Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: Things To Do + Where To Stay (Updated 2019)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

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Puerto Princesa City in Palawan holds many possibilities for both newbie and expert travelers. It is a beautiful destination; modern yet not too cosmopolitan. Despite being a popular tourist destination in the Philippines, the city has not lost its quaintness to modernity just yet and I think that's what makes it endearing to her guests.

Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: preserved skin of a giant crocodile
The preserved skin of Rio, a giant crocodile

The best way to explore Puerto Princesa City is to avail of a familiarization tour that is offered by many tour organizers and travel agencies in the area. Nonetheless, you may opt for a do-it-yourself (DIY) tour if you choose to do so since getting around the city is fairly easy. You can just hire a tricycle to take you around some popular destinations in Puerto Princesa City.

Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: Things To Do + Where To Stay (Updated 2019)


    We prepared this simple and easy-to-follow travel guide for those who are planning to travel or are already traveling to Puerto Princesa City. Whether you are a solo traveler, a couple, a family, or a large group of friends, we hope that you would find this activity and hotel guide helpful. We would also like to keep this travel guide as updated as possible so comments and suggestions on how to improve this are much welcome.

    On our way to Puerto Princesa City


    This year, for our second wedding anniversary celebration, we chose to go to Puerto Princesa City in Palawan for the reasons I have stated above.

    While we have made some research about the places to see and the best hotels to stay at in Puerto Princesa City, we still chose to avail of a group packaged tour courtesy of AsiaTravel, which offered the best rates plus discounts if we booked using any of their partner credit cards.

    On the morning of our flight, we got a bit of a scare when there seemed to be kilometric queues outside NAIA which we heard from fellow passengers was caused by a power outage the night before. Good thing processing was fast and the long lines soon normalized. In less than an hour, we were sky high aboard our Cebu Pacific flight.

    Getting around Puerto Princesa City (familiarization tour)


    We arrived in Puerto Princesa Domestic Airport just in time and waited for the hotel service that would take us to Tropical Sun Inn. When we got to the hotel, our tour guide was already waiting for us. Apparently, pick-up time was at 7:00 AM, contrary to the 8:00 AM time indicated in our itinerary.

    The hotel receptionist graciously told us that they could safe keep our things while we were on our tour. As such, we hurriedly left our bags at the hotel, then boarded the van, and proceeded to pick up the rest of our companions for the half-day city familiarization tour. AsiaTravel's local partner, Maysons Travel and Tours conducted the tour.

    Here are the places and attractions in Puerto Princesa City that were included in the familiarization tour:

    Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center


    Our first stop was Puerto Princesa City's crocodile and conservation farm. We had a bit of a waiting time because there were already groups ahead of us doing the tour of the crocodile center.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: at the entrance of the Palawan crocodile conservation center in Puerto Princesa City
    Photo souvenir beside the crocodile conservation center's marker

    When it was finally our turn to tour the conservation center, we were ushered at the lobby area where there was a skeleton of a giant crocodile named "Rio" that was on display to greet the guests. In addition to Rio's skeleton, his preserved skin was also on display. We were later told by our tour guide that Rio's skin was too tough to be made into leather products that was why it was just showcased as an attraction at the conservation center.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: our photo souvenir with the giant crocodile skeleton at the Palawan wildlife and conservation center
    Our souvenir shot with the giant crocodile skeleton and skin

    From the lobby, we were shown around the hatchery where there were baby crocodiles in various stages of development.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: crocodile hatchery at the Palawan wildlife conservation center
    On the way to the hatchery

    Next stop came the more exciting part -- being in the company of huge adult crocodiles that were kept in big ponds. For the safety of guests, the viewing area was placed way above the ponds where crocodiles would not be able to reach tourists.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: juvenile crocodiles
    Juvenile crocodiles yet they already look scary

    Even though these predators are ferocious, they just sat still in and around the ponds. These animals were slow-moving because, according to our guide, their metabolism was sluggish. Because of that, crocodiles can go for days without food.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: an adult crocodile inside the Palawan conservation center
    An adult crocodile inside the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: exploring every corner of the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center
    Exploring every corner of the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center

    One of the main attractions of the tour was the souvenir photos with baby crocodiles. Guests may have their pictures taken with hatchings at the end of the tour for a minimal fee, of course.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: guests having their souvenir photos taken with baby crocodiles
    Guests having their souvenir photos taken with baby crocodiles

