Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Palau travel guide - Travel S helper

Palau

travel guide

Palau (historically Belau or Pelew), officially the Republic of Palau, is an island nation in the western Pacific Ocean with a population of 17,948 people spread over 465 square kilometers. It is made up of about 250 islands that make up the western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. Koror is the most populated of them. Ngerulmud, the capital of Melekeok State, is situated on the neighboring island of Babeldaob. Palau is bordered by Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Federated States of Micronesia on the sea.

The nation was first inhabited about 3,000 years ago by migrants from the Philippines, and it was home to a Negrito people until around 900 years ago. Europeans initially discovered the islands in the 16th century, and they were included into the Spanish East Indies in 1574. Following Spain’s loss in the Spanish–American War in 1898, the islands were ceded to Imperial Germany in 1899 as part of the German–Spanish Treaty and governed as part of German New Guinea. During World War I, the Imperial Japanese Navy captured Palau, and the islands were subsequently included into the Japanese-ruled South Pacific Mandate by the League of Nations. During World War II, as part of the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign, American and Japanese soldiers fought skirmishes, including the main Battle of Peleliu. In 1947, Palau, along with the other Pacific Islands, became a member of the United States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. After voting against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands achieved complete sovereignty in 1994 through a Free Association Compact with the United States.

Palau is a presidential republic in free association with the US, which provides military, money, and access to social services. The bicameral Palau National Congress has legislative authority. Palau’s economy is mostly dependent on tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing, with foreign assistance accounting for a substantial part of the country’s gross national product (GNP). The United States dollar is the country’s currency. The culture of the islands combines Japanese, Micronesian, and Melanesian influences. The bulk of the population is of mixed Micronesian, Melanesian, and Austronesian ancestry, with substantial populations derived from Japanese and Filipino immigrants. Palauan (a member of the Sunda–Sulawesi language group) and English are the country’s two official languages, with Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian recognized as regional languages.

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Palau - Info Card

Population

18,024

Currency

United States dollar (USD)

Time zone

UTC+9 (PWT)

Area

459 km2 (177 sq mi)

Calling code

+680

Official language

Palauan - English

Palau | Introduction

Geography Of Palau

The territory of Palau is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu are the most populated islands. The latter three are connected by a barrier reef, whereas Angaur is an oceanic island located several miles to the south. Koror is home to about two-thirds of the population.

The uninhabited Rock Islands (approximately 200) lie west of the main island group, while the coral atoll of Kayangel is north of these islands. The states of Hatohobei and Sonsorol are made up of a distant collection of six islands known as the Southwest Islands, located some 375 miles (604 km) from the main islands.

Climate In Palau

Palau has a tropical climate with an annual mean temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). Throughout the year, there is a lot of rain, with an average of 3,800 mm (150 in). The average humidity is 82%, and despite the fact that rain falls more often between July and October, there is still plenty of sunlight.

Typhoons are uncommon in Palau since it is located outside of the major typhoon zone. Storm Haiyan in 2013 was the most powerful typhoon to hit Palau since reliable records began. Kayangel was ordered to evacuate in an emergency. Several homes were damaged by a storm surge. Despite homeowners’ reluctance to leave properly, there were no deaths or serious injuries recorded.

Demographics Of Palau

Palau has a population of around 21,000 people, 70 percent of whom are native Palauans of mixed Melanesian and Austronesian ancestry. Palau is home to a large number of Asian populations. Filipinos are the country’s biggest Asian population and second largest ethnic group. There are a lot of Chinese and Koreans here. There are also a tiny number of Palauans of Japanese heritage. There are also a small number of Bangladeshi and Nepalese migrant laborers and their descendants who arrived on the islands in the late 1900s. The majority of Palauans of Asian ancestry arrived in the late 1900s, with numerous Filipinos, Chinese, Bangladeshis, and Nepalese arriving as unskilled laborers and professionals. There are also a few Europeans and Americans.

Religion In Palau

Both the German and Japanese occupations of Palau supported missionaries who followed the Spanish. Three-quarters of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholics and Protestants), with Modekngei (a mix of Christianity, traditional Palauan religion, and fortune telling) and the ancient Palauan religion being practiced. Under Japanese control, the predominant faiths among Japanese immigrants were Mahayana Buddhism and Shinto. However, after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the surviving Japanese mainly converted to Christianity, while the rest practiced Buddhism but no longer practiced Shinto rituals. There are also around 400 Bengali Muslims in Palau, and a few Uyghurs imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay were recently permitted to live there.

