Palawan Philippines

You’re planning to go on a holiday to Palawan and are looking for information about how to get to Palawan and what to do in Palawan? Look no further! This article is a complete guide to Palawan in the Philippines. First of all, I’ll provide you with general information about Palawan, the history, the culture and the various municipalities. After that I’ll tell you all about the best activities and sights you have to visit, followed by the different accommodation options. At last I’ll give you some advice and recommendations so you can leave well prepared for your holiday to one of the most beautiful places in the world!

palawan

Content

The last frontier

Palawan is a province with 1780 islands, located off the west coast of the Philippines. It’s the largest and at the same time least densely populated province of the Philippines. The province is named after its largest island, Palawan, measuring 450 km long and 50 km wide.

The name Palawan is derived from the Malaysian word Kepulauan, what means islands or Archipelago. Some residents contest this and say that Palawan comes from a Chinese word Pa-Lao-Yu which means  “country of the beautiful and safe harbor”. Palawan has over 2,000 km of coastline, dense jungles, unique mangroves, picturesque islands, green valleys, impressive caves, hidden coves and of course stunning beaches.

At the centre of the island you’ll find an impressive mountain range. The highest peak is Mount Mantalingahan, measuring 2086 meters above sea-level. The limestone rock formations, the clear blue sea water, the white sandy beaches and the lush vegetation gives Palawan its characteristic signature.

For a long time, the inhabitants of Palawan recognized the unique and delicate ecosystem of the archipelago. The province of Palawan was later recognized as a protected area by the rest of the Philippines. Palawan consist of more protected areas than the rest of the Philippines and is a great promoter of eco-tourism. The island has been a sanctuary for a great variety of flora and fauna since 1967.

There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Palawan. Firstly, the Tubbataha reef. This reef is located approximately 150km off the coast of Puerto Princesa in the middle of the Sulu sea. These coral reefs are filled with marine life and the surrounding islands form the breeding grounds for many turtles and birds. Second, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. This river is situated 80km north of the capital city of Palawan. The underground river is 8.2km long, running from the St. Pauls Underground River Cave, directly to the West Philippine Sea. It’s the second longest underground river in the world.

sailing palawan

The history of Palawan

Research executed by a research team headed by Dr Robert B. Fox, has shown that people have lived in Palawan for over 50,000 years. Researchers concluded this after studying the human remains, found on the island. The researchers have determined that these bones belonged to the Tabon tribe. The Tabon are called so, because remnants of these people are found in the Tabon caves. These caves have secret spaces where anthropologists found bones, tools and artifacts, belonging to these people. The Tabon people are considered to be one of the first inhabitants of the Philippines and form the cradle of Philippine society

It’s generally accepted that both the Tagbanua people and the Palawano people are descendants of the first inhabitants of Palawan. The history of these tribes go back more than 5000 years. We know this because archaeologists discovered burial jars,  dated 5000 years ago. In the following centuries, more and more immigrants from other countries came to Palawan. The biggest wave of immigration started in the period of 220 till 263 A.D. This was due to the many wars that were fought in China. This caused communities, including the Aetos and the Negritos, to leave their homes looking for a place to live elsewhere. One of the descendants of the Negritos are the Batak.

Around 1200, immigrants from Malaysia made their way to Palawan. The new immigrants brought knowledge with them about agriculture, which caused a large increase of the local economy. The new immigrants started to cultivate ginger, rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts and sugar cane. They also kept animals, including chickens, goats and pigs. Palawan now has grown into a thriving community, with 18 different dialects and two main religions: Hinduism and Buddhism.

In 1521, the Spaniards discovered the Philippines under the leadership of Ferdinand Magellan. After a fight between the local population and the Spaniards, Magellan was killed. Only a few of his men escaped and end up on the Calamian islands, where the wealth of the country saved them from dying. In the 17th century the Spaniards started their missionary work. The Spaniards built churches and fortifications in order to protect it. They proclaimed Taytay as the capital city. Later they divide Palawan in two areas. Taytay remaining the capital of the north and Puerto Princesa the capital of the southern part of Palawan. The Spaniards also introduced the Roman Catholic religion to Palawan.

