So, if laidback tropical vibes mixed with stunning natural beauty are your jam, let me tell you why Puerto Princesa should be at the top of your travel list!
Puerto Princesa has been nicknamed ‘The City in a Forest’- and it won’t take you long to understand why! Between its UNESCO-recognized underground river, jungles, and clear turquoise lagoons, this place has a lot to offer. Like a lot.
As amazing as this destination is though, it’s often overshadowed by more popular Filipino destinations like Manila or Cebu. For this reason, knowing where to stay in Puerto Princesa can be a real pain, especially if you’ve never been there before.
Don’t worry, though: I’ve put together a guide that’ll take you through some of the top places to stay in this sun-drenched city. So, grab your comfiest shoes, and let’s check them out!
From cozy hostels to hotels or even villas fitted with classic home comforts, Puerto Princesa does have several great accommodation options to choose from. But here are my top 3 recommendations for where to stay!
Best Hotel in Puerto Princesa – Hibiscus Garden Inn
Offering numerous room configurations, the Hibiscus Garden Inn is all set to deliver one heck of a memorable stay! Think of the refreshing outdoor pool, super comfy rooms, and even onsite massage services.
You’ll find several great restaurants around, but if you don’t feel like heading out to eat, you can always treat yourself to a delicious Filipino or Italian meal at the onsite restaurant. With a stay at the Hibiscus Garden, you’ll be just a stone’s throw from the Bancao-Bancao neighborhood.
Best Hostel in Puerto Princesa – La Vida Hostel
A great retreat for backpackers and budget travelers, La Vida Hostel offers basic but undeniably comfortable accommodation in air-conditioned dorms.
If you want to network and connect with other travelers, you can always head to the common lounge area and find a travel buddy.
This hostel is close to some of the top bars and restaurants speckled across Rizal Avenue.
Best Airbnb in Puerto Princesa – Cozy 2 Bedroom Cottage
Located just a stone’s throw from Bancao-Bancao, this ridiculously charming cottage is surrounded by lush greenery.
With a swimming pool and an open kitchen, the cottage offers proximity to some of the top sights in Bancao-Bancao, including the popular Canigaran Beach.
Bedding options include regular double beds, floor mattresses aaaand…hammocks!
Barangay San Jose
The Philippines isn’t exactly an expensive destination, but if you’re looking for a super affordable place to stay in Puerto Princesa, then the barangay of San Jose absolutely has my vote!
For first-time visitors, I would say there’s no better spot in Puerto Princesa than lively Rizal Avenue. Whether you’d like to experience the nightlife, squeeze in some shopping, or munch your way through those local delicacies, Rizal Avenue is one of the most happening Puerto Princesa neighborhoods!
Let’s wrap up this list of best places to stay in Puerto Princesa with my personal favorite area in the city: Bancao-Bancao! For starters, it’s tucked in a quaint area of Puerto Princesa, away from the noise and bustle of the city.
Puerto Princesa’s Three Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Not only is Puerto Princesa home to some pretty impressive attractions, but it’s also got some great neighborhoods (locally known as barangays) to choose from.
Barangay San Jose stands out as an excellent choice for budget travelers seeking a comfortable stay in the Philippines. Offering plenty of inexpensive accommodation options, this neighborhood is perfect for travelers who’d like to experience a more authentic side of the city. Think busy streets lined with street food vendors, small, family-owned eateries, and colorful markets.
If it’s the nightlife that you’re after, be sure to check out the perpetually buzzing Rizal Avenue. This stretch of road isn’t super massive, but it does pack a punch! Friday and Saturday nights are always busy, with locals and tourists swarming around the bars and restaurants in the area.
Here’s a little tip for you: after an evening of booze and partying, there’s nothing that fights off a hangover better than a Buko puff from Catalina’s Bakershop on Rizal Avenue.
Traveling to the Philippines with the kids? We all know how difficult it can be to keep them entertained sometimes! This is why I would recommend that you drop anchor in Barangay Bancao-Bancao, which just so happens to be my favorite place to stay in Puerto Princesa!
What I like the most about this barangay is that while it’s still within driving distance of the top attractions near the city center, it’s tucked away in a tranquil coastal corner. This area also serves as an excellent starting point to explore to beautiful sites like Canigaran Beach.
