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 BOOKED for Php3,039.16 (USD 58) 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 (USD 192) on a trip. Alternatively, you can go to Skyscanner.com to compare flights and see the cheapest price.
In addition to the flight cost, you need to book for transfers from Puerto Princesa Airport going to El Nido. There are ways how to do this: by van shared with other people, rental car, private van, or by bus. The most efficient and popular way is by van which usually costs Php 600 per person per one-way. The van can be seen just outside the Puerto Princesa upon arrival. There is public bus, however, you may have to wait for their schedule.
I usually log in my accounts in Facebook, AirBNB and Booking.com to search for accommodation. The one we got was called El Grande Tourist Inn just walking distance from Buena Suerte, it’s a newly built hotel that only priced at Php 1,600 (USD 30) per night. Staying here was the good because it has AC working fine, shower, TV, balcony, room and bathroom are clean, with breakfast even though it’s along the highway. The location is convenient situated in Rizal street a few walking to Brgy. Buena Suerte where you can walk around day and night to see souvenir shops, bars and restaurants.
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 just sharing their services and my experience with them is wonderful. Most importantly, they’re legit. I really enjoyed the tour. It was worth a penny.
Please see itinerary and the expenses that serve as a guide.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN PALAWAN + Pukka Bar + Brgy. Buena Suerte
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 Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido. It’s a 5-6 hour land travel per way with stop over for toilet and lunch in between.
12:00 NN- Stop-over for lunch at EL Fredo’s. Lunch costs around Php 150 per person.
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). I enjoyed PUKKA Bar and their alcoholic drinks while facing the sea and listening to REGGAE music.
9:00 PM – GOOD NIGHT SLEEP, getting ready for next day’s tour
The highlight of my trip in Palawan is doing the Tour A and Tour C in El Nido.
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 usually a group tour because it’s affordable compare to hiring a private boat. You can still negotiate the price with the locals.
DAY 2: TOUR A (7 Commando Beach, Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Payong-Payong Beach) + Republica Sunset bar + Mang Gary’s restaurant
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. Life jackets and snorkels are provided and already included with the payment. Everywhere you go is a limestone and rocky corals under the sea would make a bad accident. Bring some cash for tricycle expenses as our Travel Agency would not bring us back to the hotel and we were on our own after the tour.
Sharing the photos during the TOUR A:
Enjoyed the Kayaking on this day.
5:00 PM – Went to REPUBLIKA SUNSET BAR and I totally recommend this one for awesome view of the beautiful Palawan sunset.
We had a nice time Republika Sunset Bar making friends with other visitors from Spain, Russia and Vietnam while drinking some cold beer sharing our experiences about El Nido. My face was already toasted this time from “sun burn”.
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). Better to spend time in exploring the area especially at night where there are many opened establishments so you can really get value for money service and food.There are a lot of cool, artsy and hippie restaurant in the area of Buena Suerte, you just keep on walking around.
DAY 3: TOUR C (Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, Talisay Beach) + Angel Wish Seafood resto + Brgy. Buena Suerte Night strolling
Doing the Tour C for a whole day. During our time the waves were stronger in the afternoon. Swimming against the waves was very challenging for us. Please be reminded you must always wear life jackets even if you are confident that you know how to swim because we don’t know for sure. The tour was memorable one because I got hurt for tripping over some rock. There was a bleeding on my right knee and unfortunately First Aid Kit was not available. Overall, I had so much fun.
NOTE that El Nido is quite expensive for tourists and even to locals. The price is understandable because it’s a remote island, it is far and bringing things to El Nido with the logistics is not easy. Without a doubt, it’s a beautiful place and tourists help people who depend their livelihood on tourism. 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 Brgy. Buena Suerte, Maligaya for a good night vibe filled with tourists, music, food and lights. This is a vibrant place in El Nido. An exciting place that you want to be.
Here is the Tour Packages that you can avail to make the most of El Nido. You can book this by Travel Agency or Boat Operator like EL Byahe’s. Tour A costs USD 23 per person, Tour B costs USD 25, Tour C is USD 26 and Tour D costs USD 25. All tour package will be visiting 5 different islands and beaches. Our favorite Tour is TOUR A.
But if you ask me, what I can say about El Nido. Well, I can say that it has the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, best beaches and gorgeous limestones. And if I had to do it again, of course, I will come back in the near future, I would just probably spend more days in just one beach to unwind and relax.
Also, doing tours can be exhausting after and time-bounded, so you always have to do everything quickly, transferring from place to another after an hour, which can be stressful for some. As for me, I did not stress because it’s an adventure of a lifetime and “bawal ang KJ” when you travel. You must be open-minded to possibilities but be mindful of your limitations. After all, we all go to El Nido to see the nature beauty and it’s memorable to see many things at once and savor every bit of it.
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