5 Places to Visit in Puerto Princesa if You’re Interested in a City Tour
June 29, 2019
Located in the western coast of the Philippines, Puerto Princesa is a base for travellers going to El Nido. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the only attraction that enticed me to stay in the coastal city. Since the underground river tour only took half a day, I made full use of the other half going on a city tour. The following are 5 attractions you can consider visiting if you have spare time while passing through Puerto Princesa.
#1 – Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
This 19th century cathedral used to be a small church during the Spanish occupation. The facade was redesigned and the church was renovated in 1961 to its current structure. Although there have been changes made to the architecture, the original church is still preserved. I was both lucky and unlucky to have come across a wedding ceremony when visiting the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. I was lucky to have witnessed such a beautiful moment, but unlucky since I was not allowed to enter the cathedral and see how its interior looks like. According to the tour guide, there are regular mass schedules at the cathedral daily. If you want to experience grand celebrations, be sure to visit Puerto Princesa during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated from 29 November to 8 December.
Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
Address: 58 Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa, 5300 Palawan, Philippines
#2 – Plaza Cuartel
No matter how well a country or city is doing now or how happy the locals are, there are always stories of a dark past. In Puerto Princesa, you’ll be able to learn about its horrifying past at Plaza Cuartel. History buffs might find this place interesting. The open-air war museum houses a restored World War 2 garrison and the shrine to American prisoners of war burnt alive at the exact location by the Japanese on 14 December 1944. The incident is known as the Palawan Massacre. Out of 154 prisoners of war, only 11 survived. Their names, along with those who died at the garrison, are etched on a bronze memorial. There are large placards displaying photos of the war years. But, if you’re courageous enough, take a look at the cells and tunnels. It gave me the creeps!
Address: Taft Street, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm. Closed on weekends.
#3 – Pristine Beach
This is the closest beach to Puerto Princesa city, and luckily for me, Pristine Beach is less than 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel I stayed at. The beach wasn’t very crowded when I visited on a weekday afternoon, and I was able to rent the hut that’s half-submerged in the sea. There’s one stall offering fruit juices, iced beverages and finger food. The water is pretty refreshing but please remember to apply sunblock in order not to get a sunburn. If you swim far enough (well, not that far away from the shore), you’ll be able to watch fishermen doing their job.
Ps. Some fishermen were friendly and allowed me to climb aboard to see their catches of the day.
#4 – Old Public Market
Visiting the local market is one of my favourite activities when I travel. Needless to say, I requested for a stop at Puerto Princesa’s Old Public Market. You can find everything from colourful tropical fruits to fresh vegetables, fish and meat to clothing, shoes, souvenirs, and electronics. Don’t forget to bargain for a good price!
Old Public Market
Address: Malvar Road, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
#5 – Baywalk Park
Looking for a romantic place for evening strolls with your significant other or just a relaxing place to hang out with family and friends? Puerto Princesa’s Baywalk Park is an ideal spot. I made the wrong decision of visiting this park in the afternoon. The park was completely empty and there were only seagulls in sight. I guess this was probably due to the scorching hot sun with its unbearable heat. I only found out from the hotel concierge later on that the park gets crowded at night, with numerous eateries offering barbequed seafood and meat. It’s such a pity that I missed out on the tasty barbequed dishes.
Address: Sandoval Street, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
There isn’t much to do in Puerto Princesa city, but if you have more time, you can consider going on an island-hopping tour. I heard that the Starfish Island and the Cowrie Island are stunning. You can also plan a visit to Baker’s Hill where you’ll be able to buy locally baked goodies to munch on during your trip, and to bring back home later.