Hayley and I went to Puerto Princesa mainly for scuba diving, but we also took some time to explore the city or as the local would call the City Proper (innit).
Instead of joining the packaged city tour by the hotel, we decided to do our DIY trip, so we can explore it on foot and at our own pace.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Largely speaking, the Philippines is a very Catholic country that is heavily influenced by the Spanish. It was once a colony of Spain, so it is very common to see churches dotted everywhere in town. The city cathedral was certainly very impressive and we loved the blueness of it. Apparently, it started off as a small church during the time of Spanish colony, but there was a reconstruction during the 1960s and it was scaled up into a giant cathedral.
The Rizal Statue
In the public square directly outside the cathedral sits a statue of Jose Rizal. This statue commemorates the sacrifice and the amount of work that Jose Rizal did to gain Philippines’ independence from Spain. In the unfortunate end of his life, he was captured and executed by the Spanish troop, but few years down the line, the country became independent. Having said that the culture is heavily influenced by Spain.
How very fitting that we came across this statue the day before the Philippines’ independence day.
Not too far away from the cathedral was a former US military bases turned into a Japanese POW camp. This was a place where over 150 US servicemen were held captive by the Japanese. When the US fought back and captured the island of Palawan, the Japanese set fire to the prison and burned the US servicemen alive. Apparently only 5 people survived the tragedy and lived to tell the story. The only part that is remained in this place is gate to the ground and a memorial stone to commemorate the sad day.
This was a place that was recommend highly on the tripadvisor. It was quite a drive towards the countryside of Puerto Princesa. Since people rated it quite highly on that, we thought it maybe great. Until we turned up…
Well let’s say it not our cup of tea as we wondered around. Although I have to say the definite highlights were the peacocks inside the giant bird cages. There were many of them and the keepers put the males and females together, so the male peacocks were always showing their feathers off.
At the Baker’s Hill, there were many childhood cartoon or animation characters, including Shrek, Alice in the Wonderland, Snow White and many more. It felt like walking into a counterfeit Disneyland or something similar to that (and one that without ride).
Another Tripadvisor recommended place to go near Baker’s Hill was the crocodile rescue centre. We didn’t bother going there, but this was the plastic statues for it. Apparently, the cafe at the rescue centre offer crocodile sisig (a Filipino dish of mince meat, cooked in spice, lemon juice and vinegar).
I’m sure that’s where the crocodiles end up…
Dinner at the harbour front
Another thing we recommend to do was the having dinner at the harbour front. It was nice to walk along the shore after dark before dinner. Make sure you try out the seafood there. They are freshly caught and tasted very good. We had some of the best grilled tuna and mackerel stakes we ever tried; and they were very meaty.
Another dish that we recommend people to try is boodle. (Sorry we didn’t have a camera with us that evening to take a picture of it). It is a platter for two or more people served on banana leaves. Normally, they will serve you with various local favourites such as marinated pork, beef, fish, different kinds of sea food… very delicious.
- How to get there: there are many domestic flights coming from Manilas, including Philippines Airlines, AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. If you are coming directly from another country, you may want to consider taking the same airline in case you get delayed and miss a connection at Manilas. Flight delays are very common.
Have you been to Puerto Princesa? What was your experience? What was your experience of a recent holiday? Comment below and let us know.