Travelling may seem to be an expensive adventure which involves money spending and time, and had somehow prevented some people from travelling or exploring as it normally means taking out from your savings. I for one has not been travelling that much, even in my hometown Cebu, as I find it costly and my earnings do not permit, but somehow I find it unfulfilling to just work and not enjoy some “Me” time and that’s when I became more creative in planning my trip and Puerto Princesa happened.
Going to Puerto Princesa can sometimes be costly if you don’t know when to go or where to stay or if you don’t have the strategy. It’s also important to know the miscellaneous expenses you’ll encounter and how to budget your pocket money. Through this, I’ll give you a break down on how I budget my money, how to get good deals and how to spend your time given the limited budget. I’ll give you an overview on how to make the most of your time and your money.
So, lets start with…
One of the many factors that discouraged people from travelling to one place is the air fare and if you will have to travel abroad, the travel tax as well. This was also my concern whenever I plan to travel whether it’s local or international as I don’t get a high pay and I’m not always online to catch on the Piso sale. But don’t fret my friend, Cebu Pacific always have promotions on seat sale and I suggest to register an account so you’ll get first dibs on the updates and promos. I booked my ticket back in August 2019 when Cebu Pacific was holding the 88 Peso seat sale, and for Php 2,236.88 (round trip) I thought it was a great deal since most seat sales are one way ticket, that already includes all the additional charges. To get a great deal, keep an eye on Cebu Pacific’s seat sales.
Some of you will ask yourself where to stay during your trip and how can you get a great deal especially if you don’t have a kin or relatives or friends, well I suggest Airbnb, and as a matter of fact, I found a great place to stay and I highly recommend it; the Bamboo Nest.
Bamboo Nest is owned and operated by Mr. Jonathan and is situated within a military area, safe to say it is secured. Although going there might be confusing at times but you’ll get the hang of it the more you explore the city, and as soon as you get there, you will be welcomed by the warm embrace of a traditional Filipino home. I sure did enjoy my stay, great ambiance, clean, good company and a great place to connect with other guests. I could stay there for a long time. The host was just accommodating and was glad that he is also a fellow Cebuano, I didn’t have a hard time communicating with him, for me at least. I highly recommend this place and you can check out the photos below. To know more about the place and how to book, just click here.
I normally don’t book tour packages as these would limit your time spent in a certain place, you’ll only be limited to a – 3-day 2-night stay, so I made sure to book my trip and made use of DIY style. But in order for me to see and enjoy my stay, I used Klook to book join in tours and I booked only 2 since some of the tours were a bit expensive already, but make sure to book these:
Your Puerto Princesa trip is not complete without the Underground River tour and I must say, it is by far one of the best experiences I’ve had and it’s a must. But be wary because of strong winds, Coast Guard can cancel all trips going to the cave. As per our tour guide, it is best to go during summer when the Amihan is not that strong, I went there last December 2019 and true enough, the waves were strong and high, we were lucky that our guide was proactive and picked us up early or else we will be one of those cancelled trips on that day. So better plan your trip to the Underground River before booking and check for sale, I got mine for a much lower price because of Klook’s sale. Buffet lunch is served after the tour which is part of the package. For booking and more information, click here.
Note: Should an abrupt cancellation of the trip happen due to Gale Warning from the Coast Guard, they will offer alternative activity e.g Honday Bay Island Hopping.
This was an additional tour after the Underground River. On the way to the wharf going for the first activity, Underground River, the guide will give you the itinerary and also include the other activities you can have after the first activity, the reason for this, it would be much cheaper to book the additional tour right there on site than booking online. They gave us two options, Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour and Zipline, our group chose the former because it’s much cheaper. I suggest you get this additional tour, you’ll enjoy the tour along the kilometer long boat ride with centuries old mangrove trees. You’ll be fascinated by the sights of snakes, monkeys, birds and other animals that can freely roam around.
If I’m being honest, with this tour, you can either take it or leave it but then, to make the most of your time especially how far these places are, it’s best to join a tour, for one thing your first destination is in the South of Palawan, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (formerly known Crocodile Farm), then from there you’ll travel back to North of Palawan and doing it by yourself would mean costing you more since tricycles there cost around Php 100 for only one person for short distance! Especially if it’s a special trip and not their usual route. One of the perks I got from this tour is the sample hopia from Baker’s Hill, I thought it would only be 1 piece, who knew they would give you 1 box of Ube hopia for a sample! Although I recommend this tour, word of advice, just don’t expect too much. For booking and more information, click here.
Provided you have already booked your round trip ticket, accommodation and tours, Php 5,000.00 is more than enough. In my part, I spent less than the mentioned amount, ballpark more or less Php 2,000.00, that is because I didn’t spend so much on eating at restaurants, instead I ate at the carenderias together with the friends I met and as much as possible, I walked going to one place to another, unless if you’re with a group then you can commute, because if you board a tricycle going to one place and you’re the only one, they would charge you Php 100, and I learned that the hard way. Walked for almost an hour going to SM Puerto Princesa to buy few grocery items, I got tired of walking back to the place and just payed the fare.
If buying pasalubong (souvenirs) is in your mind, then five thousand pesos might not be enough for you considering how us Filipinos buy pasalubong for our families and friends. I’m not really a big pasalubong person so I only bought few items, spent only a thousand pesos and you can buy your pasalubongs at MCA Market – Pasalubong Center, and you’ll be glad to know they accept credit/debit card.
If you would ask me, from Cebu airport to Puerto Princesa, I only had Php 1,500.00 in my wallet for the 5 days I stayed there, but it’s best to bring a contingency, such as your debit card, but as much as possible, learn how to budget your money.
As a person who normally spends most of its days in the house, going online, it’s not as much fun as exploring the outside. I struggled in meeting new people and online apps are of no help as people these days become more concentrated on the looks and their pockets, if you don’t have those, you’ll have a hard time. When I decided to travel alone to Puerto Princessa, I left all of my inhibitions and worries behind, taking only with me the thirst for adventure and knowledge and unexpected surprises.
I saw Philippines in a different perspective, learned things about Palawan, discover the wonders of nature. Animals can roam around the island, birds of different species can fly freely. Travelling alone was satisfying and I discovered the adventurer in me, not afraid of taking chances.
Never in my wildest dreams I would be able to meet new people, other than from work, and here I met lovely people from different parts of the world; Finland, Slovakia, Germany and UK to name a few, and got to hang out with them. I made friends with some and even invited them to Cebu and had an opportunity to tour them around my hometown, city and nature tour. It wouldn’t be possible if I had not booked my flight to Puerto Princesa and stayed at the Bamboo Nest.
One thing for sure, the memories I had created in my very first solo travel will always be remembered. The places I’ve been to, places I never thought I would experience it myself such as the wonderful Underground River. The knowledge I gained, the awareness I had developed in finding time for yourself and helping mother earth. And last but not the least, the friends I made along the way. People I never thought would share a bit of their lives, the days we spent together, the nightly conversations in the kitchen table and the companionship they offered. I most especially would remember our last night of stay, as our host, Jonathan, held a jamming night during the last full moon of the year, serving free foods and acoustic guitar jamming playing Spanish romantic songs, to classic songs to Bisaya songs. It was a night to remember I must say. The Puerto Princesa trip is a memory will always remember.
As parting words, go and explore! Don’t be afraid to travel solo, do research of the place you’ll be travelling and enjoy your time!
Happy trails my friend!
P.S: Anyone wants a city tour around Cebu City, feel free to message me. 🙂