One of the most protected provinces in the whole of the Philippines, shopping isn't the main priority in Palawan. Still, there are several shopping destinations in the capital city of Puerto Princesa and the coastal resorts. The best buys include fashion jewellery, local handicrafts, shell craft, woodcarvings and fruits. Also, check out the Ihawig Penal Farm, which sells woodcarvings and handicrafts made by prisoners or Binuatan Weaving Creations, which forms part of our Puerto Princesa City Tour, where you can purchase bags, rugs and shoes made by the gifted weavers.
In general, shopping in Palawan is very affordable; items in the department store have a fixed price, but you are encouraged to haggle when shopping for souvenirs.
This Palawan Shopping Guide tells you where to shop and what to shop for whilst on your Palawan holiday. Because we all know that shopping can work up an appetite, we will also provide you with information on Palawan restaurants. Check out our Philippines Shopping page for information about shopping around the country.
Palawan Shopping Guide
In Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, basic needs and commodities are easily accessible. There are department stores, convenience stores, groceries, and pharmacies throughout the city that are complete with personal effects, clothing, accessories, medicines, and just about anything you need for a comfortable holiday in Palawan. There are banks and ATM machines throughout the city, and major credit cards are accepted at most accommodations but for shopping it is best to bring enough cash.
Souvenir shops around town carry beautifully made handcrafted goods in Palawan that make for lovely gifts to any home. They usually carry a wide range of exotic wooden furniture and décor. Beautiful pearls, native goods, and fashion accessories made from local materials can also be found. Because many souvenir shops usually carry the same products, it is recommended to check out other shops that may sell the product for a cheaper price.
In the sleepy province town of El Nido, there are no department stores or large groceries. For toiletries and medicines, Farmacia Comprendio has just about everything you need. If you are travelling from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, it is highly recommended that you purchase what you need in Puerto Princesa prior to your departure.
Small shops that line the streets in El Nido sell a range of souvenirs as well, such as sarongs and native products. The El Nido Art Boutique carries accessories, clothing, modern swimwear, and travel necessities such as sun block, insect repellent, and toiletries. Not to mention they also have a fantastic selection of European dishes, seafood, delicious organic vegetables and refreshing fruit shakes!
Don't forget to bring reusable bags if you plan to do shopping - minimise, or even better, completely avoid the use of plastic bags.
There are no banks or ATM's in El Nido, so it is wise to bring enough cash for your trip. The only places that accept credit cards are top end resorts and the El Nido Art Boutique.
Local crafts include everything from pearls, bracelets, earrings, necklaces to key chains, woodcarvings, furniture, souvenir shirts, rain makers, key chains and refrigerator magnets! The thing to remember is that prices vary depending on the place where you make your purchases, so it is recommended to check out other shops that may sell the product for a cheaper price.
Artisans sell a variety of handicrafts in Palawan, but most of these products can be bought within Puerto Princesa itself. Palawan Handicrafts, a shop on Libis Road, is a good place to get started.
You will find great gift items and souvenirs, which include decorative and creative home ware. Other souvenir shops along Rizal Avenue also carry beautifully made handcrafted goods that make for lovely accents to any home. They also sell a wide range of exotic wooden furniture and décor.
Many artisans sell lampshades, necklaces, jewellery boxes, coasters and other such accessories made of seashells and coral. All these items are unique and colourful and sure to attract your attention. Before purchasing, however, bear in mind that the shells and coral might have been harvested through environmentally unsound practices or, perhaps, illegally. It is best, therefore, to make purchases from reputable vendors, who charge a little more but deal in sustainable practices.
Other handicrafts that shoppers might want to purchase are woven crafts such as rugs, baskets and placemats. Rattan and wicker work are also quite popular, besides furnishings made of reeds and bamboo. Be sure to check out the colourful hand-woven fabrics that are made on the neighbouring Cebu Island.
At the balsahan natural pools you could get souvenirs for as little as 15 pesos. The most popular gifts are honey, key chains, home décor items and woodcrafts. The thing to remember is that a portion of the proceeds help feed the maker's (a prisoner) family and, thus, helps him realise that there is still a reason to rehabilitate.
If you've spent all your time discovering the beaches and caves and forgotten about purchasing souvenirs, take heart. There's a shop just outside the airport that sells most of the things available on the islands. It's definitely more expensive, but you could buy anything from local fabrics and blouses to pearls, jewellery, dusters, bags, key chains, woodcarvings and handicrafts here.
While the branded items are more expensive, on the islands you could always get a replica. In El Nido, the best place to go for souvenirs is the El Nido Art Boutique, where you can purchase accessories and printed shirts.
Puerto Princesa is full of vendors selling freshwater pearls. A great place to start would be the Tiangge-Tiangge in Lacao Street, where you can find many stalls selling a variety of beautiful pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. They also have stalls selling colourful beaded accessories for both men and women that make for great souvenirs.
For the best deals, head to the Tiangge stalls that are at the public market. To get here, take the narrow passageway behind Mercury Drug. You could choose from a variety of styles and even buy pearls wholesale. What's more, you could also design your own necklace and have the sellers string it for you.
This is the best place to buy seafood. Apart from the vendors selling the seafood, you will find hoards of packers walking around the market. They will pack the seafood so well that it remains cold and fresh even after a long journey. Besides the seafood, kasoy (cashew) and pearls too are ridiculously cheap here, especially when compared to Manila.
Puerto Princesa is famous for its kasoy (cashew). While the ordinary market is popular because it sells everything under the sun, it is more famous for the local delicacy, kasoy. Roasted kasoy costs more than fried kasoy.
The Ihawig Penal Farm promises the most unique shopping experience ever. Here, the inmates are allowed to live onsite with their families and learn trades that help them support themselves. This rehabilitation programme results in the production and sale of a huge variety of woodcarvings and handicrafts.
The must buys in Palawan include freshwater pearls, dried or fresh seafood, the freshest and tastiest cashew nuts, woodcarvings, pastries from Bakers Hill (if your flight gets delayed), and paintings and sketches from Kamarikutan Gallery. If the paintings are too expensive, then buy the shirts! For those with a sweet tooth, take home some cashew nougat, yema or other sinfully sweet pasalubong stuff (souvenirs to take home).