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the end of the tour of the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center
    The end of our tour of the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center

    Mitra's Ranch


    From the crocodile farm, we drove to Mitra's Ranch, a game fowl and fruit farm owned by the family of the late Ramon Mitra, Jr. At the ranch, guests may opt to try the zipline or ride horses.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: tour of Mitra's Ranch
    At Mitra's Ranch

    We only stayed here briefly because no one wanted to try the zipline or mount the horses. Our guide even jokingly told us that there wasn’t much to see here anyway so we better get going to our next location.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the viewing deck of Mitra's Ranch
    Behind us is the viewing deck of Mitra's Ranch

    Baker's Hill


    From Mitra's Ranch, we proceeded to Baker's Hill, a popular bakeshop and souvenir store in Puerto Princesa City. Here, tourists and gusts may buy pastries, native sweets, and coolers. For those who are hungry, there is also a restaurant and a pizza kiosk inside Baker's Hill.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: tour of Baker's Hill
    Baker's Hill

    Once inside the property of Baker's Hill, you would notice how attractive the whole enclosure looks. The restaurants and other buildings are made mostly of terracotta bricks, giving the structures an antique feel.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: tree of hearts at Baker's Hill
    Tree of hearts at Baker's Hill

    You would also be greeted by a tree of hearts and a "chef," both of which will invite you to have your photos taken with them. The tree of hearts have, well, heart-shaped "leaves" that contain quotes and other inspiring messages.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: a chef welcoming guests at Baker's Hill
    A "chef" welcoming us at Baker's Hill

    Walking inside Baker's Hill was reminiscent of strolling inside Bag of Beans in Tagaytay. In fact, our tour guide told us that the ridge where Mitra's Ranch and Baker's Hill were located at is Puerto Princesa City’s very own version of Tagaytay.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: al-fresco dining area at Baker's Hill
    Al-fresco dining area at Baker's Hill

    An interesting story that our tour guide further told us was that the owner of Baker's Hill was also a tourist at Puerto Princesa City previously. He bought the land where Baker's Hill was located because he fell in love with the beauty of Puerto Princesa City.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: fake houses inside Baker's Hill
    Houses inside Baker's Hill

    Where to buy pasalubong in Puerto Princesa City 


    While we were on our way to our next destination, our tour guide Mitch pointed several low-growing trees at the side of the road. Those trees, she told us, were cashew trees. She told us that Puerto Princesa City was actually a top cashew producer of the Philippines. Some of main products of Puerto Princesa City include cashew nuts, wine, butterscotch, and other products made from cashew fruit.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: pasalubong and souvenirs at MCA Market Mall
    MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center

    We had a brief break from touring the city via a stopover in two pasalubong centers, the most notable of which was the MCA Market Mall located along the Puerto Princesa North Road. Inside MCA Market Mall was an assortment of t-shirts, sweets, native wood products, and bags of toasted cashew nuts sold by different shops.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: cashew nuts at MCA Market Mall
    Cashew nuts

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: shirts and other items on sale at MCA Market Mall
    Shirts and other souvenir items

    Most of the t-shirts and sando shirts can be bought at a discount if purchased in bulk. I highly-recommend getting shirts as pasalubong because these are more practical to buy. Of course, don't forget to buy roasted cashew nuts that are available plain and salted. The cashew tarts are a little dry so I recommend buying one pack and tasting it first before buying in bulk.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: native handicrafts at MCA Market Mall Pasalubong Center
    Native handicrafts

    Plaza Cuartel


    After buying souvenirs and pasalubong, we were back on the road and headed towards our last two stops -- Plaza Cuartel and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the old gate of Plaza Cuartel
    The old gate of Plaza Cuartel

    On our way to Plaza Cuartel, we passed by Baywalk along Sandoval Street. It was lined with trees and benches and provided a relaxing view of the bay that was perfect for an afternoon stroll. According to Mitch, the place used to be occupied by informal settlers who were eventually displaced when their shanties were gutted by a large fire.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: an old cart inside Plaza Cuartel
    Old cart inside Plaza Cuartel

