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The Republic of the Philippines is an island country in South East Asia. It has almost 100 Mil people, with about 300,000 sq km of land and more than 7,000 islands.  In addition, more than 10 Mil Filipinos live and work overseas.

The Philippines has a long and very rich history.  In the late 1960s, it was one of the richest, if not the richest and most developed country in South East Asia.  However, Philippines is not in an enviable state today, at least where economic growth is concerned.  In terms of GDP per capita, the Philippines has fallen far behind neighbours like Malaysia and Thailand. 
 
This stop at Palawan was one exotic cruise port of call during our Legend of the Seas Borneo Cruise in March 2013. This was the Legend of the Seas maiden call to Palawan and I certainly hope that the cruise line will want to call here more often in the future!
 
The Philippines has a long and very rich history.  In the late 1960s, it was one of the richest, if not the richest and most developed country in South East Asia.  However, Philippines is not in an enviable state today, at least where economic growth is concerned.  In terms of GDP per capita, the Philippines has fallen far behind neighbours like Malaysia and Thailand. 
 
This stop at Palawan was one exotic cruise port  certainly more cruise lines want to visit this port of call in the future!
Get closer to nature in the Philippines' greenest city on Palawan island. Unwind in pristine beaches that stretch for miles. Explore the underwater territories of endangered sea life with a snorkeling or diving excursion. Or take a pumpboat ride and spend the day island hopping on Honda Bay.
 
Where You are Dock
Cruise ships to dock at the Puerto Princesa Pier. Puerto Princesa's town centre can be reached via a 0.6-mile (one-kilometre) tricycle-ride, or 5-10-minute walk on-foot. Covered tricycles are available at the pier, but are not metered. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey. Complimentary shuttle bus service to a convenient location in town is offered in the morning and afternoon.
 
Things to See and Do
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
Puerto Princesa's most renowned destination, the Subterranean River is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Presumed to be the world's longest navigable underground river, the five-mile (8.2-kilometre) Subterranean River winds its way underneath a mountain range and through the St. Paul Underground River Cave, then flows into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system alone is approximately 15 miles (24 kilometres) in length. At the mouth of the cave, a clear lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water's edge. Monkeys, large monitor lizards and squirrels find their niche on the beach near the cave. The entire area where the Underground River is located is actually a national park, and a model of biodiversity. More than 800 plant species, including almost 300 trees, 195 bird species, 30 mammals, 19 reptiles, and eight bat species call this premier ecotourism destination home. In addition to navigating this unique river, visitors here can also enjoy bird-watching, mountain-trekking, and exploring the deeper part of the forest.
 
Puerto Princesa Bay
Puerto Princesa Bay is a major entry point to the city Puerto Princesa, and the first impression seen by visitors to the island. The site is ideal for bay and mangrove cruising and kayaking. Puerto Princesa Bay is also major port of call for smaller ships and boats going to Sulu Sea destinations, such as the Cuyo islands and Tubbataha Reef, a diver's paradise. Many bayside resorts offer accommodations and dining facilities with panoramic views of the bay, along with water-based sports activities. Tricycles within the city proper can transport visitors to the bay area and port, which is ideal for a sunrise stroll and splendid views of the bay. The annual celebration of Layagan, a boat-sailing contest and festival that commences from San Rafael off Honda Bay, culminates in the bay area.
 
Palawan Heritage Centre
The Palawan Heritage Centre is located at the Provincial Legislative Building along Fernandez Street, in the heart of the city of Puerto Princesa. This educational, highly-informative and interactive museum, designed and operated by the provincial government, preserves and promotes the rich cultural heritage of the province. Artefacts dating back 300 years, old photos, life-sized dioramas and interactive modules such as holograms, computerized touch screens, information kiosks, maps, and learning stations outline Palawan's history, and explain contemporary economic and environmental challenges.
 
Batak Cultural Village
Explore the unique heritage of Puerto Princesa at the Batak Cultural Village. It is a model of the communities where the Batak mountain people, one of Palawan's oldest and the smallest of three major indigenous groups, live. The village has a gallery and shop where Batak handicrafts are sold.
 
Ugong Rock
Ugong Rock is a large outcropping in the middle of a rice field on the right side of the road heading towards Sabang. A maze of passageways honeycomb through this limestone formation, and are ideal for exploring. Ropes and walkways make it easier for visitors to traverse them. Eventually, you wind your way to the top and emerge at the shelter to rest and take in the exquisite panoramic view. Zip-line cables are attached at the top and support by pulleys, enabling visitors to experience a delightfully scenic ride to the landing platform on the other side of the rice fields.
 
