Palawan is one of the most popular tourist destinations not just in the Philippines but in the world. And this is an accolade that it rightly deserves. Being an archipelago, Palawan is made up of a multitude of islands. Each of these islands has something unique to offer.
If you want to explore the entire archipelago and experience everything that it has to offer, you will need to allot more than a week’s worth of vacation. This is something that not all of us have the luxury of doing. Now, if you only have a week at the most, which part of Palawan should you visit to make the most out of your vacation?
This depends on what kind of activities that you want to experience. It will also depend on your physical condition because some areas require a lot of walking, climbing, and hiking that may be too taxing if you are not physically fit.
Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan. This is the most accessible part of Palawan since this is where the airport is located. This is the best place to stay in Palawan if you want to immerse yourself in the culture and the arts of Palawan.
You can join a city tour to get a glimpse of the cultural buildings in the city. The Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village is the best place to go to if you want to see how the natives of Palawan go about their daily lives. The Palawan Heritage Center and the Palawan Special Battalion WW2 Memorial Museum are also great alternatives for history buffs who want to see the history of Palawan and the vital role in played during World War 2.
Puerto Princesa city is also ideal for those who want to mix business with pleasure. Puerto Princesa is the capital city and it has all the amenities that anybody needs if they need to work remotely. Unlike in other areas of Palawan, the city has a stable Internet connection which can ensure that you can work remotely. There are also hotels that have private business rooms that a group can use if they need to work in a professional environment. There are also banks that one can use to conduct financial transactions.
In between business meetings or conference calls, you can squeeze in an island-hopping tour along Honda Bay. The Underground River is also in Puerto Princesa and you can visit it and be back to your hotel in no time at all.
Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa
This is a great hotel for those who want to travel with their family. It’s a beachfront hotel complete with all the amenities that all of the members of your family will need. There is Internet service in all of the rooms so your young ones won’t have to worry about missing out on their social media happenings. They also have a pool that you can enjoy with your kids if you’re not fond of them swimming in the beach. The Sheridan also provides airport service which can make your life easier. We all know how difficult it can be to travel with kids. Knowing that you can get a service for your entire family can make your vacation more enjoyable.
Laundry service is also available. This can make packing for your trip easier since you don’t have to bring a ton of clothes for the entire family. You can opt to just bring a few changes of clothing and just have them laundered for re-use.
Another thing that makes this hotel great for families’ is its location. Tourist attractions in Puerto Princesa are just a few minutes away. In fact, The Underground River is just a 15-minute boat ride from the hotel.
The Rema Tourist Inn is our recommendation if you’re looking for accommodation that won’t break your bank. The price for a night’s stay here is half the price of what larger hotels charge. Being a fairly new inn, the rooms are pristine and well-kept. They are not as large as the rooms in pricier hotels but they have the amenities to make your stay comfortable. The rooms are air-conditioned and they have an outdoor pool that you can enjoy. They also have complimentary WiFi for visitors.
This is not a beach front inn which may be one of the reasons why their prices are lower compared to others. However, the inn is just 10 minutes away from the city center where you can book tours in Puerto Princesa. The inn is also along the route for public transportations so you won’t have a hard time getting a ride towards the city center.
Coron and El Nido
These two are the most popular beach destinations in Palawan. These is the best place to stay for those who want to experience the unrivaled beach experience that Palawan has to offer. If you ever saw a video promoting Palawan to tourists, you’re most likely watching videos of the islands and beaches in El Nido and Coron.
These two offer the same experiences to tourists. If you want to go snorkeling, diving, or island hopping, you can choose between these two. However, being the top destinations in Palawan also mean that these are the most crowded. They are also more expensive compared to the others in this list.
Coron is the best place for those who want to take their adventure to the lesser-known islands of Palawan. This is the jump-off point for those who want to explore the Calamian Group of Islands. Divers who want to explore shipwrecks will enjoy Coron because of the dive sites with sunken WW2 ships.
El Nido, on the other hand, is the best place for those who want to experience luxury at its finest. The most luxurious and expensive resorts in Palawan can be found in El Nido. Those who want to experience the nightlife in tropical paradise should also choose El Nido for its night beach parties. The parties in El Nido are as exhilarating as those in Boracay but less crowded.
Where to stay in Coron
This mid-range hotel is sought after because of its magnificent location. From the hotel, you can see the surrounding islands and the azure seas surrounding Busuanga. The hotel has a rustic design that makes staying on it all the more relaxing. They have family rooms that can accommodate your entire family. Each room is equipped with all the comforts that you and your family will need to make your stay memorable. All rooms are equipped with WiFi. There are also refrigerators in each room so you can stock up on your kids’ favorite snacks. The hotel also boasts of a picturesque outdoor pool that curves its way around the hotel.
If you’re bringing your kids but want to have some quality time as a couple, Corto del Mar offers babysitting services. This is a great help for couples who want to enjoy their vacation without constantly worrying about their children.
Best Budget-Friendly Accommodation – Balaibinda Lodge
This small boutique hotel in Coron is one of the most highly recommended for those who want to enjoy Coron without shelling out too much. It is situated in the business district of Coron. This means that you have easy access to a wide array of choices if you want to look for affordable restaurants that serve delicious meals. It is located near grocery stores where you can purchase almost everything that you need.