According to the 2005 census, 49.4% of the population is Roman Catholic, 21.3 % Protestant, 8.7 % Modekngei, and 5.3 % Seventh-day Adventist. In 2010, just 1% of the population was believed to be Buddhist, with the Chinese community also following Chinese folk religion. The tiny Jewish community sent two cyclists to the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009.

Economy Of Palau

The economy of Palau is mainly based on tourism, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular tourist activities in the islands’ rich marine environment, which includes the walls of barrier reefs and World War II wrecks. The government is the biggest employer, and it is largely reliant on financial support from the United States. In the fiscal year 2000/2001, there were about 50,000 business and tourist arrivals.

The population has double the per capita income of Micronesia as a whole. Long-term prospects for the main tourism industry have been significantly enhanced by the growth of Pacific air travel, the increasing wealth of leading East Asian nations, and foreigners’ readiness to fund infrastructure development.

Air service has been patchy at times. During the 2000s, Palau Micronesia Air, Asian Spirit, and Pacific Flier all flew to the Philippines and other locations, but all ceased operations. United Airlines currently offers daily service to and from Guam, as well as once-weekly service to Yap. Delta Air Lines also flies to Tokyo three times each week.

Palau Saving Bank declared bankruptcy in November 2006. The Palau Horizon reported 641 impacted depositors on December 13, the same year. 398 of them had less than $5,000 USD, with the rest having between $5,000 and $2 million USD. On December 12, 79 individuals who had been impacted got compensation. “The money for the payment came from the remainder of the Palau government’s loan from Taiwan,” Mr. Toribiong said. At the time of bankruptcy, $955,000 USD remained from a total of $1 million USD initially intended for supporting Palau’s growth. Toribiong asked that the Taiwanese government utilize the remaining funds to settle its debts. Taiwan granted the request. Those who have less than $4,000 USD in their accounts would be eligible for reimbursement.

The income tax is divided into three categories with progressive rates of 9.3 percent, 15%, and 19.6 percent, respectively. The corporate tax rate is 4%, while the general sales tax rate is 0%. There are no real estate taxes.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Palau

Visa & Passport

Citizens of any Schengen nation (90 days), the United States (a year), Israel (90 days), the Marshall Islands (a year), and the Federated States of Micronesia do not need a visa (a year). Except for residents of Bangladesh and Myanmar, who must acquire a visa in advance, almost all other tourists may receive a 30-day visa on arrival.

Language

Although English and Palauan are the official languages, several islands also recognize their own languages as official.

Culture

Palauan society is based on a strong matrilineal structure. Matrilineal rituals may be seen in almost every element of Palauan culture, particularly in funerals, marriage, inheritance, and the transfer of traditional titles.

Cassava, taro, yam, potato, salmon, and pig are among the native foods. Young Palauans like Western food, and international visitors join the natives. The remainder of Micronesia is similar, with much less tourists, resulting in fewer eateries. On such islands, tourists dine mostly at their hotels. Some traditional meals include an alcoholic drink produced from coconuts on the tree, a drink prepared from kava roots, and the chewing of betel nuts.

The traditional government system continues to have an impact on national issues, prompting the federal government to constantly try to restrict its authority. Many of these efforts took the form of constitutional changes backed by the business sector in order to preserve what they saw as free economic zones. In early 2010, the Idid clan, the governing clan of the Southern Federation, led by Bilung, the queen of the Southern Federation, filed a civil action against the Koror State Public Lands Authority (KSPLA). Using papers from the German era, the Idid clan claimed ownership of Malakal Island, a significant commercial zone and Palau’s most important port. The judgment determined that the KSPLA owned the island.

Cuisine

Palau has its unique cuisine, such as the tama dessert. Local foods in Palauan cuisine include cassava, taro, yam, potato, fish, and pig. Among young Palauans, Western food is popular.

Respect

Throughout history, Palauans have been renowned for their hospitality. Many Palauans are sensitive to cultural differences and readily show respect to foreign guests. However, remember to always respect the local culture. Rude comments or any kind of discrimination towards the local culture, like with any other ethnic group, is not tolerated. Palauans are as capable of being furious and nasty as they are of being nice. You will find the local environment to be extremely laid back and easy going as long as you do not insult the culture, damage historic sites, pollute, or harm the ocean in any way.

