Travel to Puerto Princesa and El Nido, Palawan on a Budget

Dubbed as the Philippines’ Last Frontier, sure Palawan has made its way to be one of the top destinations here in the country. Famous for its stunning rock formations, amazing islands, awesome coral reefs and cool people, you will love this province. But being known as one of the tourist spots and booming industry, getting to Palawan might get expensive. An average person will tell you to save as much as PHP 15,000-20,000 (300 – 400 USD) to thoroughly enjoy these places.

So how I made it in 8 days with only PHP10, 000 in my pocket and travel to Puerto Princesa and El Nido, Palawan without breaking the bank? Here are some of my tips.

Planning

Months before our trip to Palawan, I started reviewing blogs and DIY tips. It helped me to get to know the places and get tips and advice on where to find a cheap stay, how to go around the city by public transport, contacts, and tours. Just try Google, and type something such as ‘Cheap stay in Palawan.’

Accommodation / Tour Package

While we’re in Puerto Princesa, we stayed in Pension House. It’s much cheaper than a hotel, but still, it will do since you’ll be out the whole day and you just need a place to stay the night. We got our air-conditioned room with private bathroom for three people for PHP 990 per night (20 USD) in Aniceto’s Pension. The plus side, it’s like a home away from home. They have a common lounge area where you can watch TV; they have books and a kitchen where you can cook your food. Even a drying area where you can hang your washed clothes.

Other option, you can also try is OMG Backpackers. They offered us their fan room for 3 people for PHP 900 per night. They can be reached through their Facebook Page and telephone number.

In El Nido, we chose to stay in Anang Balay Turista. I read some negative comments about them, but they offered the cheapest package (most of the inn/hotel/guesthouse offered package tours as well). Very reasonably priced too. Their package for a four day, three-night stay included accommodation, two tours of your choice, roundtrip transfer from Puerto Princesa – El Nido – Puerto Princesa, breakfast, snorkeling gear (but of course you can bring your own), and PHP 200 Environmental Fee. We got this package for PHP 4,800 each (96 USD). You can reach them through their website.

Tour

There’s so much to do in Palawan. The most popular towns are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. As much as I would love to visit these three, I had to give up Coron. It will be a 6-9 hour boat ride from El Nido and boat fare costs around PHP 1,600 ( 32 USD). Don’t worry; you still have so much to do even without Coron.

You can choose from 5 tours in El Nido which are Tour A, B, C, D and E. Tour A-D are island tours while E is the only land tour which includes inland beaches and waterfalls (Nacpan and Calitang Beaches, and Nagkalit-kalit Falls). The most popular among these tours are Tour A and C. Each tour has different prices as well. So if you’re only be staying for a few days, choose Tour A and C. You can ask your hotel to arrange the tour for you, or you can simply go around the town and look for a travel agency. Prices are standardized by the government but some of them are offering combined tours with a minimum number of heads which is much cheaper.

Then, you can find the Underground River (one of the World’s New 7 Wonders of Nature). Ugong Rock Formations where you can do rock climbing and zip lining. Honda Bay for snorkeling and island hopping, and Iwahig Firefly Watching in the town of Puerto Princesa.

To DIY your Underground River and Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour, you need to secure a permit from Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Office at the City Coliseum first. Just present your valid ID/passport. You can get the permit on the same day. It’s advisable to get your permit first thing in the morning as they only have a limited slot for walk-in tourists.

For Iwahig Firefly Watching, you can reach their office to make a reservation. Just make sure to be there before your scheduled tour or else, they will give your slot. You can reach them at (+63) 916-780-9118.

To DIY your City Tour, you can hire a tricycle for the day. It costs around PHP 500-700 depends on your haggling skills.

Transport

It’s easy to go around El Nido as the town itself is within walking distance. Tricycle is the main transportation; it costs around PHP 50 per ride.

In Puerto Princesa, just get to Rizal Avenue and you can find ‘Jeepneys/Multicab’ (their primary public transportation) going to your destination. To reach Honda Bay, take a multi-cab going to Sta. Monica. The fare is about PHP 25 per head.

To get to Sabang Beach (Underground River Tour) and Ugong Rock Formation, take a multi-cab going to San Jose (PHP 13 per head) then ride a van going to Sabang (PHP 140 per head).

Going to El Nido from Puerto Princesa, you can choose from vans or busses.

Where To Eat

You can try the restos around the area. You can find the famous ‘Trattoria Altrove’ if you’re craving for Pizza in El Nido or try KaLui and Kinabuch in Puerto Princesa.

If you happen to be in El Nido, I highly suggest trying Kaptain’s Diner. Their foods are delicious yet in reasonably priced. Try their bestseller ‘Kare-Kare’.

During our stay in Puerto Princesa, we just cooked our food as Aniceto’s Pension has a communal kitchen which guests can use. We just bought the ingredients in the nearby supermarket. We did, however, try some of the local restaurants. Try ‘Chaolong’, a traditional Vietnamese dish, in Bona’s Chaolong and ‘Crocodile Sisig’, their native delicacy.

Souvenirs

If you would like to buy something to take with you and your friends/families back home. You can get your souvenirs in Puerto Princesa. You can always put this last on your list or do this during your Puerto Princesa City tour. They are much cheaper than buying in El Nido.

Take note, souvenir items in El Nido came from Puerto Princesa.

Palawan is a beautiful province. Not only the places which will feed your eyes, but also the hospitality and friendliness of the people. If you happen to be in the Philippines, you sure don’t want to miss out Palawan.

‘Till next time. See you!

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