During the last week of November to first week of December, I traveled back to Palawan to revisit Puerto Princesa Underground River and El Nido found at the northern half of the mainland. During the first half of the trip, I traveled with my travel mates. We hired a travel agency (packaged tour) to take us to the PP Underground River and then three full days of beach/island hopping tours in El Nido.

On the second half of my 8-day itinerary in Northern Palawan, I traveled solo (DIY) in El Nido town proper and then back to Puerto Princesa to kick start my exploration of Tabon Caves in Southern Palawan.

Route map of 8-day El Nido and PP Underground River itinerary

Had to travel by plane from Iloilo to Manila and then Manila to Puerto Princesa City. Arrived a day earlier than travel mates to account for flying from Iloilo and air connection in Manila.

Met travel mates on the 2nd day and had a day tour of the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Headed straight to El Nido and arrived there at nightfall. Spent the next three days on full-day island/beach hopping tours.

I traveled solo again from the 6th to 8th day. I stayed at Hostel Banane, probably the first to offer dorm beds in El Nido. Conquered Taraw Peak and had long photo walks of El Nido town proper before moving on to exploring the southern part of Palawan Island.

Day 1 (November 29, 2011; Tuesday)

Iloilo to Puerto Princesa, Palawan Flight via Manila

Transport: Iloilo to Manila

  • 5:00am – Iloilo City to Iloilo Airport via own transport (20 minutes)
  • 5:20am – Arrive in Iloilo Airport
    • Check in for “Iloilo to Manila” flight via Airphil Express flight # 2P946 – P200 terminal fee
    • Eat at Iloilo Airport
      • 2 tuna waffles at Waffletime – P40
      • Bottled Iced Tea at Marlboro Lounge – P50
  • 6:00am – Board Airphil Express flight # 2P946
  • 6:20am – Depart from Iloilo Airport
  • Iloilo to Manila flight (1 hour)
  • 7:20am – Arrive in Manila International Airport (NAIA) – Terminal 3 (T3)

Detour: Hidalgo St., Quiapo to buy camera accessories

  • 8:00am – Airport shuttle from Terminal 3 to Pasay Rotonda (pick-up station of the airport shuttle is located at the far end of terminal; turn right after the exit) – P20 fare
  • Walk to LRT 1 (yellow line) “EDSA” station
  • Pasay Rotonda to Quiapo LRT ride – P15 fare
  • Walk to Hidalgo St.
  • Buy camera stuff at  “Avenue Photo” shop
  • Breakfast at Jollibee (near Quiapo Church) – P100
  • Taxi from Quiapo Church are to NAIA – P300 + P35 STAR skyway toll (via STAR skyway is a faster more convenient way to avoid horrible traffic in Metro Manila when getting to NAIA Terminal 3)
  • 11:15am – Arrival at NAIA T3
Transport: Manila to Puerto Princesa flight
  • Check-in for “Manila to Puerto Princesa” flight via AirPhil Express flight# 2P 953 – did not have to pay for terminal fee when on a “connecting flight” (on the same day and on the same airline)
  • Bottled water at NAIA – P40
  • 12:00nn – Departure from Manila
  • Manila to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan flight (1 hour and 10 minutes)
  • 1:10pm – Arrival in Puerto Princesa City Airport
Banwa Art Pension House; find hostel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
  • Walk to highway (just outside the passenger terminal)
  • Airport to Palawan Capitol tricycle ride – P10
  • Walk to Dallas Inn (#11 Carandang St. Mangahan, Puerto Princesa City) – fully booked
    • Also possible to ride the jeepney from Palawan Capitol to Mendoza Park and take shorter walk to Dallas Inn. Or charter the tricycle direct to any point in the city proper.
  • Mendoza Park to Banwa Pension House tricycle ride – P20
  • Check-in at Banwa Pension Art House (Liwanag Street, Puerto Princessa
    City; see map) – P350 dorm bed (paid upon check-out)
  • Late Lunch at Banwa
    • Tuna ala Pobre (with rice) – P140
    • Iced Tea – P35
  • WIFI at Banwa – P40 for entire stay
Tour: Photo walk around Puerto Princesa City
  • Dinner at Filviet Cuisine (Carandang St.; near Dallas Inn)
    • Bowl of beef strips noodle soup – P60, French bread with garlic – P22, Coke 8oz – P12
  • Grocery stop at local supermarket
    • Bottled water, bread, snacks etc.- P94
  • Tricycle to Banwa – P8