It should be noted that Palau is a matrilineal culture with extremely rigid gender norms. Western concepts such as feminism are not common among the Palauans, and any overzealous effort to teach such beliefs is seen as irritating, stupid, and arrogant. Most Palauans, on the other hand, willingly participate in such discussions and find intellectual talks fascinating. Keep in mind that locals do not expect outsiders to grasp their national identity or culture, so a simple apologies for any transgression will enough to quell any tension.

How To Travel To Palau

Get In - By plane

The only viable option is to fly. On Babeldaob, there is just one airport, Airai (ROR).

Visitors may fly to Guam on United Airlines’ daily flights ($600), which link to Japan and the United States, as well as straight to Manila, Philippines.

Delta Air Lines began daily service to (ROR) from Tokyo-Narita (NRT) in December 2010, with links to numerous Asian destinations as well as its US hub cities (including Hawaii).

Asiana Airlines presently offers regularly scheduled flights from Incheon International Airport in Seoul.

Charter flights are also available from Taipei, South Korea, and Japan on a number of carriers.

How To Travel Around Palau

A taxi and a leased vehicle were used. There are many local taxis. If you hire a vehicle, plan on driving carefully on some rough roads. Palau has both left and right hand drive vehicles, which may create some difficulty. Please keep in mind that the facility beyond Ice Box Park is a sewage treatment plant if you travel south to it. Any other diving will be done from a boat after an hour or more of travel time and will cost approximately US$150 for a two tank dive. The major island, Koror, has no diving sites or beaches. The road north has just been resurfaced and is really beautiful… after you’ve passed the airport.

Destinations in Palau

Regions in Palau

  • Babeldaob(Melekeok)
    the biggest island, with a population of about 6,000 people, as well as Babelthuap, Babelthwap, Babeldoub, Babeldaub, and others
  • Koror
    the location of the biggest city of the same name
  • Rock Islands
    Jellyfish Lake, a lake containing millions of jellyfish with relatively mild stingers where snorkelers may safely swim, is made up of almost 300 mainly deserted islets.
  • Peleliu
    There are about 700 people living here, the majority of them reside in the hamlet of Kloulklubed.
  • Angaur
    A isolated southern outpost with approximately 200 residents, the location of a significant WWII naval action, and a reputed modern-day surfing destination.
  • Sonsorol Islands
    Consisting of the states of Sonsorol and Hatohobei, these islands are home to approximately 100 people and are located far to the southwest of the rest of Palau.

Cities in Palau

  • Melekeok is the new capital (pop. 381) This is located on the island of Babeldaob and is a nice trip from Koror along the new Daewoo road. After crossing the bridge, the route to Melekeok is plainly marked.
  • Koror is the biggest city and previous capital of Koror. Koror is the only true concentration of stores, restaurants, and hotels in Palau. Many of the biggest diving operators have their headquarters here as well.

Other destinations in Palau

If you have your own maritime conveyance, such as an ocean-going boat, the South West islands of Palau are worth a visit. Sonsorol, Fana, Meriil, Hatohobei, and Helen Reef are all protected areas. If you visit Meriil, be sure to bring mosquito repellant since its native moniker is dancing island. You’ll find out why if you get there! If you want to visit any of these islands, it is a good idea to see the governors in their offices in Koror. If you’re fortunate, you may be able to take a journey on the Atoll Way, an island supply vessel. Sleeping on a rough wooden platform with other souls who are either returning to their home islands or the doctor from Peleliu island hospital who is making a regular visit to check on the islanders’ health.

Accommodation & Hotels in Palau

Budget

Palau has a variety of guest house-style boutique lodging options. Some are near or inside Koror, while others are not. These may be booked internationally via diving shops that provide vacation packages (such as Sam’s Tours). Prices start at $50 per night and go higher from there.

  • Guest Lodge Motel (Free airport transport. ), (680) 488-6320/21/22, fax: (680) 488-5616, e-mail: [email protected] If you simply need a place to sleep and unwind between days of outdoor activities, the Guest Lodge Motel is a pleasant and clean location to stay. Because the top level is unfinished, the building seems shabby from the outside. AC, refrigerator, Cable TV, 130 V and 230 V power outlets, shower/bath, towels, and other amenities are provided in the rooms.