In 1900, the bloody period in the history of Palawan began. The first war was between the Americans and the Spaniards, which was won by the Americans in 1902. The Americans introduced reforms, and a governance model similar to that of America. They made Palawan one again, with Puerto Princesa as the capital city. The second war was between the Americans and the Japanese imperial army. During the Second World War Palawan was captured by the Japanese. Some fierce battles took place in this period between the armies of America and Japan. On the 22nd of April 1945, Palawan was liberated and formed an independent province.

The culture of Palawan

Palawan has a unique history. In this period of 50,000 years, many events have taken place, which helped to determine the origin of the current culture in Palawan. There are 87 different groups, which live together in harmony. In addition to the previously mentioned influences of the Spaniards and the Americans, the strong influence from China, India and the Middle East is noticeable.

These many influences have ensured all sorts of religious movements on the island. The largest group at the moment, is Roman Catholicism followed by Protestantism. Also, the Islam and Buddhism are represented on the island.

Many languages and dialects are heard on Palawan. In total, there are 52 languages and dialects to distinguish, of which Tagalog is the most important. More than 50% of the population speaks Tagalog, but there also is a large group that speaks Cuyonon. Next to that you’ll come across Hiligaynon and Palawano.

calamian people

Local tribes

On Palawan, you’ll come across a number of unique groups and tribes. Below you’ll find the most important ones.

  • Batak
    The Batak tribe lives in the north-eastern part of Palawan. The Batak have lived for hundreds of years as hunter-gatherers. There are speculations, they might even have had a commercial relationship with Chinese traders that goes back  500 years before Christ. It’s thought that the Batak people descendants of the Aeta, a Negrito tribe from Luzon. The Batak have a small posture, dark skin and curly hair.  The word Batak means “mountain people” . Nowadays, you can find them on the countryside of Palawan, where they live their lives peacefully. Their way of life, as hunter-gatherer, bring them in conflicts with the modern way of living of the other inhabitants of Palawan. It’s estimated that there are only 500 people of the Batak tribe left.
  • Cuyonon
    This tribe, with ancestors from India and Malaysia, come from the island of Cuyo. At times of the Spanish occupation, this was an important base for the Spaniards. Many Cuyonons are Roman Catholic. The Cuyonons are an elite class of the Palaweños and many of them are politically active. The language they speak is called Cuyonon.
  • Palawano
    The Palawano tribe, also called known as Pala’ wan, is one of the oldest tribes in the province of Palawan. It’s suspected that the Palawanos, together with the Tagbanwas, descendants of the same ancestors. Most of the Palawano tribe members live in the higher parts of Palawan, around the cities of Quezon, Abo-Abo and Buliluyan island. They’re religion consists of a mixture of animism with influences from Hinduism, Protestantism and Islam. They traditionally hunt with arrows and a bamboo blow pipe.
  • Palaweños
    The Palaweños consist of two sub-groups: the Agutayanon and the Cuyonon. The Cuyonons are seen as the elite, while the Agutayanon form the lower classes.
  • Molbog
    The Molbog live on Balabac, in the south of the island. It’s a Muslim minority, that believes in Islam but also Christianity is accepted. The Molbog are thought to have migrated from the north of Borneo to Palawan. Their life consists of agricultural and fishing.
  • Taaw’t-Bato
    Taaw’t-Bato means “people from the rock”. This isn’t a tribe but a group of people who live their lives in an extinct volcano. They belong to  the Palawanos, who in certain periods of the year live in houses in the volcano. This group still lives a pretty primitive lifestyle. The Philippine government is trying to protect the Taaw’t-Bato from the loss of their culture, by minimizing contact with visitors from the outside world.
  • Tagbanwa
    You come across the tagbanua tribe in the centre and north of the province. They’re direct descendants of the Tabon tribe. Together with the Palawanos they are the oldest tribe on the island. The Tagbanua are extremely good at agricultural and fishing and have a predilection for music and theatre.

The nature

Palawan is called “the last frontier” because of its overwhelming nature. The province of Palawan is covered with 692000 hectares of forest, including tropical rainforests, mangrove forests, swamp forests and beach forests. In total, 11 of the 12 forest formations in the Philippines are found on Palawan. With a whopping 64000 hectares’ mangrove forest, this is the highest percentage of mangrove in relation to the rest of the Philippines. In summary, this contains:

  • 692000 hectares of forest
  • 11 different types of forests
  • 64000 hectares mangrove forests
  • 1522 blooming plants

In these forrests, you’ll find a large variety of animals, including:

  • 24 amphibian species
  • 58 land mammalian species
  • 69 reptile species
  • 279 bird species
  • 600+ butterfly species

palawan nature monkey

In addition, the province includes over 2000 km of coastline and 11000 square km of coral reefs. There are also 15 lakes, 42 ponds, 44 waterfalls, 28 rivers and 2 seas.

