Palawan is famous all over the world for being one of the best vacation spots you can find. I have already been to Palawan myself, but only for 6 days unfortunately, and definitely plan to head back as soon as I possibly can! So, what makes this island so great? Well, there is no simple answer, but I’ll try to give you as much details as to why I personally loved it so much.
As my previous article already mentioned, Palawan is often named as the best island in the world by numerous prestigious magazines. This usually comes with a fairly short explanation, and the one they often give is the fact unlike other islands, Palawan offers a complete experience. While Boracay for example might have a better beach, and Cebu has better diving spots, no other island has it all like Palawan does!
Before we head on to the actual list, it’s worth mentioning that due to its immense size, one could easily find even 100 reasons to visit Palawan. Not only that, as you can tell by my own trip there, you can spend weeks and even months and still not get to see everything worth seeing!
Palawan is quite large, and travelling between locations can take time and cost a lot of money (if you are flying). For that reason, if you plan a short stay and want to get the most out of it, it’s better to book one of these Palawan packages instead of trying to get it all done on your own.
One of a kind wonder of nature
It might be hard to imagine, but many tourists who visit Palawan choose to skip Puerto Princesa. It certainly does not have the same prestige and appeal El Nido and Coron enjoy. Even though those other locations are certainly more awe inspiring, Puerto Princesa does have a few good things going on for it as well.
First of all, it is much cheaper and easier to reach. Being the provincial capital does have its perks, and one of them is the fact it is more developed and so infrastructure is better, and there are more hotels, restaurants and bars to choose from. This on its own makes it a better vacation spots for families, especially if you have small children.
Then, most importantly, there is the famous Underground River. This is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder of the world, and something you really shouldn’t miss. Even if it means staying in Puerto Princesa for just one night, go see the cave in the morning and then take a van to El Nido immediately. The Underground River isn’t just a fantastic learning experience (the headsets you get make it feel like a giant museum), but also one of the most breathtaking examples of nature you’ll ever see.
The most romantic place on earth
If you are travelling with your loved one, there’s no better place to make precious memories than Palawan. El Nido in particular, is the very definition of overflowing romance. Just wait until you sit together at the famous Sunset Bar sipping cocktails and gazing at the amazing view, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about!
While other destinations in Palawan can’t compete with El Nido in terms of views and overall romantic ambiance, they do offer quite a lot on their own. If your idea of romance is bonding by doing fun activities together, then Coron is an even better choice. Island hopping in El Nido is great, but the one in Coron is much more exciting and adventurous, not to mention the diving. And, if you want to be completely alone, surrounded by the peacefulness of nature, then Port Barton might be the best choice for you.
Thousands of islands and hidden beaches
Let’s be honest, the reason we all want to go to Palawan is all those amazing small islands and hidden beaches with virgin white sand. After all, this is the very reason why El Nido is always considered the ultimate vacation destination for both local and foreign tourists.
Well don’t worry, because everything you’ve heard is true! As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to go to El Nido in particular, although in all honesty the island-hopping tours there are indeed the best. It doesn’t matter which part of Palawan you visit; you are guaranteed to see some of the most beautiful and special islands in the whole country.
If you really want the ultimate island experience, then consider going off the beaten path. The island hopping tours are all great, but they are also very touristy and crowded. One of the best ways to go around that is by booking one of these island hopping packages instead. You’ll still get to see the best places, but also throw in a few other, less known ones for good measure.
Unique indigenous culture
If like me, you are a huge fan of culture and heritage, then Palawan has a few surprises in store for you. Thanks to its remoteness and having smaller islands all over, many ancient traditions lasted to this very day. The most famous attraction in that regard is of course the Batak tribe near Puerto Princesa. While this is definitely a great experience, it is has already been slightly spoiled by tourism sadly.
Don’t get me wrong, the village is fascinating and the trek going there is a lot of fun. You get to see how the locals live, but you also get a feeling it’s all a bit of a show for the tourists. Luckily, there is a much better, authentic experience, although that one requires some effort. From either El Nido or Coron, you can take a bangka ride to Linapacan. This group of small islands are home to the real people of Palawan, and they live an authentic, peaceful life. YGD Travel (link at the top of this article) are the only travel agency which offers trips to Linapacan, as well as homestays on one of the islands.
All kind of tasty and special foods
This is one of the biggest perks of Palawan being such a touristy place – the food is absolutely amazing! Even in places such as Coron, which are still pretty undeveloped, there are plenty of excellent restaurants. In fact, there’s a pizza place there which might just well be the best pizza in the Philippines! It certainly seems that way judging by line stretching outside the place all the way into the other side of the street.
If you are more interested in local delicacies, then don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed either. Palawan is particularly known for its excellent halo-halo, so be sure to try it somewhere! If you want to try something completely new and unique to the province, then a crocodile sisig should be your first order.
Best luxury hotels in the Philippines
There are amazing resorts anywhere in the Philippines, but everyone knows Palawan is simply the best in that regard. Most notably, it is THE place to go If you want to book a private island resort. Sure, there’s one in Cebu, and another one in Siargao as well, but just El Nido has 5 of these! And if that isn’t enough, there are even 2 more in Puerto Princesa and another one in Coron.
What this means is that prices for these hotels vary much more. Sure, you can still spend 50,000 a night or even more, but you can also book a beachfront suite at the cheaper ones for as little as 12,000! They are obviously not as nice and exclusive as the more expensive ones, but they are still private island resorts and they are all very luxurious and impressive. So, this is your chance to experience the ultimate pampering luxury stay for a much lower price than you’d pay anywhere else.
Very backpacker friendly
Yes, Palawan is often regarded as a honeymoon destination for couples who seek an all-inclusive luxury experience. When we see the photos and videos online that’s what we normally see, but the truth of the matter is that you can enjoy Palawan no matter what your budget is. In fact, some would argue it is a much better experience if you stay at a boutique hostel for example, rather than being tucked away at some posh resort in the middle of nowhere.
As mentioned already, one of the best ways to cut down on costs is by skipping flights between places in Palawan itself. Instead, you can take a van between Puerto Princes and El Nido, and a ferry between El Nido and Coron. Anywhere you go, you can find very good hotels even if your budget is tight. Another great option is to book an Airbnb instead – you can find really nice places for a much lower cost than any resort would charge you.
The most breathtaking nature
Finally, I can’t write up a list about Palawan without naming the obvious. When you go on vacation, you want to be amazed and have memories that will last for a lifetime. Well, this is EXACTLY what waits for you in Palawan: There’s simply no way to describe it, you’ll just have to see for yourself!
The pictures however, does do a good job, even if these places are much more impressive in person. When you visit the famous lagoons in El Nido or Coron, you’ll have a chance to witness firsthand just how awesome our planet is. Even better, you can take some pictures yourself, post them to Instagram and make all your friends oh so jealous!