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The Republic of Palau a tropical paradise in the western part of Micronesia, a one of a kind nation built up by tinny islands, 300 to be exact, but only a few are inhabited.
Palau is home to what may be the most pristine dive sites in the world and the main reason foreign tourist visits this small piece of heaven in the south pacific.
Palau is also home to some of the world´s strictest environmental laws and was the first nation in the world to include environmental protection in its immigration laws. Palau banned suncream containing any of 10 ingredients. From 1st January 2020.
Shops selling banned suncream or visitors caught importing it can get finned up to 1000 USD.
Palau has made 80% (500 000 square kilometres) of its water into the world´s most significant no-fishing zone, in order to protect its world-class marine life that´s in Palaus water.
And unknown to most people, Palau was home to one of the bloodiest battles in WW2, and to this day are the old war relics like tanks, bombs and fighter jets from the war laying all around this pristine paradise, to remind you when this paradise was turned into hell for over 2 months in 1944.
Palau is such a tinny country with a population of just above 18 000 (February 2020 numbers), making it one of the smallest countries in the world, in terms of population. With more than two-thirds of the population living in Koror the only real town in the country.
Where is Palau?
Most people wouldn’t be able to point out Palau on a map, and that not that strange since, Palau is such a tinny country, that you will have to look very closely on Google Map even to notice the place.
But where exactly in the world is Palau? To be precise is Palau located on 7° 30′ North Latitude, 133° 30′ East Longitude in the far western edge of the south pacific ocean.
Palau is home to 340 Island with 300 of them being uninhabited islands located around the stunning Rock Island, UNESCO World Heritage site and home to JellyFish lake.
Other islands which belong to Palau are the remote Kayangal island which is home to only 50 people and the extremely remote Sonsorol Islands and Tobi island (population 7)
Palau is located about 3200km south of Japan and about 900Km east of the Philippines. So Palau is literally in the middle of nowhere in the western Pacific Ocean.
If you are visiting this remote part of the world is it also worth visiting the neighbouring Federated state of Micronesia and Phonpei which is home to the mysterious ruins of Nad Madol
How to get to Palau.
The only way to reach Palau is through the tiny Roman Tmetuchl International Airport which serves only 5 different destinations in 5 different countries and only sees 20 departures and arrivals from abroad a week, so your flight options are pretty limited when it comes to reaching Palau.
The following airlines fly to Palau:
Asiana Airlines (Star Alliance) offers two flights each week from Incheon, South Korea.
China Airlines (SkyTeam) offers four flights a week from Taipei, Taiwan.
United Airlines (Star Alliance) offers a daily flight from Guam and a weekly flight from Manila and The Philippines.
Korean Airlines (SkyTeam offers two flights a week from Incheon, South Korea.
Lanmei Airlines low-cost airlines from Macau, flights are currently suspended due to Coronavirus.
Roman Tmetuchl International Airport is tiny with close to nothing when it comes to the facility, there´s an ATM after costume, and a mobile shop selling local sim cards (but closed during night).
There´s also no public transportation and no taxi´s at the airport upon arrival,
so it´s crucial that you have pre-book transportation from the airport to your hotel/guesthouse, if not will you be stuck at the airport for a long, long time.
Visa Requirements for Palau.
Palau has some of the most liberal visa rules in the world. With only 2 nations needing visa in advance, Bangladesh and Myanmar, all other citizens of every country in the world will receive a free visa on Arrival.
The Palau visa is actually a pledge you will have to sign, that you will not harm the environment.
Americans get a 1-year visa on Arrival. Visitors from Schengen countries will receive a 90day visa on Arrival, while all other nations receive a 30day visa upon Arrival.
You may be asked to show proof of return ticket out of Palau and that you have sufficient funds (USD 200 per week).
Palau has fairly strict costume rules, and your bag will be checked upon your arrival. You are only allowed to bring 1 bottle of liquor and 1 pack of twenty cigarettes duty-free.
It´s also illegal to bring in any type of fresh fruit, vegetables or any food products.
Drugs are strictly forbidden, and you are required to have a prescription for all types of medicines or drugs in your possession.
You were previously required to pay Departure Tax, payable in U.S. dollars when you were leaving the countruy. The departure tax is now included in your flight ticket.
Permits in Palau.
