Ever since the Underground River was grandly proclaimed as one of the New 7 Wonders, Puerto Princesa has been flocked by tourists, with flights even peaking to 22 in a day. The once sleepy city has since become a boomtown. But traveling to Puerto Princesa, based on experience, used to be somewhat inconvenient because of the lack of certain city-dweller needs. Good thing, Robinsons Place Palawan opened its doors last year. Read more…
I recall the first time I went to Puerto Princesa—it was back in 2008, which isn’t that long ago. The Underground River was already a tourist haunt, but it wasn’t as popular as it is today. The city had a supermarket that didn’t carry everything, and if I recall correctly, it closed at 7:00 PM—beyond that, we had to buy from a drugstore. Even given that Puerto Princesa is the only highly-urbanized city in the entire massive island province, it didn’t have some vital stuff that travelers (and locals) need back then.
Fast forward to 2013, we were invited by our friends from Robinsons Land to check out one of their newest malls, Robinsons Place Palawan. When I went a year ago, it wasn’t open still, so I was very eager to explore it when we went recently.
The two-level mall is conveniently located in Barangay San Manuel in Puerto Princesa City—a mere 15 minute multicab ride away from the town proper and much of the city, traffic-permitting. It spreads across a total of 16 hectares, and being the largest and the first full-service mall in Palawan, it was built with all the needs of travelers and locals alike in mind.
I was pleasantly surprised to see some shops that I go to in Manila to have a branch there. Aside from local brands like Bench, Folded & Hung, and Oxygen, foreign brands like Giordano, G by Guess, Mossimo, Vans, and Converse have likewise opened shop.
But since the mall caters to a lot of tourists, there are shops that sell active and travel-related products. Left your favorite pair of flip-flops in Manila? The mall has All Flip Flops (Havaianas), Res Toe Run (Sanuk and Fitflops), Bambu (Ipanema and Grendha), Crocs, The Athlete’s Foot, and Sandugo. Suddenly need a bathing suit for Honda Bay? There’s Speedo. And for all other traveler goodies, there’s Bratpack, Lonely Planet, and Spyder.
I actually needed some stuff for a foam party I was going to one night, so I went into Robinsons Department Store. Of course, true to my usual self, I went browsing about for other things that I didn’t need (and ended up buying them). They have the things I use—Beach Hut sunscreen, among other brands, and the entire line of Vaseline Men products. I must say their personal care section’s pretty complete.
But it was in the menswear and accessories departments that I found what I truly needed: a plain white v-neck, a string bracelet from Malebox, and a handkerchief-like travel thingy from Armando Caruso. Elsewhere in those departments were affordable sunglasses, quality barongs for those sudden formal engagements, and Palawan shirts from Island Souvenirs.
I forgot some toiletries in Manila, like I always do, so I had to go to Robinsons Supermarket to buy a razor, hair product, and bath soap. I once again looked around and bought more than what I need. Like the department store, it has the items that I regularly use and consume—I don’t have to carry Coke Zero in my luggage finally!
Let’s just say the supermarket is quite an upgrade from the local one. It has fresh produce, freshly-baked bread, hot food, and a complete array of local and imported products. Where else in Puerto Princesa can you buy bottles of Evian?
There are lots of other shops in Robinsons Place Puerto Princesa, including Robinsons Appliances, Handyman, National Bookstore, Saizen, the one-stop-shop CD-R King, and curiously, a store that offers solar panels.
EAT AND DRINK
Food establishments from Manila have opened their first Palawan outlet there, and among those are Max’s Restaurant, Pancake House, Teriyaki Boy, Classic Savory, and Gerry’s Grill.
But of course, let’s not forget the homegrown brands like Divine Sweets and Island Coffee. We tried the former’s pasta, cakes, and smoothies one afternoon, and I loved their Creamy Seafood Linguini, Dark Toblerone Cheesecake, Carrot Cake, and Banana Yogurt Smoothie.
Another main feature of the mall is their big Food Court. It can accommodate some 300 people, and it has a number of interesting local eateries I must try out the next time, such as Irawan Flavors of the Forest, Elmer’s Pares, and Bodato Burgers.
Apart from Quantum Amusement Center, what piqued my interest was Robinsons Movieworld, which with four screens (one in digital 3D), is the only cinema complex operating in the entire island province. Admittedly, there isn’t much to do in Puerto Princesa on weeknights, so I went for a movie at 9:00 PM. Get this, a regular movie ticket only costs 120 PHP, and digital 3D only costs 200 PHP!
All the services we need as travelers are housed under one roof. Need prints or other photography services? The mall has Photoline and Picture City. Got allergies or stomach flu? Mercury Drug and Watsons sell over-the-counter and prescription medicine. Plus, there’s a Robinsons Bank, a Western Union, an LBC (courier), a nail spa, a salon, a skin clinic, an internet shop, a money changer, and ATMs. Outside, meanwhile, is a terminal for vans headed for Roxas and El Nido in Palawan. The place really is convenient for us travelers.
So when traveling to Puerto Princesa, make sure to drop by Robinsons Place Palawan, which practically has everything. Save on luggage space and buy what you need from there!
ROBINSONS PLACE PALAWAN
National Highway, Barangay San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City
Hours: 10:00 AM-9:00 PM Mondays to Thursdays and 10:00 AM-10:00PM Fridays to Sundays
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