1. Barangay San Jose – Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa on a Budget
The Philippines isn’t exactly an expensive destination, but if you’re looking for a super affordable place to stay in Puerto Princesa, then the barangay of San Jose absolutely has my vote! It has everything you need for a relaxing and cozy stay in Palawan at an unbeatable price.
What I personally loved the most about San Jose – other than the cheap prices, of course – is that it’s an excellent destination for mingling with the locals. Maybe you can find a homestay and immerse yourself in a rich cultural experience.
San Jose is exactly where you’ll experience Puerto Princesa in its most unvarnished form, away from those loud gaggles of overly excited tourists.
If your accommodation has a kitchen, be sure to head to the San Jose New Market, a popular market where you’ll find just about everything from fresh produce to local snacks or even collectibles and handcrafted souvenirs.
Best Hotel in Barangay San Jose: Microtel by Wyndham Puerto Princesa
With units for as little as $46 per night, Microtel by Wyndham Puerto Princesa lies just 15 minutes from San Jose.
Kickstart your day with a hearty complimentary breakfast, then head out to explore nearby attractions like the Butterfly Garden, the Baywalk, and Plaza Cuartel. After returning to the hotel, you can always head to the lobby for free coffee.
Oh, and did I mention the hotel is located smack on a private beach? Not bad for budget-friendly accommodations, right?
Best Hostel in Barangay San Jose: Green Turtle Backpackers Guesthouse
Another great option for budget travelers, this guesthouse comes with just about everything you need for one heck of a comfy stay!
Offering transportation to Port Barton and El Nido, the hostel also boasts a balcony hangout area where you can buy a beer and mingle with fellow travelers.
Be sure to check out the nearby Balayong People’s Park, which offers plenty of fun activities.
Best Airbnb in Barangay San Jose: Charming 3 Bedroom House for 8
Wondering where to stay in Puerto Princesa without breaking the bank? Well, this place’s got my vote for sure!
Located just a quick 10 minutes drive from San Jose, this charming house offers three bedrooms to comfortably sleep up to eight guests.
While you’ll be close to various eateries that serve the best Filipino food, rest assured that the space does offer a well-equipped kitchen that you can use to make your own meals.
Things to See and Do in Barangay San Jose
- Go island hopping and uncover the natural beauty of Starfish, Cowrie, and Luli Islands.
- Stroll around the San Jose New Market, a super lively place that’s open daily from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. I suggest heading there earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Relax in Mendoza Park, a beautiful green space that houses a 3-story City Gallery Tower, a pond, a fountain, and gorgeous Palawan cherry blossoms.
- Visit Kuyba Almoneca, a quaint meditation garden with a natural spring and cave.
- Sign up for a guided tour that’ll take you through the most popular Puerto Princesa spots in just half a day.
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For first-time visitors, I would say there’s no better spot in Puerto Princesa than lively Rizal Avenue.
Whether you’d like to experience the nightlife, squeeze in some shopping, or munch your way through those local delicacies, Rizal Avenue is one of the most happening Puerto Princesa neighborhoods!
Best of all, Rizal Avenue is an excellent jumping point to one of the most awe-inspiring national parks in the Philippines. In the afternoon, I recommend that you head over to the oceanfront Puerto Princesa City Baywalk, an area known for its beautiful sunsets.
Best Hotel in Rizal Avenue: Wanderlust Bed & Breakfast
One of the best places to stay in Puerto Princesa (at least according to me!), Wanderlust Bed & Breakfast offers various types of units – including Budget, Premium, and Quadruple rooms.
Offering a daily continental, vegetarian, or American breakfast, the hotel lies close to some of the top attractions in Puerto Princesa, including the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Palawan Museum. You’ll need your travel camera for this one!
After an exciting day of sightseeing, you can always wind down with a soothing body treatment at the hotel’s spa.
Best Hostel in Rizal Avenue: La Vida Hostel
With a stay at La Vida Hostel, you’ll be less than 5 minutes from Rizal Avenue’s eclectic establishments.
You’ll also be close to cultural venues like the Palawan Heritage Museum and the Palawan World War II Special Battalion Museum.
