Johnny Jet: Palawan, Philippines from Above and Below


johnny jet palawan

Thank you to Johnny Jet for sharing our story from Palawan in the Philippines.

Having heard that Palawan in the Philippines is a worthwhile destination from a variety of travelers over the years, I was excited to be heading to the island’s capital, Puerto Princesa. Rissa Gatdula-Lumontad and Ricky Tio at Cebu Holiday Tours set up our accommodation and itinerary in advance, and so we were picked up at the airport by a representative from Hotel Centro, a misnomer since the hotel is located a few kilometers outside of the city center in a quiet area near Robinsons Place Palawan mall.

Room at Hotel Centro

Constructed only two years ago in 2011, Hotel Centro has a variety of rooms to choose from including deluxe, superior, as well as honeymoon and family suites. The hotel puts on grill nights near the pool and has implemented an eco-friendly stance with programs to help the environment, such as their towel initiative; Hotel Centro was in fact awarded the 2011 Puerto Princesa City’s Cleanest and Greenest hotel award and is the 2012 Gold Circle Award.

The “Soul Pool Bar” offers Happy Hour discounts each night (60-peso local beers from 5 pm-8 pm; 50%-off margaritas and mojitos from 8 pm-11 pm) to help guests kick off evenings while relaxing at the bar adjacent to the pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. Hotel Centro’s amenities include a souvenir shop, fitness center, spa, business center and five conference venues. Fine dining is available for clients at Expressions Café but we had a romantic date night at Badjao Seafront, a highly recommended oceanside seafood restaurant where we sampled shrimp salad, crab soup and a tuna filet served with a side of vegetables and rice.

Navigating the underground river

Navigating the underground river Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

After a comfortable night’s sleep, we departed to the underground river at Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps Palawan’s biggest tourist draw alongside El Nido. The underground river is also cited as number two of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Formed by limestone karst formations, the underground river is open from 8:30 am-3:30 pm and issues 900 daily permits (which must be secured ahead of time; tour groups like AMIKA Tours can make the arrangements). We were picked up by April, a representative of AMIKA Tours, and en route we passed by Puerto Princesa’s largest mountain, Mt. Cleopatra. In keeping with Palawan’s theme of cleanliness and green eco-tourist stance, solar streetlights and trash free streets were evident.


Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. Look for her memoir in Fall 2023 from Post Hill Press/Simon and Schuster. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.7 million views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.7 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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