The secret to a lovely and meaningful vacation in the Philippine province of Palawan is but one thing: preparation. Indeed, you wouldn’t want to rush headlong into any new destination without ticking items off of your travel to-do list, and the same applies to your upcoming trip to the island paradise. With this in mind, we’re presenting you with a list of 5 dos and 5 don’ts for aspiring visitors to Palawan. Read on for tips on your pre-departure, touring, and how to best enjoy the activities in store for you!
DO check your health before you make an itinerary
The first item on your agenda should be scheduling a health checkup. In our opinion, you should have your doctor’s clearance to engage in intensive activities such as diving, water sports, and hiking. Also don’t forget about the potentially stifling tropical weather, and commit to staying cool and hydrated to prevent heat stroke.
DON’T go over budget or squeeze too many activities into just one trip
Before buying tickets, booking accommodations, and setting aside enough allowance for food and transportation, decide on what’s practicable for your financial situation. Set a budget for the trip, and adjust your schedule of activities based on that. There’s no need to cram as many activities as possible for one trip to Palawan, just for fear of missing out. Decide on what you want to be the highlights of the trip—island hopping, exploring natural wonders on land, or getting to know Palawan’s cultural history—and base your cash flow on that.
DO book in advance with a reputable tour provider and hotel
One particularly helpful way of managing your budget and your schedule of activities without you having to break into a sweat is booking a trusted and reliable provider for the best tours in Palawan. Paying for a tour package that already includes food, transportation, and environmental fees along with the cost of your chosen activities is a good way to structure your trip, and it also affords you value for money.
Also make sure to book in advance with your chosen tour provider and hotel. Usually, you’ll be able to enjoy better rates when you book in advance, and this will also allows you to choose from a wider variety of tours and accommodations. It all makes perfect sense. After all, the best hotels in Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Coron and other Palawan hotspots don’t stay empty for long, especially during the peak seasons.
DON’T stray very far from your tour group
Being part of your tour group also entails some responsibility on your part. Your tour guides, drivers, and boatmen are supposed to be accountable for you, and the rest of the group can also watch out for your welfare. Being in such a group is actually the perfect opportunity to foster solid new friendships from people around the world!). However, you should also make it a point to follow instructions about where to go, how far you’re allowed to tread, and what to avoid. This is to prevent any accidents or dangerous situations during the trip.
DO bring enough cash for the trip
There will be a dearth of ATM machines in the province. This is something you should take note of, especially if you are traveling back and forth from the smaller municipalities. Do withdraw all the cash you need to in the nearest urban center like Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital. Also try and obtain smaller bill denominations so that it will be easy to pay in cash in any establishment, as well as to tip your guides, drivers, diving instructors, and porters. Do keep a few extra thousand pesos with you on your person, or have it stored in your hotel safe, just in case of emergency.
DON’T schedule tours during peak holiday seasons
If you can help it, don’t schedule your excursion on days too near holiday seasons like Christmas, Undas (from Halloween to All Souls’ Day), or the Holy Week. Though Palawan is open to visitors all year round, you should consider that some tours might be cancelled, or transportation around the island may be scarce, as the locals also celebrate the holidays.
DO open your mind to trekking off the beaten path
Do you want to avoid the big crowds that accumulate in Palawan’s most famous destinations, such as Puerto Princesa’s Underground River? If you do, then do try to include less popular activities around Palawan that are no less meaningful—such as visiting Honda Bay; stopping by the historical Fort Isabel in Taytay, Palawan’s former capital; or sinking your feet into the virgin sand at Long Beach in the coastal town of San Vicente.
DON’T litter or damage the environment
This is an absolute no-no. The island province is known as the Philippines’ last frontier for conservation, and it’s a gem in terms of biodiversity. To make sure that it can keep that identity for generations to come, never leave any trash behind in the beaches or on the islands, and do not steal sea shells or break off any coral while diving. Follow the age-old saying about mindful traveling: “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and kill nothing but time.”
DO learn about Palawan’s local communities before visiting, and afford due respect
One of the highlights of trekking through the Philippines is engaging with its rich and diverse local cultures. Some of the indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in the province are the Tagbanwa, Kagayanen, Palawano, Taaw’t Bato, Molbog, and Batak. Remember that these are the people who are welcoming you into their home. Do be courteous and respectful of their way of life. When in doubt about proper etiquette and observing local customs, defer to your tour guide.
DON’T expect your visit to Palawan to be an ordinary one! Last but not least, prepare to fall in love with Palawan. You’ll discover for yourself why it’s been named one of Travel + Leisure’s Best Islands in the World, and you’ll long for its sun, sand, sights, and seas after you leave.
Have you taken down all of these insider tips? It’s now time to head over to Palawan and explore all that it has to offer. Here’s to a safe and wonderful journey ahead!