Showing posts with label Puerto Princesa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puerto Princesa. Show all posts

Hibiscus Garden Inn: Value for Money Family Accomodations in Palawan

February 28, 2011

Hibiscus Garden Inn: Value for Money Family Accommodations in Palawan
The last time our family went to Puerto Princesa, we stayed at Casa Linda Inn. It is by far the cheapest accomodations we have stayed in. The room was very cheap and basic but we had a clean room with private toilet and bath. For a big family like us, the cheap accommodations provided by Casa Linda Inn made our Puerto Princesa trip possible. See my review on  Casa Linda Inn here.

On the other hand, if I had more funds then and the kids are older, I would choose Hibiscus Garden Inn. Maximum capacity for Hibiscus Garden Inn rooms is 3 persons. But I can request to have 2 adjacent rooms so a family of 6 like ours can be near each other. A classic room costs P1800 per night good for 2 persons, and the t
he extra person rate is P500 per person. So if three persons will occupy a room, the cost will be P2300 per room per night, or in our case, it will be P4600 per room per night for a family of 6. Not bad since a 3-star hotel in Manila good for 2 people cost around that much.

In my discovery of this place, I relied heavily on the following reviews, which also contained traveler's photos. As I've mentioned in previous posts, traveler's photos more accurately show the true condition of the place. Here is the link that may help you decide to book this place:

What kids will like about this place
  • It has wifi. 
  • It has cable tv in the rooms.
What adults will like about this place

  • It's near the airport. 
  • It's near public transportation, like the tricycles, because it's located on the main road
  • It's also near restaurants and the capitol.

Contact Information:
Hibiscus Garden Inn website 
Hibiscus Garden Inn email address 


Check out the location of Hibiscus Garden Inn in relation to the airport and to Casa Linda Inn. Hibiscus Garden Inn is in the lower right portion of the map and Casa Linda Inn is in the upper left portion of the map.

Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour with Kids

January 26, 2011

Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour with Kids

What Kids Will Learn
1. This is where my kids first experienced snorkeling. The advantage of snorkeling in the islands of Honda Bay is that the snorkeling site is very near the shore. Unlike snorkeling at Balicasag island, the snorkeling site at Honda Bay is deep and undercurrents are strong. 

2. Aside from learning to snorkel, we discovered that swimming in the sea/bay is very different from swimming in the pool. Knowing how to swim in the pool does not guarantee your safety at sea/bay. Because of the strong undercurrents in deeper parts of Honda Bay, the technique that our boatman used to move from one point to another is to use a walking motion with his legs underneath the water rather than staying horizontally on the water and kicking with your legs on the surface of the water. You stay in the same place when you use this technique at sea.

Word of Warning
Do not allow your kids to take off their life jackets while wading in water in the islands of Honda Bay. There are  parts of the  of the islands that suddenly deepens just a few meters from the shore. The undercurrents are strong and could easily pull you into the deep parts of the bay. As I mentioned above, the swimming technique learned at the pool is not very helpful when swimming at sea with strong undercurrents.

Our Itinerary
6:00 AM           

  •  what to bring to the island hopping:   

    waterproof backpacks, extra change of clothes, cellphone, swimsuit, sunblock, off lotion, coconut oil, hand sanitizer, underwater camera case, underwater plastic case for gadgets, cellphones, wallet, toilet paper, emergency medicines, slippers, bottled water, cookies or biscuits
My tip: for feeding fish, tear the white bread in small pieces and place it inside an empty mineral water bottle. Then while snorkeling, fill the mineral water bottle filled with bread then feed the fish so you can see them up close. It's easier to hold the mineral water bottle than the plastic bag containing a loaf of bread. See pictures below:
Mineral water bottle filled with bread for fish feeding
This is how it is used to feed fish

7:00 AM          
We were picked up at Casa Linda Inn by Wildrock Tours. Before proceeding to Sta. Lourdes wharf, we made a stop to pick up the cooked food that we were supposed to bring with us during our island hopping. Our lunch was included in the fees we paid Wildrock Tours

8:00 AM 
Arrival at Sta. Lourdes Wharf. Sta. Lourdes Wharf is the place where we take the boat to go island hopping at Honda Bay.

Customer service center at Sta. Lourdes Wharf. 

Waiting for our turn to board the boat

This is the boat we used. 
Note the orange lifejackets ready to be used. Palawan is strict on the use of lifejackets.

Boarding the outrigger boat

8:30 AM 
Arrival at Pandan Island

11:00 AM-1:00 PM 
Buffet lunch at Pandan Island

This is where we ate lunch at Pandan Island. A tent was reserved for our use.

2:00 PM 
Arrival at Starfish Island for more snorkeling.

