The Palawan is one of the cheapest provinces to backpack in the Philippines. No wonder, it’s on every backpacker’s trail. It is a heaven for the divers and beach bums who do not want to shell out a lot of money, but still want to have a taste of all sort of experiences – Well, in short, the backpackers!
How to plan your trip to Palawan?
There are two ways in which you could travel through Palawan.
1. From the North
Whether you plan to do Palawan from the north or south, Manila is the best place to start to Palawan for the simple reason being the availability of cheap flights that fly at regular hours. You could also fly from Cebu if you plan to enter from the Visayas province.
If you begin from up north, the first stop before entering the central Palawan region would be Coron Island. It is a beautiful island with plenty of activities and island hopping lined up for the beach lovers.
You could also rent a motorbike and explore the islands by yourself if you’re not into diving (like me!). However, I skipped Coron for the lack of time. My inputs for Coron are based on my research.
1. Take a ferry to Coron from Manila. The cost of the boat is about 1500 PHP one way. It takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on the sea conditions.
2. From Coron, boats leave to El Nido in the south. There are two ferries – one early in the morning around 6 AM and the second leaves in the noon. It’s better to buy tickets a day ahead during the peak seasons. It takes 4 to 5 hours to reach El Nido from Coron. The cost of the ferry ranges between 1400 to 1700 PHP.
3. From El Nido, regular vans and buses leave to Puerto Princesa. They leave every hour, and it is a 6-hour journey to Puerto Princessa. Buses cost about 400 PHP and are the cheapest. But the downside is they stop at many places. Vans cost about 600 PHP (Air Con).
4. From Puerto Princesa, you could fly back to Manila. The journey takes less than 1.5 hours, and there are a lot of cheap flights provided by the local carriers – Cebu Pacific and the Philippine Airlines, apart from Air Asia.
1. From the South
I did not intend to visit Coron, so I traveled from the south and came back while exploring Palawan. If you plan to do Coron on a budget as well, check this travel guide to Coron.
Here’s how you can travel around.
1. You could start traveling in Palwan by entering through the capital city – Puerto Princesa. Many flights are available to Puerto Princesa from Manila and it takes 1.5 hours.
2. From Puerto Princesa, take a bus or a van to reach El Nido, which takes about 6 hours.
3. From El Nido, you have three options:
a. Fly to Manila if you want to skip Coron (Flights are expensive, though)
b. Take a ferry to reach Coron – There are two ferries every day. The first starts at 6 AM and the second leaves El Nido around 1 PM. Travel time is 4 to 5 hours.
c. Go back to Puerto Princesa and fly to Manila from there. It involves some extra journey, but saves some money as far as the flight to Manila is considered. I flew back from Puerto Princesa.
Please do a weather check and plan well before while using ferries especially, as the boats can get cancelled without notice if the weather gets bad due to rough storms and typhoons.
Please use your haggling skills to get the best prices. For example, in Puerto Princesa, I got a discount of 2200 PHP overall (tours, accommodation and transport) just by using my bargaining skills! But, make sure to be polite and sound reasonable, though.
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