Sleep: Banwa Pension Art House

Day 2 (November 30, 2011; Wednesday)

Meet travel mates at Puerto Princesa Airport

  • Ride tricycle from Banwa to Puerto Princesa Airport – P20 fare
  • 9:31am – Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport
  • 9:40am – Met up with travel mates
  • Pay 4-day “Puerto Princesa Underground River – El Nido”  packaged tour – P4,905 (9 persons in our travel group)
    • Tour was inclusive of:
      • Puerto Princesa Airport to Sabang (gateway to PPUR) van transport
      • Underground River packaged tour  including buffet lunch, permit fees and boat transfers)
      • Sabang to El Nido van transport
      • El Nido Island Hopping Tour A + B (including lunch; customized combination tour)
      • El Nido Island Hopping Tour C + D (including lunch; customized combination tour)
      • Nacpan and Calintang twin beaches land tour  (including lunch)
      • Two nights at Hadefe’s Beach Cottages, two nights at Rico’s Beach cottages (both in El Nido Town Proper)
    • Tour company contact:
      • Hadefe Travel and Tours (http://hadefetravel.athost.net/)

Tour: Puerto Princesa Underground River day trip

  • 10:30am – Departure from Puerto Princesa Airport
  • Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido aircon van/shuttle ride (1 hour and 20 minutes)
  • 11:50am – Arrival at Sabang Beach
  • Buffet lunch at Sabang Beach
  • Walk to Sabang Pier. Travel agency took care of arranging the permits and boat transfers
  • 1:05pm – Sabang Pier to Puerto Princesa Underground River beach pumboat / motorized outrigger ride (20 minutes)
    • Maximum of 6 people per boat
  • 1:25pm – Arrival at PP Underground River beach
  • Walk through monkey trail to paddle boat dock near the mouth of the PP underground river (5 minutes)
  • 1:45pm to 2:30pm – Puerto Princesa Underground River guided tour on a paddle boat (45 minutes to 1 hour)
  • 2:45pm – Boat transfer back to Sabang Pier (20 minutes)
Transport: Sabang to El Nido
  • 3:20pm – Departure from Sabang Beach
  • Sabang Beach to El Nido van ride (5 hours and 30 minutes)
  • 8:00pm – Arrival in El Nido, Palawan
Check-in at Hadefe’s Beach Cottages
  • Walk to Hadefe’s from El Nido town proper (20 minutes)
  • Dinner at Hadefe’s (shared meal) – P560 total bill  (P80 per person)
Sleep: Hadefe’s Beach Cottages

Day 3 (December 1, 2011; Thursday)

Breakfast at Calaan Beach

  • 6:16am – Photo walk at Calaan Beach (a bit too late for sunrise)
  • 7:35am – Complimentary breakfast at Hadefe’s Beach cottages
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A + B (customized combination tour)
  • 8:41pm – Dinner at Squido’s (shared meal by 7 persons) – almost P300 share per person
    • Waiting time to a very long while. The stuffed squid did not taste as good as last time.
  • Karaoke session at the bar across the street from Squido’s
Sleep: Hadefe’s Beach Cottages

Day 4 (December 2, 2011; Friday)

