Palawan, an enchanting province in the Philippines, has gained immense popularity as a top-tier travel destination. Located in the western region of the country, Palawan boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, lush jungles, and a rich biodiversity that captivates travelers from around the globe. This paradise-like destination is renowned for its untouched natural beauty and offers a wide array of activities and attractions for all types of adventurers.

Stunning Coron, Palawan with crystal-clear turquoise waters and lush green surroundings.
Coron, Palawan

Explore the breathtaking natural beauty of Palawan with its stunning tourist attractions. From the white sand beaches to the unique underground river, discover what makes this island paradise one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.

Location Of Palawan

Palawan Island is located in the southwesternmost part of the Philippines.

Brief Overview of Palawan as a Popular Travel Destination

Palawan is a province in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, Palawan is an archipelago composed of more than 1,000 islands.

With over 1,000 islands, 70% of which are natural Marine Protected Areas, Palawan is considered the Philippines’ best slice of paradise. As the Philippines’ most diverse ecosystem, it’s no surprise that Palawan is a popular destination for those looking for pristine beaches and unspoiled scenery. Palawan is the best place to be if you want to enjoy nature, pristine beaches, and enthralling culture.

What Makes Palawan Worth Visiting?

With its stunning landscapes and vibrant marine life, Palawan has consistently been ranked as one of the best islands in the world. Its fame grew exponentially after being named “The Best Island in the World” by renowned publications such as Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.

It is not surprising that visitors are drawn to Palawan’s exquisite white-sand beaches such as El Nido’s Secret Lagoon Beach or Coron’s Kayangan Lake Beach. Aside from its breathtaking coastline, Palawan has several remarkable natural wonders.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, enchants tourists with its impressive limestone formations and captivating underground river system. Meanwhile, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park entices divers with its colorful coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Moreover, Palawan provides ample opportunities for adventure-seekers who wish to explore its dense rainforests. Whether venturing into Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or embarking on a trek through Cleopatra’s Needle in El Nido, visitors can immerse themselves in the lush greenery while marveling at unique flora and fauna.

When it comes to diving or snorkeling, Palawan ranks among the world’s best island destinations for underwater life. Despite not being known as a backpacker’s haven like other parts of Southeast Asia, Palawan can be an ideal destination for travelers seeking tranquility. It has plenty of small hotels and private villas that are perfect for honeymooners or well-heeled families who want to escape it all in luxury.

Must-See Attractions in Palawan

One of the most stunning destinations on earth to travel to is Palawan. Read up on the top tourist destinations in Palawan to help you prepare for your future backpacking trip.


The capital of the island province of Palawan is Puerto Princesa. This coastal city is known for its beach resorts and seafood eateries. The Underground River, also known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a five-mile stretch of the Cabayugan River that passes through a massive limestone cave and into the West Philippine Sea. Its stunning limestone cliffs, blue waters, and towering cave formations will captivate tourists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

A captivating view of the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines.
Discovering the Magnificent Tubbataha Reefs in the Philippines.

The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park spans 96,828 hectares and comprises two massive coral atolls – the north and south atolls and the Jessie Beazley Reef, a smaller coral structure 20 kilometers north of the atolls. It’s a one-of-a-kind atoll reef with a dense concentration of aquatic life.

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is home to some of the most stunning and unusual coral reefs on the planet. Birds and marine turtles use the North Islet as a breeding ground. More than 1,200 marine species call it home, including seagrasses and algae, corals, sharks, rays, fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. It is home to a variety of huge species, including white-tip and gray reef sharks. There are also plenty of mackerels, snappers, large groupers, and Napoleons.

Honday Bay Islands

Honday Bay Islands, Guide to Palawan
Honday Bay Islands, Palawan

Honda Bay is a bay on Palawan’s eastern shore near Puerto Princesa City. In the bay are numerous small islands, including Arrecife Island, which is home to an elegant resort.

The Spaniards gave the bay its name. Honda is a Spanish word that means “deep bay.” It is a popular snorkeling and island-hopping destination. Some of the islands to visit include Pandan Island (also known as Makesi Island), Cowrie Island, Luli Island, and Starfish Island.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Honday Bay Islands, Guide to Palawan
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the western coast of Palawan, some 80 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa. It is a 2-hour trip from the city center of Puerto Princesa to Sabang, where you’ll board a boat to the underground river. It has an underground river that runs straight to the sea.

The underground river is known for its stunning karst environment, which is made up of natural rock formations formed by the dissolving of limestones. Tourists can only see a 4.3-kilometer section of the 8.2-kilometer-long underground river, which features jaw-dropping cave formations, beautiful limestone cliffs, and clean waters.
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Mangrove Ecotourism and Wildlife Park

Mangrove Ecotourism Wild Life Park is located in Iwahig, Puerto Princesa City, alongside the Old Iwahig Bridge on the National Highway. Witness a spectacular display of fireflies among the mangroves and trees that line the banks of the Sicsican and Iwahig Rivers.

Ugong Rock

Honday Bay Islands, Guide to Palawan
Ugong Rock

Ugong Rock is a 75-foot-high limestone rock formation. There are tunnels and tiny passageways inside that lead to an observation deck at the summit of the spectacular rock formation. When tapped, a hollow limestone inside the cave emits an ugong or echoing sound, hence the name.

Nagtabon Beach

Honday Bay Islands, Guide to Palawan
Nagtabon Beach

Nagtabon Beach is 30 kilometers from Puerto Princesa City on the west coast of Palawan. It is a beautiful stretch of white sand beach that is perfect for swimming.