The rooms here are smaller but they can ensure that you can sleep comfortably during the night. All of the rooms are air-conditioned and guests get a complimentary breakfast with their stay. They don’t have an outdoor pool though but this shouldn’t be too much of an issue since Coron has a lot of amazing beaches where you can swim to your heart’s content.
Where to stay in El Nido
This resort is one of the best places to stay not just in El Nido but in Palawan itself. What makes this resort well-known is the view that it offers to its guest. Guests are treated to a view not just of downtown El Nido but of Caalan Beach and Cadlao Island. The view is soothing and you really feel that you are on vacations. The location of this resort is also another reason why it is highly recommended. Caalan Beach Resort is just a 10-minute walk from the famous Big Lagoon of El Nido.
They have cottages that families’ can rent if they want to have more privacy during their stay. The resort is surrounded by trees and can help shield your children from the tropical heat of the Philippines. If you feel the need to cool down, the resort has two outdoor pools. One of the pools is a children’s pool so your children can safely spend their time swimming.
The resort staff can also arrange island-hopping tours in El Nido for your family since the resort has its own boats. Of course, you can get the best deals and tailor your searches for a customised tour at best directly here on Tikigo, but this option is possibly convenient since you can pay for your accommodations and tours at the same time with the same people.
As its name implies, this is the place to book if you want to get the best views in El Nido. The hotel is surrounded by the limestone cliffs on one side with a magnificent view of the bay on the other side. This view is what visitors rave about whenever the name El Nido Viewdeck Cottages is mentioned.
Aside from private rooms, visitors who want more privacy can book their detached cottages. These cottages have their own private baths. All rooms and cottages are air-conditioned and have flat-screen TVs. Breakfast is included when you book a room. On top of that, Internet service is provided to guests. The hotel also has a small outdoor pool so you can enjoy the amazing view while cooling down.
This hotel is not for the weak-kneed though. Because of its location, guests will have to climb some stairs to get to their rooms. We do not recommend this to guests who are traveling with the elderly. The stairs do make for good exercise and a bit of sweat but it is just a small price for the excellent view that this hotel offers.
Port Barton is not as popular as Coron or El Nido. This doesn’t mean though that it is not worth visiting. It has beautiful beaches and a lot of small islands that visitors can tour. Since it is not as popular, Port Barton is also less crowded. This is the best place in Palawan for those who want to experience a more laid back and relaxed vacation. It is also the best place to stay for those who want to experience Palawan on a budget. The prices of tours and accommodations are cheaper compared to more touristy destinations.
There is a downside to Port Barton though. Since this is a less developed area, there are limited choices when it comes to accommodations. Do not expect to see large hotels if you’re planning to go there. Most of the accommodations are guesthouses. There are small pension houses or boutique hotels but they don’t have the same amenities as those in Coron or El Nido. This is why Port Barton may not be the best choice for those who are traveling with their family.
Electricity is also an issue since most guest houses only have electricity during the night. If you’re traveling with small children, they may be inconvenienced especially during the hot summer months. Internet is often spotty and if you need to be digitally connected at all times, Port Barton may not be the best for you.
This is a place that we recommend to backpackers and travelers who are used to island life. If you want to go on a social media cleanse then Port Barton is the best place for you.
Where to stay in Port Barton
Family Friendly Accommodations – Sunset Colors
This is a beachfront resort where your family can get an entire cottage just for yourselves. As mentioned above, Port Barton is not as touristy so you should not worry about night beach parties interrupting your sleep. These cottages are ideal for families who are accustomed to the luxuries that 5-star hotels offer. But, if you are looking for a relaxing vacation where you can feel more in tune with nature, then this is the best place for you and your family.
If you don’t mind walking or having to ride a tricycle to get to the beach or the town center, Forest Wood Suites is a great alternative. They have rooms available for guests who are looking for affordable accommodations. The rooms may be small but they are nicely decorated. Internet is available but the signal fluctuates and is often only available during a few hours each day.
Culion is a lesser known member of the Calamian Group of Islands. It sits near Coron and doesn’t get the same number of visitors as its more popular sister-island. This means that this is the best place in Palawan for those who want a more serene vacation. You can still enjoy snorkeling and beach bumming activities in Culion. There are also island-hopping tours available for tourists. When it comes to amenities, the accommodations in Culion are at par with those in Port Barton. Most are just small guest houses and may not be comfortable for those who travel with their family.
One thing that Culion can offer is its unique history. The island used to be a Leper Colony. It is completely safe now and the World Health Organization has declared the island free of Leprosy since 2006. Because of this unique past, visitors can tour the town center and learn about the history of this island. It is fascinating to learn how the island managed to shake off the stigma of its past and reinvent itself to the tourist haven that it is today.
The prices of goods and accommodations are cheaper which makes the island ideal for those who are traveling on a shoestring budget. However, the price of tours may be more expensive depending on how many you are in the group. In Coron or El Nido, you can easily join group tours and just share the expenses with other tourists. In Culion, however, there is no guarantee that you will have other tourists joining the tour which means you might have to shoulder the price of the entire boat. To discover all the tours and activities you can get in Culion, click here.