My second visit to Palawan happened nearing the end of 2011. I had been thinking of revisiting El Nido since June, roughly one year since the first time I stepped foot in that beautiful paradise.
During those 12 months, I was occupied by my desire to backpack extensively around the Philippines. The plan was to see the beauty of our country first and then start visiting the rest of the world.
The experience of traveling to places I’ve always craved to visit in the Philippines (but didn’t have the freedom because I was either still in school or didn’t have enough money for it) was nothing short of amazing. It was personally fulfilling to live the life that I wanted at the time.
Before starting anew with the new year, my enthusiasm at moving on to “the next step” was dampened by, simply put, decisions. Living a free spirited life was something I dreamed about growing up. I’ve just arrived at mid-20s now and a lot of me (my perspective of things) feels different.
I wouldn’t change how I spent my life so far but I was feeling disconnected because I didn’t know if it (living a nomadic life) is still something I would find fulfillment exhausting my time and effort over the next few years.
I wanted to retrace my steps in Palawan … back to places I visited when I was just starting to travel/backpack. This time, I didn’t plan every moment of my itinerary. I just wanted to discover how I’d react to things that happen and make plans along the way.
Iloilo to Manila Flight via AirPhil Express
I woke up at around 3:00am. I haven’t even packed my backpack for the 13-day trip. Amazingly, all the pre-trip preparations was finished by 5:00am.
Checked-in for my “Iloilo to Manila” flight via AirPhil Express (flight 2P946). It was the earliest flight for the “Iloilo to Manila” route and I arrived at the airport just 5-minutes shy of the check-in counters’ closing time :D
For me, it was yet another flight to Manila. I wasn’t feeling cheery that morning and flying domestic wasn’t exactly as exciting as it used to be (after going on more flights than I can count at the top of my head).
Looking out the window, It was really cloudy flying out of Iloilo then, when the plane hit the higher altitudes, my forlorn expression gradually changed … enthralled by the view of the sunrise peering out from a vast sea of clouds. It seemed like we were flying above a frozen ocean.
I started to become enthusiastic again about trip. This inspiration later developed into my “Tropical Tundra in the Last Frontier” photo series.
Manila to Puerto Princesa Flight
As you might have guessed, there are no direct flights from Iloilo to Palawan, which explains why I had to take a connecting flight through Manila.
The first time I visited Palawan, I endured the 36-hour slow ferry from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa. I did it mainly because of the stopover in the remote island of Cuyo. Now I’m taking the more convenient air route … things have definitely changed alright :p
My “Manila to Puerto Princesa, Palawan” flight (2P943) arrived on time at 12:20nn. Flight time was approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes (a little longer than the Iloilo to Manila flight).
Puerto Princesa City Aerials
Banwa Art House
Arrived at the Puerto Princesa Airport a little past 1pm. Walked to the highway and hailed a tricycle to take me to the Palawan Provincial Capitol (P10 fare). From there, I hopped on a jeep to Mendoza Park (P8). I planned on staying the night at Dallas Inn (Carandang St., PPC. see map) but they were fully booked. So, I had to take another tricycle (P20) to Banwa Art House (Tagumpay St., PPC; see map).
I’ve read many good blog reviews about Banwa Art House. I loved the spacious veranda common area / restaurant. The wooden construction, view of greens, and artsy details was very homey comfy. I could imagine spending many an afternoon here working on my netbook or reading a good book over a cup of coffee.
Banwa Art House totally felt like an oasis especially after having gone through the chaotic streets of Manila then Puerto Princesa’s punishing midday temperatures.
Ordered tuna ala pobre w/ rice (P140) and iced tea (P35) for lunch. A little more expensive than my typical lunch but I was famished and there weren’t much eateries within a short walk from Banwa … I’d have to take a tricycle or a hearty walk.
The tuna was okay. I would be more appreciative if I wasn’t so hung up with Ka Lui’s tuna steak, the best I’ve had in Palawan. Banwa’s cool ambiance was a good consolation anyways :p
The dormitory bed in Banwa costs P350 per night. Wifi internet access is an additional P40. The rates were a little more than what I would consider cheap but I didn’t mind because I was totally digging the vibe, the staff were very friendly, and the place was well kempt.
Walking Tour around Puerto Princesa City
At around 5pm, I walked towards the Puerto Princesa Baywalk. From Banwa, it took me around 20 minutes (passing by Plaza Cuartel and the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral). I was hoping to take sunset shots along the bay but the lighting that afternoon wasn’t spectacular.
Search for the Best Chaolong in Palawan
One thing I regret not doing during my first visit was getting a taste of chaolong in Palawan. Chaolong is a well-celebrated noodle soup introduced to Puerto Princesa by Vietnamese war refugees who decided to stay in this city during the 1970s.
Since I had not researched about the best chaolong in Puerto Princesa, I basically eaten at every chaolongan I came across. The first one I saw was a place called “Filviet Cuisine” along Carandang St. (near Dallas Inn).
Ordered Beef Strips Noodle Soup (P60), French bread with garlic (P22), and Coke 8oz (P12). All chaolongans in the city serve the noodle soup with a side of calamansi, bean sprouts, mint and/or basil leaves that you can mix with the soup to add flavor.
The Beef Strips Noodle Soup at FilViet Cuisine was tasty but I didn’t experience that feeling of flavors bursting into my taste buds. It was only the first one I had anyways. The french bread with garlic on the other hand was really good!
I still needed to eat at more places so I’d have some kind of comparison. For the next 12 days, I did just that and, on my last day in Palawan, I stumbled upon a really good chaolong place called “Bona’s Chao Long” along Manalo Street.
I spent my first day solo in Puerto Princesa City. Since I traveled from Iloilo, I had to arrive a day earlier than my friends who came from Manila. I joined them for the first four days in Puerto Princesa Underground River and El Nido.
Expenses and Tips
Iloilo to Manila Flight
- AirPhil Express flight 2P946 (Departure – 06:20am; Arrival – 07:25am; Daily)
- Iloilo Airport Terminal Fee – P200
Manila to Puerto Princesa
- AirPhil Express flight 2P943 (Departure – 12:20nn; Arrival – 01:30pm; Daily)
- No need to pay terminal fee at NAIA Termial 3 for connecting flights (on the same day and on the same airline)
Puerto Princesa City (PPC) Overnight
- Tricycle from Puerto Princesa Airport to Palawan Provincial Capitol (or downtown PPC) – P10
- Jeepney rides within downtown PPC – P8
- Banwa Art House
- Dormitory bed (common TB) – P350 per night
- Wifi acess – P40
- Lunch of Tuna ala pobre w/ rice (P140) and iced tea (P35) – P175
- I’d buy water and some snacks at the convenient stores in downtown since they were cheaper than buying the bottled drinks at Banwa.
- Dinner at Filviet Cuisine
- Beef Strips Noodle Soup (P60), French bread with garlic (P22), and Coke 8oz (P12) – P94
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