Most activities in Palau requires you to have a permit, which is more like an entrance ticket to different sights.
All travel agency can get you the permits, or you can get them from the tourist information office itself.
Be aware that the permit/entrance ticket will get checked and you will get heavily fined if you try to sneak in, trying to sneak into JellyFish lake will result in a 700usd fine.
Rock Islands Permit: 50USD including Rock island and diving but NOT the jellyfish lake, valid 10days.
Jellyfish lake permit 100 USD including valid for 10 days, includes Rock islands.
Diving Permit: 30USD
Fishing Permit: 20 USD. Valid 1 month
Snorkelling Permit: 10 USD
Ngardmau waterfall: 10USD
Pelilue has it´s own permits
Pelilue: 20USD if you want to see the WW2 relics.
Pelilue Water Permit; 20USD. This is additional to the Scuba diving permit if you are planning dive any of the dive sites around Pelilue.
Getting Around Palau.Public transportation in Palau is about non-existing around the islands outside Koror and Malakal. But you do have in scheduled transportation between Koror, Peleliu with public ferries.
But will you have to take a small plane to reach Angaur. And if you want to reach the remote atoll of Kayangal will you have to join a tour for a day trip or charter a boat.
Travel with Public Ferries In Palau:
Be aware that the ferry runs from the public ferry dock at Malakal, 3km west of Koror centre.
A taxi from Koror to the ferry dock cost you 7 USD with a cab.
NB. Be aware that´s there no taxi outside the airport upon arrival, but just go to the small convince store at the dock, and they will call you a cab.
There are two government ferries between Koror and Peleliu, a fast one the Odesangel Dill and a slow one the Nippon Maru II.
Both ferries are very basic, on the slow ferry are you recommended to bring your own chair! And be sure to bring snacks/drinks for the journey, there´s nothing for sale onboard.
But the public ferry schedule changes every month. The Public ferry between Koror/Peleliu and Angaur has not been running for more than 6months. So the only option about getting to Angaur is with a small local flight.
The Public ferry takes about takes approximately 2 to and a half hour to 3 and a half hours depending on the weather and wind and which route it has to take around the rock islands.
When it´s windy is it a very uncomfortable and wet trip (waves splashes over the whole boat), I had it back to from Peleliu.
The price is 20USD for the slow boat, and the fast boat takes 1.5hour and coast 40USD. Each boat charges a 1 USD fee for each bag.
The incredibly remote islands of Sonsorol Islands and Tobi island has no public ferries since it´s more than 20hours each way to reach them, but they do have once a month cargo boat going there with supplies which you might be able to hitch a ride with.
The remote northern atoll of Kayangal is easiest visited by an organised tour since there are no public ferries there.
Ferry Schedule to Peleliu
Domestic Flights in Palau:
The only airline doing scheduled inter-island flights in Palau are Pacific Mission Aviation which also does the scenic flight over the rock islands (which I will highly recommend)
They have scheduled flights on Tuesday and Saturdays from Koror to Angaur and Peleliu. There are only small single propeller flights available for 5 and 9 passengers.
Tuesday: 9 am Departure at Palau International Airport. 945am Departure from Angaur/Peleliu. Flight time one way is 30min.
Saturday:9am Departure at Palau International Airport. 1130am Departure from Angaur/Peleliu. Flight time one way is 30min.
If this doesn’t fit your schedule so are your only option to charter the flight for 400USD for up to 5 people
Another airline doing scenic flights and charter flights but have no scheduled flight is the Smile airline tours.
Getting around Koror and Malakal.
While there’s a bus going around Koror so will you have to book a tour with one of the local tour companies if you want to see different parts of of the country or rent a car from one of few car rental companies in Koror.
Most higher-end restaurants in Koror have complimentary round-trip pickup and drop off from anywhere in Koror and Malakal.
If you want to explore outside Koror and Malakal are you required to rent a car, which is cheap and easily available with a large variety of options from small Japanese cars, or what about a pink Mustang cabriolet.
Travel Agencies in Palau.
Unfurutenly so is there very little you can do in Palau without booking a tour, and if you want to go snorkelling, do mudbath at Milkyway, Swim at JellyFish lake, or even visit some of the nicer beaches so are booking a day tour your only option. I made three different day trips while here, twice to the JellyFish lake, with snorkelling, Milkyway and a long day trip to Kayangal.
