Aptly nicknamed “the city in a forest,” Puerto Princesa city’s attractions have much to do with its natural wonders and commitment to the environment.
In fact, it’s been named the Philippines’ cleanest and greenest city, and has been internationally recognised for environmental excellence.
Palawan was also recently voted best Island in the world claiming top spot based with over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014.
Puerto Princesa’s pride is easily the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (or Underground River), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The 8.2-kilometer river, said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, winds its way underneath a mountain range, through the St. Paul Underground River Cave, and then goes out into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system alone is 24 kilometers long.
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 area home.
A three-hour ride also takes you to Port Barton in the municipality of San Vicente, which has been described as a backpacker’s dream. The only problem you might have is deciding whether to swim, dive, snorkel or just swing to sleep on a hammock or visit the local waterfalls. Aquaholics Dive Centre’s website in Port Barton is portbartondiving.com/.
On the way you could get a glimpse of Puerto Princesa’s heritage in the Batak Cultural Village. It’s 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 a shop where Batak handicrafts are sold.