Palawan is one of the crown jewels of the Philippines. Travel magazines like Conde Nast, and Travel + Leisure Magazine consider it as one of the best tropical islands in the world. Palawan is also a great alternative for tourists who want to experience crystal clear waters and fine white sand without having to deal with the crowd and party atmosphere of Boracay. If you are planning a trip to our island paradise, when is the best time of the year for you to go?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the Philippines are a tropical archipelago prone to typhoons and weather disturbances. Flights frequently gets delayed or cancelled if the weather becomes severe. Fortunately for travelers, Palawan is rarely visited by typhoons and enjoys a fairly good weather. Palawan has two distinct seasons each year, a dry season from December to May, and a rainy season from the month of June up to November.
Coming to Palawan during the Dry Season
The months of December to May is the best time to go to Palawan if you want to make the most out of your visit. These are the months when visitors can take part in all of the activities Palawan has to offer. There are island hopping tours that can take you to see the famed limestone karsts of El Nido which are similar to the ones that you can see in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Karabi in Thailand, and Guilin in China.
The said tours will take you to several islands that you can explore. The most popular are tours A, B, and C. These tours are incredibly enjoyable especially with good weather. Doing so while avoiding the crowd is even better. If that is your plan, then booking a private tour will make it even better since you can go about on your own pace and have the islands all for yourself.
Going to Palawan during the dry season also means that all of the tourist attractions are available for guests. Rain showers brought by the monsoon season mean higher waves and rougher seas so some islands and lagoons may not be accessible to tours. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is also off limits during bad weather and divers will surely miss out on exploring this massive underwater ecological haven.
One of Palawan’s top destination, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, sometimes gets flooded during heavy rains and is closed to tours. Calauit Safari Park, Palawan’s game and wildlife preserve, often gets muddy during the rainy season. Avid hikers will also have to forego their trip since hiking trails get slippery during the monsoon season.
One upside of visiting Palawan, and even anywhere in the Philippines, during the dry season is getting to experience the Christmas season, Philippines style. The Philippines has the longest Christmas Season anywhere in the world and guests can start experiencing it starting every September up to the first week of January. The usually serene streets are brighter because of the lighted Christmas lanterns hanging from lamp posts. Residences are also adorned with Christmas decorations and lighted with Christmas lights during the night. There are also local delicacies like bibingka (a type of rice cake) that are only served during the Christmas Season.
Going to Palawan during the Monsoon Months
The rainy season is the ideal time to go to Palawan for visitors who are not accustomed to tropical climate. During the dry season, daily temperatures can reach up to 33° Celsius (91.4° Fahrenheit) with very high humidity. This may be exhausting and can pose problems for those who are used to temperate climate. There are still island-hopping tours available but the boat ride will be less smooth sailing.
The monsoon months also attracts fewer tourists so it is the ideal season for those who want a bit more solitude. Fewer tourists means you don’t have to compete with a crowd for Instagram-worthy pictures.
Since June to November is the off-peak season for Palawan, another perk that visitors can take advantage of is the lower price of accommodations. Off-peak prices are usually cheaper by up to $100 per night. You can say that this is the ideal season for bargain hunters. Most resorts and hotels come up with “rainy day” promotions or special events in a bid to increase business during these lean months. Fewer guests also mean that hotel and resort staff have extra time to make sure that your stay will be memorable.
Airfare to and from Palawan can also be costly during the peak season of May to December. However, local airlines have discounted fares during off-peak season and it can be cheaper by up to 80 percent compared to regular airfare. Visitors should just be prepared to deal with flight delays due to inclement weather.
Palawan has a lot to offer to all would-be visitors and the best time to go there depends on what guests wanted to get out of the numerous experiences that Palawan has to offer. Whether it is laxing away on a secluded beach, enjoying a quiet time alone, or a romantic sunset dinner with a love one, any time can be the best time to visit Palawan.