The biggest turn-off when it comes to going out of town, aside from the airfare, is the accommodation. Sure, most figures may come out as “just okay” but when you add it up to three or even more days, you’d be surprised at how much the amount could burn a hole in your pocket.
The biggest achievement I’ve had so far for our DIY (mostly) trip to Puerto Princesa is the hostel we stayed at. Although it has become very popular since being recommended by Lonely Planet (not just Trip Advisor, mind you), it still maintains its quaint and rustic feel that would make you forget that you are actually within city limits – seriously.
Banwa Guesthouse and Art Cafe is mostly popular to foreigners so do not be surprised if you are the only local during your stay. For the entire three days, I never really saw fellow Filipinos staying there although there were some who had lunch at their common area/cafe.
Upon entering the hostel, this is what greets you.
They have well-maintained wooden floors, too, and among their house rules include going barefoot when inside the premises. You could simply leave your pricey flip-flops, sandals or shoes and they won’t get stolen – I promise!
Their room choices are as follows:
– Priestess. A large private room with a queen-sized bed and a private bathroom with hot and cold shower. 900PHP (~20USD).
– Primera. A smaller private room with double compact bed and a private bathroom. 800PHP (~18USD)
– Quarta. A small private room downstairs with double compact bed and a shared bathroom. 600PHP (~13USD)
– Segunda. A small private room downstairs with double compact bed and a shared bathroom. 600PHP (~13USD)
– Dormitory 1. A large room with 6 beds and a shared bathroom. 350PHP (~8USD) per bed
– Dormitory 2. A large room with 8 beds and a private bathroom. 350PHP (~8USD) per bed
– Extra Mattress, which can only be added to Priestess and Primera rooms. 250PHP (~6USD)
We stayed at the Priestess room with an additional mattress. Thankfully all five adults, one child and one infant fit in the room. We paid only 3450PHP (~77USD) for the entire 3-day stay.
I realized that it was actually a really good deal – we talked to another group at the airport on the way back to Cebu and found out that they paid 31000PHP (~690USD) for five adults and about the same number of days as ours.
Here’s a look inside the Priestess room (sorry about the mess):
The door leads to the room’s private bathroom.
A look into the common area/restaurant:
Right before the entrance to the restaurant are two shared bathrooms being used by dormitory room guests. Don’t be surprised to see half naked men walking around the lobby and hallway!
As our room had no TV, we stayed at the common area during the night and played a few games of sungka. No one else was there to play since most guests were foreigners.
The place is also very artsy, if you haven’t noticed.
Another great thing about the place is that they weren’t too pricey. The kitchen is open from 6AM to 9PM. We ordered most of the daughter’s meals from here since she had strict dietary requirements (haha that’s mostly my fault). They have great choices and also cater to vegan guests. They were also very kind to grant my request of not adding salt to our food (that’s the special dietary requirement haha).
The daughter really enjoyed their homemade yogurt which costs 50PHP (~1.12USD).
I have nothing else but good things to say about the place. Our experience there was great and the staff was very friendly and accommodating. Okay, maybe we did have a problem with our sink but we never really complained about it so it was not fixed. Haha.
Also, all their rooms are fan rooms (NO AIRCON!) but you won’t really feel that it’s hot since the place is all wood! The room rates also do not include meals. They provide mosquito nets upon request but we saw one hanging above our bed. They also have an open lounge area with cable TV, which we did not get to see.
Other services also include Wi-Fi access, tour bookings, van/car/motorcycle rentals, pick-up/drop-off laundry services and packed lunches for individual private tours.