Puerto Princesa City Tour: Crocodiles, pastries, and fireflies

puerto princesa city tour

Eager to meet giant crocodiles, buy sweets from a baker’s dreamland, and watch fireflies light up mangrove trees? Take the Puerto Princesa city tour!

Puerto Princesa is one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the Philippines. It’s primarily known to be the home of the Underground River, listed in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Yet behind the world-famous tourist destination in Puerto Princesa is a city with its own historical, social, natural, and gastronomic riches. To get to know the city more than the Underground River, you might want to try a Puerto Princesa City tour.

It’s one of the easiest and most doable tours in the city. You can bring big families, kids, and elderly on most of the attractions. You can also take only half a day to finish the entire thing before an afternoon flight. But if you’re staying the night, you might want to try Iwahig Firefly Watching as an add-on. Personally, though, I’d say firefly watching is a must!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the pitstops of the Puerto Princesa City tour:

Puerto Princesa City Tour

As an introduction, your Puerto Princesa city tour will often take you to the heart of the city first. In the Philippines, this translates to where the cathedral and the park are located. You can learn more about the city’s history, geographical traits, and culture.

Plaza Cuartel. Just across the cathedral is Plaza Cuartel, where you can learn more about the history of the city for free. There are historical markers where the old cuartel wall still stands, which served as an artillery during wartimes.

Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. It’s a beautiful cathedral that somewhat resembles Manila’s San Sebastian Church. Here you can take a quick look at how Catholicism in the Philippines is practiced by locals. You may even catch a wedding or look at the decorations on the stone walls.

City Baywalk. It’s not called (in Spanish) Princess of the Ports for no reason. The Puerto Princesa City Baywalk affords you of the view also similar to Manila’s Baywalk. It’s a great place for a peaceful stroll at the waterfront during day time, and experiencing the night market grills and bars by sundown.

Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center

Here you can be up close and personal with crocodiles as well as other species of animals endemic to the Philippines. Formerly known as the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park, it’s here you can find crocs of various ages and sizes. Peek into the cribs of snapping babies and gargantuan elderly crocodiles.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of zoos. But perhaps we can be assured that Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center is cruelty-free, since it’s dedicated to crocodile conservation.

Aside from crocodiles, there are other animals to see such as various species of birds, snakes, and most notably, bearcats. Bearcats can only be found in the Philippines in Palawan. No doubt, kids will surely enjoy this part of the Puerto Princesa city tour.

Baker’s Hill

Picture your grandma’s dream place! Baker’s Hill is filled with delicious treats, sweets, and pastries located in an extravagantly decorated location.

It’s paradise for us who love to eat and take photos at the same time. Baker’s Hill has a bakeshop where you can find an assortment of goodies such as chocolate crinkles, bread, pizza, brownies, and their famous hopia. This is a good stop to buy pasalubong during the Puerto Princesa city tour.

In case you’re not a fan of consuming carbs, you can still enjoy the scenery filled with life-sized cartoon figures, the kids’ play areas, and the enormous decor of the oversized bakeshop-cum-park. It’s particularly festive around Christmastime!

bakers hill puerto princesa city tour

Rancho Mitra

This sprawling private property owned by a prominent family in Puerto Princesa reminds me of Baguio City. Lots of fresh air, some horses for riding, and a log cabin with veranda overlooking Honda Bay.

There are ziplining activities here too. But other than that, it’s mainly to breathe and enjoy the sights briefly. Around 15 minutes, to be exact. A maintenance fee of PHP 20 is required to enter the Mitra house. Inside there are family portraits and snack vendors. The zipline, Rancho Mitra’s main activity, is around PHP 500 and takes you to four stations. Again, great place to take kids or the elderly.

rancho mitra puerto princesa city tour

Iwahig Firefly Watching

Iwahig Firefly Watching, for me, was one of the most awesome tours in Puerto Princesa. Since I visited around Christmastime, seeing mangrove trees light up with fireflies just reminded me of some tropical celebration of the holidays. It’s also a great indication of a well-preserved ecosystem. Iwahig Firefly Watching isn’t part of the main Puerto Princesa city tour, but it’s a highly recommended one to take.

