What to do in Taytay, Palawan’s hidden gem
Last Updated on November 5, 2022
Taytay, the ancient capital of Palawan during the Spanish occupation, now called the Star of the North, must be on your bucket list. Even if Palawan is full of tourists, few passes by Taytay and they’re missing something great. There are a lot of activities to do here and spending a few days in Taytay is a good way to escape the crowd. Deserted beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, and river dolphins watching are only a few things you can do in Taytay. Read on to discover some of Taytay’s best tourist spots.
Palawan is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, it’s also one of the most popular destinations. Places like El Nido and Puerto Princesa are often crowded by tourists and often suffer from the lack of proper infrastructures and over-tourism.
Fortunately, there are many beautiful places in Palawan that are more low-key and less frequented. Taytay is one of those places. A tiny city on the seaside with tons of things to do while there and many beautiful places to discover.
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Best things to do in Taytay Palawan:
1 – Irrawaddy dolphins watching
The Irradawy dolphin species is almost extinct and can only be found in a few places across the world like in Kalimantan or in Taytay. To see them you’ll need to start early, around 5 am. The tour lasts about 2 hours and will take you along the river and then to a big lake. The fishermen there see the dolphins every day so your chances of spotting a couple of them are high. Even the ride in itself is nice, the lake is beautiful and really peaceful.
Price: 1200 pesos for a boat good for 4 – 500 pesos for the tricycle back and forth (we got overpriced, I think you can find a better offer for the tricycle).
2 – Exploring Kuyawyaw falls
Located 26 kilometers north of Taytay, this 3-levels waterfall is a nice place to relax and do some jungle trekking. Because I went at the end of the dry season, the falls are pretty small and the water is not that clear. Only the third waterfall had nice water. Normally the water at all 3 levels is crystal blue.
It only takes 10 minutes to the first level and 10 more to the next level. The trek is easy but tiring because you go up and the path is often uneven. It takes 20 more minutes to reach the last level, this part is really steep and pretty hard to climb, go only if you’re in good shape.
To get there, you can just take a bus bound for El Nido and get off at the crossroad. If you’re lucky you’ll find a tricycle or habal-habal to take you to the entrance, otherwise you can walk, it’s about 1 kilometer away from the main road. You can also hire a tricycle from Taytay for 1000 pesos, the driver will wait for you and take you back. He might also serve as a guide.
Entrance fee: 200 pesos – You’ll need to hire a guide if you want to reach the third level.
3 – Taytay island hopping
Island hopping is one of Taytay’s major attractions. Many islands are owned by resorts so you’ll need to be a guest or pay an entrance fee on some of the islands. But don’t worry there are still a lot of places to explore offshore.
One of the best spots is Elephant Island and its small lagoon. The island is full of small white-sand coves. The lagoon is easily accessible (just a bit of climbing) and reminded me of the caves where you can swim. The pool is surrounded by high rocks with just a little opening letting the sunlight come in. It’s also a great place for snorkeling with many beautiful reefs in the area.
You can arrange for the boat at Casa Rosa but it’s a bit expensive (starts at 3500 pesos for 2 persons). You can also go to the port and negotiate directly with a boatman. I paid 2500 pesos for the whole boat going to Elephant Island plus one snorkeling spot. The farther you want to go the higher the price.
The best part about island hopping in Taytay is that you’ll probably be alone on the islands you visit. Contrary to El Nido or Honda Bay, not many tourists visit Taytay, and it’s just as nice.
4 – Visiting Fuerza de Santa Isabel
Built in 1667 by the Spaniards, the fort is still really well preserved. Invaded by vegetation, the place is perfect at sundown. You’ll get a great view, especially of the Taytay Hollywood-like sign. There’s an old chapel in the middle which looks like is still being used.
Entrance fee: 50 pesos
5 – Wildlife watching in Danao Lake
Danao Lake, also known as Manguao Lake is a nice place for nature lovers. You can go on a boat or kayak tour to enjoy the landscape and maybe spot some wildlife. There’s also a trail there to trek and do some bird-watching.
Where to stay in Taytay
I stayed in Tay Lelong’s Pension House which is a nice budget-friendly option, I recommend it. It’s in a quiet neighborhood and they have a nice outdoor area with a pool.
Where to eat in Taytay
Next to the fort, you’ll find several food stands, the food there is super tasty. The best I had in the Philippines so far. I tried several booths, and each time, the food was amazing.
Including Taytay to your Palawan Itinerary
You could include Taytay to your itinerary between El Nido and Port Barton, or between El Nido and Puerto Princesa if you’re not going to visit Port Barton (which I highly recommend).
I think 2 days in Taytay is enough. You can spend one day island hopping and on the second day, go dolphin watching in the morning, then head to the fall. In the evening visit the fort.
Traveling in the Philippines? Check out my Philippines Travel Guide, it includes everything you need to know and great places to visit.
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Palawan:
- Sabang’s Underground River DIY guide
- Island hopping in Honda Bay DIY travel guide
- Port Barton Ultimate Travel Guide
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Hi, what resort do you prefer to us in taytay that is not too expensive? We’re planning to go ther this month. Thanks
Hi Veena! I stayed in Tay Lelong’s Pension House, it’s a nice family resort. A room good for 2 is around 760 pesos. You can find them on facebook or on Booking. They have a pool, a restaurant, parking spots, and a nice garden.
Do you think six days is too long for TayTay? My fiancé and I just booked at Casa Rosa, and fear 6 days may have been too long. One thing we worry about is getting around to the islands. Is finding a boat to island hop to rent tricky? Or quite easy? That price is quite steep for two people, hopefully we meet friends!
Hi Jessica, 6 days is a bit long, but you can do one day at the waterfalls, there’s also a lake nearby, you can go kayaking there. There’s a lot a islands to visit nearby so you can do island hopping for 2 or 3 days. It’s super easy to find a boat, just ask around or go to the port. The tours offered by Casa Rosa are more expensive than if you deal directly with the owner of the boat. You can also ask once there if there’s a nice beach nearby to spend a day. Enjoy your vacation!
Where did you book your dolphin tour ?
You’ll just have to ask around, it’s fishermen doing it, there’s no real organization. We asked our tricycle driver and he knew someone who knew someone… and he booked it for us. Tay Lelongs Inn organize tour there but it’s way more expensive than if you deal directly with the fisherman.
Thanks for posting, I’m fairly new to traveling outside the US. Which places have you been to would you recommend for someone on a Budget?
South-east Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia) is definitively the cheapest countries you can travel to. You can manage to spend around 20USD a day there. It’s also pretty safe and there are tons of backpackers going there so you’ll meet a lot of people. It’s also super easy to travel in these countries. You can also do workaway, in exchange for a couple hours of work a day you get free accommodation and sometimes food as well.
Wow, what a beautiful place. Great shots.
Have a fabulous day. ♥
Even though we normally avoid tourist locations, occasionally there are some that are worth visiting. Thanks for sharing.
Well, Taytay is pretty untouristy, even if Palawan is. In my 4 days there, I think I saw only 2 foreigners.