The most popular way to get to Palawan is by plane. Commercial flights are available all year round for Puerto Princesa City and Coron via Busuanga Airport. For Puerto Princesa, you can choose from Cebu Pacific Air, AirAsia, and Philippine Airlines. Coron is also served by Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, and Skyjet. It only takes an hour's flight to get to both of these destinations in Palawan from Metro Manila.
While commercial airlines don't offer direct flights to El Nido, you can still fly there via Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI). An alternative way to get there is via Puerto Princesa International Airport. Once you get to Puerto Princesa, head to San Jose Terminal where you will take a bus or van to El Nido. Travel time usually takes five to six hours by van and six to seven hours by bus.
Puerto Princesa City and Coron can also be reached via sea travel. 2GO Travel offers cruises from Metro Manila to Puerto Princesa Pier and Coron Pier. It takes around 30 hours to get to Puerto Princesa and 15 hours to get to Coron by sea.
How to Get Around
Tricycles are the most common mode of transportation around Palawan. You can ride a tricycle to get to a certain destination or you may choose to hire one for a day tour.
By Motorcycle or Habal-habal
Habal-habal rentals are popular among those who want to explore Palawan at their own pace.
What to See
Palawan is a mishmash of both natural and man-made wonders that will truly captivate all travelers.
Puerto Princesa City's claim to fame is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which houses the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Named as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the 8.2 kilometer underground river is surrounded by impressive limestone formations and inhabited by colonies of swiftlets and fruit bats. It is the ideal place to visit for those who love exploring caves and other mystical natural wonders. For beach bums out there, don't miss out on an island hopping tour around Honda Bay where you'll get to see amazing islands and beaches like Cowrie Island, Luli Island, and Starfish Island.
Meanwhile, just three to four hours away by bus from Puerto Princesa's San Jose Terminal is the town of San Vicente where you'll find the aptly named Long Beach, the "longest white beach" in the country. Its undeveloped and peaceful state attracts those who want to enjoy an undiluted nature experience.
The charming town of El Nido is filled to the brim with natural wonders. From magnificent lagoons to hidden beaches and caves, you'll surely be entranced by the beauty of this place during your visit. Make sure to avail of the island hopping tours, depending on what you want to see on your trip. Some of its popular attractions are the Big and Small Lagoons of Miniloc Island, Secret Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, Nagkalit-kalit Falls, and Cathedral Cave.
Coron is another town in Palawan where you can marvel at numerous natural attractions. Island hopping tours are also offered so you can explore arguably some of the most beautiful places in the world like Kayangan Lake, Barracude Lake, the Twin Lagoons, Malcapuya Island, and Banana Island. Apart from these tropical wonders, you can also enjoy trekking Mt. Tapyas. In addition, Coron is a top destination for scuba diving. With dive sites teeming with rich marine life and hauntingly beautiful World War II Japanese warships, its underwater world is truly a wonder to behold.
When in Puerto Princesa, make sure to see the crocodiles and other animals at Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, the horses at Mitra Farm, and the fireflies when you go on a nighttime cruise along Iwahig River. You can also visit the Palawan Museum and Palawan Heritage Center to know more about the history and culture of the province. Of course, a visit to Baker's Hill should definitely be on your itinerary. Aside from buying and having a taste of their pastries and sweet treats, there is also a mini zoo if you want to see some animals.
But if that's not enough, head to Calauit Safari Park in Busuanga. The giraffes, zebras, and other rare and wild animals that inhabit this safari will make you feel like you are in Africa. There is a separate tour for this destination so make sure to avail it in any of the tour agencies that offer it in Coron.
Events and Festivals
Attending the events and festivals in Palawan is a highly recommended to make your vacation more memorable and enjoyable. Expect a gastronomic experience when you celebrate Puerto Princesa's Seafood Festival during April, or feast your eyes on colorful parades and street dances during its Baragawan Festival every third week of June.
