accordingly. When time permits, the guides may give you free time on Sabang beach for a swim after the usually inclusive tour-lunch. It's fun to walk along the beach with the sea water lapping at your feet!

Hunda Bay Tour : get ready to feed the fishes and snorkel, swimming with schools of fish! Buy lots of bread from the wharf before riding your island-hopping boat (or if you have old bread from breakfast, that'll work too). If you have extra money, you can rent underwater camera at the tourist center in the mainland wharf so you can get a picture of yourself swimming with the fishes but ask someone to take ur picx (^_^). The boatmen generally help in this regard. There's lots more fish in Pandan Island than the other islands usually visited so budget more bread for Pandan Island than for the other islands, you can also get better under-water pictures in Pandan Island. Also, bring CASH in Pandan Island because you can buy some fresh catch of the day such as crabs and rock-lobster priced 50% cheaper compared to restaurants in the mainland PPS. The per-kilo pricing includes cooking. You can eat these in addition to the regular fare they serve to visitors lunching in Pandan Island. Also, you can order fresh coconut(buko) drink picked off the trees in the island. It is served on its husk with a small hole for the straw for sipping. After finishing-off the fresh juice, you can request the coconut to be opened so you can scrape and eat the soft coconut meat! You can also get massages on the beach, just tell your guide you want a massage and a therapist will be fetched for you. As for Snake Island, there is a small hut that sells more bread (for you and for the fish) as well as drinks. However, prices are cheaper in the mainland wharf than on the islands.

Crocodile Farm and Nature Park : there are other animals(most are native to Palawan) and not just crocodiles. The park itself has huge grounds with trails to explore towards the cages of the animals. If you are on a city-tour, you stay long-enough to see the crocodiles because you need to go somewhere else. If you have kids with you, you may want to skip the city-tour and just take a tricycle (or rent a van) to drop-off/pick-up to the Crocodile Farm so you can spend at least half-a-day exploring. The entrance fee includes the whole nature park visit until they close the gates. Be warned - lots of school children have field-trips to this place.