Our 5-day Palawan trip was supposed to start with Underground River tour. But weather in Sabang wasn’t cooperating on our first day so our guide toured us around Puerto Princesa City instead. Good thing the weather in the city was nice. This city tour is actually just a “free tour” offered by Hadefe Travel & Tours. The package only includes El Nido and Underground River, no city tour included. I don’t know maybe because it was my birthday!
Puerto Princesa City Half-day Tour
First thing I noticed while touring around the city was cleanliness and order. As a person who once lived in Metro Manila, those are quite uncommon things to see. Not to mention it was holiday so I was expecting a little chaos. But what happened was the opposite. And the city doesn’t look like a typical city with towering skyscrapers. The rural atmosphere was still evident.
Here’s a map of the sites we covered. We visited 5 places, but we were not able to include Palawan Wildlife Conservation Center since we were quite in a hurry. We still need to catch sunset at Nacpan Beach in El Nido.
Our first stop was Plaza Cuartel which is a historical park with a grim past. It’s an open-air war museum for around 150 US soldiers burned underground by the Japanese during World War II. Plaza Cuartel once served as the garrison for American and Filipino soldiers until it was invaded by the Japanese. A fortress for soldiers turned into a prison and a place of massacre. Only 11 men out of 150 survived the massacre.
By appearance, it’s like a normal park covered with trees and many benches. There were even pedicab units adorned with synthetic flowers that could tour you around. But we didn’t have enough time for such activity so we just took some pictures. It’s too pretty and colorful to ignore!
It was like hitting two birds in one stone because our next destination stands just on the other side of the road. Immaculate Conception Cathedral is just few steps from Plaza Cuartel.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Located along Rizal Avenue in Brgy. Liwanag, Immaculate Conception Cathedral is another accessible historical and religious landmark in Palawan. This is one of the famous tourist destinations in Puerto Princesa City.
It has a touch of European architecture with high and pointed bell towers. With its neat blue-colored facade, you cannot expect to see an antique-looking church as it’s regularly retouched with paint. Nevertheless, the antique details and structures are still noticeable.
It’s clearly a Roman Catholic Church and as much as everyone’s welcome, but we simply don’t belong here. We just took photos of its impressive appearance then headed to our next stop.
Binuatan Creations is a handloom weaving center where you could buy locally made products and souvenirs. You can watch how the products are made on the spot, and you can even try it yourself! It’s actually my second fave spot just next to Baker’s Hill which I’ll talk more about later.
By the looks and feel, it’s apparent that their products are of high quality. We were not prepared though, to think that we were still on our first day and spending our extra cash would be the last thing we want to do. This city tour was supposed to be on our last day, if not because of the weather in Sabang.
We enjoyed weaving while being amazed by how fast the locals do their thing. They were simply doing it effortlessly and efficiently. I also liked their choice of colors, how they mix and match. It’s like they were born to do all this.
Seems like it’s not a majority’s thing since we were the only visitors that time. I know this may look boring for some, but it’s actually a unique and interesting experience. You just have to give it a try.
Another popular tourist destination, Mitra’s Ranch is a piece of paradise located at Sta. Monica Heights. The ranch is situated on a hilltop therefore offering picturesque hillside and sea views.
Mitra’s Ranch is owned by the family of the late senator, Ramon Mitra. It used to be a private property but now visitors are allowed to hang out or have a picnic for free. You can also try horseback-riding within the vicinity for 100 Php per person. The place is huge so it’s perfect for such activity.
We just spent time admiring the surrounding views and savored the fresh air. Some things that Manila can’t offer. The huge ranch is literally surrounded by greens. Such a relaxing view to look at.
Just meters from Mitra’s Ranch there stands our next destination which is the main highlight of our city tour: Baker’s Hill.
Also located in Sta. Monica Heights, Baker’s Hill is a theme park that’s also famous for freshly baked goodies. They offer their products for reasonable price so you might want to hoard pasalubong here. Again, it’s our first day so not a good time to buy pasalubong. But Jeric bought my “surprise” birthday cake here! We also bought some cupcakes and banana cake so we could have something to munch on our journey to El Nido right after this tour.
The park is huge and full of cute and pretty decorations. And just like Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill is also situated on top of a hill, hence the name.
This is where we explored the longest in our city tour. It really takes time to explore a place as huge as this. We also have lots of photos here as it’s absolutely instagrammable. You won’t help but capture more and more photos!
It was time for lunch so we hopped on our van and headed north. We had our lunch at a huge eatery along the way as per our guide’s recommendation.
By the way, we had the van exclusively so we had a comfortable 5-hour journey to El Nido. We went staright to Nacpan Beach for sunset. Thankfully, we arrived around 5 pm, just in time for the golden hour!
Well, those were the days. Really beautiful memories and experiences. But I still don’t wish everything to go back the way it was. Instead, I want things to be better than it was. But better things doesn’t always mean a “better world”. So to you who’s reading this, I encourage you to start looking beyond the world — the everlasting. Because this world is temporary. I also don’t wish everything to come back to normal — I want it to be extraordinary. And extraordinary things require an extraordinary God. So I’m trusting no other but Him. When all else fails in life, I have to trust His plan.
“Trust in the Lord forever,
For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”