Rough Budget Travel Guide to El Nido

It’s 45minutes before the so called ‘End of the World’ and I’m sitting here on my lappy, working my ass out, while pondering about what I’ve done in my life – mostly my travels (*it’s perhaps one of the innermost drives that fuels me), will the aftermath God find this cause noble? Oh well. Enough with my thoughts.

This is just a sudden blog post, while on the middle of my thoughts, I received this PM via FB from someone asking a rough budget guide to El Nido.

El Nido Map

El Nido Map


Hi, Roj!

Good evening! Actually d kita kilala

Pero magtatanong lang sana ako about sa Palawan trip… if you wont mind. Kasi napansin ko uv been to almost all of the tourist destinations ng Pinas. So, i think ikaw yung pinaka-reliable person na pwedeng makatulong amin. hehehe!

Nasa Saudi ako ngayon at plano namin ng wife ko at mga kaibigan namin na pumunta ng El Nido pag-uwi namin– mga 2nd week of January ’13. Kaso wala kaming makitang murang packages (d namin kaya ang 10k+, hanggang 6k lang kami. hehehe). May alam ka bang mura na package? Or Anong advice mo para malessen ang expenses namin? We badly need your inputs.

Thanks in advance!

– – –

So with his kind words, the travel soul in me awakened. There’s nothing more fulfilling of being a travel blogger than being able to help fellow traveler. So below I’ve come up with a quick how to get there and budget accommodations + etc + etc to El Nido.

How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa, Palawan?

Bus/Van: Eulen Joy Bus Line or Sweety Bus Line go from Puerto Princesa to El Nido at 5, 7, and 9am (Php 350 ; eight hours travel). Departure from El Nido for Puerto Princesa roughly between 5 and 8:30am.

The Aircon RoRo Bus leaves daily at 6am, and 2pm; the return bus also leaves at 6am and 2pm (6hrs ; Php500)

Fort Valley Vans leave Puerto Princesa for El Nido at 7 and 11am (Php 600 ; six hours). A Saviour Shuttle Company leaves at 7am.

El Nido Map

El Nido Affordable Accommodations

Lualhati Cottage. Rizal St. Cel 0919 319 6683 @ SR/DR/Fan/Bath P500. Located at the Southern edge of town heading in the direction of Corong-corong.

Cliffside Cottages. Rizal St, Cel 0919 785 6625. SR/DR/Fan/Bath P600

Ricos’ Beach Cottage . Hama St, Cel 0929 467 1632 @ SR/DR/Fan P600 and P750, SR/DR/ac/bath P1600.

Dara Faye Beach Cottages . Hama St Cel 0919 322 1416. SR/DR/fan/bath P700, cottage/fan/bath P1000.

Marina Garden Beach Cottages. Hama St. Cel 0917 624 7722 @ Cottage / fan/bath P730 and P1000. A more established place with basic, conventional cottages and a new building with good, clean rooms.

El Nido Island Hopping Guide

El Nido Palawan

El Nido Palawan

You can also have a boat take you from El Nido to a beach or nearby island of your choice. A few suggestions might be:

  • Bocal Island (P600 per boat, up to 4 passengers)
  • Paradise Beach (P600)
  • Pasandigan Cove (P700) ; good for snorkelling
  • Dilumacad (Helicopter Island) P700
  • Ipil Beach (P600)
  • Lapus-Lapus Beach (P600)
  • Inabuyutan Island (P1000)
  • and Seven Commandos Beach (P700) ; excellent for snorkeling.

El Nido Budget Tour Contacts

A variety of whole day island hopping tours (9am-4pm) P750 and P900 per person, including BBQ Lunch, can be arranged through Judith in the Travel Center of El Nido Boutique and Artcafe, Cel 0920 902 6317. She also organizes kayak tours.

Tuba-tours (Rhoderikc dela Cruz) Hama St next to the Squidos Restaurant, Cel 0927 724 5496, offers island hopping around El Nido.