3:00 PM 
Arrival at Snake Island

Approaching Snake Island

Huts at Snake Island

Walking the sandbar of Snake Island

This is what a sandbar looks like

4:00 PM         
Leave Snake Island  and head back to the wharf

5:30 PM      
The Vietville restaurant is along the route going back to Puerto Princesa city. So we requested our guide to stop over at Vietville restaurant to take out Vietnamese food and view what used to be the refugee center of the Vietnamese boat people in Palawan.

6:00 PM 
Arrival at Casa Linda Inn

7:00 PM 
Dinner at Casa Linda Inn

Puerto Princesa Underground River: Finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature

November 17, 2010

Puerto Princesa Underground River:
Finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature

We have all heard in the newspapers about the campaign to vote for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. This is an update.

The nominees for the 7 wonders of nature came from more than 440 locations and 220 countries.  The global voting was conducted from December 2007 until July 7, 2009. Only 77 nominees were chosen.

After the 77 nominees were chosen, the Panel of Experts deliberated for 2 weeks and then announced the 28 finalists on July 21,2009. Among them is the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Update on our current ranking:
We are currently in the top 14. The global voting is still ongoing. The Official Declaration on the new 7 Wonders of Nature will be made on November 11, 2011. We have less than a year to vote. If you haven't voted yet, go here to vote. A sample is shown below:

Is there Malaria in Palawan?

September 6, 2010

Is there Malaria in Palawan?

Since I'm traveling with kids, the first thing I researched on is how prevalent malaria is in Palawan. My research showed that Palawan has no malaria in urban areas. If you'd like to see the US Center for Disease Control Map regarding malaria in the Philippines, click here.
We were likewise assured by our guide that there is no malaria in Puerto Princesa city, and only some cases in the forest and small villages. 

There's no vaccination for malaria yet. Your only option is to drink prophylaxis medicine. However, drinking prophylaxis medicine prior to leaving for Palawan is not an option for my kids because of the side effect. My personal assessment is that the side effect far outweighs the advantage of drinking prohylaxis medicine to prevent malaria. We plan to travel primarily in urban areas and away from the forest where cases of malaria is occasionally found.

The key is to to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as much as you can. So we took the following precautions and added these things to our packing list:

1. insect repellant or OFF lotion in huge quantities

Off! Skintastic Insect Repellent, Tropical Fresh, Family , 6 fl oz (177 ml)Search for insect repellant 
  • We never left our hotel/inn without applying OFF lotion. You can mix the off lotion with the sunblock.
  • We reapply OFF lotion in the afternoon  because the malaria-carrying mosquito mostly bites from dusk till dawn.
  • Always bring with you whenever you go sightseeing OFF lotion together with your sunblock.
  • Reapply OFF lotion especially before going to the Underground River Park, since you enter the forest on the way to the underground river.
  • A room without aircon is not an option. But if you did not get an aircon room, make sure your room is fully screened or bring a mosquito net to put on your bed just to be sure. 
  • this is useful especially in case of power interruption when you can't open your aircon. 
  • In addition to a mosquito net, a mosquito coil can be lighted in your room to give added protection.
Below are more information taken from US Center for Disease Control. 

Areas of the Philippines with Malaria: Present in rural areas <600 m (<1,969 ft) on islands of Luzon, Palawan, and Mindanao. None in urban areas. (more information)
If you will be visiting an area of the Philippines with malaria, you will need to discuss with your doctor the best ways for you to avoid getting sick with malaria. Ways to prevent malaria include the following:
  • Taking a prescription antimalarial drug
  • Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites
  • Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or using bednets
All of the following antimalarial drugs are equal options for preventing malaria in the Philippines: Atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. For detailed information about each of these drugs, see Table 2-23: Drugs used in the prophylaxis of malaria. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.
Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in the Philippines and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.
To find out more information on malaria throughout the world, you can use the interactive CDC malaria map. You can search or browse countries, cities, and place names for more specific malaria risk information and the recommended prevention medicines for that area.

Puerto Princesa: Travel Budget & Summary of Cost

September 5, 2010

Puerto Princesa: Travel Budget  & Summary of Cost

P1500 and above depending on season and when you book. I normally book 3 months before the trip because it turns out to be less expensive to book early. Since kids are at school, we're only able to travel during peak season. I was able to get this rate online during the Travel Tour Expo in February.