Most agencies offer the same types of tours, but some offer longer day trips and different stops along the way, so it´s worth checking around.
RITCPALAU Japanese run tour company with an awesome English speaking stuff, super-efficient, can highly recommend then. I made two-day trips with them.
Fish N Fins one of the oldest companies in Palau, mainly a PADI Dive centre (5*) but also offer day trips to rock islands/jellyfish lake and bring snorkelers along on scuba diving trips, also offer ATV trips through the Jungle in Palau. I made a one day trip with. I can highly recommend them.
SamTours highly recommend dive centre.
Palau Impac Offers a lot of different day trips, some only offered by them. It was recommended by my hotel in Koror.
NecoMarine Dive centre which offers various day trips
Paddling Palau offers kayaking trips from day trips to longer trips with camping on remote islands.
Palau 7th Wonder, Dive company also doing land tours.
Peleliu Adventures currently the only tour company on Peleliu.
Sky Dive Palau skydiving in Palau
Palau enjoys pleasantly warm weather all year round. The average temperature of 82°F (27°C). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, and the annual average is 3638 mm/143.2 inch per year.
The average humidity is 82%, and although rain falls more frequently between July and October, there is still much sunshine.
Palau have five official languages, Palauan, English, Japanese, Sonsorolese and Tobian.
With Sonsorolese and Tobian only being spoken on the very remote islands Sonsorol island group where the population is only 40!
All dive shops have multilingual staff from Germany, Japan, Spain, France, China etc.
Almost all staff that´s working in restaurants, bars, hotels and shops being from the Philippines is Tagalong widely spoken. But everyone and everywhere speaks fluent English all over Palau.
(UTC+09:00) the same timezone as Japan, South Korea and the Eastern Part of Indonesia.
110 Volts 50/60 Hz USA type flat 2-pin plug or 3-pin in older guesthouses/hotels while the new Palau Hotel also have European style plus and USB power plugs.
Money & Currency.
The American dollar is the official currency of Palau and accepted everywhere, hotels, supermarkets, dive shops etc. all accept international Visa and Mastercards, American Express is not widely accepted around the country.
There are a few banks around Koror with ATM´S where you can withdraw USD Dollar, but they were often empty during my 10-day visit here.
If you want to exchange some other currency so are your hotel or the banks your best bet.
Is Palau safe?
This tiny country is the South Pacific is one of the safest in the world, why domestic violence is not unheard of, so are violence against tourists non-excisting, Pelilue has a problem with drunk driving so you better be careful when walking around in the evening there.
Getting Online In Palau.
First: Your sim card from home will not work in Palau, international roaming is not available here, so no matter where you are from so are your local sim card useless in Palau.
While all higher-end and mid rage hotels offer free wifi, so do the cheaper ones require you buy 24hours internet cards for 2 USD.
The best coffee shop to go for coffee and to work your computer is the Coffee Berry coffee shop.
What To Pack For Palau.
First of all, be aware that´s there´s very little to nothing to buy-in Palau, while you can buy all kinds of toiletries, dive gear, and cloths from companies like Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong etc., so is that about´s it. You will have to bring about everything you need to Palau; there´s nowhere to buy cameras, memory cards.
You will also have to bring all the books you need since there´s no book store here (but Kramers bar next to the ferry port have a large selection of books swap for used books).
There´s not even a cinema in Palau. So be sure to fill up your tablet/computer with movies before you get here to keep you entertained.
Laundry is cheap on Koror so you won’t need to bring to many clothes, and since Palau has a warm tropical climate all year so are shorts, flip flops and few light t-shirts, shorts and in general light clothes are all you need for clothes, but when tropical weather will you also get a lot of rain, almost daily so be sure to bring a light rain jacket.
About all restaurants keep blasting their aircon on +20, so it´s recommended to bring a light sweater.
Like every country with respect for itself, so do also Palau have its own beer brewery, the Red Rooster Brewery.
The small local brewery located in Malakal has five different beer for sale: Amber, Light, Stout, Wheat and a Tropical Ale, Plus one cider for sale.
The best place to try all them are either at Red Roaster Cafe or at the Canoe House (Best Pizza in town)
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