Mid-range

In Palau, there are also a lot of excellent basic hotels.

  • Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa,  +680-587-3530. The hotel has three of Palau’s biggest features: the largest storyboard depicting Palau’s history, the largest water park with two water slides, and the largest olympic-sized swimming pool. There are standard accommodations, honeymoon suites, and freshly refurbished ocean view suites.
  • West Plaza by the Sea,  +680-488-2133. There are 36 accommodations with views of the ocean lagoon and surrounding islands. The rooms vary from basic class to deluxe suites with kitchenettes, as well as a penthouse suite on the roof deck with a big private veranda, whirpool bath, kitchenette, and lots of living space. The Red Rooster Cafe is also located in West Plaza By the Sea. The café serves a broad variety of Japanese cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Red Rooster Draft, Palau’s sole locally produced beer, is available on tap during the evening happy hour.
  • West Plaza Desekel,  +680-488-2133. It’s close to museums, restaurants, and banking. The West Plaza Desekel has 30 rooms ranging from premium to basic. The Deskel Market, located on the ground level of the hotel, is a full-service grocery shop with ice cold drinks, fresh local and international vegetables, and a wide selection of Western and Asian cuisine.
  • The Caroline’s Resort,  +680-488-3754. This lovely alternative, located a few minutes outside of downtown Koror, provides lodging in various bungalows hidden in the hills amid the forest. The bungalows are well-equipped, with air conditioning, satellite TV, connected bathrooms, and bar fridges. Each unit also includes an outside terrace with views of the beach. Breakfast may be provided on your terrace, and guests have access to the Palau Pacific Resort’s facilities throughout the day, so you can enjoy the beach and pool.

Splurge

On Palau, there are many moderately priced resorts, the majority of which cater to scuba divers.

  • Palau Pacific Resort. Is a world-class resort in Koror’s outskirts. PPR, as it is known locally, is extremely lovely (great beach, fantastic restaurant, vaulted ceilings), however it is also very far from Koror (10-15 minute drive). Most nights, they operate an hourly shuttle into Koror, or you can take a taxi for approximately $5 each way.
  • Palau Royal Resort. One of Palau’s newest hotels, catered mostly to Japanese visitors. Conveniently situated in Malakal, just a few minutes’ walk from Sam’s Dive Shop and Neco Marine.

Things To See in Palau

Palau has all you might want in a South Pacific island state: beautiful tropical serenity. The majority of the tourist attractions are located on or around The Rock Islands or Chelbachebover. These 250 rock islands, many of which are small and deserted, provide some breathtaking vistas and are a UNESCO World Heritage site. They’re a quiet invitation to unwind and enjoy a taste of heaven. Drink a drink at one of the country’s pristine white sand beaches, kayak through the lovely uninhabited bays and lagoons, or do what most tourists do: dive under the surface to view the magnificent and unspoiled aquatic life. Blue Corner, Blue Hole, and the German Channel are all popular dives.

Head to Jellyfish Lake for an unforgettable snorkeling experience among the numerous and unusual stingless jellyfish. The jellyfish developed this distinct distinction from others in the adjacent lagoon due to their secluded position and lack of predators. Take a guided walk through ancient stone monoliths and terraces while your guide tells you about the stories that surround them. Even the capital, with a population of just over 21.000 people, may seem like a hamlet, yet there are a few fascinating sites and museums exhibiting traditional Palau culture and the country’s tumultuous wartime past. However, it is the sheer beauty of this tiny island country – both above and below water – that has tourists raving.

Things To Do in Palau

Palau is well known for its scuba diving. Blue Corner, one of the most renowned diving locations with continuous sharks and a strong current, is less than an hour’s boat trip from most resorts. Many live aboards, such as Ocean Hunter, operate from Palau. Tours of WWII battlegrounds are also available in Palau.

The diving locations of Blue Corner, German Channel, Ulong Channel, and Blue Holes are all spectacular. You may dive the same place many times and have very different experiences each time.

Palau is also well-known for its jellyfish lagoons. In the absence of predators, these lakes are home to jellyfish that have evolved to lose their stingers. There are many excursions that will take you to the jellyfish lake to snorkel. SCUBA diving is not allowed nor required in the jellyfish lake. Palau Jellyfish Lake is classified as a natural phenomenon and scientific mystery.