  • Manila Domestic airport fee: 200 pesos per person
  • Puerto Princesa airport Fee: 40 pesos per person

  • P1500 per room per night for 6 persons at Casa Linda Inn. Total of P4500 persos for 3 nights stay
  • Roundtrip Puerto Princesa airport- hotel airport transfers: FREE in some resorts, FREE at wildrock tours if you get tours from them 
  • Tricycle ride from airport to city center: P50.
  • Tricycle ride from point to point within the city: P7
  • city tour: P600 per person
  • underground river tour: P1500 per person
  • honda bay island hopping: P1100 per person
  • tips for guide and driver
  • meals: around 150-200 pesos per person, depending on where you eat. When we ate at Kalui restaurant, our bill for 6 people is P1400. When ate at Chowking, our bill for 6 people is P1000.
For an interactive excel file, see puerto princesa tour cost

How to go to the Puerto Princesa Underground River On Your Own

How to go to the Puerto Princesa Underground River On Your Own

1. Get a Visitor Entry Permit to go to the Underground River at Puerto Princesa City Booking Office (No Permit, No Entry)

a. Go to the booking office at Puerto Princesa city.
For Information and Reservation Please Contact:
PPSRNP Information and Booking Office
No. 11 National Highway,
Bgy. San Miguel,
Puerto Princesa City, 5300,
Telephone Number (Puerto Princesa City):  +63(48)434-2509
Telefax (Puerto Princesa City): +63(48)433-2409
Note: Groups of more than forty (40) people are required to secure bookings at least three (3) days before the planned visit or may be refused entry to the Park.
b. Fill out a permit application form indicating:
  • the name of visitor, 
  • place of visit, 
  • purpose of visit, 
  • date of visit;
c. Pay the following fees. Permits are issued only after paying the following fees:
General Entrance Fee
P 75.00 and P 50.00

Cave Entrance Fee*
21 – 59 yr. Old (P 200.00)
17 – 20 yr. Old (P 100.00)
13 – 16 yr. Old ( P 75.00)
6 – 12 yr. Old (P 50.00) 
*Filipino Senior Citizens 60 yr. old and above, Children 5 years old and below, and the handicapped are exempted from paying entrance for the Underground River Tour.
Note: Permits paid for but not used on date as indicated may be refunded or rebooked to another date only upon payment of a 10% surcharge.
d.  Upon issuance of the permit, check the following:
  • check if the permit contains the correct details of the visitor. The rule is that permits are non-transferable and may be only used by the person whose name appears on the permit.
  • check the schedule of the tour indicated in the permit to find out the time you need to arrive at Sabang Beach. You need to arrive and register at Sabang Information Office 30 minutes before your tour schedule. According to the rule, failure to arrive on time may result in the cancellation of space reserved.

2. After getting the permit, hire a van from any tour operator in Puerto Princesa (ask your hotel) to bring you to Sabang Beach.
  • Average cost of van rental from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Beach roundtrip, with return on the same day: P3500
  • If you want to stay overnight, you add P1500 for the van to wait for you overnight.
3.Upon arrival at Sabang Beach, go to the Sabang Information Office.
  • The rule is that visitors are required to confirm the tour by registering at Sabang Information Office not less than thirty (30) minutes prior to the schedule of tour indicated on the permit.  
4. Hire a boat from Sabang Beach to the Underground River Park (you can ask the Sabang Information Office where to hire a boat).

Boat to Underground River Beach
P700.00 for 6 persons – two way
Note: if you are more than 6 persons, extra person must join another boat or you may opt to hire 2 boats instead.
Warning: They say it may be difficult for you to get a boat if you arrive late. Some people stay overnight, book the boat on the day they arrive then go to the Underground River the next day.
5. While waiting for your turn, eat lunch and/or swim on the beach.

I recommend Taraw Restaurant of Taraw Resort. You can use their shower for free if you eat at the restaurant

Acknowlegment: Source of park information: PPSRNP website
My tip: 
1. Get the tour. Why?
  • The rates are reasonable considering that you don't have to worry about transportation, meals, and getting government permits to go inside the Underground River. 
  • You are sure of getting inside because the tour operators know people from the Sabang information office and lines up for you and makes sure you get in.
  • The tour operators know when the park is closed to visitors. One time, my sister-in-law was not able to visit the Underground River because the tour operator advised them that the Park Management closed it for the shooting of scenes for the Miss Earth Pageant. In the Philippines, it's hard to get that kind of information unless you specifically ask the locals. They are not announced in the newspapers or the information made accessible to the public.
See how the underground river tour goes in Our Day at the Underground River 
2. Give a whole day for it.
  • Never think that you can go to the Underground River and hope to catch your plane on the same day. The guides do not know your number in line for the use of the boat to go to the Underground River Park until you arrive at Sabang Beach. They also cannot predict how long you will line up for the boat tour itself once you arrive at the site where you take the boat that goes inside the cave. They can promise your tour will be complete. But they cannot promise what time the tour will end.