We traveled around nighttime to take the 45-minute drive to the site. It’s basically tucked away from the city lights and sounds. Upon arrival, the operators warned us that since it was December and therefore typhoon-weather, the wind can make the fireflies harder to see. They graciously offered a refund, but our group decided to push through. Best. choice. Evah.

Paddling across the linings of the protected mangrove areas in pitch black darkness was memorable for me. The mangroves lit up with fireflies, while the dark skies lit up with stars. In the Iwahig Firefly Watching, there will be no external lights and flash photography are not allowed.

We rowed in near-silence, punctuated by conversations with our boatman and gasps of awe. As our boatman flashed red lights on mangrove trees, the fireflies responded by lighting up. I could never find the words as to how magical it was. Though it was relatively “low visibility” season, we still found lots of fireflies. Thanks to our boatman who paddled us around 1 kilometer away from the jump-off point just to get richer views.

Things to know about the Puerto Princesa city tour

What to wear. This can be the most laid-back Puerto Princesa tour ever, so wear your most stylish casual clothes. A breezy tank top, shorts, and rubber shoes are perfect for the sunny weather. Best to sun-proof yourself too, by wearing sunscreen, caps, and sunglasses. For rainy weathers, add umbrella and a jacket to your arsenal.

What to bring. You shall be spending the day outdoors, so it might be helpful to bring fans and water bottles, although tour organizers typically provide the latter. Mosquito repellent is also a must especially in the Crocodile Farm. Face towels can help you with wiping out sweat and also possible dust and mud from the outdoors. Finally, don’t forget to bring cash to buy souvenirs and pasalubong.

Who you’ll see. The Puerto Princesa city tour guests are often characterized by kids and families. It’s mostly an educational, historical, and natural tour where you’re sure to get to know the city in a different way.

How long the Puerto Princesa city tour lasts. It can be done half day at approximately 4 hours. This can be your last trip before flying out of the city in the afternoon.

The city within a forest can be an accessible and “chill” travel fit for families with kids and elderly. Make the most out of your Puerto Princesa city tour and get to know it beyond the Underground River.

puerto princesa city tour
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  • Reply
    March 19, 2017 at 5:47 PM

    I much did you spend for the city tour alone? Is there any entrance fee required to any of the places you have featured here, the zoo, perhaps? Anyhow, the places you’ve featured and the baker’s hills is something I am really interested to see. Do you have a separate review of it?

  • Reply
    Mia Foo
    March 16, 2017 at 10:44 PM

    are the fireflies big? when i first saw fireflies at desaru, I was kind of disappointed. I’ve pictured them to be much bigger, but they ended up being so tiny and their “fire” not really very visible unless it’s really dark. That bearcat looks adorable though!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      March 19, 2017 at 2:03 PM

      I’m not really sure what you’d consider big… Haha. But just imagine, the tree looked like there are Christmas lights. It’s super visible given also the fact that there’s no nearby city lights or light pollution šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    February 21, 2017 at 3:57 PM

    We’ll be visitting El Nido by April and will definitely check out puerto princesa as well. Thanks for sharing the list on where to go. I wpuld really want to try the firefly watching — this was highly recommended by my friends too. šŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      March 14, 2017 at 9:06 PM

      Firefly watching was my Puerto Princesa City highlight. Enjoy šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Princess Mikee
    February 20, 2017 at 10:42 PM

    You got it covered, girl! Palawan is a destination to go. It has a lot to offer more than what we already knew. You always have that very interesting post everytime. I’m hooked!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      March 14, 2017 at 9:06 PM

      Thanks for the kind words, Mikee!! šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Me-An Clemente
    February 4, 2017 at 12:20 AM

    It’s nice to know that there are more attractions to visit for the city tour. The last time I visited Puerto Princesa was I was still in high school. I love how they maintained everything. Plus, Baker’s Hill still look great as before. Were you able to eat crocodile meat?