These waters consist of the following life:

  • 4 sea turtle species
  • 13 seagrass species
  • 15 marine mammalian species
  • 122 freshwater species
  • 379 coral species
  • 613 marine fish species

As you may have found out, Palawan a paradise for many, many animals. On Palawan, you’ll find animals that aren’t found anywhere else in the world, as the islands offers a safe haven for a large number of endangered species. Of the 475 endangered species in the Philippines there are 105 found on Palawan. Of the 105 there are 67 that only occur in the Philippines. Of the 67 there are 42 only seen on Palawan. To protect these animals, there are more than a dozen of Nature Reserves.

The best time to travel

The best time to travel differs per person. When you are looking for sun, heat and least rain as possible, then the period between March to May is highly recommended. The disadvantage is that it’s busier. When you want to avoid the tourists, you should visit just after the rainy season. The chance on rain is present, but the nature is bright green and there’s a lot less humidity. I, myself went in January and February and didn’t experience any trouble with the weather. It did rain a few days within those months, but never for a whole day.

  • The climate
    There are two types of climates in Palawan. The first one you’ll find on the west coast. Here prevails a dry and wet season of each approximately 6 months. The rainy season starts mid-May and runs until mid-December. Most of the rain falls in the months between July to October, August and September are the wettest. Each year, there’s an average of approximately 1500mm precipitation. The second type of climate you’ll find on the east coast. Here the dry season lasts for three months, but it doesn’t rain as much as in the other 9 months, nor as on the west coast. When you’re staying on the east coast and experience a lot of rain, you can choose to go to the west coast because the dry season lasts longer.
  • The temperature
    January and February are normally the two coldest months on Palawan. The temperature during the year is between 22 and 32 degrees. The temperature varies by various factors, depending on the timing of the monsoon and the location of where you’re staying in Palawan. Coron, on average is slightly warmer in the warm months, and slightly cooler during the colder months.
  • Diving
    Diving on Palawan is possible the whole year round. The best time to dive though, is from February until May. In this period, the sea is calmest and the visibility best. This is also the time that you can go to the Tubbataha reef. In December and January the sea is more rough and cooler. As well as the visibility can be limited due to, among other things, the amount of plankton. The advantage you have here is that there will be more activity under water.
  • Holidays and festivals
    When you plan to visit the island in December, it’s somewhat busier, because of the many celebrations and festivals taking place that month. On the 1st of December, there’s the light a tree festival. On this festival the Christmas tree gets ignited. On the 8th of December, there is the Immaculate Concepcion feast in Puerto Princesa with a large parade. On the 15th and the 23rd of December, the Paskuhan at Kantahan sa Kapitolyo celebration takes place in Puerto Princesa as the forerunner of Christmas. The Christmas celebrations continue into the new year. Other busy periods are the Chinese new year and the local school holiday period in April. Two other great festivals are the Aeawedan festival in Port Barton and the Kulambo festival in El Nido. Aeawedan get held every last week of January. The Kulambo starts at the 15th of March, which lasts for three days. Another fun one, is the Puerto Princesa foundation day. This is held each year on the 4th of May in obviously, Puerto Princesa.
  • The best time to travel
    The best time to travel is from January to the beginning of May. In January, it’s somewhat windy and there’s a bigger chance on rain, as well as it’s a bit cooler. March and April are very calm, little to no wind, blue skies and hot summer days. Because this is the most popular time of the year, Palawan is a lot busier.

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The map of Palawan

The trip to Palawan

There are several ways to travel Palawan. For most people the trip begins in Manila. From Manila, you can choose whether you travel by boat or plane. The biggest advantage of choosing for travelling by plane is the travel time. The plane is considerably faster than the boat, but the airplane also knows a few disadvantages. In addition to the tickets being more expensive, you can take more stuff with you on a boat. This can be useful if you plan to bring your own diving equipment. For example, you can only take 10kg of luggage per person to El Nido and have to pay PHP 100 for each additional kg.

