It’s been a great mystery to me while we’ve been building Binga Beach Resort – why do so many lodgings around Palawan leave so much to be desired?
It’s taking us a long time to build up our resort, first we have the challenge of building in such a remote, barely accessible location (but now very accessible with the newly constructed roads and airports) and then delays now with the coronavirus. During all this time we have stayed in many other hotels, hostels, glamping resorts, campings on the beach, sleeping on boats you name it we’ve done it.
What we’ve found is it’s hard to find great value, “wow” experiences without spending way too much money. Why is that? My quick guess is that so much of Palawan has up until now been relatively remote such that construction costs for accommodations to achieve global standards were so high that hotels have to charge high prices to recoup their investments. Infrastructure for tourism hasn’t existed here long, so everything is a first attempt and needs iteration.
Despite that, there are some diamonds in the rough where you’ll get great service, a great room, a great experience, at a good value.
The following are our personal favorites per city, starting in Puerto Princesa and heading north. You’re going to this town? Stay here. We’ll have more complete guides for each of these destinations to follow.
Yeah, you want to stay at our buddy Steve’s place. It’s the exception to all the moaning and groaning I spilled above. It’s an amazing AirBnB at about $60 a night, and you get your own huge hexagonal open-air house, with a huge surrounding deck platform and patios, with custom woodwork everywhere, and reached by a winding wooden bridge through coffee trees. It sits behind his own custom home and small pool and outdoor deck. You’re like in the jungle, in Puerto Princesa and it feels like you’re worlds away.
Was that booked? Stay here in Puerto Princesa instead:
The Cleon Villa is a passion project years in the making by owner Rain and his vision shows with its uniqueness. Each ‘room’ is actually a standalone villa, suspended over a pond running the whole length of the property, each with their own patio and plenty of interior space. Tall foxtail palms line the perimeter for an exotic and exclusive feel. Great meals are served in the shaded outdoor patio area and it feels like you’re almost arrived at your exotic destination despite still being inside the city.
Another winner in Puerto is the Guni Guni Hostel via the very experienced management of Floral Island private island resort listed at the bottom of the article here.
Got a flight to catch? The absolute best place to stay near the airport and gather your strength is the Acacia Tree Garden Hotel. One of our favorite places. Clean bathrooms and great staff. The pool is amazing, there is a huge covered lounge area and the hotel is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Princesa.
Every time we’re in Port Barton, we’re counting on great service, great food, and big and clean rooms at the Hotel Oasis. Just a couple blocks back from the beach (not a problem really, few if any rooms actually point towards the sea here) This is a welcome respite in Port Barton, as we’ve tested too many poorly run and decrepit hostels and hotels in Port Barton that just plain suck.
Cool kids’ option: the Spaniards’ place called Lunazul – white concrete place with great breakfasts and very nice hot showers.
San Vicente – Long Beach
San Vicente has a new airport, but barely any places to stay, weird.
For the best service / price ratio head on over to our buddy TonTon’s place called Nativo d’Kubo. He’s got a great swimming pool which makes up for not being right on the beach, but you can still get to the beach via a short commute. The rooms are all little private bamboo bungalows, very neat and cozy. I spent a whole afternoon dozing on one of the patios, how’d that happen?
While you’re in San Vicente get the best Italian food in town at Marina Terrace, rooms also available there with the welcome bonus of very cold aircon.
You’re almost to Binga, why are you stopping here?! The beach isn’t as good and… Well nevermind, the people at Victoria’s Beach House are great and the vibe is really cool, and you’re right on the beach. They held our Binga Beach partner’s guitar behind the bar for over a year so he could use it on every visit! Sometimes you can surf here, the owner is very good and friendly.
What’s the coolest new resort in the whole world? Our place of course, Binga Beach Resort. Are we open yet? Not as of June 2020 but check back asap. Why are we amazing? Huge glamping cabins with exotic hardwood floors, big patios, cogan grass rooves, lots of space between units and right on a super gorgeous white sand beach. With lots of included adventure activities, great food, and no other tourists around, it’s like a remote private wonderland halfway between Port Barton and El Nido… Check out our article What and Where is Binga Beach to get a better idea.
Mass tourism. Lots of people, a little chaos. Maybe there is less now post-Covid? Probably, so give it a shot. The sights in the bays and seas are super worth it, in any case. You can do such cool things as SCUBA trips or lessons.
But the hotel scene is a letdown. Firstly, if you really need some corporate style comfort you’ve got the Lio Beach complex of something like 6 hotels, our favorite among them being Casa Kalaw. Yes, it’ll take you up to an hour to check out. Yes, there will be mystery charges and shenanigans on your room bill. (just kidding, maybe?, hopefully not)
They do, however, have a big nice and clean beachy area for kids to run around in. A good handful of restaurants and bars. Hotels have pools. You’ll feel safe and things mostly work so this might be a welcome change if you’ve been roughing it on the way here (and didn’t wisely stop to recharge at Binga Beach – what were you thinking? Shame.)
Less corporate, though very popular now, our choice is Spin Designer Hostel. Well-designed and very friendly shared and small rooms establishment that does the job well. It’s a few blocks back from the crowded port and bay area, but that’s a good thing to be out of the mess a little.
If you’re young enough to sleep on a cot with a bunch of other people at cheap rates so you can stay close to the bar and beach and have fun go to Mad Monkey Hostel, it’s worth the adventure to be on this beach that feels remote and so cool. Nacpan is amazing and worth a visit.
Duli Secret Surf Beach
We’re reluctant to share this as we don’t want it blowing up too much, but we’re also fond of the owners and want them to succeed so, double edged sword and here it is, the Duli Beach Resort. Simple construction cabins right on one of the best beaches for surfing in Northern Palawan, set right in front of a big hillside cliff for a truly exotic feel. Surfboard rentals and lessons available, and their little café on the beach is so cool. (we’re jealous really, great real estate here, wow)
Honeymoon? Lottery winnings?
You didn’t say money was no object! Well then in that case goodness gracious let’s reach for the stars – there are private islands in reach right off the main Palawan island. Check out our buddies’ fantastic resorts detailed here in the blog article: The Top Upscale and Luxury Private Islands in Palawan
Any other places you’re curious about? We’ve traveled the whole island extensively so if you have needs can contact us and we’ll help you out. Safe travels!