Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa

The Palawan trip  required me to find accommodations in Puerto Princesa: one night before we proceed to Taytay and another night after leaving Taytay.  My trusted site when it comes to online hotel booking is Agoda. I booked with them early this year with our Malacca trip and the process went smoothly.

What I like about Agoda is that I can arrange my search according to hotel ratings based on user reviews.  Casitas de Az is one of the hotels that often showed up in my search. It is actually a pension house and judging from the photos, the place looks new. I especially like the white linens. I like white hotel linens because it makes the room look clean. Besides one can easily determine if the sheet is clean or not when it is white. What seals the deal for  Casitas de Az is their free airport shuttle. It eliminates the hassle of having to haggle with a taxi, tricycle or jeepney drivers.  Two weeks before the trip, I already booked this accommodation.

When we arrived Puerto Princesa, I was expecting someone carrying name will be waiting for us.

Alas! No one came. The tourist assistance desk came to the rescue and paged the driver for us.  Still, no one came.  I looked for a phone and it was suggested that I should ask assistance from  the tourist assistance center. The person manning the area was kind enough to dial the pension house for me. It took several tries before the call went through.  Thanks to the assistance of Puerto Princesa tourist desk, we finally arrived at our home for that night. I guess you need to call them the day before as a reminder. I thought the flight number I typed in the my booking was enough.

The room is pretty basic but it had everything we need: air-conditioning and a bathroom.

The bathroom door squeaks though but it was not a bother.  The room comes with free breakfast for two. Because we were leaving early the next day, we arranged that our breakfast be served early at around 5:30 AM. When we woke up the next day, breakfast was already waiting for us outside. (The late airport pickup was forgiven. hehe!)

The pension house is located in a residential area. When we first arrived, I remembered passing by ABS-CBN station.  When we went home that night from Robinson’s, we told the driver that we were going back to Casitas de Az and mentioned the street name. The driver asked if it was the one near the cemetery. Huh? I did not see any cemetery so I quickly replied that it was near ABS-CBN.  The following day, when we were picked by our tricycle driver, we saw a wide open area near the pension house.  The entrance caught our attention because there was some kind of sculpture. Tantananan! It was a cemetery! My aunt exclaimed that had she known that the night before, she would not have slept well.

Would I recommend the pension house to others? Yes.  It is clean and very accessible.

I was supposed to book another night in Casitas de Az since we need a place to stay after our trip to Taytay but the rooms I wanted were already booked so I looked for another hotel.  I picked the cheapest accommodation I can find that is near the airport. Palawan Village Hotel came up in my search results. I already read the reviews so I knew the place is quite old but as long as it is clean, I will be fine.

This is how the standard room looks like.

The bathroom is clean but the tiles are old and I can hear the sound from the neighbor’s television.

That locked door is scary. It connects to the executive room beside our room. We made sure it is locked and bolted. 😀

The actual door is really a sliding french door attached to this window covered with this pink curtain shown by my aunt.

All rooms open to this garden.

Would I recommend the place to friends? Yes,  especially those who want just a clean place to sleep.

For those who might not like these accommodations, there are a lot more hotels in Palawan. Just go out and travel!

The Tale of Two Hotels

Hotels are pretty expensive in Singapore. I was ready to book a hostel and share a room and bathroom with other tourists. Staying in a hostel sounds  fun. You get to meet fellow travelers. And based on the photos I have seen, hostel guests really have fun. However, my aunt was not too keen about sharing personal space with strangers.  She feared that something bad might happen us for which I quickly replied, “Singapore is a city of fines. They penalize people for acts as simple as chewing a gum or eating in a bus. Imagine their penalty for grave crimes. ” Nevertheless, I looked for hotel for us.

South East Asia Hotel is highly recommended by Filipino tourists in the two forums I frequent.  The advantage is that I do not have to pay in advance which is a plus point for a non-credit card user like me.  Room for 2 costs only SGD100 a night.  This is expensive than the hostel rate in Hong Kong so I looked for savings in other ways like sleeping in the airport and taking a bus trip at night.

All I had to do was e-mail the hotel and reserve a room. In less than two days, I got a reply and it was agreed upon that they will reserve the room for us as long as we arrive at the hotel before 9 AM on the date of our arrival.

