Travel Tips: 10 Things I Learned About Coron

It's been a while since I went on an independent journey, so I was as giddy as a preschooler on her first field trip the day of my Coron flight. Just as I boarded the bombardier plane, it was Traveler Mode: ON. And it stayed on until I was back in Manila 2 days after.

Coron gave me a taste of Palawan that lingered so much so that I wanted to book another flight back there to experience more. Of course, I wouldn't have made it alive without the help of some friendlies I met, from the person sitting next to me in the plane, to the stranger I travelled with on the way back to the airport. In my 3 days in Coron, I learned quite a few things about the place, some of which would be really helpful for first-timers. So here are 10 things (I think) every Coron traveler should know:

About Coron

1. Arriving in Coron - The airport in Coron is actually located in the Island of Busuanga (boos-wang-ga) in a town named after the same island (airport code USU). Coron Island is the large island facing Coron town. Confusing, eh? Anyway, it's about 30 minutes to get to Coron town proper by van (fare P150).

2. The airport cows - Grazing cows welcome arriving passengers as soon as they drive out of Busuanga airport. From what I heard, the cows were part of the late president Marcos's project to turn Palawan into a tourism frontier. They're said to be imported from New Zealand. It was an odd sight for a city girl like me since I've never seen that many cows outside of a Monterey farm.

3. Cuyunon - Busuanga Island is a part of Palawan's Calamian group of islands. The major dialect spoken there is supposedly Cuyunon, but in Coron town proper, pretty much everyone speaks English and Tagalog (National language). A lot of the people are migrants from other parts of the country. But nobody is a stranger, everybody knows everybody in town.

Accomodation and Tours

4. Coron hotels - Coron offers different types of accommodations, depending on the traveler's preference and budget. A lot of them are right smack in the town center while others are a tricycle ride away. Some lodging houses are located above the waters on the bay like the Seadive Resort, Coron Backpacker Guesthouse and Crystal Lodge. Although I liked the idea of staying near the water, getting there requires about a 2-minute walk on stilt paths - not good for a female soloist like me (or a drunk male) at night. It also got me wondering where the waste water goes, so I opted for the ones inland.

5. Getting around - Tricycles are the main means of transportation around the town. It seemed like jeepneys are saved for long distance destinations and delivery of produce. But walking is an even healthier option. The town proper is small enough to be toured on foot, from the harbor center, to the Roro port, all the way to Mt. Tapyas viewdeck 700+ steps above the sea! (Yes, i went on foot to these places)

6. Island hopping - It used to be that you have to rent your own boat and pay entrance fees at every island/destination you wish to visit, spending upwards P2000 on a single day tour if you don't have company. Now, the island tours have been packaged so that tourists can simply sign up for a tour and the operator would pool them together to maximize each boat trip. These new island tour packages start at P600 per person and come with buffet lunch (rates vary depending on the destinations included in the package). DIY-ing it is still possible if you want to take full control of your boat.

Business in Coron

7. Souvenirs - When shopping for take-home gifts, only 3 things stood out for me: dried seafood, cashew nuts and handwoven baskets. I was surprised to find out that the major pasalubong (take-home gift) item, cashews, was only harvested once-a-year (Feb-May). So sellers have to keep them stocked for as long as 8 months to make sure they have cashews to sell all year round. Bring a recyclable bag if you can because Coron is a no-plastic city.

8. Business - Coron town proper is still provincial at best. Establishments generally close early; the latest restaurants would stay up is around 10PM. Some banks are visible, such as BPI and Landbank but you'd still want to have cash with you because when I was there, the phone lines went down and some tourists couldn't withdraw any money. Sun cellular (mobile service provider) signal was poor (in fact, zilch), but I assume that would improve since Sun has been absorbed by Smart.

9. Rotating brownout - There's a shortage of power in Palawan, so in Coron, they implement a rotating brownout scheme. It's like the rolling blackout of the US, but in a small scale. At night, you could be walking on a street where people are eating in candle light to your left side and people singing videoke on your right. When I came back to town from Maquinit hot springs, we passed by a blacked out street but I could see the lone cross atop Mt. Tapyas all lit up in glory (which was quite ironic, nobody needed light up there at that time of the night).

10. Food - Food in Coron is nothing special, when you eat in carinderias. I expected cheap seafood, but no, seafood is sold at a premium. Small al-fresco restaurants that dot the town offer them but I felt they're too pricey for a budget traveler like me. Apparently, good seafood bounty are all exported to Manila (and onwards to other countries including Japan and China). When some food are exported, some are imported. A local Palaweno told me that most meats and even vegetables are imported from Manila! Oh, and the beer, too. So that explained the food prices.

Coron is fast developing but still has that provincial charm that backpackers love. 3 days was only enough to explore the town and a handful of islands. There are still a lot to explore in this part of Northern Palawan, and I intend to share them with you when I come back!

Check out my other articles on Coron here:
Coron tour itinerary (3D/2N)
Biking in Coron's backyard
List of Coron accommodations

1 comment:

  1. Hi, how much ang naging budget mo for the 3 days.. if you don't mind. Thanks.


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