In this post:
- How to plan your weekend getaway and (first) diving experience.
- Budgeting a 2d3n solo dive trip for under PHP 10,000 ($190).
- Fun things to do, see, and taste while you’re in Puerto Princesa.
Last weekend I made my first trip to Palawan. It’s always been on my Philippine Island bucket list (post coming soon!) and I’d planned to go earlier in the year but unfortunately had to cancel.
When the window opened up for a solo weekend getaway, I jumped out!
In this post, I’ll break down planning and budgeting the trip as well as give you a list of some cool things to do while you’re in town. Don’t miss the next one on what to expect from your first SCUBA diving experience!
Note that I’ve listed all prices in local currency. For easy reference, 50 pesos is just under US$1.
Planning Your Palawan Diving Trip
Booking Flights To Puerto Princesa
I tend to prefer booking directly with Cebu Pacific, not only to collect more GetGo points but also because it’s generally cheaper than the best deals you can find on Skyscanner.
Around this time of year, you can easily book flights for under 2,000 pesos each way—some as low as 960. My flights were about 1,700 each, for a roundtrip total of 3,500.
Arranging Your SCUBA Diving Experience
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a certified diver or have never before scuba’d. (By the way, SCUBA is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.) Just visit Let’s Dive Palawan or shoot them an email to book your diving experience.
When I emailed, the dive shop promptly wrote back and assured me they could accommodate me on the desired date and that the weather would be suitable. As a first-timer and non-certified particiapnt, the price they gave me was 3,900 pesos for “Discover SCUBA”.
Accommodations: Booking A Room In Puerto Princesa
With flights and the dive, we’re already 7,400 pesos into our 10K budget. Now it’s time to start saving! There are plenty of budget hostels but I can recommend Treffpunkt 5300, which offers rooms for as low as 250 pesos per night.
This simple but trendy hostel is a 10-minute drive from the airport and a 10-minute walk (or 10 peso trike ride) from the dive shop.
They offer 200mb of free wifi per day and a complimentary breakfast of toasted pandesals, one freshly cooked egg, and a pretty good cup of hot coffee. And that for less than $5 a night!
Transportation: Getting Around (And Out Of) Town
There are trikes (motorcycles with sidecars) all over Puerto Princesa that will ferry you here and there at varying prices.
Alternatively, rent a scooter!
At this spot, it will cost you can get a bit of a discount at 450 pesos per day for 2 days, 400 per day for for 3 days, and so on.
Food & Drink
With breakfast and coffee covered at Treffpunkt, you only need to budget lunch, dinner, and drinks.
If you go local, you can eat for as cheap as 75 to 100 pesos per meal. At tourist-geared establishments, count on 200 to 300.
And alcohol? A beer will cost about 35 pesos at a sari sari store, 50 pesos at local (budget) establishments, and something like 75 elsewhere.
For lunch, dinner, and drinks on day one and two (assuming you fly out after breakfast on day three), you can easily manage with a budget of 1000 pesos.
- Flights: P3,500 round trip (can be as low as P2,000)
- Discover SCUBA Diving: P3,900 for half-day (cheaper if you’re certified)
- Accommodations: P450 for 2 nights (even less at the cheapest hostel)
- Scooter rental: P900 for 2 days (optional)
- Food & drinks: P1000 total
- Total: 9,750
Things To Do In Puerto Princesa
Snorkel On The Sandbar At Hartman Beach
If you have a scooter, you can ride from Puerto Princesa’s town center to Hartman Beach in about 20 minutes. Just be careful if it’s been raining as the mud roads can get a bit slippery.
When you make it to this chill spot, you’ll find it full of local vibes. Plus, there’s a sandbar you can walk to that’s maybe a kilometer out from the shore.
The water that doesn’t go past chest height and when you dip your face you’ll get an awesome view of sea creatures swimming along the sea-grass-flanked sand path.
Just don’t forget your snorkel gear. You can rent some for 100 pesos (that’s about $2, remember) at a little beachside establishment called Bamboo Nest.
Experience Puerto Princesa’s Nightlife at Tiki Bar
Tiki Resto Bar is right on the corner of Puerto Princesa’s main intersection, where the road from the airport (North Road) intersects Rizal Avenue—the road where lots of things are (including Let’s Dive Palawan).
Come here on a Friday or Saturday evening and you’re likely to find a live band on stage (or a DJ later in the night), tables packed with a medley of travelers and local, and a dance floor occupied by the more boisterous ones.
With beer buckets, billiard tables, and a steady beat, there’s sure to be something going down on any night of the week.
If you’re traveling alone and in the mood for company, you can always find friendly locals and fellow travelers to hang out with on Couchsurfing.
Catch The Baywalk Sunset
In truth, I found the Puerto Princesa Baywalk a bit underwhelming (I didn’t stay for the sunset). Still, it’s easy to get to and certainly a pleasant part of town—worth a visit if you have time to kill.
Try Some Palaweno Food At Haim Chicken
If you’re staying at Treffpunkt, Haim Chicken is just a stone’s throw away (if you can throw 300 meters). It’s a big place with a lively vibe and very reasonable prices.
Their specialty is chicken inasal, or roasted chicken. Just bear in mind that the spicy one will be spicy, even if you ask for it to be moderately spicy.
On that note, there’s also local craft beer to be had at Palaweño Brewery.
For more to explore, check out my extended list of places to visit in Puerto Princesa directly on Google Maps.
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