I am a DIY traveler so bloopers are expected.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sotheysaytome/7058982879/

 

We walked quite far before realizing that there is a shorter route to the hotel. We entered the hotel through the adjacent vegetarian restaurant. HA!

I was wondering why there was no one manning the reception and the guy in the restaurant did not bother to accommodate us.  Good thing the lady in the reception noticed and called us.  The room was not yet ready so I just paid the fees and we left our bags with her while we set off to our itinerary for the day.

We were back in the evening and a different lady was in the reception so I informed her that I already paid for our room but I do not know what the room number is and that we also left our bags this morning. She gave us our key and told me to go to the other door to get our bags.  She opened the door and she was untying the strings on the luggage near the door which isn’t ours. I was quick to say, “These are not our bags.  Those are ours”, pointing to the bags near the table. So I walked to pick them up for which she sternly replied, “You stay in the door.” Oops, I might have trespassed into unauthorized area.  It was just two steps! Anyway, she handed me the bags. I asked her our room number since we do not know. She replied in the same stern voice, “Where is your key?”.  Then I saw the room number. Then, I asked again, “Where are the rooms? What floor?”. (Humirit pa ako!) She told me to look at the keys again.  Then,  I saw the number 4 before the room number. 4th floor.  Sorry po. Tao lang. 

Ignorance is bliss, they say. Bloopers kept on coming. When we arrived in our room, it was dark. There was a flashlight in my bag. It was locked so I searched for my bag’s keys to unlock. Using the flashlight, we were able to find the switch but the lights won’t turn on. I decided to go back to the reception area and braced myself for a little scolding from the unaccommodating receptionist.  I grabbed the keys and after I locked the door, I realized I grabbed my bag’s keys and not the room key. Argh. We were locked out. Oh my! I was prepared to be shouted at.  I had no choice.

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God heard my prayers because the unaccommodating receptionist was busy. Another person helped me. And I found out that we only have to do this on the box near the door for the lights to turn on. HA! Probinsiyana-moment!

The room size was just right.

Sorry about the mess. I was unpacking.

There was a water heater for the coffee and tea they provided.

There was also a hotel phone which I used to call my friends’ cellphones. When I checked out, I was only billed SGD0.20 for the calls. That’s around Php7 only!

Overall, the hotel experience was okay. I will book this hotel if I travel to Singapore again with people who want to stay in a hotel. Otherwise, I will try those fun hostels. 😀

The Casa Blanca Guest House Experience

Since this post says “The Tale of Two Hotels”,  here goes the other hotel story. Actually, this is not a hotel. It is a guest house- a house that is converted into a transient space.  We stayed overnight in Malacca and I picked this place because it has a room with an ensuite bathroom and it has  good ratings in Agoda.

By the way,  my Agoda experience was a breeze. I have read of other people experiences- complaining about their unsuccessful bookings with Agoda. I was a bit apprehensive. However, we were only staying for one night so there was not much loss in my part. Luckily, I never experienced such an inconvenience. I was glad they accepted Paypal payments.  Because I had a pleasant experience with Agoda, I will book with Agoda again next time I’ll need a hotel.

We rang the doorbell and nice Chinese gentleman greeted us at the door. He knew we were arriving and showed us how to open the front door. It had an automatic lock system. A button near in the wall should be pressed before going outside so that the door will be opened. Along with the room key  was a card to use to open the front door. All we need to do was to press the card at the security box outside the door for it to open.  (Take that, SEA hotel!)

The room was spacious. I could do cartwheels inside (if only I still knew how).

I was not crazy about the bathroom design. That said, we were more than happy with this clean bathroom.

The host admitted that he knows little English. Excellent service makes up for incorrect grammar. Communication is shared understanding and I understood this sign well.

There is a self-service kitchen. Guest can help themselves with anything available here. For breakfast, I made coffee and got some bread here.

There was also a bike for rent in the porch.  Roaming around Malacca is more convenient with a bike, if only I re-learned how to ride one.

I will definitely recommend this guest house to friends.

Two type of accommodations, two different experiences, two enriched travelers.