Sabang X Zipline
One of Sabang's greatest attractions, the Sabang X Zipline begins at the Central Park Station, which is accessible via a short, 10-minute trek through the beach and monkey trail leading up to it. This fun-filled and exciting, 2,625-foot (800-metre) ride is highlighted by breath-taking panoramic views of the mountain and open sea.
 
Tubbataha Reef
Located 93 miles (150 kilometres) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle of the Sulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls, the North and South atolls, and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef. Together, they span 239,800 acres (97,030 hectares). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serves as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef, with a spectacular 328-foot (100-metre) perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species.
 
Honda Bay Islands
Located off the mid-eastern coast of Puerto Princesa City, the Honda Bay Islands are easily-accessible via boat. You can go island-hopping, and take your pick from dozens of white-sand beaches. Dive sites abound here, as the entire area is studded with patches of coral and sand. Submerged reefs with small reef and aquarium fish may also be found close to the surface, and down to approximately 79 feet (about 24 metres). Among the best-known dive sites here are Pandan Island, which has good reefs near small drop-offs, along with Arreceffi Island and Panglima Reef, where coral boulders and grey reef sharks are found. Snake Island has a sandbar that slithers on the surface of the sea, much like the reptile bearing its name. It is a popular destination for snorkelling, swimming and sunbathing, and can be reached in an hour by pump-boat. Bat Island, only 20 minutes away from St. Lourdes Wharf, is literally teeming with bats that make their way out at sundown to look for food in the mainland.
 
Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm
Established by the Americans in 1904 to supply food to other prisons all over the country, Iwahig has since become synonymous to finely handcrafted bags and other souvenir items. In this prison without walls, inmates tend vast farms instead of idly spending time behind bars.
 
Mount Thumbpeak
A haven for hikers, majestic Mount Thumbpeak features beautiful rivers and lush, dense forests teeming with rich and diverse flora and fauna, orchids, plants, bonsai trees, and more. The summit offers spectacular panoramic views of nearby mountains, the west coast of the mountain, entire city of Puerto Princesa, and the Iwahig River. At night, the trail is lit by abundant fireflies. Since Mount Thumbpeak is part of a protected area, a permit and guide are required.
 
Outdoor Activities
Puerto Princesa offers a superb selection of picturesque and delightful sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include exhilarating zip-line rides at Ugong Rock and the Central Park Station, navigating the spectacular Subterranean River, spelunking in the Tabon Cave Complex, observing the reptiles and wildlife at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre, and bird-watching, mountain-trekking and exploring Puerto Princesa's limestone and marble cliffs, Cleopatra's Needle and Mount Thumbpeak. Scenic and memorable water-based excursions include bathing in the deep pools of the lovely Salakot Waterfalls, and exploring the vast lagoons and coral islands of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a marine and bird sanctuary. Boating, sailing, fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, and swimming also abound in the bays of Puerto Princesa and Ulugan, and nearby Honda Bay Islands.
 
The One Thing You Don't Want To Miss
Natural wonders abound in stunning Puerto Princesa, home of the world's longest underground river 8.2 km Underground River — a UNESCO World Heritage. This national treasure is by far one of the most popular attractions at the port. Marvel at spectacular caves and crystal-clear waters at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River with a riverboat ride into this miraculous wonder.
 
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the most distinguished protected areas of the Philippines. It is located some 360 miles southwest of Manila, the country’s political and economic capital. It was established as a National Park in 1971 primarily to protect and preserve the intact old growth forest, interesting wildlife, pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled natural beauty and one of the most impressive caves systems in the world.
 
The Park features a spectacular limestone or karst mountain landscape. It contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to the oceans tide. A subterranean river flowing directly into the sea and the associated tidal influence makes it the most unique natural phenomenon of its type to exist. The presence of 11 minerals, scientifically and aesthetically unique speleothems, and a 20 million year old Serenia fossil embedded in the walls of the cave justifies the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
 
Other Fun Things to Do
Tour the Palawan Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Center, and see a fully operational research institute where crocodiles and other native species live.
Surround yourself with a rainbow of the most beautiful insects in the Philippines at the local butterfly garden.
Diving is the premier activity in Puerto Princesa. Venture underwater and explore the habitats of sea turtles, eels and more.
 