Expedition Fleet is the Philippines’ biggest privately owned live-aboard fleet. Their ships travel across the Philippines and Palau. Expedition Fleet is renowned for its skilled and competent Dive Masters, as well as its outstanding on-board service.

Splash, the diving shop connected to the Palau Pacific Resort, comes highly recommended. The rental equipment is of excellent quality and is either new or well maintained. The dive masters are also highly competent, responsible, and well-versed in the dive locations. Angelo at Splash comes highly recommended as a dive master, particularly if you haven’t dived in strong currents before. It should be mentioned that Splash operates a fairly big, broad diveboat with a capacity of 20+ divers.

Fish ‘n Fins is Palau’s first diving shop. From their headquarters in Koror, they now operate two live-aboard vessels as well as seven smaller (and quicker!) diving boats. The guides are well trained professionals who are eager to impart their vast knowledge of the ocean and its inhabitants. Nitrox EAN 32 is the same price as air for divers. Technical divers may also use gas mixes.

Sam’s Tours is another another dive company in Palau, providing diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and land tours. They offer several excellent guides that give educational and environmental information.

Food & Drinks in Palau

Food in Palau

  • Almost everything. Palau has a significant community of people from Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and the United States, and local businesses have developed to meet their requirements. So Koror provides an incredible variety of goods in its shops, although at a cost. Bentolunch boxes with a Japanese theme are extremely popular.
  • The Rock Island Cafe in Koror is a wonderful location to get some fast American fare. It’s on Koror Island, a bit west of the Court House.
  • Kramer’s – on the Malakal wharf It’s a little difficult to locate the first time, but the cuisine is excellent and the nightlife is usually fascinating.
  • Bem Ermii serves delicious burgers and milkshakes from a tiny trailer near the courthouse in downtown Koror.
  • Carp is an excellent medium-priced choice with large servings and well-prepared Japanese and local delicacies, such as coconut crab. It’s close to the pier that takes you to the Carp Island resort, next to the Palau Royal hotel.

Other notable Koror restaurants include the Taj, an outstanding Indian restaurant, Fuji, a moderately priced pseudo-Japanese restaurant, and Dragon Tai on the road into Koror.

Drinks in Palau

The beer is called Red Rooster. Despite its tiny size, Palau boasts a small brewery adjacent to the West Plaza by the Sea hotel. It serves Amber, Stout, and three other beers. Abai Icein Koror is a tiny hut that serves fresh fruit smoothies, which are highly recommended.

There are many licensed businesses in Palau, ranging from quiet small pubs to “Japanese”-style karaoke clubs with bar ladies. Try Sam’s Diving Shop or High Tide (behind Neco dive shop) for a good cheap drink. The majority of shops sell alcohol. Public drinking is prohibited, and the local police will gladly bother you if you are found.

Money & Shopping in Palau

Costs

Prices are relatively expensive, as one would anticipate on an isolated island where tourism is the primary business, and even a low-end daily budget would be about US$100/day.

Shopping

Traditional wood carvings portraying Palauan tales and legends are known as Palauan storyboards.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Palau

Stay Safe in Palau

Palau is a relatively safe place to visit. Even after midnight, it is safe to walk about downtown Koror. But, like in every other part of the globe today, common sense wins. Pedestrians should exercise caution since sidewalks are few even in downtown Koror.

Stay Healthy in Palau

Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) may still be found in Palau’s mangroves and on the picturesque Rock Islands, although they might be found everywhere on the island. Despite their frightening and, in some cases, well-deserved reputation, they seldom reach to the enormous proportions seen in Australia and New Guinea. There has only been one deadly crocodile attack in Palau’s documented history, and it happened in 1965. The largest crocodile in Palau’s history was 15 feet long—large, but typical for saltwater crocodiles in most other nations. The fact that there are only around 150 adults on the island undoubtedly contributes to the rarity of assaults. Snorkeling and scuba diving are extremely popular in Palau, yet there has never been a case of a visitor being attacked in recent history. According to a recent study, crocodiles are unfairly reviled by the locals, in stark contrast to the reverence shown to them by the indigenous peoples of Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. The causes behind this remain unknown.

Bull sharks are abundant in coastal areas and estuaries, therefore use extreme care while scuba diving or snorkeling.

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