Your favorite SEO team is here again for another travel story. So far, we’ve brought you delights from a local farm AND passed on reflections from wonder-filled Antique. Now, we want to share this year’s adventure highlight all the way from Palawan! Get ready for tales of crocodiles, ziplines, spelunking, lots of swimming, and blue crabs.
Welcome To The Last Ecological Frontier
It is the largest island in terms of total area of jurisdiction as well as one of the most biodiverse places in the country. Also called “The Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”, half of Palawan is still undeveloped to preserve its natural beauty. You have probably heard of this location thanks to its underground river being voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
If you love beaches, jungles, and wildlife, this is THE place to be. There’s a wide variety of activities to enjoy – even if you’re not the adventurous type. From city tours, island-hopping, snorkeling, food trips, to ziplining and spelunking, there’s something for everyone.
*DLinkers Team Tip:As Palawan is a premier tourist destination (featured in many travel blogs and websites such as Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor), we recommend creating an itinerary at least TWO months before your trip. This would help you (and people you’re traveling with) to enjoy Palawan’s highlights without burning yourself. Be sure to get in touch with a local tour guide for more information on the spots you want to visit.
Day 1: A City Tour – with Crocodiles
We arrived safely at Puerto Princesa Airport on a clear morning. Thanks to the careful planning of one of our teammates, we had no problems getting to our accommodations: the homey Ysabelle Mansion. It is conveniently located just minutes away from the airport, and has rooms fit for 5 – 8 people. A city tour awaited us in the afternoon, so we quickly unpacked so we could get back on the road again.
What trip would be complete without good food? We kicked it off with lunch at Noki Nocs Savory House. Aside from budget-friendly meals, you can’t pass up their special Halo-Halo. Unlike other versions of this iced dessert, Noki Nocs’ Halo-Halo features super fine crushed ice that literally melts in your mouth with creamy, milky goodness. Their limited number of ingredients (sweet red beans, langka, bananas, sweet potato, and pinipig) ensures that you don’t get overwhelmed with too much flavor. NEVER leave Puerto Princesa without tasting this awesome treat!
By 1PM, we were at the heart of the city to visit its most famous highlights.
Plaza Cuartel was our first stop. It’s a glorious look into the past as it tells the story of WWII American soldiers, who were burned to death on December, 1944.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center or Crocodile Farm is a must-see if you’re an animal lover. Although exotic pets may not exactly be your thing, seeing the growth of crocs from hatchlings to adults is still an interesting addition to the itinerary. Other animals include bear cats, porcupines, and Myna birds.
Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village is next on our list. Aside from colorful butterflies, you can also get up close and personal with scorpions, millipedes, and the friendly pet of the tribe!
Mitra Farm, also known as Sta. Monica Ranch, is an idyllic pitstop for those looking for scenic backgrounds to take selfies. The estate, which is owned by former Philippine Senator Ramon Mitra, has horses, cows, and a lovely view deck overlooking the sea.
Baker’s Hill is not to be missed – especially if you want to take home their affordably delicious pastries and cakes. The place is also perfect for people who love taking fun, creative pictures.
*DLinkers Team Tip:Get your chance to sample some crocodile dishes from the Crocodile Farm! Unfortunately for us, we had to hurry back to the mansion due to our tight schedule.
After a day of laughter and discovery, we made an unexpected side trip to meet Puerto Princesa’s former mayor Edward Hagedorn for his birthday! Our team was treated with warm smiles and amazing food. To close such an awesome first day, we also visited Flo’s grandfather. Who knew 24 hours could pack in so much fun?
Day 2: The Adventure Continues!
A morning at the Ysabelle Mansion begins with their scrumptious breakfast meals. Due to our strict schedule, we were all at the dining hall by 6.30AM so we could leave by 7AM. This day’s highlights included:
Ziplining and Spelunking Adventures in Ugong Rock
Puerto Princesa Underground River
In Barangay Tagabenit, about an hour-and-a-half journey from Puerto Princesa city, lies a community-based tourism sustainable development project that lets tourists explore Ugong Rock, as well as zipline down the 75-foot limestone formation. Think of it as having a good time, while doing something good for the folks living there!
We were supposed to do the Underground River tour first, but on account of a slight delay, we had to proceed to Ugong Rock instead. No one was disappointed though. Before the adventure started, there was a short orientation and registration. Our team was then assigned a guide to help us during our exploration.
First, guests would carefully enter the cave’s opening. Beware of low-hanging stalactites! Don’t worry though, your helmets and gloves will protect you as you traverse the dark, cramped rocky areas.
*DLinkers Team Tip:Listen to your guide to learn the interesting stories behind the rock formations. The entire tour may take a while, especially if your group stops for pictures. So drink plenty of water!
Once you reach the top, visitors have the option of either doing the Zipline, OR simply take another route down Ugong Rock. Most of us had our hearts set on the zipline activity, so we went for it! At 420 meters long and 165 feet high, this experience is a MUST after the caving adventure (unless you have a fear of heights). The views alone are worth the scream. The superman position is a bit slower than the sitting position, allowing one to enjoy at least 34 seconds of wind and greenery before reaching the platform on the other side.
Of course, after the morning’s exploit, our tummies were yearning for some nourishment. Our lunch buffet by the sea was highlighted with fresh seafood (Palawan’s finest!) and a serving of one of their exotic offerings: the Tamilok. Although these creatures are often referred to as “wood worms”, they are in fact, mollusks. They live in mangrove tree roots that can be found everywhere in the island.
If you’re brave enough to try one, you can eat them as they are, or dipped in white vinegar with chili. Don’t be intimidated by their long, elongated form! They taste exactly like fresh oysters. Yum!
When afternoon arrived, we got on our boats for the Underground River Tour. Located at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, this Wonder of Nature is 8.2 km long, with a river that flows out directly into the West Philippine Sea.
It’s famous not only for its biodiversity, but also because it’s said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world. Surrounded by more than 800 species of plants and 195 bird species, nature-lovers wouldn’t want to miss this place!
Although past tribes already knew of its existence, it wasn’t until 1937 that the inside was explored. The entire tour should last between 40-45 minutes, with a local friendly guide showing you the different rock formations and other fauna within the underground cave. Don’t be afraid of the birds and bats that you’ll encounter! They are harmless and maintain a good distance – even in the dark.
Feel free to imagine what those stalactites look like! Our team certainly enjoyed visualizing them as giant corns, mushrooms, hearts, and garlic. You will even enter the famous Italian Chamber, one of the largest chambers inside the underground river at 360 meters long.
*DLinkers Team Tip:No need to worry about pictures during the highlights of your trip. All these places have optional printed photos that you can purchase at reasonable prices. These are printed on high-quality paper so you’ll have nice keepsakes of your adventure. So be sure to include this when planning your budget!
Dinner, Baywalk, and…Dancing Lights?
Ah, that time of the day that the team always looks forward to: mealtime! Dinner was at Puerto Princesa Baywalk area, a good place to just chill, eat, and maybe ride a bike afterwards. A vacation in paradise deserves huge servings of hot rice, fresh seaweed, and of course, fine seafood like Palawan’s famous Trevally.
More commonly known as ‘talakitok’, this large fish can be served grilled, fried, or steamed. For fishing enthusiasts, these could be found all year long and usually caught near reefs. The delicious meat is definitely favored not only by local citizens, but by tourists as well! Try this dish with tomatoes, red onions, and chili vinegar.