Palawan in the Philippines is where you’ll find the country’s blockbuster sights: the 12 Japanese warships sunk in Coron Bay; the limestone karsts of El Nido and Bacuit Bay; and the Unesco-recognised Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a staggering 8km (5mi) of limestone caves. See them all with a stay in one of these hotels in Palawan, bookable on Culture Trip.
This rustic boutique hotel occupies 30ha (74 acres) of virgin rainforest on the east side of Ulugan Bay. Suites come with Filipino-style bamboo beds, a rattan lounge set and a forest-view balcony; upgrade to a villa for a huge semicircular balcony with hammocks and loads of indoor space. Wake up to the sound of birdsong, and get in an early morning workout in the fitness centre; refresh in the pool before tucking into a platter of coconut, mango and papaya at the restaurant.
One of the most distinctive hotels in Palawan, the Hue is an architectural oddity: a white-and-brown cube from which a crystal seems to grow, not to mention the glass cutout pool on the roof. Rooms are less disorienting but just as design-forward – woven rattan mats, all-white bathrooms and textile-inspired wall graphics. Indulge in a hot-stone massage at Amihan Spa, and follow it up with crispy beef tapa at the Filipino-Mexican La-ud restaurant. Staff can arrange firefly-watching dinners and excursions to Honda Bay and the Underground River.
Despite its location on a busy highway, 10 minutes south of El Nido town, the Focus lives up to its name with quiet rooms simply decorated with geometric lamps and hardwood beds. Limestone-cliff views and a lush garden filled with banana trees and bird-of-paradise flowers further insulate you from the world. Manager Mitch and her team serve a continental breakfast each morning and can help with booking island-hopping tours.
Far enough from the busy centre of Coron to be quiet, yet only a 12-minute walk away from it, Vela Terraces is the ideal base for island-hopping or diving the shipwrecks. Unfussy rooms come with air conditioning, complimentary bottled water and basic bathroom amenities. Climb nearby Mount Tapyas at sunset for the best view on the island, and return to platters of fish and seafood on banana leaves at the on-site Manggis restaurant.
Simultaneously right next to El Nido airport yet a world away, this eco-boutique is part of the Lio Beach estate. Visitors have access to resort activities including paddleboarding, beach volleyball, surfing and kayaking. Of course, you can also use the outdoor pool and the game lounge with billiards in the hotel. Enjoy bangus fish in a banana leaf at Kalaw Cafe, and wash it down with a cold San Miguel beer at Kalaw Bar.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live on your own island, this comes pretty close. A 30-minute boat ride from Coron Town, it’s the largest private-island resort in the region, with 54 stilted villas seemingly floating on the sea. You could fill several weeks with scuba diving, kayaking, jet-skiing, glass-bottomed boat rides, island hopping – the list goes on. At night, choose from Filipino or international food from three different restaurants before participating in the time-honoured Philippine tradition of karaoke.
This cheery boutique is part of the Lio Estate, right next to El Nido airport. The 20 air-conditioned rooms sport colourful, contemporary furnishings and have hot showers and free wifi. Take breakfast in the restaurant before heading out to the Lio Beach resort, which offers a roster of watersports including windsurfing, kayaking and skimboarding. There’s also a free shuttle service to El Nido town – not something all hotels in Palawan can offer.
Mere steps from El Nido ferry terminal, this leafy, art-filled boutique is perfect for couples who want a classy bolthole in which to relax between island-hopping excursions. Each room is different: some come with free-standing tubs, others with rainfall showers, rattan egg chairs and capiz-shell pendant lamps. Tuck into fresh, healthful breakfasts of banana pancakes, crepes, smoothie bowls and mangoes.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.