The Province of Palawan is located in the region of MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) Philippines. Its capital is Puerto Princesa, home of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Palawan is known to be very rich in natural resources and now it’s also widely known in the world because of its crystal clear beaches.
Last September 2018, my family and I took a trip to Palawan to witness first hand its charm and beauty. The trip was mainly because to visit the famous Subterranean River or commonly known as the Underground River. The Underground River was voted as one of the new seven wonders of nature in 2012. It was also enlisted in 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apart from the Underground River, we also visited two famous landmarks of Puerto Princesa, Kalui Restaurant and Baker’s Hill.
And finally, here are the details of our Puerto Princesa, Palawan trip:
We arrived at Puerto Princesa International Airport at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. After that, we were picked up by the transportation that I booked through KLOOK and directly sent us to our hostel. Luckily we booked a very affordable hostel for our one night stay in Puerto Princesa inclusive of breakfast. At this point, I would like to apologize because I forgot the name of our hostel. I am so sorry.
When we arrived at the hostel, we settled in, arranged our things and rested a bit while waiting for dinner. We decided to take our dinner at Kalui Restaurant, one of the must-try-to-eat restaurants in town. I called Kalui at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and made a 6:30 o’clock evening reservation for five. Please take note that you have to call Kalui Restaurant at least an hour before your desired dinner time because they don’t accept walk-ins due to the high volume of customers who would want to try out their place.
We arrived at Kalui Restaurant 10 minutes before our scheduled time. Just a perfect allotted time to take photos at their main entrance door. Shortly, we were called to get inside since our table was ready. We were then asked to take off our footwear because we have to get inside the main restaurant barefooted which was quite surprising. It was all our first time to experience such a thing in a restaurant. We thought that it was unique. And what about our footwear? We need not worry at all because shoe baskets were prepared to keep them safe.
Kalui Restaurant is a native Filipino themed restaurant. It’s like a wooden native house turned into a Filipino restaurant. When we walked inside, we felt like being in a Spanish period of time. They maybe have developed some structures that were already outworn or damaged. Still, the place was very well-maintained. And so we checked out the menu and ordered a Kalui set which includes fish steak, prawns, veggies of the day, fish roll in coco cream, rice, and starters. Then we added sisig (a popular Filipino food made out of pig face) and extra rice. I must admit that the food in Kalui is very good. It really is a must-try restaurant in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Kalui Restaurant is located at 369 Rizal Avenue, Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa, 5300 Palawan. They are open daily except for Sundays, 11:00pm-2:00pm for lunch and 6:00pm-11:00pm for dinner. You may contact them at (048) 4332580.
PUERTO PRINCESA SUBTERRANEAN RIVER NATIONAL PARK
For our second day in Puerto Princesa, we booked an Underground River tour which I mentioned earlier was the main reason for our trip.
Our van picked us up from our hostel at exactly 7 o’clock in the morning. Estimated travel time from the city to Sabang wharf, where you need to ride a boat to reach the Underground River, is 2 hours. You need to travel by boat because the Underground River is located in the island of Saint Paul Mountain Range. Along the trip, we made a stopover at a souvenir shop where there was this viewing deck for tourists to see part of the West Philippine Sea. Yes, the West Philippine Sea was very visible through that place. That was truly amazing.
We arrived at Sabang wharf around 9:30 in the morning. We waited for about 15 minutes and after that we boarded the boat and headed over to the island. The trip from the port to the island was about 25-30 minutes.
Right after we docked, there was like a 5-minute briefing of the do’s and dont’s during the tour and the safety precautions while inside the park premises were discussed as well. There were a lot of people in the park and everyone was there to experience the Underground River tour.
We were then divided into groups of 10 composed of 9 tourists and 1 boatman. In our case, we were 11 because the other family in our group brought a child with them. As we started the tour, we were then given earphones where you can hear a recorded voice that will also serve as your guide along with the navigation. The audio guide could be set in different languages so it’s really tourist friendly.
We were all very silent when we got inside because it was really dark. The only source of light inside were the flashlights used by the boatmen. And when our boatman started to point his flashlight to the stalactite and stalagmite rock formations everyone expressed their excitement. They were indeed very amazing. We saw rock formations that looked like mushrooms, vegetables, a giant candle, a cathedral, and the list goes on. But what amazed us the most was when the boatman showed us what looked like a statue of Mama Mary and a rock formation that looked like the face of Jesus Christ. It was truly mesmerizing. Everyone was just in awe witnessing one of the new seven wonders of nature. Puerto Princesa Underground River, by the way, is the largest navigable subterranean river but only up to 4.3 kilometers from the sea is allowed to be navigated by the boatmen and tourists. Only researchers are allowed to navigate beyond 4.3 kilometers distance provided that they get all permits needed and prove that they are professionals capable of doing such work.
It took us 45 minutes to an hour of navigating the Underground River. And all of us were very happy at the end of the tour. It was all worth it. After the tour, our guide took us to a lunch buffet because it was included in the package we availed. We all had lunch together.
I already have visited Baker’s Hill once way back in 2011. And so much have really changed. As far as I can remember from my very first visit, 7 years ago, Baker’s Hill had just a small gift shop offering pearls, food and the like with a small garden filled with Disney statues. They were already very famous back then and even until today for their very own hopia. I would even call it the best hopia that I have ever tasted in the Philippines. Hopia is a popular Indonesian and Philippine bean-filled moon cake-like pastry according to Wikipedia. I highly encourage you to try this pastry if you ever decide to visit the Philippines.
And now that I have come back to Baker’s Hill, I was in awe with all the buildouts that they have made. They made a bigger gift shop, even put up a restaurant, play area for kids, a botanical garden, aviary, Disney statues, and a viewing deck. There is no entrance fee in Baker’s Hill Palawan so you could take pictures and stay there for as long as you want. Baker’s Hill is indeed a must-visit in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. And it is located at 118 Peneyra Road, Barangay San Pedro, Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
There are still plenty of tourist spots and beaches in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and I hope to go back there again someday. How about you? Have you been to these places I mentioned here in my blog? Or what places have you been to in Puerto Princesa, Palawan?
And by the way please allow me to make a shout out post to our tour guide driver, Kuya Neil, for touring us around Puerto Princesa using his tricycle for a very affordable package and even send us off to the airport. Unfortunately, my old cellphone got broken and so I don’t have his contact number. But please if you are planning to go to Puerto Princesa and riding a tricycle is not a big deal for you, you may contact him or maybe ask people in Puerto Princesa who may know him. He is really highly recommended. Thank you.