While in El Nido, immerse yourself in a cultural experience when you attend its Kalugta'n Music and Arts Festival, which is celebrated every May. Lastly, witness some awesome street dancing and various competitions in Coron's version of the Kasadyaan Festival every August 28.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains
Right now, you can only get fast food in the city of Puerto Princesa, particularly in its malls Robinsons Puerto Princesa and NCCC Mall. Some of the fast food restaurants there include Jollibee, Chowking, and Mang Inasal.
All three of Palawan's top destinations boast a variety of restaurants that offer varied cuisine to suit the different tastes of the tourists.
In Puerto Princesa, make sure to dine at Ka Lui Restaurant and feast on its mouthwatering seafood dishes while admiring the native-style setting. If you have a taste for the exotic, try the famous tamilok and crocodile sisig at Kinabuchs Bar and Grill. For dessert, have a slice of Divine Sweets' famous chocolate cake called Amnesia Cake.
In El Nido, don't miss a taste of Altrove Restaurant's delicious pizzas or the savory Mexican dishes at Lonesome Carabao Lounge. Squiddo's, meanwhile, serve some of the best seafood dishes in town offerings, so if you're craving for freshly cooked fish and shellfish, this is the place to go.
For a bit of international flavor, get a taste of delightful French dishes while in Coron only at Bistro Coron. If Asian dishes are more of your taste, then Sinugba sa Balay is definitely the place for you. La Sirenetta serves European dishes, while Kawayanan Grill Station offers freshly cooked seafood and other Filipino dishes.
Carinderia and Street Food
There are carinderias all over Palawan if you want some quality and great-tasting local dishes that are sure to give you a bang for your buck. Street food stalls are also in some public areas. The usual street food you can find in Palawan include barbecues and other grilled meat and fish.
When in Palawan, eat as the locals do. Experience dining on exotic cuisine by trying the wood worm called tamilok. Another unique dish is Nido Soup or Egg's Nest Soup, made from the nest of swiftlets that live inside the numerous caves in the province. This can be tried at Balinsasayaw Restaurant in Puerto Princesa.
Bars and Clubs
Palawan also has a bar and club scene that will entice tourists who are on the island to party. In Puerto Princesa, Rizal Avenue's strip of bars and clubs are the usual hangout places among tourists and locals alike. In addition, some of the restaurants in Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron have in-house bars where you can enjoy a drink or two.
Where to Shop
Puerto Princesa City is the only place in Palawan where you can find a mall. If you want to enjoy shopping and other entertainment options, head to Robinsons Place Puerto Princesa or NCCC Mall.
If you're looking for a place to get the freshest seafood, head to the public markets of the towns and cities of Palawan. Aside from fresh ingredients, some public markets also serve as one-stop pasalubong centers, offering anything from souvenir items and native food products.
There are also some street vendors and stalls that sell souvenir items. Aside from getting a good deal for merchandise from these vendors, you are also able to support the livelihood of the local communities.
What to Buy
Aside from the souvenir shirts, woven bags, keychains, and other Palawan merchandise, head to some of the famous shops for pearls like Cora's and Delma's and invest in a pearl necklace or earring.
ATMs and Money Changers
El Nido does not have any ATMs so make sure to withdraw money in Puerto Princesa or Coron. There are also some banks and money changers in these two places.
Fare: PHP 2,500.00 to PHP 8,000.00
Depending on your Palawan destination, you can get one-way plane fares for as low as PHP 2,300.00. Meanwhile, one-way ferry tickets from Manila to Coron cost about PHP 1,000.00, while Puerto Princesa is about PHP 1,200.00. If you're transferring from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, getting there via bus costs PHP 450.00, while van rides are around PHP 600.00.
When getting around Palawan, tricycle fares cost PHP 8.00 for the first two kilometers. Bike rentals, on the other hand, cost PHP 300.00 to PHP 500.00 per day.
Food: PHP 50.00 to PHP 500.00
Meals at a carinderia can be as cheap as PHP 50.00. Meanwhile, if you're going to dine in a restaurant, expect to pay at least PHP 200.00 per head for a decent meal.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
There are plenty of souvenirs and pasalubong items that you can buy in Palawan. For only PHP 100.00, you can already buy a T-shirt with a “Palawan” print.