By plane

  • Busuanga
    From Manila, there are daily flights leaving to Busuanga. The duration of the flight is approximately one hour. You can choose from different airlines. From Busuanga it takes about 45 minutes to get to the centre of Coron by minibus.
  • El Nido
    From Manila, there are several flights a day going to El Nido. The flight takes up slightly less than an hour. These flights are provided by Island Trans Voyager Inc. (ITI). From El Nido airport it takes approximately 20 minutes with a tricycle before you reach the centre of El Nido.
  • Puerto Princesa
    From Manila, there are also daily flights to Puerto Princesa. The duration of the flight just is more or less an hour. You have the choice of different airlines. The airport of Puerto Princesa is located in the town of Puerto Princesa itself. There are also flights from Cebu to Puerto Princesa.

By boat

  • Coron
    From Manila there’s the option to take the boat to Coron with travel2Go. You can choose from a cargo ship or a ferry. The ferry takes approximately 12 hours and the cargo ship about 17 hours. This takes you straight into the centre of Coron.
  • Puerto Princesa
    From Manila, every week there are several companies that sail to Puerto Princesa. The sailing time of the direct connection between Manila and Puerto Princesa is approximately 22 hours.

Transport options

Once you’ve arrived on Palawan there’s a variety of travel options. Below you find some of the most popular ones described.

calamian archipelago

Boat

  • Banca
    The Banca is a long narrow, originating fishing boat with flats on each side, providing more stability. The Banca is mainly used for island hopping.
  • Ferry
    During your stay in Palawan, two ferry services can be of interest. This is the ferry between Manila – Coron – Puerto Princesa and the ferry service between Coron and El Nido. Opt for a reputable company.

Bus

  • Bus
    The busses on Palawan run a pre-agreed route, for example between El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Two well-known companies are RoRo and Cherry. Here you have two options. The more luxurious one, with air conditioning and the slightly cheaper without air conditioning.
  • Jeepney
    This is an extension of American jeeps, left after the Second World War. The Jeepney is often cheerfully colored and now gets manufactured in the Philippines. The Jeepney is not as big as a bus, but easily fits a lot of passengers. The Jeepney is a cheap, next to no luxury way of transport. The local residents often pay less for a ride than tourists. Unless you want to travel like a local, I’d recommend other means of transport.
  • Minivan
    On Palawan, you come across the minivan or minibus all the time. It’s recommended to use a reputable company such as Daytripper. Only because not every business lives up to the safety regulations. A minivan is often more expensive than a bus, but can pick you up and drop you off at a pre-arranged place. It’s also possible to rent a private minivan. A good choice to travel quickly to your place of destination.

palawan transportation

Motorbike

  • Motorbike/ Scooter
    When you are looking for more freedom and don’t mind the adventure, renting a scooter or motor could be a great solution. For example, ideal to ride from El Nido to Nacpan beach.
  • Tricycle
    The Philippine tricycle is a motorcycle with sidecar and a canopy. This is the Philippine version of the Thai tuktuk. Especially suitable for short trips. There are standard prices, so it’s good to find out the price in advance. If you do not know, negotiate the price in before you hop on.  It’s possible to order a tricycle with multiple people, to then share the costs.

Municipalities in Palawan

Palawan is the largest island and the largest province of the Philippines. The island is 450km long and 50km wide. The capital city is Puerto Prinsesa, located on the west side of the island. Palawan can best be described as a large archipelago with up to 1780 islands. These can be divided into smaller groups of islands of which the largest would be the Calamian islands in the north, the Balabac – Bugsok islands in the south and the Dumaran – Cuyo islands in the West. Then there are the Spratly islands in the south. These islands are also claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Palawan is divided in 23 municipalities plus the capital, Puerto Princesa. These municipalities are then subdivided into 431 villages.
Below you’ll find a brief explanation of the main municipalities. These municipalities are divided into the municipalities on the Calamian islands and the municipalities on Palawan itself.