El Nido is a well-known tourist attraction on the Philippine island of Palawan. It is a strikingly gorgeous destination to explore, with scenic lagoons, white-sand beaches, towering limestone cliffs, charming inlets, magnificent coral reefs, and clear waters abundant with marine life. Read more…

Small Lagoon

Honday Bay Islands, Kayangan Lake, Guide to Palawan
Small Lagoon

Small Lagoon is a beautiful, shallow bay on Miniloc Island’s northern tip, about a 20-minute boat ride west of El Nido Town. It is approximately 150 meters long. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs that are partially covered in lush flora.

El Nido Beaches in Palawan

Honday Bay Islands, Kayangan Lake, Guide to Palawan
El Nido Beaches

The name El Nido in Spanish means “the nest”. The beaches in El Nido are known for their remarkable beauty and crystal-clear water. Some of the popular beaches to visit include Nacpan Beach, El Nido Airport Beach, Las Cabanas Beach, Hidden Beach, Papaya Beach, Seven Commando Beach, Payong-Payong Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, Duli Beach, Secret Lagoon Beach, Corong Corong Beach, Buena Suerte Beach, Pinagbuyutan Island, and Dolarog Beach


Coron is a tropical island in the Philippines’ Palawan province. Beautiful beaches, crystal-clear freshwater lakes, abundant marine life, shallow-water coral reefs, turquoise lagoons, and limestone landscapes add to the area’s secluded ambiance. Coron is also noted for its world-class WWII wreck diving and one of the country’s cleanest lakes, Kayangan Lake.

Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake is a crystal-clear freshwater lake featuring underwater rock formations, tunnels, and islets near Coron. It is considered to be the cleanest lake in the Philippines if not all of Asia. The water is so clear that it allows you to see the rock formations beneath it.

Coron Bay Shipwrecks

The shipwrecks in Coron Bay are a collection of spectacular wreck locations in Palawan for diving and snorkeling. There are 12 sunken warships at the bottom of the ocean which is the result of a US Navy aviation raid on the Imperial Japanese Navy in September 1944 during WWII.

Choosing between Coron and El Nido? Simplify Your Decision with Our Handy Comparison Table.

General Travel Tips for Palawan

Best time to visit Palawan based on weather conditions and tourist crowds

Palawan’s climate is generally tropical, characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry season (November to April) and the wet season (May to October). The best time to visit Palawan is during the dry season when there are fewer chances of rain disrupting your outdoor activities.

The months of December to February are particularly popular due to milder temperatures and lower humidity levels. However, this also means that these months can be busier with tourists, so it’s advisable to book accommodations and activities in advance.

Duration of stay – recommended minimum days to explore the main attractions

To fully experience the beauty of Palawan, it is recommended to spend at least 7-10 days on the island. This will allow you ample time to explore the main attractions such as Puerto Princesa Underground River, El Nido’s stunning beaches, and Coron’s breathtaking lakes. Additionally, a longer duration will give you flexibility in case of unexpected weather changes or if you simply want some relaxation time by the beach.

Booking flights and accommodations in advance to secure the best deals

It is highly advisable to book your flights and accommodations well in advance when planning a trip to Palawan. As one of the top travel destinations in Southeast Asia, demand for flights and hotels can be high throughout the year. By booking early, you not only ensure availability but also have a better chance of securing better deals and discounted rates.

When booking flights, consider flying into either Puerto Princesa or Coron depending on your preferred itinerary. Several airlines offer direct flights from Manila or Cebu.

It’s wise to compare prices among different carriers and keep an eye out for promotions or seat sales. In terms of accommodations, Palawan offers a wide range of options to suit different budgets and preferences.

From luxurious beach resorts to budget-friendly hostels, it’s important to research and book accommodations that meet your needs. Popular areas to stay include Puerto Princesa City, El Nido town proper, and Coron town.

Packing essentials – lightweight clothing, swimwear, comfortable shoes, sun protection, insect repellent, etc.

When packing for Palawan, it’s crucial to consider the tropical climate and the activities you plan to engage in. Lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen is highly recommended due to the warm temperatures. Don’t forget your swimwear as Palawan boasts stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Comfortable shoes are a must, especially if you plan on exploring nature trails or participating in island hopping tours. Opt for sturdy sandals or sneakers that provide good traction.

Additionally, pack plenty of sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect your skin from the strong tropical sun. Another essential item is insect repellent as mosquitoes can be present in certain areas of Palawan.

Choose a repellent that contains DEET or other effective components and apply it regularly. It’s also wise to carry a light rain jacket or poncho in case of sudden showers during the wet season.

Currency exchange and availability of ATMs in major towns

The currency used in Palawan is the Philippine Peso (PHP). While some establishments may accept major foreign currencies like US Dollars or Euros, it is advisable to exchange your money into local currency for convenience and better rates. Currency exchange counters can be found at airports and major towns such as Puerto Princesa City, El Nido, and Coron.

It’s recommended to compare rates among different money changers before making any transactions. ATMs are widely available in larger towns across Palawan; however, they might be limited in more remote areas.

It’s wise to carry enough cash when venturing to less developed locations or smaller islands. Notify your bank about your travel plans beforehand to ensure smooth ATM withdrawals and avoid any card-related issues during your trip.

Getting Around Palawan

Domestic Flights – Options for Flying into Puerto Princesa or Coron from Manila or Cebu

Palawan, with its multiple entry points, offers convenient domestic flight options to reach popular destinations such as Puerto Princesa and Coron. From Manila and Cebu, you can find several airlines that operate daily flights to both cities.

Air travel is the quickest and most efficient way to access Palawan, saving you valuable time for exploration. The flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa is approximately an hour and a half while flying from Cebu takes around an hour.

Similarly, direct flights from these cities to Coron are relatively short, averaging one hour. It is advisable to book your tickets well in advance to secure the best fares and ensure availability during peak seasons.