An Eco Tourism Development Fee of P200 per person to be paid (good for ten days).

So there it is! An instant budget guide to El Nido.

Special Thanks to my copy of Philippines Travel Guide by Jens Peters, 2012 edition.

Highly Recommended: You could read reviews about the book HERE

Phil Travel Guide 2012 by Jens Peters. Got myself a copy from the author himself! ^^,

Phil Travel Guide 2012 by Jens Peters. Got myself a copy from the author himself! ^^,

Palawan Honda Bay Family Trip

For our third day at Palawan, it’s time to head to the beach. Another travel tour from an agency, we were picked up by the van at around 8am. And off we went to the Honda Bay port after stopping over to a swimming equipment rental gear shop. Equipment rental cost 150php, however if you want to get it cheaper, just rent your equipments at the honda bay port. They cost only 100php. Better off just bring your own! A pair of swimming shoes, and googles is already good to go! After the registration process (long lines again) taken cared of by the tour guide, we rode the boat that will take us to the following islands:

Honda Bay Island Hopping

  • Pambatu Reef (Mini Tubbattaha Reef as they call it) *not so interesting, the waters are murky, you can’t see that much

  • Starfish Island (because of the many ‘Starfish’ found in the island). We took our lunch here, prepared by the tour agency also

  • Pandan Island (named for its abundance of ‘Pandan plants) preferred snorkeling area, you could swim almost anywhere some at even knee deep water for those non swimmers and you’ll already lots and lots of fish. Just recently they stopped the fish feeding here.

Other islands in the area not included in the tour:

  • Snake island (named after the shape of the island NOT it’s inhabitants!)
  • Cowrie Island.
  • Cannon Island
  • Bat Island. Around 6pm thousands of flying bats in the area
  • Lu-li Island (which is visible only with low tide). came from two words – lulubog at lilitaw

Budget way to Tour the Honda Bay:

Here’s how: *Take note you have to leave early around 6 or 7am, so you’ll not need to rush together with the tour agencies who’ll be arriving at around 8 or 9am. They always gets prioritized.

Board a Jeepney bound to Sta Lourdes Honda Bay (signage) Fare is around 10 pesos only
Upon arrival, head to the registration area, where you’ll have to pay for certain fees.
*Better to find another group not on a tour agency (max. of 6 people) to share the rent of one small boat that costs 1,200php Boat rental : small boat for 1,200php divided by how many are you.
If all goes well, wait for your boat number to be called and you’re all set!
Other fees to be paid are the minimal entrance fees at the islands, And of course, as a back packer, always bring your own baon! haha.
After the island hopping, hire a trike to get you at the intersection where you could already hail a jeepney going back to the ‘Bayan. Fare to tricycle is 8php. Jeepney fare going to bayan is 10php.

**You could also try strolling, and just a few meters away from the Honda Bay port you could visit the Chinese temple along the way. I’m sure you’ll have bragging rights of having pictures of this to your friends, as this is not usually included in the Honda Bay Tour that agencies offer. haha. But if you still wanna avail of the tour, go ahead and pay your 1,300php per head. I don’t think it’s worth it though.

The above blog post is part of my Family Trip to Palawan Adventure series of posts that happened last October 25-28, 2012.  To read more the rest of the series, click on the following links: Palawan Family Trip: Arrival and City Tour | Palawan Underground River Tour (PPUR Tour)  | Palawan Honda Bay Family Trip

Palawan Underground River Tour (PPUR Tour)

Day 2 itinerary – yes! the ever most awaited highlight of going to Palawan (they say you haven’t been to Palawan if you haven’t seen the underground River).

Since the declaration of Palawan Underground River as one of the 7 Wonders of the World, tourist (both locals and foreign) have been pouring to visit the historic site.

How to Book Underground River Tour?

And if there’s one ‘tour’ that I’d like to recommend you to avail (yes even you budget packers like me) is this.

Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Last time me and my buddy went to Palawan we didn’t got the chance to see the UR since the permit slots are fully booked.

You see the Palawan Department of Tourism provides these permits, you need to obtain them from the city prior to going to Sabang (where the UR is located). Permit registration is a very very veeeerrrry looooong process if you’re a walk in. I’ve tried this before. People shouting, long lines, favoritism, the usual you see in a Philippine government system scene. You don’t wanna go through this.

And so the ‘tour’ agencies are born. They make life a whole lot easier. All you have to do is text them (yes, no need to go to the tourism office, even at the comfort of your own homes you could already book a permit). Just send them your complete name (be very careful not to misspell it or you’ll never be going to see the Underground River), with your birthday, and poof! You’re already booked, Magic eh?!

Well I guess that’s just how the system works in the Philippines!

Anyway, to make the long story short. We did avail this, and at around 7am we were picked up by the van that took us to Sabang. From there, our tour guide took care of all the queuing and long lines, we just have to wait until it’s our time.

And I would like to commend our guide, Peter (St Peter as we called him. haha) from Top Star Travel Agency, he made it a breeeze! Nauna pa kami kesa dun sa mga nauna pang dumating sa amin!

I know if’s unfair, but well you know if you’re the one traded more fairly it just becomes fair. haha.

So here are some pics of our tour.

Buffet After the Tour

After the unwinding journey inside the cave, we took our buffet lunch courtesy of the tour agency.

And yes I don’t wanna miss visiting Palawan without having a taste of one of their delicacies, another exotic food – the TAMILOK!

Tamilok at Palawan

Taken from the inside of the trees, these ‘tree’ eating semi wormlike squishy creatures from the family of sea urchins, shells, and clams, is a delicious treat found in this province, even featured in Fear Factor, Usually paired with a vinegar, Tamilok are best eaten raw. Yummy! *It has just a little after taste. But I recommend you adventurers to try it! One serving in a bowl cost 100php. They say capturing and finding these ‘tamilok’ is a difficult process, hence its expensiveness.

Palawan Underground River Tips and Tricks

Tip: If you wanna hold the light going inside the cave, stay in FRONT of the boat. You just have to be a good listener and must know what ‘LEFT’ and ‘RIGHT’ means, since the guide will be asking you to point the light from his directions.

And if you wanna hear a detail and closer tour explanation, stay at the back portion of the boat near the guide. Recommended to those who have hearing difficulties.

Underground River Tour Travel Agency

  • Top Star Travel Agency: 09088995002
  • Cost: 1,500php per person with free buffet lunch, travel, etc.

And an AdventuRoj shirt to end the day!

The above blog post is part of my Family Trip to Palawan Adventure series of posts that happened last October 25-28, 2012.  To read more the rest of the series, click on the following links: Palawan Family Trip: Arrival and City Tour | Palawan Underground River Tour (PPUR Tour)  | Palawan Honda Bay Family Trip

Palawan Family Trip: Arrival and City Tour

It’s my mom’s birthday! And yes another reason for Adventuroj to celebrate!

And to share my adventurous feet to my family, I planned to take them to Palawan (since the last for my dad was at Boracay). And since I’ve been already here before, I’ll be their tour guide. But for convenience sake (it’s always a priority when you’re with mine believe me. haha!) I’ve just booked a tour package.

First day itinerary:

  • Arrival at Palawan – 10am

  • Travel to Jamp Pension House with free transfer (sundo)

  • Preparation for the City Tour ++ Freshen up
  • Lunch at DAMPA Seafood Restaurant

  • City Tour (free pick up by Travelwise Tour Agency) – 1pm

Palawan City Tour

The city tour included a visit to the following places:

  • Running tour at Palawan Baywalk (best visited at night time to unwind as the place is located near the beach)
  • Puerto Princesa City Cathedral
  • Plaza Cuartel
  • Pasalubong Center
  • Irawan Crocodile Park
  • Mitra’s Ranch
  • Baker’s Hill (with free merienda from the tour package)

How Much is Palawan City Tour?

