And we’re back to the city!
We arrived towards 4am at Puerto Princesa bus station. We booked a room at JLC Hostel where they let us sleep the rest of the night and only charged us for the following night at a rate of 600 PHP (USD $14) for the two of us (though they asked for a voluntary donation – we gave 300 PHP). A tricycle ride from the bus station to the hotel cost 60 PHP (USD $1.50). The hotel is actually a bed and breakfast where the bottom floor is for guests and the family running it lives upstairs. We had double beds, a fan, WiFi and shared bathroom. It was clean and worked as an overnight stay.
We had two activities on our list: the Iwahig Penal Colony and the crocodile farm known as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. There are many more activities in Puerto Princesa but we were interested by these two specifically.
We decided on hiring our tricycle driver for 4hrs for 400 PHP (USD $10 – after, of course, negotiating).
He took us to the Iwahig Penal Colony first, where prisoners tend a small market selling crafts made by the prisoners themselves.
You can actually talk to them and they do (really good!) dance performances. Check out the video where they demonstrated their moves for us:
My understanding is that only inmates from the minimum security compound can interact with the visitors.The Iwahig Penal Colony does not feel like a prison. This is probably because most inmates are not contained between four walls. A lot of them are allowed to live here with their families – who have given up their jobs and homes. The prisoners have the opportunity to learn a trade within the colony – mostly farming and fishing.
There is no fee to visit the prison, donations and purchases are appreciated. It was a very humbling experience where you can actually talk to the prisoners, find out their lives and not have a wall separating us. It was our most memorable experience of Puerto Princesa.
After this great experience, we went to visit the Crocodile Farm (entry fee: 40 PHP per person = USD $1). There, you can see all sorts of crocodiles as well as rare exotic birds. You’ll be walking on an elevated walkway above the crocodiles’ cages and at the end you’ll get the opportunity to take a picture with a young crocodile, whose mouth is taped – I was not enthused by this activity.
Though we did not look into it, Honda Bay is a recommended tour to see the coral life around Puerto Princesa, you can take a day trip and dive there.
We ended the day with a relaxing walk along the shore close to our hotel.
Overall, Puerto Princesa City is well developed with chain restaurants and small malls. We were happy to have a day to visit the town, I don’t think more time is needed in the city if you are visiting Palawan – better to spend an extra day at the beach!
How was your experience of Puerto Princesa? Anything else you’d recommend? We love to hear your stories!