Eating Out
Puerto Princesa is renowned for its Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, Malay, Vietnamese, European, Swiss, German, Italian, English, American, and international cuisine. Filipino cuisine usually features rice as the main dish, which is served along with meat, seafood or fish cooked in a stew of vegetables. Seafood is the central component of Palawan cuisine, and constitutes the main course in most restaurants. Local specialities include: mechado, or beef or pork in tomato gravy; lechón, or roasted pig; crispy pata, or deep-fried pig's foot; kaldereta, or goat meat in tomato stew; sinigang na hipon, or sour soup with shrimp; chicken inasal, or grilled chicken; bagoong, or fermented shrimp paste; laing, or dried taro leaves with coconut milk; monggo with tuyo, or mung beans with salted fish; lato, or seaweed salad; pinakbet, or mixed vegetables; adobong kangkong, or sautéed water spinach; ginataang kalabasa, or pumpkin in coconut milk; and ginataang langka, or jackfruit in coconut milk. Popular Filipino desserts include flan; turon, or bananas in spring roll wrappers fried in sugar; bibingka, or rice cakes in a variety of flavours and textures; ube, or purple yam; fruit salad; and halo-halo, a refreshing ice-based
 
dessert combining sweet palm fruit, shredded coconut, jackfruit, mung beans, purple yam, corn, coconut gelatin, and pounded dry rice.
 
Popular local restaurants in-and-around Puerto Princesa include: Kinabuch's Bar and Grill; Viet Ville; Bavaria Pizza; Ka Lui; La Terrasse; Café Ole; A&A Seafood Palace; Sidelines Teashop and Bar; Ima's Vegetarian; Marber's Beer Garden; Haim Chicken Inato; White Fence Country Café; Captain's Ribs; Gypsy's Lair Art Café; Hibiscus Pizzeria; Deep Forest; Ima's Gulay Bar; Ka Inato; Badjao Seafront; Diver's Dream; Bona's Chaolong; Divine Sweets; Heavenly Desserts; TomTom Club; Rusticana; McCoy's; Rene's Saigon; Mang Inasal; IToy's Coffee Haus; K'na Boyet Sa Baywok; Balinsasayaw; Café Loreto; Celestial's Restaurant & Café; and Tokyo Gyoza. Popular hotels for dining include the Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, Princesa Garden Hotel, Aziza Paradise Hotel, RAQ Pensionne, and Hotel Centro, among others.
 
Shopping
Puerto Princesa features a wealth of shopping opportunities, including local favourites such as dried fish, cashew nuts, artwork, handicrafts, woodcarvings, exotic wooden furniture and décor, pearls and pearl products, native goods, jewellery, clothing, accessories, t-shirts, keychains, colourful, hand-woven cloth, rugs, baskets and placemats, rattan, wicker, reed and bamboo furnishings, and other pasalubong's, or souvenirs. Popular local stores include: Baker's Hill for cashew nuts, pastries, hopias and souvenirs; Asiano Arts and Crafts for handmade artwork, handicrafts and other souvenirs made primarily from local organic materials, such as seeds, animal bones, exotic wood, driftwood, roots, etc.; El Nido Art Boutique for clothing, accessories, printed shirts, swimwear, sundries, travel necessities such as sunblock, insect repellent and toiletries, European and seafood dishes, organic vegetables, and fruit shakes; Kaingud Arts and Crafts for handmade artwork, handicrafts, jewellery and other souvenirs made from stone, shell, blade of grass, roots, exotic wood, and beads; Palawan Handicrafts for gift items, home wares, gift items and souvenirs; Tiangge-Tiangge for a variety of beautiful pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, along with colourful beaded accessories; Kamarikutan Gallery for paintings, sketches and shirts, along with cashew nougat, yema and other sweets; Robinsons Place Mall for branded stores and consumer goods, food, handicrafts, clothing, shoes, accessories, along with beauty salons, a food court and cinema; and numerous souvenir shops in-and-around town. Most shops are open daily from 8-10 a.m. to 6-9 p.m. The local currency is the Philippine Peso
 
The handmade crafts at Puerto Princesa are works of art unlike anything else in the world. Shop for unique bargains made by native Palawans at the Tourism Association of Souvenir Shops, where everything from handmade cashew treats to hand-woven baskets are up for sale.



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