When most travelers put Palawan on their bucket list, they’re usually envisioning El Nido. Secret lagoons, white-sand beaches, towering limestone cliffs, crystalline turquoise waters, and breathtaking views—you name it, El Nido has it all.
But as every traveler finds out, getting to paradise isn’t always easy. Here are seven must-know tips to make your journey from Puerto Princesa to El Nido just a little bit easier.
Take the Van, Instead of the Bus
Land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido isn’t so bad, but taking the van is significantly better and faster than the bus. A bus is cheaper, especially a non-air conditioned one, but it makes stops frequently to pick up and drop off passengers. As a result, the travel time from the San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa to El Nido is usually around seven to nine hours.
Vans are the most popular way to get to El Nido with the relatively quick trip taking just five to six hours, including a 30-minute rest stop. Pro tip: seats nearer the front of the van are more comfortable, so try to secure these early. The further back you are, the rockier the ride tends to be with car sickness potentially becoming a problem.
Book Tickets in Advance
Traveling in the Philippines, especially in provincial areas, can be unpredictable, but booking ahead of your trip is one way to ensure a fast and smooth journey to El Nido. Vans in the province usually wait until its fully booked and at maximum capacity, so it’s possible to spend an hour or two just waiting for more people to fill up the seats.
Book your Puerto Princesa to El Nido transfers with KKday and enjoy a comfortable trip between the two Palawan destinations. When booking with KKday and a few other providers, you can also choose to get picked up and dropped off at the airport or your hotel.
Travel by Private Car, If Possible
If you’re willing to shell out a little extra cash, private car transfers are an even more comfortable way of traveling by land from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Relax and stretch out for the journey without having to squeeze into a van with other travelers. Those who are traveling with a big group may also find this a good value option, since you’ll be splitting the cost among yourselves, anyway.
If You’ve Got the Budget, Catch a Plane
If money isn’t an issue, consider flying directly from Manila to El Nido. It’s definitely the more expensive option, but it’s also the most comfortable out of all the choices. Plus, it cuts down travel time to just around an hour, which means you’ve got more time to spend sightseeing and swimming.
Only one airline, Air Swift, flies directly from Manila to El Nido, but it offers daily flights with up to five trips per day. Air Swift also offers flights to El Nido from Clark, Cebu, and Davao.
Explore Puerto Princesa Before Leaving
Sure, El Nido may be your ultimate destination, but if you’ve got time to spare, spend a day or two exploring Puerto Princesa. Palawan’s capital city has its own set of tourist attractions, including the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sail to the white sandy islands of Honda Bay and spend half a day swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on pristine shores.
Get Cash and Other Necessities Before Traveling to El Nido
El Nido is one of the best destinations in the Philippines, but its remote location means it falls short on some necessities, including cash and medicine.
There’s only one ATM in El Nido and it’s known for running out of cash, so make sure you have enough cash in your wallet to pay for accommodations, transportation, tours, food, and other expenses. Bring more cash than you plan on spending and don’t rely on debit or credit cards—not all eateries and tour operators accept VISA here!
Be open and anticipate change in plans in El Nido, such as tour cancellations due to weather or transportation delays. Back up plans can save the day, such as embarking on a food trip in the town proper when it’s raining and postponing an island tour for another day. Be prepared for flight delays and book a van or private transfer a few hours after your flight’s estimated arrival.
Sit back, enjoy the view, and don’t sweat the small stuff—after all, you’re in paradise.
Wondering what to do once you get to El Nido? Book an island hopping tour with KKday and let us take you to some of the most spectacular islands in Palawan.