Accommodation: PHP 300.00 to PHP 20,000.00
Palawan has a wide variety of accommodations. From hostels and bed-and-breakfasts to upscale hotels and 5-star resorts, Palawan can accommodate you during your stay. For backpackers, Your Space Pensionne offers dormitory-type accommodations for as low as PHP 300.00 per person for one night. Meanwhile, for those who want to splurge for a luxurious accommodation, El Nido Lagen Island offers a single-night suite stay for two people for about PHP 18,000.00.
Activities: PHP 1,500.00++
Going on tours is the most common activity when in Palawan. For island hopping, tour agencies usually charge PHP 1,000.00 to PHP 2,000.00 depending on the destinations you'll be visiting. It usually includes boat rentals and food for lunch. Renting snorkeling gear will cost you an extra PHP 250.00.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 200.00++
Upon entering El Nido, you are required to pay PHP 200.00 for its Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF). It is valid for a 10-day stay and will be used for environmental preservation and tourism projects. Apart from this, you are also required to pay a terminal fee of PHP 100.00 at Busuanga Airport and PHP 200.00 for Puerto Princesa Airport. Make sure to always bring some extra money since some attractions also charge entrance fees.
Single Day Itinerary for El Nido
||After checking in at your accommodation, have breakfast at El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe. Afterwards, avail of the island hopping tour of your choice at any of the travel agencies in town. Island hopping tours A and C are the most popular choices.
||Enjoy your island hopping tour. See amazing beaches and lagoons and try snorkeling to see colorful coral gardens and different kinds of fish.
||Have a break for lunch. Feast on yummy seafood and grilled dishes that come with your tour package. After your sumptuous meal, continue with your island hopping tour.
||Arrive back in El Nido. Head to your accommodation, get some rest, and freshen up before going out for dinner.
||Head to Happiness Beach Bar Restaurant. Watch the sunset from the beachfront while enjoying the yummy dishes offered there. Follow your sumptuous dinner with a few drinks served at this establishment.
||Head back to your accommodation to rest.
Single Day Itinerary for Coron
||After checking in at your accommodation, have breakfast at Lolo Nonoy's Restaurant.
||Avail of the Coron Island Hopping Tour from any of the travel agencies in town.
||Proceed with the tour. Marvel at amazing destinations like Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks Reef, and Vivian Beach. Snorkel to see Coron's amazing marine life and take underwater pictures.
||Feast on the sumptuous fresh seafood lunch included in your tour package.
||Visit CYC Island for some snorkeling.
||Arrive back in town from your tour. Head to your accommodation to freshen up before heading out for dinner.
||Have dinner and drinks at No Name Bar and Restaurant.
||Head back to your accommodation.
Single Day Itinerary for Puerto Princesa
||Grab some breakfast at Jollibee or any of the fast food chains in town.
||Hire a tricycle for the half-day City Tour. See places like the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Baker's Hill, Mitra Ranch, Iwahig Penal Colony and many more.
||Have a late check-in at your chosen accommodation.
||Head to LRC 908 Market Mall and buy some pasalubong and souvenir items. After shopping, head back to your hotel to drop off your purchases.
||Have early dinner at Ka Lui Restaurant.
||Head to Iwahig to avail of the Firefly Watching Tour.
||Start of the firefly tour. Be amazed with the glowing fireflies as you cruise along Iwahig River.
||Drop by any of the bars along Rizal Avenue for some drinks.
The Philippines only has two seasons: the dry season, which runs from December until May and the wet season, which runs from June until September. Make sure to visit during the dry season since most boat tours get cancelled during bad weather.
Don't forget to pack some medicine and insect repellent since you'll be outdoors most of the time in Palawan. Should you need medical assistance, there are several hospitals you can visit while there.
In the Philippines, there's no customary practice when it comes to tipping. Most would just leave small bills like PHP 20.00 or PHP 50.00.
Safety and Security
Beware of your surroundings at all times and make sure to keep your valuables in a safe place. While Palawan may be a generally safe place, there's no harm in practicing vigilance when you travel to any destination.