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Exploring Puerto Princessa, Philippines
Duration: 4 Days
Expenditure $ 200

The island of Palawan in the Philippines is considered one of the “Last Frontiers”  in the Pacific as its beauty is still well-preserved, unlike other islands overrun with tourists. Most people arriving will arrive to Palawan by plane from Manila, and will touch down in Puerto Princessa.

Puerto Princessa is the least densely populated city in the Philippines, though in terms of land area, it is the second largest geographically. It's a popular tourist city and a great place to hang out for a few days while making plans to explore different areas of Palawan.

I spent a few days wandering around this city. I had a nice visit (even if I do prefer other areas of Palawan) and found the locals to be really friendly and helpful.

From Manila, I arrived to the tiny airport in Puerto Princessa not knowing what to expect, especially as I'd never been to the Philipinnes before.  As I walked into the small airport lobby, I noticed a bunch of men lined up, offering their tour-guide or tricycle (kinda like a taxi or Thailand tuk tuk car - basically a motorbike with a box built around it for people to sit in) services.  Never having been in a tricycle before, I decided to give it a go. I walked out into the hot afternoon air, got into the car, and experienced a bumpy but fun ride to my hotel.

I booked reservations at Lotus Garden.  It was a more upscale place, though I still only paid about $30 US per night. 

The hotel itself was pretty nice but I soon found out it contrasted harshly with much of Puerto Princessa.  Puerto Princess is the main gateway to the island of Palawan but many of the residents are poor.  I realize this is the reality throughout much of the Philippines and had an idea about the economy in advance, but experiencing the reality was humbling.  Downtown Puerto Princessa was crowded with shops, a mall, and some modern-looking buildings.  But outside the city,  people were living in rickety houses on the side of the road.  The scene would repeat itself many times during my stay in the Philippines. 

It was my first time witnessing poverty at an up-close and personal level and it struck me to the core.  I spent three days in Puerto Princessa.  Most of the people were nice though I found some of the women a little cautious and somewhat hostile. 

I visited two tourist attractions -- the butterfly garden and a crocodile farm -- which were pretty interesting and good places to while away a few hours. 

When traveling outside the main area of the city, the mountains and forests of the Puerto Princessa countryside are gorgeous, but personally, I think other areas of Palawan are more beautiful and welcoming than Puerto Princessa.

However, first-time visitors should definitely spend some time in the city.

Lotus Garden is a wonderful place to stay while exploring Puerto Princessa. Aside from wonderful and tasty dining options and very comfortable rooms, the hotel offers wireless internet, laundry service, airport transfers, room service and 24 hour front desk security. I felt very safe and welcomed while staying at Lotus Garden. The atmosphere is artsy and cheerful.
Photos of The Lotus Garden Suites, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines, Asia 1/1 by Rhonda Mix
The Palawan Butterfly Garden is a great place to walk around for a couple of hours. The garden, about twenty minutes outside the main area of the city, is attached to a small cottage and houses butterflies native to Palawan and other areas of Southeast Asia. I hopped on a tricycle outside Lotus Garden and paid a small fare for the trip. Once arriving at the garden, the entry fee was a little over $1 U.S. I enjoyed walking around and taking a look at all the beautiful fluttering creatures. I held a butterfly and even had the opportunity to hold a scorpion (supposedly its poison had been removed, but I don't know). It was a great little day trip.
Photos of 27 Bunk House Road, Santa Monica, Puerto Princessa 1/1 by Rhonda Mix
Formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center serves as a sanctuary of the Philippine Crocodile that is endemic to the country. The Philippine Crocodile is currently included in the endangered species list and the conservation center is making ways to increase the number of the species. Aside from crocodiles, the center takes care of other animals like ostriches and endemic to the island of Palawan like the bearcat. My trip to the center was interesting, and maybe even a little scary. While waiting to begin my tour of the "crocodile farm" I paid a little money and posted for a picture with a young crocodile. In the museum at the beginning of the tour, a group of us learned about the largest man-eating crocodile caught in the Philippines. A glass box displayed the 5 meter skeleton and the massive hide of the creature hung above the box on a wall. Our group listened as the guide told us the tale of the half-eaten unlucky soul found hidden in the crocodile’s stomach. Not exactly the kind of news you want to hear before walking above a pit of huge hungry crocodiles. Which we did moments later. As we stood on a rickety wooden bridge mounted precariously over the crocodile holes, I gazed down at the ancient-looking monstrous beasts and shuddered at the thought of what would happen if someone accidentally fell over the thin railing. After a Q& A session on the crocodiles, our guide led us to the stinky crocodile hatchery. Hundreds of baby crocodiles small, medium, and large huddled together in giant holding containers. Overall, the trip was an adventurous and unique thing to do while visiting the city.
Photos of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm), Puerto Princesa South Road, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines 1/4 by Rhonda Mix
Photos of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm), Puerto Princesa South Road, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines 2/4 by Rhonda Mix
Photos of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm), Puerto Princesa South Road, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines 3/4 by Rhonda Mix
Photos of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm), Puerto Princesa South Road, Puerto Princesa, MIMAROPA, Philippines 4/4 by Rhonda Mix

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