Calamian Islands

  • Busuanga
    Busuanga is a municipality in the Calamian Archipelago and is also the largest island in the archipelago. Busuanga consists of the eastern half of Busuanga and several smaller islands on the east side of the island. Busuanga offers luxury tourists an ideal place for an unforgettable holiday.
  • Coron
    Coron is a municipality in the Calamian archipelago, composed of Coron island, half of Busuanga island and approximately 50 other smaller islands. Coron is a popular destination for travellers, ideal to use as a springboard to visit the other towns, villages and islands of the Calamain archipelago. Among many other things, you’ll here be able to discover hidden coves, limestone cliffs, mountains, reefs, caves, lakes and lagoons.
  • Culion
    Culion is a municipality in the Calamian archipelago. On Culion tourism is still in its infancy. Culion has a rich history with a lot of relics from the Spanish occupation. The island also served as home for a leprosy colony, of which you can now visit the leprosy museum.
  • Linapacan
    Linapacan is a municipality in the Calamian archipelago. It’s said that the waters around Linapacan belong to the clearest waters in the world. It’s certainly possible to stay on Linapacan, but the accommodation options are limited. On Linapacan, you can enjoy many untouched islands and the amazing underwater life.

Palawan Island

  • El Nido
    One of the most famous districts in Palawan is El Nido. This is due to the reputation of some of the best beaches and islands in the world. El Nido is located in the most northern tip of Palawan and consists of 45 islands and islets. For over twenty years, El Nido Resorts has offered world-class accommodation in a stunning setting. This has contributed to the popularity of El Nido. El Nido has gradually become a tourist destination for all kinds of travellers, because of the still growing number of accommodations.
  • Puerto Princesa
    Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan. The city is named after Princess Asuncion, the daughter of Queen Isabella II of Spain. For a while, the city formed the base of the local Spanish navy. There are 66 barangays (villages) which together constitute the main city. The city itself is the centre of the ecotourism of the Philippines. From here it’s easy to take (day) trips to the natural wonders and other attractions, which Palawan is most known for. Tours to Honda Bay, Tubbataha Reef, the underground river and Ugong Rock leave from Puerto Princesa.
  • Sabang
    Sabang is a small village in the municipality of Puerto Princesa. It’s especially known for its underground river, which is located near Sabang. When you want to enjoy the peace and quietness of the underground river in the early morning, an overnight stay in Sabang is recommended.
  • Roxas
    Roxas is a municipality, which you come across when you travel from El Nido from Puerto Princesa on land. In the municipality of Roxas you’ll find white beaches and idyllic islands, but tourism is not yet developed.
  • San Vicente
    San Vicente is a municipality on Palawan, of which Port Barton, as many others, plays a part. The main attraction of San Vicente is the spacious 14km long sandy beach. Tourism in San Vicente is still in its infancy but it wouldn’t be a surprise if that changes sometime soon.

    • Port Barton
      Port Barton is more than worth a visit! This sleepy seaside town has only recently made a start to emerge. Port Barton is quite remote and doesn’t suffer from commercialization, like some of the bigger cities. Whoever takes the time to travel to Port Barton will certainly be rewarded. Port Barton in two words: peace and beauty!
  • Taytay
    Taytay is a municipality in Palawan. Taytay was previously, at the time of the Spanish occupation, the capital of Spain. You’re still able to find many sights from that time, including the 17th-century fort Santa Isabella. From Taytay you have the opportunity to go island hopping and visit the sublime NoaNoa resort.

kayangan lake

Points of Interest

There are many natural sights on Palawan. Personally, I could truly enjoy chilling on a white sandy beach and watch the great nature or explore the wonderful underwater world. Below you find ten natural attractions which ought not to be absence in your visit to the province.

  • Barracuda lake
    This lake consists of several layers of water, also known as thermocline. Here you’ll come across layers of seawater, brackish water and fresh water. A unique dive site!
  • Big lagoon
    One of the highlights of El Nido. This is an impressive lagoon and should certainly not be missed on your visit. Nature at its best!
  • Hidden beach
    This beach is hidden behind a rock wall. It’s said to be the inspiration for the film: the beach and Survivor 2017, was also recorded here.
  • Kayangan lake
    The most beautiful lake of Coron. Stunning views over the bay of Coron and a clear lake in which you can swim. Highly recommended!
  • Nacpan beach
    Perhaps the most charming beach of Palawan. Nacpan is a must see when you visit El Nido.
  • Underground river
    The Puerto Princesa underground river is one of the two sights on Palawan listed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. This is an impressive natural attraction that should not be missed during your visit to the island.
  • Shipwrecks
    This dive site can’t be left out when you like diving. There are a dozen of Japanese shipwrecks at the bottom of the sea, close to Busuanga. Nowhere in the world you have the choice of such a high number of wrecks which are within easy reach. The wrecks are located off the coast in a convenient depth. The visibility is good, the water temperature is pleasant and the current moderate. Ideal conditions!
  • Small lagoon
    Just like the Big lagoon, the small lagoon can’t be left out during your visit to El Nido. This lagoon is narrower and intimate. Lovely!
  • Tubbataha reef
    One of the most spectacular dive sites in the world and one of the most gorgeous dive sites in the Philippines. The reef is exceptionally beautiful with a large variety of marine life. The Tubbataha reef is a protected nature reserve and listed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO.
  • Twin lagoon
    A magnificent lagoon in Coron. The lagoon is composed of two parts. To get to the inner part of the lagoon, you have to swim through a hole in the rock wall. Highly recommended!

