El Nido, Palawan, Philippines - Travel Guide

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Voted the best island in the world for 3 years in a row by the Travel + Leisure readers, El Nido - Palawan in the Philippines should definitely be on your travel bucket list.

Why visit
If the phrase "best island in the world for 3 years in a row" has not convinced you yet, let me tell you that the islands motto is "It's more fun in the Philippines", a slight joke aimed towards the better known Thailand.
Why Philippines is the smarter choice now? It has everything Thailand has to offer in terms of scenery, without having the biggest problem: excessive crowds. At least for now...
As for their motto, I do agree...it is more fun in the Philippines!

When to go
Best time to visit El Nido is between November - May, with November - February being the dry season and March - May the hot one.
Like any other exotic destination you want to avoid the rainy season, even though it's cheaper it's not worth the risk of having rain ruining your much awaited vacation.

How to get to El Nido
From Manila we took a domestic flight to Puerto Princesa and from there a bus to get to El Nido. We booked the bus tickets online on Cherry Bus Palawan for 480 php/person one way. The journey was very long, about 6 hours, but we got to watch two movies on a makeshift TV attached in the front row. Pretty ingenious people ;). This is the long and cheap version.
In the meantime a new flight was introduced directly from Manila to El Nido with AirSwift that takes about 1 hour and a half, prices start from 250 euros/person return ticket. If this option would have been available when we traveled there, we definitely might have took it.

Things to do in El Nido

Tours A, B, C or D
Source http://www.gopalawan.travel/

The most famous ones and the ones comprising all the top attractions are tours A and C, therefore we did only these two.
The cost per tour was 1000 php/person Tour A and 1200 php/person Tour C. All tours have pickup from the hotel and lunch included.
Lunch on the island

Tour A (Small lagoon, Big lagoon, Secret lagoon, Simizu Island, Seven Commandos Beach aka Papaya Beach)

Tour C (Helicopter island, Hidden beach, Secret beach, Matinloc Shrine, Talisay beach)

Nacpan Beach
The first thing we did in El Nido was go to the Nacpan beach. We rented a tuk-tuk for the entire day for 900 php to take us there and back home.
Nacpan was dreamy and huge! We adventured on going till the very end of the beach, leaving our sunscreen behind...to get an idea of how long the beach actually is, upon our return we were completely sunburned! But this was just a small inconvenience as we had the amazing beach all to ourselves. We only encountered one local entrepreneur :) that filled his bike with coconuts from the tree in front of his beach hut and went on to sell them. Half an hour later we saw him return with no coconuts and a smile on his face.

Duli Beach
Duli would have to be the smaller sister yet more crowded of Nacpan, but if I would have to chose between the two...Nacpan would be my choice.
Although Duli is not bad herself, for some reason Nacpan stuck to my heart.

Watching the romantic sunset in Corong-Corong
The beach in Corong-Corong is not that pretty, although is nicer than the one in El Nido, but the sunsets we admired here are some of the best we have ever seen.
The night scenery here is very lively, with all sorts of cute bars on the beach and a very relaxed atmosphere.
Burning skies 

Island hoping by zip line
La piece de resistance was by far the 750 meters zip line connecting El Nido with the neighbouring island Depeldet.
For your return you can either chose to come back on another zip line or take a 10 minutes stroll until you reach Las Cabanas beach, option I would rather recommend.
The zip line ride was 500 php one way/person for the sitting position, or if you are feeling brave you can opt for the Superman one for 700 php.

Tips and tricks

- If your tuk-tuk driver wants to show you a cool local tradition, beware that he might take you to a cock fight. When we got there we where the only tourists and all the locals where looking at us feeling either confused on what we were doing there or completely amazed. Everything was just like in the movies, they had a small arena where they held the fights and people all over were placing bets. The locals helped me climb to the top so I get to see better...really nice of them but it was not something I wanted to see. We stayed for just a few minutes, and although I do not agree at all with the whole concept, it was very interesting to see the locals so engaged into this. After this we finally understood why the rooster that woke us up for several mornings in a row all of a sudden went silent.

- The cuisine in the Philippines is not as diverse as in other countries in Asia, but once there you must try Chicken Adobo.

- El Nido per say is not such a beautiful town, but is the perfect base camp from where to do all the tours to the really incredible places.

- There are a lot of restaurant in El Nido where you can try all sorts of fresh fish and seafood. You get to pick your fish before they cook it and they really have the largest variety ever.

- I was impressed by the amount of boutique shops in El Nido. You can buy a lot of nice localy handmade stuff, from clothes to jewellery to souvenirs.

- What made Palawan unique is that the government is helping to promote family run business by not allowing big corporate chains to takeover.

- There are only a few places where credit cards are accepted and at the time of visiting there were only 2 ATMs on the island which did not work.

Hope I inspired your next holiday destination!


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  1. Great photos! I regret now only doing tour A, I hope to be returning to the Philippines soon

  2. Thanks for the great post! I’m so excited to explore Palawan in November. I think it’s much more beautiful than Halong Bay in Vietnam. Which tour should I choose because I just have two days there?