Puerto Princesa, Philippines

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Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan in the Philippines, is home to 250,000 people and offers a vastly different experience from Manila’s often overwhelming big-city dynamism. For many travelers, it’s simply a gateway to the resorts of El Nido, also on Palawan Island. Those who spend some time here, however, will discover a city that combines a laid-back vibe with beautiful sandy beaches and a wealth of marine life. Nearby, there are also lush mountains, rain forests, waterfalls and dramatic limestone cliffs. Among the most popular sights are the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where visitors are welcome to celebrate Mass accompanied by choral singing; the Palawan Heritage Center, which displays local artworks and crafts; and the peaceful Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village. The city's biggest draws, however, are a boat trip through the limestone caves of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, and the beaches and islands scattered around scenic Honda Bay—perfect for snorkeling, sunbathing and picnics. Speaking of food, a visit to the most famous restaurant in the city, Kalui, is guaranteed to be a memorable experience for seafood fans; adventurous foodies can order crocodile sisig, a traditional—and delicious—stir-fry dish.
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