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I did my ‘normal thing’ and used AGODA.COM to book my first 2 nights in Puerto Princesa in advance on the internet.
It looks like many of the Hotels over-value the price of their hotel rooms on purpose so that they can offer these ‘heavy discounts’!
I was disappointed with my room.
It was NOT 24sqm. At BEST, it was 12-15sqm. The ‘tv’ was 4 local channels and it only had a cold water shower that struggled to eject any water from the rose. You could not stand underneath it… you had to hold the shower head and point it at where you needed it.
One of the first things that you realise is that accommodation in Puerto Princesa is surprisingly expensive compared to all of the other S.E.Asia countries (that I have been to).
The Pension Del Flora has already made it to the top of my ‘least value for money’ accommodation in the year that I have been travelling so far… and, that includes the expensive accommodation that I found in Malaysia.
This may be true of the rest of The Philippines, I don’t know yet… I will let you know more as I travel around.
I created a ‘short list’ of properties to have a look at. There weren’t many within my GRANDPAcking price range:
The centre of town is not a ‘pretty place’. The traffic is noisy and congested and the only places within price range were Hostels and Backpackers. I decided to have a look at a couple of them for comparison purposes.
Otherwise, I was looking at least 1km from the centre of town.
Having spent my first night in the Del Flora already, it was also obvious that when you are that far out there are few restaurant and bar choices… the suburbs are very quiet, the roads are poorly lit at night, and it looked like it was going to be ‘home early’ every night…
It looked like I would need to combine my Hotel option with a Transport option.
For PHP10 you can catch a Tribike anywhere around the City (within about a 2km radius). This makes Tribikes a viable option. To go further afield you need to double ot treble that and, if late at night, expect to pay even more.
I planned to adventure out of PP so I decided to rent a scooter.
There are many rental places on Rizal Avenue. I visited most of them.
The ‘opening price’ is PHP600 / day for a basic scooter (old and tired). I negotiated at several and managed to get mine at PHP300 / day for 7 days. I had the choice of an automatic or a semi-automatic. I took the latter.
CHECKING OUT THE OUTSKIRTS:
I hit the east coast at the end of Rizal Avenue and then went north of the Airport to see what I could find there.
There isn’t much to find.
There are no nice beaches and no nice hotel spots.
This is beyond-suburbia. It confirmed that I needed to be closer to the centre of PP.
One of the most common photos that you find online is of the Baywalk. It gives an unrealistic impression of PP.
The Baywalk is an obvious focal point in the evenings and is very pleasant.
Get away from the Baywalk and you walk straight into chaotic streets.
I had already driven past the Ascendo and discounted it.
I checked out the Dallas Hostel. The room was worse than the one that I had at the Del Flora and they wanted PHP900 / night including breakfast (about US$20).
I drove past the places on Rizal Avenue. I didn’t stop. This is Backpacker territory…
I didn’t like the look of Aniceto’s.
I ended up choosing the Casitas De Az Pension. It was in the best suburban location on a reasonably tidy street.
A walk of 100m got you amongst local cafes and it was only a 1km walk to the Baywalk.
I walked in off the street to view a room. The asking price for a room the same size as the Del Flora was PHP900 / night. But, I knew that there was a ‘deal’ going on Agoda.
I drove back to the Del Flora and got online. I booked the Casitas for PHP600 / night. This included breakfast, cable TV, parking, aircon, and hot shower. With taxes, the total was PHP671 / night.
Accommodation prices in PP are higher than they should be. They are over-priced and do not compare well with elsewhere in S.E.Asia.
Don’t believe the room ‘discounts’ offered online. The room prices are inflated so that they can offer you these discounts.
My scooter rental, again, paid for itself. I managed to reduce my PHP890 / night Del Flora costs (including breakfast) to PHP671. A saving of PHP219 / day.
My scooter rental was PHP300 / day…
But, now I had freedom of movement and could go out on adventures every day.
I will tell you more about those adventures in later posts. I plan to go on several day trips out from PP.