underground river palawan

Activities

Below you find four activities that impressed me most on my visit to Palawan.

Diving

Many of the activities on Palawan are dominated by discovering the irresistible underwater world. For the true diving enthusiasts, there’s the Tubbataha reef. This Reef, with perhaps the greatest biodiversity of the world, can be visited on a multi-day diving excursion in the period between March to June. This time of the year, the sea is calmest, which results in optimal (and safe) diving conditions. Another top dive site can be found at Busuanga. Here you can find a dozen of Japanese war ships on the bottom of the sea. This is one of the best places in the world to go wreck diving, due to the excellent conditions under water and the wide range of wrecks. From the north side of Busuanga you have the possibility to go on an excursion to the imposing Apo reef. In addition to these great attractions, the coral gardens of El Nido and Coron are more than worth a visit! Diving in Palawan is a must do activity.

Island Hopping

With 1780 islands belonging to the province, there are plenty of islands to choose from to explore and discover. The most popular is the Bacuit archipelago at El Nido. Here you can choose between four tours that show the many islands. Each tour takes up a whole day, on which you get shown the most unique natural environments. At least one tour should be added to your trip! Coron as well, offers well organised island hopping tours. From here you get the choice of the magnificent Coron island with beautiful lakes, lagoons and snorkelling possibilities or the beaches around Malcapuya island, which are blessed with fine white sand. In Puerto Princesa you can explore the Honda Bay. Which is well organized, but less impressive as the tours in Coron and El Nido. From Port Barton and Busuanga island you can go on several tours to see some beautiful white beaches that offer excellent conditions for snorkelling. When visiting Palawan, try to hop on a few tours. Explore and enjoy the many heavenly islands in Palawan!

Beach Holiday

On Palawan you can go for a wonderful beach holiday. Everyone has a different opinion or ideas about a perfect beach. When you’d like your facilities close to the beach, I’d recommend choosing for a resort. Looking for stunning white beaches? I’d to recommend the following:

beach holiday palawan tao

  • Ditaytayan Beach
    Near the larger Bulalacao island, you’ll find Ditaytayan island. This island has a lovely sandy beach and an amazing coral reef. There are no facilities nearby, which gives you the opportunity to enjoy nature at its best!
  • Nacpan Beach
    The beautiful Nacpan beach is located north of the town of El Nido. Going here, you’ll have a large pristine beach area at your disposal on which you can relax. There’s access to some facilities but don’t expect any luxury.
  • Malajon Beach
    A very nice beach located on Malajon (Black) island. This place is perfect for a chill-out day at the beach. Relatively close, you can find the idyllic islands North Cay and Pamalican, which are also worth a visit!
  • Tangdang Beach
    Better known as Thelma and Toby beach. To me, this beach is absolutely perfect. Everything just feels right. When you are looking for a beach holiday, without any luxury, this place offers everything you could wish for.
  • Tao Cadlao Beach
    My favorite TAO basecamp. This beach is located in a picturesque bay on the north-eastern side of Cadlao island! To me, this was one of the most stunning beaches of Palawan.