  • Complimentary breakfast at Hadefe’s
El Nido Island Hoppig Tour C + D (customized combination tour)
  • 9:15am to 5:00pm – start island hopping tour C + D
    • 10:11am – Matinloc Island Secret Beach
    • 11:18am – Snorkelling off the coast of Tapiutan Island near Star Beach
    • 11:43am – Picnic lunch at Talisay Island, Matinloc Island
    • 1:28am – Matinloc Shrine
    • 2:25pm – Matinloc Hidden Beach
    • 3:26pm – Helicopter (Dilumacad) Island
    • 4:05pm – Cadlao Lagoon
    • 5:00pm – Back to El Nido Town Proper
  • Dinner at El Nido Corner Restaurant and Bar (shared meal among 7 persons) – P400 share per person
    • Ordered Tuna Pasta and Mango Shake. Pricey but the pasta was tasted great, so, no complaints :)

Day 5 (December 3, 2011; Saturday)

  • 8:19am – Breakfast at El Nido Skyline Grill
    • Nido Soup – P200 (P100 shared the soup)
    • Longsilog – P120
  • Quick stopover at El Nido Church
Tour: Nacpan and Calintang twin beaches at mainland El Nido
  • 9:45am – El Nido Town Proper to Nacpan / Calintang Beach van ride (45 minutes)
  • 9:45am to 4:30pm – Nacpan and Calintang twin beaches tour
    • 10:30am – Arrival in Nacpan / Calintang Beach
    • Photo walk around the area
      • Rocky area where the two beaches intersect was a great photo stop
    • 12:00nn – Picnic lunch at the beach
    • 3:50pm – Arrival in Nacpan / Calintang Beach
    • 4:30pm – arrived in El Nido Town proper
  • Dinner at Sea Slugs – approx  P300 spent
    • Ordered Calamares. Very good!

Day 6 (December 4, 2011; Sunday)

  • 6:00pm – Bid goodbye to travel mates. Start solo travel in El Nido
Tour: Taraw Peak hike
  • Met my two guides, whom I met the day before at El Nido town proper. My guides were highschool students doing part time guiding on the weekends – P300 guide fee (+P40 tip)
  • Walk from Rico’s cottages to jump-off point for Taraw Peak
  • 7:20am to 10:09am – Taraw Peak trek (1 hour to reach summit from jump-off point)
    • Bring footwear with thick sole since the trail traverses razor sharp limestone rock formations
    • 8:22am – reached summit
    • Rained heavily on our descent.
    • 10:09am – back to ground zero
Find hostel in El Nido
  • Check-out at Rico’s cottages
  • Check-in at Hostel Banane – P350 per night dorm bed
    • Contact: Same management with El Toro restobar; +639199591722; [email protected]; www.eltoroelnido.com
  • Dinner at Skyline Hotel
  • Karaoke and rhum coke night with hostel mates
Sleep: Hostel Banane

Day 7 (December 5, 2011; Monday)

  • 8:11am – Breakfast at Seaslugs
    • Ham omelette – around P170. Excellent food and large serving

Bum around El Nido town proper and sunset walk at Calaan Beach

  • 2:33pm – bowl of La Paz B Batchoy at the batchoyan infront of the El Nido Church. Batchoy was not good at all.
  • P25 burger at sidestreet stall infront of Squidoo’s
  • Explore El Nido town proper on foot
  • 4:30pm – sunset photos at the northern end of El Nido Beach near the guard house
  • Dinner at 24-hour Bulalo eatery near Hostel Banane
    • P160 for a bowl of Bulalo soup. They said it was good for two but it was actually filling enough for one.

Sleep: Hostel Banane

Day 8 (December 6, 2011; Tuesday)

Transport: El Nido to Puerto Princesa City

  • 8:00am – Tricycle ride from Hostel Banane to El Nido bus/van terminal (5 minutes) – P10
  • Board regular nonaircon bus to Puerto Princesa
  • 9:00 – Departure from Puerto Princesa
  • El Nido to Puerto Princesa bus ride (7 hours) – P300
    • Long stopover at Taytay town
    • Long stopover at Roxas town
    • Bought casuy (1 small pack) – P60
  • 4:00pm – Arrival in Puerto Princesa City San Jose Terminal

Next up

  • Tabon Caves & Puerto Princesa Itinerary 6 days DIY