Where to stay in Puerto Princesa
Puerto (as it’s locally known) may be not one of the most dreamed-off destinations in the Philippines but it’s still the main entry point to Palawan.
It’s a place to spend 1 or 2 days but the question is: where to stay in Puerto Princesa?
I checked the city all around, looking for the best places to stay in Puerto Princesa near the airport (I had an early 6:30 am flight on the way out) and near the beach.
This guide provides all you need to know before you book your hotel.
I have also organised a handy table that compares all the areas for a quick and easy understanding of Puerto
Check out also the video where I go through the areas with handy maps and local clips.
But now, without further ado let’s get into it
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa – In a nutshell
The city of Puerto Princesa is located on a small peninsula right in the centre of Palawan.
The sea is all around the city, except in the north. In saying that, do not expect any good beach, at least none that is a swimmable one.
The airport is right in the centre of the peninsula and around 4 km from the city centre.
The roads to and from the airport (Malvar Street and Rizal Avenue/National Highway) can be quite busy, expect traffic for most of the day.
Here below the table for a quick comparison of the 4 major areas. The rating is in the range 1-5 with 1 being the lowest value
|Best for||Avg. Cost||Suggested|
Here is a quick map with the best areas to stay in Puerto Princesa
Here below are a few quick points about Puerto. Scroll down for a more detailed description, a full video and a few tips on the accommodations
- Where to stay in Puerto Princesa near the airport: the best area is north of the airport, from a few hundred meters to 2km from the terminal. It’s a very handy location, especially if you have an early or late arrival flight. These hotels usually provide free transportation to the airport. Check out the Canvas Boutique Hotel or read more below on the area
- Best place to stay in Puerto Princesa near the beach: the most scenic beaches are on the east coast of the city peninsula. You can experience lovely sunrises there, however, being very shallow, the beaches are not really swimmable. A swimming pool is a great plus. Check out the Costa Palawan Resort or read more below on the beach area
- Where to stay in Puerto on a budget: there are a bunch of hostels in the city centre with very cheap prices. The alternative is to stay south of the airport where you will find the most affordable hotels, however, you will be 4 to 5km from the terminal and the city centre. Check out Nellie’s Place (they include the Airport pickup as well) or read more below about staying south of the airport
- Best area to stay in Puerto with family and kids: you can either decide to stay on the east coast, next to the beach, or north of the airport (there are a few hotels with a swimming pool) in case of early departure or late arrival (I had a great time at the Canvas Boutique Hotel).
- Where to stay in Puerto Princesa as a couple: if you do not need to be close to the airport then I would suggest staying in the city centre where you have easy access to bars, cafes and restaurants. Check out the OYO 554 Dads Bayview Pension or read more below about the city centre
- Must-try restaurants in Puerto: the whole City Baywalk Park right on the water is the perfect spot to spend the night. Plenty of restaurant options of which the Princesa sa Baybay is my favourite. I had my best coffee at Itoys Coffee Haus.
- What are the best tours
- for an overview of the city either rent your own scooter (US$10-14) or simply join this cheap half-day tour of Puerto Princesa.
- if you are in the city for at least 24 hours then you have to organise a trip to the Underground River (see photos here), one of the New7Wonders of Nature (read more on Wikipedia).
- if you are looking for some beach time where you can swim and enjoy some island hopping then you should join a day trip to the Honda Bay.
Before getting deeper into the best areas to stay in Puerto Princesa I suggest checking out this video I made during my last trip.
I explain how you can organise your trip with reference to a map as well. This will help immensely to orientate yourself.
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa city centre
The city centre has most of the attractions of Puerto, however, do not expect much.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is quite a spectacular church and a must-visit once in the city.
Walk opposite the street and step into the Plaza Cuartel, a small park, the site of a penal colony with a very sad story, 150 US soldiers were burned during WW2 by the Japanese Empire.
Purto Princesa is not the place to go if you are after some nightlife. There is not much going on.
In saying that there are a few restaurants, bars and cafes in the City Centre.
The main destination for the evening is City Baywalk Park, which is where most of the locals go after dark, probably the cooler part of town, with a nice sea breeze after sunset.
The OYO 554 Dads Bayview Pension is a very well-priced hotel with clean big rooms (see photos here) and just a few hundred metres from the Baywalk and close to the local market. A great place on a low-budget
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa near the beach
The beach I liked the most is Kanigaran Beach, on the east coast and north of the airport.
However, do not expect a swimmable beach or any kind of tropical paradise
It is a very shallow one and during low tide, you will have to walk 100-200 meters before you can have a quick dive.
It’s popular also with locals. There are a couple of bars right on the beach, quiet ones.
Bring some mosquito repellent if you plan to have a drink in the evening.
Are you still unsure if either Thailand or The Philippines is a better destination? Read my full comparison.
Best place to stay in Puerto Princesa near the Airport
This is the most practical part of Puerto Princesa to stay if you have an early departure or late arrival.
There are hotels you could literally walk to, straight from the terminal (access to the airport is in the north, a few hundred meters from the National Highway).
In saying that, most of the hotels in this area do offer free pick-up and drop-off.
A few do that only during business hours (8am to 8pm).
I personally paid 500PHP (US$10) for a 5 am drop-off (it took less than 5 minutes but I was told that at that time of the day, it was the only option).
A tricycle will take you to the city centre for around 50-80PHP (US$1-1.5).
The SM Shopping Mall is a good place to go in case you need some stylish clothes or you are looking for Western-style food options.
Kim Car and Motorbikes provides well-maintained scooters for 500PHD/day (US$10). He does deliver to the hotel for an additional 100PHP.
The Canvas Boutique Hotel is a great hotel with very large rooms (ideal for families), all airconditioned and facing the big swimming pool in the centre of the resort (see photos here). The restaurant/bar is also facing the pool, which is perfect if you want to have a drink by the pool (supervising the kids at the same time, if needed). Breakfast is also included. The service is awesome.
South of the Airport
This is a great area to stay if you are on a budget.
It’s not just that accommodations are better value than anywhere else in Puerto, it’s also that restaurants, cafes and bars around are cheaper too.
You will end up saving quite a bit by staying in this neighbourhood and exploring the rest of the city during the day.
You will be meters from the airport, however, the terminal is on the opposite side, in the north side, around 4-5km from most of the accommodations in the area.
There are a few restaurant options so you will not have to go to the centre if you are in Puerto for a quick touch and go. Try out Captain Ribs if you are a meat lover.
Nellie’s Place offers probably the best value for money in Puerto Princesa, especially considering they provide free airport transfer
Rooms are basic and clean, really all you need for one or more nights in Puerto
More information about Puerto
Here below you can watch a video I made on the van trip between El Nido and Puerto Princesa.
It will give a good idea of what to expect.
If you are travelling from Australia to Puerto with Cebu Pacific then you should watch my full review of the flight and how to change the terminal in Manila for either Puerto Princesa or Coron.