At the end of the day, kick back in the hostel’s common lounge to socialize with other travelers before enjoying a good night’s rest in the dorm or private room.
Best Airbnb in Rizal Avenue: Spacious 2-Bedroom Guesthouse
Cozy home comforts beckon at this charming guesthouse that’s perfectly suited for groups!
Now, this space does have two bedrooms to sleep four comfortably. If you need to squeeze in a few more guests, though, you can always take advantage of the floor mattresses, single beds, and sofa-bed.
There’s a kitchen that’s well-outfitted with everything you’ll need to prepare a meal, but with some of Rizal Avenue’s best eateries practically on your doorstep, why bother cooking, right?
Things to See and Do in Rizal Avenue
- Take a day trip to the popular Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
- Visit the historic Blue Church, which was built in 1872. Also known as the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, this building is especially known for its blue stained-glass windows and façade.
- Stroll the Puerto Princesa City Baywalk, a popular spot for watching the sunset.
- Check out cultural spots like the Palawan Heritage Museum, Plaza Cuartel, and the Palawan World War II Special Battalion Museum.
- Embark on a 1.5-hour trek to the Batak Tribe Village
3. Bancao-Bancao – Best Area in Puerto Princesa for Families
Let’s wrap up this list of the best places to stay in Puerto Princesa with my personal favorite area in the city: Bancao-Bancao!
For starters, it’s tucked in a quaint area of Puerto Princesa, away from the noise and bustle of the city. Parents traveling with children will be glad to learn that Bancao-Bancao lies just a short drive from Canigaran Beach.
Known for its crystalline waters and stretch of silky shoreline, this beach is an excellent spot for swimming or snorkeling. It does get a bit crowded in peak season, though, so you can always head over to the quieter Hartman Beach, located just 20 minutes from Bancao-Bancao.
Best Hotel in Bancao-Bancao: Hibiscus Garden Inn
Is there anything better than plunging into a refreshingly cool pool after a day of exploring under that famously sweltering Filipino heat? I think not!
Well, there’s no doubt that kids and adults will both enjoy splashing about in the Hibiscus Garden Inn’s outdoor pool. There’s also a restaurant offering both local and Italian-themed dishes.
Guests can choose from numerous units, including family rooms that can sleep up to five guests.
Best Hostel in Bancao-Bancao: Butterfly Totem Guesthouse
Kick back and relax in Deluxe 6-bed family rooms with a stay at this colorful Filipino Hostel!
With brightly-colored rooms, this family-run hostel offers daily breakfast – perfect for fueling up before heading out to explore nearby spots like the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.
With a stay at the hostel, you’ll also be close to family-friendly attractions like Mitra’s Ranch.
Best Airbnb in Bancao-Bancao: Cozy 2 Bedroom Cottage
Last on our list of top places to stay in Puerto Princesa is this ridiculously cozy cottage, which is literally just a 10-minute walk from the beach!
Surrounded by coffee trees, the cottage features an open kitchen and a swimming pool.
In the bedroom, you’ll find a double bed, two-floor mattresses, and even a super cool hammock! The living room is fitted with a crib, more floor mattresses, a double bed, and another hammock.
Things to See and Do in Bancao-Bancao
- Get some shopping done at Robinsons Mall, the second-largest mall in the Philippines.
- Visit the Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village.
- Take in the sun at Canigaran Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines.
- Savor a scrumptious fresh seafood feast at the Badjao Seafront Restaurant.
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What To Pack For Puerto Princesa
Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.
Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
Sea To Summit Micro Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
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Grayl Geopress Water Bottle
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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Puerto Princesa
Before you set off, getting good travel insurance is essential. You hope you don’t need it, but it’s not worth the risk.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa
With mind-blowing natural attractions, small-town charm, and spectacular beaches, Puerto Princesa is definitely one of my favorite tropical getaways! Whether you’re just passing by while backpacking the Philippines or planning a longer stay, this city definitely ticks all the boxes.
I hope this guide made it easier for you to figure out where to stay in the Philippines, but if you’re still on the fence, this cozy cottage surrounded by coffee trees totally has my vote! Or, if it’s budget-friendly accommodation that you’re after, be sure to check out the Green Turtle Backpackers Guesthouse.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!