  • Regular tour packages cost 600php (transportation is via van)

Palawan City Tour Contact

  • Travel wise Tour Agency – 09284204271

Budget Palawan City Tour

  • However if you’re on a tight budget, like me when I’m travelling alone or I’m in on my adventures, you could rent a tricycle (which could fit up to 4 persons) for only 300php.
  • Way off better since you could control your time, no need to rush unlike when you’re with a tour group as you ‘own’ the tricycle. haha
  • Or if you really are on a tightest tight budget – then you may follow this.
Take a multicab going to Sta Monica, tell driver to stop at the Butterfly Garden 20
After visiting Butterfly garden, take another trike to let you bring to Baker’s Hill (2km) 15
Take another tricke or have a walk to Mitra’s Ranch (1km) 15
Try to have a walk back again to Baker’s hill or take a trike, tell the driver to bring you to Nat’l Highway and there wait until another Multicab going to Irawan, and tell the driver to stop at the Crocodile Farm. 7
Stop over to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm
At night Firefly Watching @Iwahig River, PPS City
Ride Multicab back to City
Rode “Bayan – City Hall” jeep to City Hall (P7) 7
Puerto Princesa City Hall
Puerto Princesa Sports Complex
Rode “Irawan Jeep” to intersection going to Baker’s Mill / Mitra’s Ranch
Rode Tricycle to Mitra’s Ranch (P15) 15
Walked to Baker’s Hill. BUY HOPIA. 43/BOX
Rode Tricycle back to highway intersection (P15) 15
Rode “Irawan” jeep to Rizal Ave (P7) 7

Stay tuned for the remaining Palawan adventure!

The above blog post is part of my Family Trip to Palawan Adventure series of posts that happened last October 25-28, 2012.  To read more the rest of the series, click on the following links: Palawan Family Trip: Arrival and City Tour | Palawan Underground River Tour (PPUR Tour)  | Palawan Honda Bay Family Trip

Palawan: An Unforgettable One

Finally, I had been in Palawan – said to be the last frontier of the Philippines.

Last Feb 17-20, me and my travel buddy, who also celebrated her birthday on February 19, headed to Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan, is one of my favorite cities in the world and probably the local city I loved the most. The city boasts of countless natural wonders, good food, outstanding cleanliness and friendly, hospitable,

It’s my first time to Puerto Princesa but I know I will keep on coming back to this place.

So here is my complete 4 days and 3 nights budget itinerary for my Palawan adventure. Continue reading

Palawan Food Trips: Balinsasayaw, Kinabuchs, Bona’s Chaolong, Pizzito, etc

Here are some of the food stalls (some popular ones, and others not really but worth trying and not to mention yummy ones!) that we’ve tried and dine on our stay at Palawan.

Balinsasayaw Chicken and Grill


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Palawan: Pristine Beach, Chinese Temple, St Clare Monastery, & more Roadside Trips!

Pristine Beach

Most of the locals go to Pristine, Nasin-aw and Silica beaches. These are the beaches in the city that can be reached within 15 minute trike ride. The entrance fee is very affordable. It ranges from P10-P20 per person while renting cottages would cost you around P200 and above.

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Palawan: The Historic Plaza Cuartel (and my horror story)

Plaza Cuartel, which is across Immaculate Conception Cathedral church, looks like your ordinary city park with concrete pavements, towering trees and benches, but here lies a deep and dark historic mystery.

The ruins of an old garrison and tunnels are proof of its grim past. Plaza Cuartel is the site of Palawan Massacre. The tunnels were where 150 American prisoners of war were kept during World War II.  But on December 14, 1944, the Japanese decided to kill them all by burning them alive. Many perished but eleven prisoners were able to survive and escape the mass execution. The place was then transformed to a leisure park.


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