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      February 6, 2017 at 3:58 PM

      No, actually! When we went to the Crocodile Farm, they say the crocodiles were not from Palawan but Rizal. I just thought I’ll just try it here. Not really keen on trying it out. Haha. šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Gryselle Mae
    February 4, 2017 at 12:01 AM

    So you went to Purto Princesa as well? I wasn’t able to tour around Puerto when I went to El Nido. We just stayed at El Nido for a week straight. Lol. I have checked out the Crocodile farm online and was also recommended by a man we met in El Nido. He told me that the crocodile farm is one of the place that I have to visit when I get to tour around Puerto. Also, I noticed you booked with Northern Hope. They were supposedly my first choice too! But after contemplating, we decided to diy the travel ourselves.Hoping to get back to Palawan this year. This time, I’m touring around Puerto Princesa. šŸ˜‰

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      February 4, 2017 at 5:26 AM

      Wow, an entire week in El Nido! I would’ve done the same, so nothing lost! šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Claire Santiago
    February 3, 2017 at 10:30 AM

    If there is one reason why I would be eager to visit this place is the fireflies. Fireflies are important part of my youth. The place where I used to live during my younger years has lots of fireflies everywhere at night which gave me magical feelings, but now they’re gone. Glad to know that this place is still unharmed, because fireflies only live where there is no pollution (according to many articles I read).

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      February 4, 2017 at 5:28 AM

      Hi Claire! You’re quite right, they can only live where the air is clean. Iwahig firefly watching was truly my favorite. I’m glad the area is non-polluted and even surrounded by mangroves. I can only think how rich the ecosystem truly is šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    What a lovely park to visit, and always ideal to choose an animal sanctuary over a zoo! Bearcats look a bit like racoons in the USA. How interesting that they are only found in the Philippines!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      February 1, 2017 at 5:58 PM

      I actually didn’t know they were endemic in Southeast Asia. I’ve always felt they looked familiar, like American cartoon characters even!

      • Reply
        February 3, 2017 at 4:23 AM

        perhaps the one you are thinking of, is indeed the North American raccoon. I can think of many cartoons I have seen them in šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    January 26, 2017 at 12:34 AM

    This is a great itinerary to share to people who want to visit Puerto Prinsesa! šŸ™‚ There are indeed a lot to see and to experience beyond the often favored underground river tour. Btw, I think I saw a bearcat at Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center but I am not so sure now šŸ˜®

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      January 28, 2017 at 11:30 AM

      Probably! But maybe it came from the region. It’s only endemic to Palawan in the Philippines, and then some parts of Southeast Asia.

  • Reply
    cieri of
    January 25, 2017 at 10:35 AM

    I love Puerto Princesa. There are a lot of things to do. I heard there are a lot of new hotels and resorts now compared to when I last visited in 2011. This post made
    me crave for the Bakers Hill goodies!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      January 28, 2017 at 11:36 AM

      True! I think the luxury hotels that PPS is known for now have only been built 3 years ago, latest! Aziza is one, which I’ll be blogging about two weeks from now šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    January 25, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    Hihi. Pretty much the same itinerary we had when we went to Puerto Prinsesa. I thought the firefly watch will bore me. It was pretty interesting. The Mitra’s ranch as well was a nice option for a city tour. And the Baker’s Hills pastries are what my mom loved the most as pasalubong. Ihihi.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      January 28, 2017 at 11:37 AM

      I really, really liked Iwahig Firefly Watching! It’s just magical šŸ™‚

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE | Amazing Life Daily
    January 25, 2017 at 9:22 AM

    It seems like when people talk about Palawan in terms of being a destination, the only two places are El Nido and the Underground River. Most do not realize Palawan has so much more to offer. While El Nido is several hours away, there are others as you listed in this post that are more accessible, actually. Here’s the kicker, how many more destinations have we not heard about?

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      January 28, 2017 at 11:38 AM

      When I went there, a fellow travel blogger told me that when I come back, I should visit Tabon Caves. I really would! It’s a gem historically but not as popular as underground river because if I’m not mistaken it’s 4 hours from city proper. šŸ™‚

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