Exploring Philippines: A weekend in Palawan

It already seems like a lifetime ago, but my summer vacation in the Philippines last August was certainly one to remember. I’m sure you’ve seen the gorgeous drone videos from the likes of travel vloggers like Christian of Lost LeBlanc. One of my favourite videos of the Philippines, and probably one of Christian’s top performing videos is ‘The Maldives of The Philippines‘. So I’ve decided to share my highlights from one of my most memorable parts of my trip – my weekend in Palawan.

Island Hopping

One of the top things to do when visiting Palawan is hopping island to island. There are a number of tour operators that do island hopping tours. All of which, pick you up from your hotel or bed and breakfast. I recommend one of the full tour packages that include a city tour, Honda Bay island hopping, snorkelling and even adventure hike with optional zipline. And finally the ultimate treasure in Palawan – the Underground River. This was recently bestowed as one of the new seven wonders of the world!

Palawan bay

Tip: Don’t forget to also check out Coron which is only a few hours away by ferry or alternatively you can take a direct flight there from Manila.

Meeting the wildlife

Luli Island

The natural wonders of Palawan also include the fantastic wildlife you will see there! The island is full of both beautiful and terrifying creatures. This includes crocodiles (which are also a local delicacy), monitor lizards, snakes, monkeys, exotic birds and more.

You can see most of these at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. Be prepared to get up close and personal to some of the animals. At one point you have to cross over a metal (rickety!) bridge over a family of fully grown crocodiles. Of course, you can take an alternative route if you prefer.

The rest of the center showcases some of the other wildlife from the island. The tour takes less than an hour. It even includes a photo op where you can have a smaller crocodile wrapped around your neck. The center assured me that this was entirely safe both for the person and the animals.

Following your visit there, I recommend heading to the city to check out the local restaurants and bars or even heading up to Baker’s Hill for the best view on the island.

Tip: Palawan (unlike other parts of the Philippines) is extremely safe! There is very little crime, so you can expect to feel safe walking around in small groups or even alone.

Sailing through mangroves & watching the fireflies

One of the more recent tourist attractions in Palawan is the firefly watching tour. A night time tour, it sets off from the city baywalk where you board a small boat that takes you to the middle of the water onto a floating restaurant! Here you can enjoy some good food and live music before heading off to the main attraction.

Following dinner, you are taken further away into the nearby mangroves. Here you sail slowly through the mangroves and are greeted with the glittery lights from the fireflies. I don’t want to give too much of the magic away. So you will just have to see it for yourself.

Tip: Photographing the fireflies, as with any night photography, can be challenging. Be sure to check out your camera and play around with what the best setting is for night photos before you head off to the mangroves.

Eating fresh seafood & enjoying a cold beer

If there’s one other thing that tops my list of things to do, be sure to try out the fresh seafood! The baywalk in the city is a small stretch of the bay lit up with food stalls and bars.

The food stalls often include a display of the local ‘catches of the day’ where you can pick and choose what you would like. It’s very cheap, I payed around £2 for a huge bowl of freshly steamed gigantic mussels! They were the size of my palm! Unfortunately I don’t have any photographic evidence as it smelled so delicious, I ate it all before I could even snap a photo.

If you fancy a beer, I recommend trying out the national favourite, Red Horse. These beers often come in large bottles as normal so be sure to ask for a smaller bottle if you would prefer it. Beer is also quite cheap in Palawan, and the rest of the Philippines for that matter. A pint is probably a little over a £1 in local bars.

Red horse beer

Tip: Look out for the ‘smiling horse’ on the label. They say that each case of beer produced has a hidden ‘smiling horse’ on the bottle which is a hidden treasure as it’s actually a much stronger version of the beer. So if you find yourself a little happier than usual, it’s most likely that you have found a smiling horse.

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