Here’s a telltale sign that a town’s main industry is tourism: they charge visitors five to ten times more than the local rate for a pedicab ride.
Being a Filipino living in the Philippines, I know for a fact that a pedicab ride costs at most ten bucks. So when my friends and I went to the seaside town of Coron, Palawan some years ago, we were quite startled when the driver demanded we pay him P100 to take us to the Maquinit Hot Springs on our first afternoon there.
“But that’s insane…we’re Filipinos!,” my friend exclaimed. The driver told us it didn’t matter—we were still tourists.
Because this was the height of our cheapskate days, another friend made a really lame, half-hearted attempt at convincing the driver that we actually lived there. But being a small town where everybody knows everybody, you can’t really fake your way to getting a cheaper pedicab ride in Coron. The driver just smirked at us, the three idiots. Needless to say, we ended up not going that afternoon. Haha.
If I were to go to Coron now, I would gladly pay for that hundred bucks. And it’s not because I have more money (read: still happily struggling!), but because I know that the revenue they get out of tourism is money that’s well-spent to preserve Coron’s rich wonders. Unlike overdeveloped Boracay where they keep on building one resort after another without regard for the consequences to the environment, the Palawan community goes to great lengths to respect it. In fact, if I had to recommend only one place in the Philippines that travelers must visit, I say, make it Palawan. Boracay may have all the parties and the amenities, but if you want a real getaway, Palawan is pure, unadulterated bliss.
You can choose between three of its most popular destinations: Puerto Princesa (your jump-off point to the famed Underground River), Coron (where sunken Japanese gunboats rest) and El Nido (home to the country’s best luxury resorts—and where they filmed the final scene of Bourne Legacy).
Here are some snaps that will hopefully convince you to make Palawan your next holiday destination:
Siete Pecados: Where we found Nemo…
Where sea meets sky..
Best place to space out: Kayangan Lake..
Gorgeous limestone cliffs on our way to the Twin Lagoon:
Entrance to the Twin Lagoon during low tide. The small opening joins fresh and sea water, which creates a bizarre hot-cold effect that you have to experience :D
Virgin beaches are a dime a dozen in Palawan. We even parked in one for a while
Snorkeling by this sunken Japanese gun boat will make anyone want to get a diving license.
We made it to the Maquinit Hot Springs…
…right before this gorgeous sunset:
Okay, I think I just convinced myself to go back there. Haha.
Up next: El Nido!