    Today, Baywalk is a popular attraction among tourists because of its bustling nightlife, with rows of restaurants offering affordable seafood meals and grilled food. At night, if you want a bottle or two of beer, this is the place to hang-out to and relax.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: a historical and memorial marker inside Plaza Cuartel
    The memorial marker inside Plaza Cuartel

    When we arrived at Plaza Cuartel, it looked like a seemingly ordinary park but we were told that it had a historic significance in Puerto Princesa City. Plaza Cuartel had picturesque fortress-like antique gates, which dated back to the Spanish era.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: old photographs and narratives about the historic event that occurred inside Plaza Cuartel
    Old photographs and printed narratives about the events that took place inside Plaza Cuartel

    The park ground was plain and ordinary, there was nothing really striking about it. However, according to Mitch, Plaza Cuartel was the site of a violent massacre during the Japanese occupation in World War II. During that fateful day, American and Filipino prisoner soldiers were burned alive at the plaza. Only a few lucky survivors lived to recount the horrors of that event.

    Immaculate Conception Cathedral


    Our last stop was the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa) which was located just across Plaza Cuartel. The stunning Cathedral was established in April 10, 1955 and featured high belfries and intricate details that added more to its charm.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: Immaculate Conception Cathedral
    The impressive Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Puerto Princesa City

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the interiors of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral
    Inside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral

    An old saying states that if it is your first time to visit a church, you can make a wish and it will come true. As such, while we were inside the Cathedral, we took the opportunity to utter a prayer and whisper our wishes.


    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the entrance of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral
    The entrance of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral

    After a few photographs at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, our tour guide announced that we have come to the conclusion of our Puerto Princesa City familiarization tour.

    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: the cavernous interiors of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral
    The cavernous interiors of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral

    While on our way back to the city center, our tour guide offered to drop us off in well-known restaurants in Puerto Princesa City since it was already lunch time when we finished. After a few suggestions from our driver and guide, Ynah and I decided to go to Mangan Kayon. More about it in a succeeding post.


    Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour


    Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Puerto Princesa Underground River

    Perhaps one of the most iconic natural wonders that one must not miss when in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is the Puerto Princesa Underground River (formally known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River). Located inside a karst limestone cave, the underground river is home to several marine species as well as bats.

    Inside the cave are breathtaking stalactites and stalagmite, natural formations which have been shaped and molded by deposits from mineral-rich water over a period of hundreds of years. If you wish to see the Puerto Princesa Underground River, we would recommend allotting a full day for it since the waiting line of tourists can get really long. Like in our case, we arrived there before lunch but we were able to enter the cave at around 4:30 PM or 5:00 PM.

    For more details about the Puerto Princesa Underground River, please read this article: 6 Reasons Why You Should See the Puerto Princesa Underground River For Yourself

    Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour


    Puerto Princesa Travel Guide: Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour
    Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour

    One of the most popular activities in Puerto Princesa City is the Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour. This is also a one-day tour consisting of trips to three islands, namely: Starfish Island, Luli Island, and Cowrie Island. You may opt to skip this if island-hopping is not your interest although we would still recommend that you avail of this since the islands each hold a charm and appeal of its own.

    More details about the island-hopping tour here: Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour (Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

    Sample Puerto Princesa City Tour Itinerary


    Here is a sample itinerary if you want a DIY Puerto Princesa City Tour. The following is for a half-day tour only. You may adjust this depending on how long you would want to stay in a location.

    Day 1 - Puerto Princesa City Tour

    • Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (8:00 AM to 8:45 AM)
    • Mitra's Ranch (9:00 AM to 9:15 AM)
    • Baker's Hill (9:30 AM to 10:00 AM)
    • Buy pasalubong (10:15 AM to 10:45 AM)
    • Plaza Cuartel (11:00 AM to 11:15 AM)
    • Immaculate Conception Cathedral (11:30 AM to 12:00 PM)

    Day 2 - Puerto Princesa Underground River

    • Depart for Sabang Beach (8:00 AM)
    • Boat ride to Puerto Princesa Underground River (10:00 AM to 10:30 AM)
    • Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour (11:00 AM to 12:00 NN) - note that this is an ideal scenario where there is no waiting time
    • Lunch (12:00 NN to 1:00 PM)
    • Depart for Puerto Princesa City (1:15 PM)

