El Nido and Puerto Princesa Palawan Itinerary for 5D and 4N with UNESCO Heritage Underground River – BUDGET Php 12,000/All-in

My beloved country Philippines has a lot to offer when it comes to tourist destinations with the 1,700+ islands. One of the top destination is Palawan which is located near West Philippine Sea. We know that travelling is more popular to foreigner tourists compare to the local Filipino due to the cost of doing it. However, we have the advantage here of exploring our own world class beauty.

There is an airport in Puerto Princesa and one in El Nido if you are coming from Manila. Daily flights are available to both destination. The affordable way is to get a promo flight to Puerto Princesa airport from other Philippine airport like I did for Php3,039.16 via Cebu Pacific for the roundtrip ticket.

On the other hand, El Nido airport is more expensive because there are no budget airlines like Cebu Pacific and PAL going there. There is only one option and that is to travel with Airswift which would cost you more than Php 10,000 on a trip.

I contacted a travel tour company in El Nido Palawan that managed my whole trip in the Underground river, the El Nido Tours and all of my accommodation for the entire 5-day stay.

If you want to save money, be prepared to join in a group tour. It’s considered a GOOD GOOD DEAL without all the hassle. *I’m not being paid by the agency. I’m just sharing their services and my experience with them is wonderful. At least they’re legit.

In the end of this blog I will share the entire cost which I believe is relatively cheap considering we have done a lot of activities plus the comfort. More importantly, I really enjoyed it. It was worth a penny.

Please see itinerary and the expenses that serve as a guide.

ITINERARY FOR 5 DAYS & 4 NIGHTS

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN PALAWAN

6:00 AM – Arrival in Puerto Princesa Airport Palawan (Thankfully, the flight is on schedule at 5:00 AM with no delays) it’s an hour flight from Manila (NAIA). We waited for the service van and for the other passengers.

8:00 AM – Departure via Air-conditioned Van Transfer from PPS Airport to El Nido. It’s 5-6 hour land travel with stop over for toilet and lunch.

12:00 NN- Stop-over for lunch at EL Fredo’s

2:00 PM – Arrival in El Nido, checked-in at El Grande Hotel located in Brgy. Buena Suerte. I recommend that you stay in this area. The hotel is new, superb and very clean. It has a private room with AC and shower. Rest time.

4:00 PM – Went out for a walk within El Nido district where there is a beach front, social vibe, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops

6:00 PM onwards – Dinner and drinks at PUKKA Bar, buying some groceries (gallon of water, anti-allergy medicine, chips to munch on, candies)

9:00 PM – GOOD NIGHT SLEEP, getting ready for next day’s tour

Now the highlight of my trip in Palawan is doing the Tour A and Tour C in El Nido, visiting the UNESCO Heritage Underground River in Sabang, City tour in Puerto Princesa. There are four (4) popular Island tours in El Nido: Tour A, B, C, D you can modify or customize them. Please note that this is a group-based tour that makes it affordable for the tourists. There are also private tours that are more exclusive and probably expensive. You can negotiate the price with the locals though.

DAY 2 – TOUR A

Now we availed two consecutive tours in El Nido Palawan. Tour A is my favorite tour compare to C. Sometimes the Boat Operator will modify the tours depending on the current condition of the sea, time or weather restriction.

8:00 AM – Breakfast included and free pick-up from hotel to the pier

A whole day is doing all the island hopping tour mentioned. There is buffet lunch included in the package. At 5:00 PM we were back at the pier and we are now free to choose our dinner and do whatever we like at night. The DIY comes in.

NOTE that you are only allowed to join the island tour when you are equipped of the following: DRY BAG & AQUA SHOES

Suggest to bring water bottle (refill at the hotel) to keep yourself hydrated, selfie stick or tripod, water-resistant cellphone cover, towel, sunglasses, and do not wear jewelries. Bring some first aid kit like a band-aid for your safety. Because it’s disappointing that the boats do not have one (I got tripped over the rocks and had an injury on my knee and elbows).

Everywhere you go is a limestone and rocky corals under the sea would make a bad accident.

Bring some cash for tricylce expenses as the Travel agency will not bring you back to the hotel and you are on your own after the tour.

Sharing the photos during the TOUR A:

Enjoyed the Kayaking on this day.

Went to REPUBLIKA SUNSET BAR and I totally recommend this one for awesome view of the beautiful Palawan sunset.