TAO expedition

Your journey through Palawan is not complete without an expedition tour through the Calamian archipelago. An absolute must do is the tour of TAO Expeditions! The alluring nature, the food, the people and the atmosphere, they all make a unique experience, that go further than your wildest dreams! This was one of my highlights and should certainly not be missed on your journey. Make sure that you book on time and enjoy this 5 days (4 nights) unique experience.

bacuit cadlao

What to eat

  • Adobo
    Adobo is Spanish for sauce, seasoning, or marinade. Adobo is considered the national dish of the Philippines. This dish consists of chunks of chicken or pork or both cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, lots of garlic and whole peppercorns.
  • Buko
    A young green coconut. The juice and the pulp are very popular to consume
  • Chao long
    Vietnamese-Filipino beef stew noodles
  • Kaldereta
    A Philippine stew from pork, beef or goat with tomato paste or tomato sauce and pureed chicken liver
  • Kare Kare
    Kare-kare is a Philippine stew, made from peanut sauce with a variety of vegetables, stewed oxtail, beef, and occasionally offal or tripe.
  • Halo-halo
    A popular Philippine dessert
  • Kinilaw
    Kinilaw means “eaten raw”. It’s a Filipino ceviche dish consisting of cubed raw fish marinated in vinegar or calamondin juice along with vegetables and spices.
  • Lechon
    Lechón is a roosted pork dish from a suckling pig
  • Pancit
    Pancit or pansit is Filipino style noodles
  • Sinigang
    Sinigang is a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour flavor most often associated with tamarind. Meat varies from fish, pork, shrimp and beef.
  • Sisig
    Sisig refers to Sizzling sisig, a Filipino dish made from parts of pork’s head and liver, usually seasoned with kalamansi and chili peppers.
  • Tamilok
    Tamilok is a woodworm and a delicacy

Where to eat

Accommodations

When you’re planning your visit to Palawan during the high season, I’d highly recommend to book your accommodation in advance. Especially when you want to visit or stay in one of the more popular accommodations. As I went in January and February, I soon found out that all the accommodation with a good price-quality ratio or a high score for example on TripAdvisor, were fully booked. Next to that, I met people that would have liked to go with the TAO expedition or stay at Thelma and Toby, but once arrived heard it was fully booked. This really is super regrettable because these experiences were the highlights of my visit. So one thing left to say: when your holiday is in the high season and have certain requirements for the location and quality of your accommodation: book well in advance!

Location
In Palawan, you have a wide selection of accommodation options. From simple huts to luxury resorts. There are various accommodations, for any budget. In advance, make sure that you have a clear idea of where you’d like to stay. Are you looking for peace and nature? Or are you looking for some hustle and bustle and entertainment? Both are possible, but it can result in disappointments, if not prepared. For example, staying in a hostel in the centre of El Nido where the streets are busy till early in the morning and you thought you could go to bed early, because of your plans the next day: you’re better off looking for a place to stay outside the centre. Vice versa, when planning on going out in the centre of El Nido every night, but choosing a place situated half an hour from the centre, obviously, isn’t ideal.

Travel time
When planning your visit to Palawan between mid-December and May, the chance of fully booked (popular) accommodations is a lot higher. For that reason, I recommend booking your accommodation in the high season well in advance. Just to avoid any disappointment.

Advice and recommendations

If you’re planning on a holiday to Palawan, there are a few things you need to consider to prevent yourself from discomfort during your stay.

  • Take mosquito spray/deet with you or an anti-mosquito spray. Also available in Palawan.
  • Do not drink tap water. Order filtered water (in a sealed bottle). Don’t forget about cooled drinks, make sure that ice cubes are made from filtered water as well.
  • Be aware of toxic underwater animals. Some poisonous animals are: jellyfish, coral, sea snakes, stone fish, scorpionfish, lionfish and sea cucumber.
  • Protect your feet against toxic animals, sharp stones and coral when you’re walking or going in the water. A step in a sea urchin is very painful.
  • Protect your skin against harmful UV radiation. Even though it’s cloudy. The sun can be very bright.
  • Take the weather into account. When it’s raining or windy, sometimes, tours can’t depart or continue. Plan for those days a day at the waterfalls.
  • You can get cash out in Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa, but please note, that there’s a maximum amount. When you don’t succeed, it’s often not the ATM itself, but the (too high) amount that you’re trying to get out. With my creditcard I could get 20.000 pesos out of the ATM, with my debit card it was only possible to get out 5000 pesos. There are only a few banks in El Nido and credit cards are only accepted in a few places, so bringing cash is recommended. There are some exchange offices but only change foreign money and travellers checks at a higher rate than most other places.
  • I heard many people complain about poor Wi-Fi. If this is important to you, keep this in mind.