    Day 3 - Honda Bay Island-Hopping Tour

    • Depart for fisherman's wharf (8:00 AM)
    • Boat ride to Starfish Island (9:00 AM to 11:00 AM)
    • Lunch (12:00 NN to 1:00 PM)
    • Boat ride to Luli Island (1:15 PM to 2:15 PM)
    • Boat ride to Cowrie Island (3:00 PM to 3:30 PM)
    • Boat ride to fisherman's wharf (4:00 PM to 5:00 PM)
    • Van to hotel (5:15 PM to 5:45 PM)

    As I had mentioned earlier, you may just hire a tricycle or cab to take you to most of these places. Alternatively, jeepneys are also abundant in Puerto Princesa City. For our tours, we availed of  packaged group tours so we had a van that would pick us up before our trip and then bring us back to our hotel afterwards.

    Where to stay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan: the best hotels in the city


    Puerto Princesa, being a popular tourist destination, is home to a number of hotels, inns, and pension homes. As such, travelers can take their pick whether to stay in an upscale hotel or in a budget pension house. Whatever type of traveler you are, there is an accommodation in Puerto Princesa City that is sure to cater to your taste.

    To help you in deciding on which hotel to stay at in Puerto Princesa, here is a list of the 12 hotels that are highly-rated by travelers according to travelbook.ph. You may want to consider any of these hotels the next time you are in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

    1. Aziza Paradise Hotel


    Aziza Paradise Hotel
    Aziza Paradise Hotel (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: BM Road, Brgy. San Manuel, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Superior Premier Room (With Breakfast) - PHP 3,538

    Aziza Paradise Hotel prides itself with its four-star amenities. It takes inspiration from nature, which Puerto Princesa as well as the whole of Palawan is known for. As such, you can expect to see decorations of plants and flowers all over the hotel.

    2. Citystate Asturias Hotel


    Citystate Asturias Hotel
    Citystate Asturias Hotel (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: South National Highway, Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Standard Room (With Breakfast) - PHP 2,750

    Citystate Asturias Hotel caters to numerous types of travelers such as families, couples, and businessmen. The hotel features 62 guest rooms that are complete with the usual conveniences like WiFi access, a mini bar, and bath amenities.

    3. EJ Pension House


    EJ Pension House
    EJ Pension House (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: P.E.O Road, Brgy. Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Standard Room (With Breakfast) - Php980

    EJ Pension House features simple and affordable yet comfortable rooms. Its price point is perfect for anyone who is on a budget trip. Even so, guests can expect great service from its staff. What’s good about EJ Pension House is that it’s near the Puerto Princesa City Airport.

    4. Go Hotels


    Go Hotels Palawan
    Go Hotels (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: North Road, Barangay San Manuel, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Queen Room - Php1974

    Perhaps the best adjective to describe Go Hotels is “modern.” Its 108 rooms are equipped with air conditioning, safety deposit box, cable TV, and bath facilities to ensure that its guests enjoy a relaxing and comfortable stay. Travelers may even avail of tours Palawan from Go Hotels.

    5. Holiday Suites


    Holiday Suites Palawan
    Holiday Suites (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: North National Highway, Brgy. Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Superior Room (With Breakfast) - PHP 3,300

    Holiday Suites has all the amenities to guarantee that its guests with maximum comfort and enjoyment during their stay here. The hotel has a beautifully manicured garden and a swimming pool that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Guests may also enjoy a quiet afternoon in the hotel’s signature coffee shop.

    6. House of Big Brother


    House of Big Brother Palawan
    House of Big Brother (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: 108 Manalo Street, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Inner Room-Double (With Breakfast) - Php2,000

    House of Bug Brother features clean and minimalist lines. The hotel has recreational facilities, a swimming pool, and a Jacuzzi.

    7. Islands Stay Hotel


    Islands Stay Hotel
    Islands Stay Hotel (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: 420 Rizal Avenue, Barangay Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Medium Room - PHP 1,450

    Islands Stay Hotel features bright and fun designs to give its guests with a lively ambiance. Its amenities all guarantee comfort and enjoyment to its guests.

    8. One Manalo Place


    One Manalo Place
    One Manalo Place (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: Manalo Extension, Brgy. Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Standard Room (With Breakfast) - Php4000

    One Manalo Place features stunning Filipino architecture as well as beautiful interior designs. It has a swimming pool, a heated Jacuzzi, and bug gazebos where groups may spend a tranquil afternoon.