We had our dinner at MANG GARY’s back in Maligaya, Brgy. Buena Suerte near our hotel. Sorry but I don’t recommend this one due to poor service and the food is not worth the price. Though the ambiance is inviting because of the bamboo structure and the food that they offer are Filipino-style (mostly not available).

There are a lot of cool, artsy and hippie restaurant in the area of Maligaya, you just keep on walking.

DAY 3 – TOUR C

Doing the Tour C for a whole day (harsher waves and more challenging activities this time, not recommended for kids and those who do not know how to swim)

Gusto Gelato

NOTE that El Nido is quite expensive for tourists and even to locals.

After the tour we went to Angel Wish and had a lovely seafood dinner there. We ordered seafood sisig and baked clams. Then we explored around Maligaya for a good night vibe filled with tourists, music, food and lights.

DAY 4 – Leaving El Nido going to the Underground River

4:00 AM – We checked-out from the hotel and picked-up by the van heading to Sabang for the island transfer to famous UNESCO Heritage longest underground river. About 4 hours from El Nido to Sabang with stop over at a restaurant along the way for breakfast.

7:00 AM – Breakfast

9:00 AM – We met with the tour guide for orientation while inside the van

11:00 AM – We went to Sabang pier with side trip at the Mangroves

12:00 NN – Lunch buffet before our call-time to the pier for boat transfer to the island where Underground river is located

View while having breakfast (stop-over)

Tamilok – Exotic Food (Wood worm)

Mangrove Sanctuary

Inside of the Underground River-Cave : Credits to Tripzilla. I could not take a good quality inside the cave because it’s so dark and the crocodiles and the bats would make you anxious.

1:00-3:00 PM –Arrived in the Undergroud river with the boat

The underground river tour lasted for less than 2 hours. All tourists must leave the location by 3:00 PM and back to Sabang Pier.

Going to Puerto Princesa City….where we will do our own itinerary (freetime).

5:00 PM – Arrival in Puerto Princesa City, checked-in to Novo Hotel, rest time

6:00 PM onwards – Went out for a stroll since the hotel is located nearby the “Seaside” where there is a park, restaurants and stalls.

Dinner on day 4 in Kusina sa Bay-Bay

8:00 PM – Went to buy grocery (there is a supermarket beside our hotel) like chips and beer to bring in our room and just chill while packing our things for our flight the next day. Need to get some rest after the long land travel.

DAY 5 – PUERTO PRINCESA DIY CITY TOUR

Now you still have a day to spend in Palawan. Puerto Princesa city is the center of Palawan where you can find the banks, market, the sea port for passenger and cargo vessel, fast food chain, the mall and terminals. Some tourists enjoy their time in exploring El Nido or in Coron and rather skipping the city of Puerto Princesa. So instead of just staying the rest of the day in the hotel, why not go out and check the city before leaving back to Manila, back to my reality which is working 8-5 in the office? I made this DIY or DO-IT-YOURSELF itinerary guide which is pretty easy, worth-while, time and cost saving as well.

8:00 AM – Free breakfast in the hotel

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM : visit attractions nearby

Walked to visit the Immaculate Concepcion church because it’s my birthday. Beside the church is a historical site called PLAZA CUARTEL. Then next we visited Mendoza Park, Palawan Museum, Puerto Princesa Market

Then had Jollibee in Palawan for some refreshment and hotdog sandwich before heading back to hotel for check-out.

My two favorite places in Puerto Princesa are KALUI RESTAURANT and PALAWENO BREWERY. These are must visit and worth a try.

Recommended to all travelers.

11:30 AM – Hired tricycle to bring us to KALUI Restaurant for lunch. The ambiance and food are great and you can see the Filipino tradition through the opened-air wooden restaurant filled with art, paintings for your instagram photo. Suggest to have reservation as this is a famous restaurant in Palawan. Stayed here until 1:00 PM.

After having a wonderful lunch at Kalui restaurant, head to Palaweno beer via tricycle for some original craft Palaweno beer. The bar opens at 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM only except for Sundays.

Stayed to chill at the brewery from 1:30 PM in the afternoon until 3:00 PM, played the darts and pool enjoyed their cool selection of music. Relaxing place indeed.

At 3:00 PM, already back in the hotel to get my stuff and rested for a while while waiting for the airport shuttle to bring us before boarding at 5:00 PM because my flight is 6:00 PM in the evening back to Manila.

Everything was a memorable experience without breaking your budget. Please see below breakdown of costs from Day 1-Day 5.

Total BUDGET for the WHOLE TRIP 5 days & 4 nights = Php 13,000/All-in per PAX for both El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan stay

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