Our Day with the Kids at the Underground River

September 3, 2010

Our Day with the Kids at the Underground River

6 AM         
  •  what to bring to the underground river tour:  

    waterproof backpacks, extra change of clothes, cellphone, swimsuit, sunblock, off lotion, coconut oil, hand sanitizer, underwater camera case, underwater plastic case for gadgets, cellphones, wallet, toilet paper, emergency medicines, slippers, bottled water, cookies or biscuits
7AM-10AM: Travel from Puerto Princesa to Sabang River

Buenvista View Deck
     We were picked up by Wildrock Tours at Casa Linda Inn around 7am. Travel from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Beach takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the state of the roads and the number of stops you make. Why go to Sabang Beach? Sabang Beach is the jump off point to the Underground River Park. You ride the outrigger or banca at the small pier at Sabang Beach. The outrigger takes you to the beachfront entrance of the Underground River Park.

     In 2009, the road from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Beach was only paved half-way. Half of the road was rough. We were told by our guide that before a system was started on how to line up to see the underground river, all vans carrying tourists will race through rough roads just to make it to Sabang Beach ahead of the others. He showed us how they did it and my daughter got dizzy. Even then, when roads were rough, foreign tourists were never discouraged from seeing the underground river. We also stopped by the Buenavista View Deck to see the view of Ulugan Bay.

     The road going to Sabang Beach is pretty remote. For those concerned about toilet stops, you will be surprised to find that locals living along that road maintain toilets that you can use for a fee. The guides know where they are located.

10AM-12:00 PM: Swimming at Sabang Beach

     We arrived around 10am. Our guide checked our scheduled boat ride from a list found with the pier management. We were informed that our turn to ride the banca will be at 1pm.

The hut where we stayed at Taraw Resort
    We decided to walk around Sabang beach. We were led to a hut at Taraw Resort. Taraw Resort will serve our buffet lunch.
     To kill time, we did a lot of swimming at the beach. I walked around and explored the nearby Daluyon Resort, which is also along Sabang Beach. In 2009, almost all resorts along Sabang Beach are made of native huts and very basic. At that time, only Daluyon Resort had modern facilities. A big hotel complex beside Daluyon Resort was being constructed and expected to be completed August 2010. I found out that it's called Sheridan Beach Resort and Convention Center.

Sabang Beach

 Left side of Sabang Beach
     Middle of Sabang Beach

Right side of Sabang Beach


If your schedule permits, I recommend you stay overnight at Sabang Beach because the beach is quiet with fine white sand. Daluyon Resort is nice resort to stay in.

12:00 PM-1:00 PM: Lunch at Taraw Beach Resort

     We had our sumptuous buffet Lunch at Taraw Resort. We invited the guide and the driver to join us, especially seeing the amount of food served to us but they declined.
     After swimming, we showered and changed clothes at the toilet of Taraw Resort.

1:00 PM -1:30 PM: Boat ride going to the Underground River Park 

Sabang pier

We went to the pier on the left side of Sabang Beach. We rode the boat and were immediately given lifejackets. They are very strict in the use of lifejackets while onboard the boat.

1:30 PM -3:00 PM: Line up and take the Boat Tour inside the Underground River 

The Underground River Park does not have a pier. So we got off the boat directly to the beach front. 

Entrance to the Underground River Park

We entered the park and proceeded to the paved path to where we board the boat for the Underground River Tour. We line up and take the Boat Tour inside the Underground River   

The Underground River Boat Tour only takes 30 minutes. The length of time you stay at the Underground River Park also depends on the length of time it takes to line up for the Underground River Boat Tour.
The people in charge of the boat tour group you together to make sure you're together in one boat. The system is fairly organized. They provide you with life jackets.

This is where we rode the tour boat.

We are about to enter the underground river

The Underground River

We are now inside the underground river
The unusual rock formation
The cavern inside

The ceiling

At the mouth of the cave as we ended the tour
My tip:
  1. Ride on the first row of the boat if you want to hold the light while the guide talks about the Underground River. The person holding the light also points it to the rock formations within the cave as the boatman explains what it looks like.
  2. Do not look up often and talk at the same time. You might catch the bird poo.
3:00 PM-3:30 PM: Boat ride from the Underground River Park going back to Sabang Beach

4:00 PM: Depart Sabang Beach

6:00 PM: Arrival at your Puerto Princesa hotel/resort/inn

7:00 PM: Dinner 

If you have kids, Check this outWhat kids will like about the Underground River Tour

Expenses for the day:
1. P1500 per person for the tour inclusive of roundtrip transportation from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Beach, lunch,  entrance fees, permits, roundtrip boat transfers from Sabang Beach to the Underground River Park
2. Drinks during lunch
3. Tip to guide and driver (optional)
4. P10 for every use of the toilet at the Underground River Park
5. Souvenir and Pasalubong: I didn't see any worth buying. 
6. Breakfast and dinner for today

Estimated total cost per person for this day: P2,000 per person
Note: If you wish to go to the Underground River without getting a tour, you can get information here