    9. Palawan Village Hotel


    Palawan Village Hotel
    Palawan Village Hotel (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: 482 Rizal Avenue Extension, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Standard Room (With Breakfast) - Php700

    Palawan Village Hotel takes pride in offering amenities that are both child and handicapped-friendly. The hotel features lush gardens to give guests a calming ambiance.

    10. Ponce De Leon Garden Resort


    Ponce de Leon Garden Resort
    Ponce de Leon Garden Resort (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: 117 F. Ponce de Leon Road, Brgy San Pedro, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Standard Room (With Breakfast) - Php2250

    Ponce De Leon Garden Resort is best known for providing its guest with a tropical island vibe. It’s very near the Puerto Princesa International airport so it’s perfect for those who do not want to travel far when catching their flight.  

    11. Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa


    Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa
    Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Address: Sabang Beach, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Deluxe Room Mountain View (With Breakfast) - PHP 8,500

    Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa is perhaps best-known as one of the most luxurious hotels in Puerto Princesa City. It features the largest swimming pool in all of Palawan. Moreover, Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa has a fitness center, a spa, a gourmet restaurant, and an organic farm.


    12. Subli Guest Cabins


    Subli Guest Cabins
    Subli Guest Cabins (photo courtesy of travelbook.ph)

    Asdress: 55 Socrates Road, Barangay San Pedro, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Overnight rate: Full cabin (with breakfast) - Php1,300

    Subli Guest Cabins provides its guests with a feel of the great yet laidback outdoors. It has cooking huts where guests are may grill fresh meat and seafood. Subli Guest Cabins also has a spa for those who want to enjoy a stress-busting massage.


    Handy Puerto Princesa Downloadable City Guide


    This Puerto Princesa Travel Guide is also available as a handy app, both for Android and IOS phones. If you want to use it, you may download it via this link:

    PIN THIS TRAVEL GUIDE

    Similar Stories


    If you want to read more stories about our adventures in Puerto Princesa City, you may check the following articles:
    1. Puerto Princesa Food Diary (Updated)
    2. Enjoying the quietude of Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa

    Like this:

    20 comments

    1. It was nice touring the city with you. After reading so many posts about the beaches and islands of the Philippines, this one offered a different perspective and I liked it a lot. I can see that you enjoyed every moment of it :)

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    2. Thank you so much. I hope you would include the Philippines in your travel list.

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    3. We didnt spend any time sightseeing in Puerto princessa while we were there but having read this I wish we had now! The new airport is very swanky

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    4. I have not been to Puerto princessa. It looks beautiful. The church is huge and looks magnificent.

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    5. Oh wow there is SO much to see here isn't there?? I have never been but again, it's on my list of places to see at some point in the future. I feel as though I toured with you through your beautiful photos though!

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    6. I think you are brave to see the crocodiles as I am quite squeamish but how amazing that they can go days without food, I really had no idea! x

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    7. What a fun day you guys had! I'm a huge fan of churches and seek them out wherever my husband and I travel. Also, I'd love to stop for lunch at Al-fresco, anything outdoors is prefect for me! x

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    8. That looks so cool! To be honest I've only seen crocodiles and movies and I NEVER looked at pictures of it.. and seeing the pictures and everything was so fascinating and I was getting anxious at the same time haha! Also it's interesting how they can go days without food.

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    9. Oh wow. It seems that this place has everything! Museums, churches, great hiking spots, and crocodile farms! (Ewww. scary).I hope to be able to visit Puerto Princesa soon!

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    10. Yes, it had everything so it was really an unforgettable journey.

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    11. We were nervous the whole time. Haha.

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    12. We love churches as well! A visit to a church is like a walk back in history or to an art museum.

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    13. Walking in the midst of crocodiles made us nervous the whole time. What if they got out? Haha.

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    14. Thank you for the kind words!

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    15. It was beautiful. You'll love the rest of Palawan, too.

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    16. Wow, glar that you've been to the Philippines. It was great touring Puerto Princesa.

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    17. Congratulations on the amazing wedding anniversary trip. It looks like it was such an amazing and unique experience. Definitely a journey worth taking. Love the bakery place although I would be afraid of the crocodiles.

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    18. Looks like you guys had an amazing time, with so much to see and do. A very educational day out.

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    19. It was an amazing time. We enjoyed every bit of it.

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