The Ultimate Itinerary: Palawan Edition

So you waited forever to make your way to Palawan and now you finally made it. HORRAY! In this blog post I'll talk about what I did, where I stayed, & how much I spent during my nine days in this beautiful tropical paradise.


DAY 1: ARRIVAL

To get to Palawan, there are three ways: fly into Puerto Princesa (most popular), fly/boat into Coron, or fly into El Nido. I flew from Manila into Puerto Princesa around 8pm & spent one night at Tree House Inn (five minutes from the airport). I would have went straight to El Nido from the airport but it is a six hour van ride and I’d rather not be walking the streets in an unknown place at 3am so I decided to wait until the next morning to head out. After all, everyone’s advice to me is “Be Safe.”

DAY 2: OFF TO EL NIDO

I explored a bit of the streets in Puerto Princesa before my van picked me up at 9am. The van fit about 10-12 people and it turned out the driver went to pick up each passenger from their hotel so it took a while to actually leave town. Once we finally got everyone (after nearly an hour), we sped out towards El Nido. We had one quick stop for lunch then back on the road we went. It was about almost 5pm when we reached El Nido. I dropped my things off at Just Inn (click here for Just Inn accommodation review) then went off to the main beach for sunset and happy hour.

As soon as I got to the main street, I was taken aback with how commercialized El Nido was. I mean, it was beautiful, but a lot more western than most other parts of The Philippines that I’ve seen. I guess that’s what you have to expect when a place gets really popular and tourists come flocking. I met a local friend Danica who works and lives in El Nido; we had some drinks and she showed me around town. It was getting late; I was exhausted from another long day of traveling & I had an early morning ahead of me so I called it a night.

DAY 3: TOUR A

Free breakfast with accommodation is always a plus! Longonisa and rice before a fun day in the sun. 8:30am rolled around and my ride came to pick me up from my place. We went to the main beach where all the tourists were waiting for their boats. 9:30am and we set sail! Tour A had five stops:

Stop #1: Seven Commando Beach

Stop #2: Secret Lagoon

Stop #3: Shimizu Island for lunch

Stop #4: Big Lagoon

Stop #5: Small Lagoon (my absolute favvv)

We came back to land about 5pm. I actually had to switch AirBNB’s because Just Inn was sold out so I moved to BKNY and absolutely LOVED IT (click here for BKNY accommodation review). I did laundry, took a shower, and knocked tf out, so exhausting of a day. BUT! I woke up at 10pm and was ready to party at the infamous Pucca Bar with Danica and Kat.

This place was poppinnnnn! It’s the most popular beach bar in El Nido, everyone was there. Free cover, cheap drinks, two levels, indoor/outdoor, great music, & fun people from all over the world. Definitely the place to be.

DAY 4: MOTOR BIKE EL NIDO

Oh god. I am always reminded of why I don’t party as hard as I used to bc the next day is always the roughest! I was lucky to be able to get out of bed by noon. I hate to waste a day so I pushed through. I rented a motor bike and drove almost an hour north to Nacpan Beach. It was a beautiful drive, for the first half.

And then the second half was very bumpy and semi dangerous (for a rookie motor bike driver) on a rocky dirt road! I just went nice and slow, to be as safe as possible hehe. Hey, but did I die??!

I got to Nacpan beach (alive, if I must say), it was beautiful.

I was starved, so I ate lunch at Kyla’s Cocina right there on the beach.

Little did I know that the fish I ordered was about to give me food poisoning! Well, actually, when I was eating it I did see that the middle of the fish was not fully cooked but I didn’t think much of it so I kept eating. An hour went by and my stomach was churning. UGHHH. I wanted to venture down the beach and take more pictures but I couldn’t go too far from the bathroom, if you know what I mean. TMI? hahahaaaa ok. Moving on. In the lucky event you don’t get food poisoning, you can easily spend all day at Nacpan Beach. There are also a few waterfalls that you’ll see signs for between El Nido and Nacpan that you can also check out!

I had to figure out a way to ride my ass an hour back to town. How was I going to make it? Pull over in the event of an emergency? Do you recall that I mentioned the dirt road was very bumpy? Oh god. A bump dirt road on a motor bike in my condition? I’d be lucky if I lived.

Well, I lived. Without even pulling over. Thank God! I took a long nap and actually went out again ahhahaaaa. Yeah I know, I’m crazy. Although I was feeling much better, I didn’t drink much. Just went out for a good time with the girls. Can’t get enough of The Pucca Bar!!!

DAY 5: TOUR C

Free breakfast included, yes. And since I was feeling much better than yesterday, I decided to go on another island hopping tour. Tour C had five stops:

Stop #1: Helicopter Island

Stop #2: Hidden Beach

Stop #3: Star Beach for lunch

Stop #4: a snorkel spot directly across Star Beach

Stop #5: was supposed to be Secret Beach but the tide was too high and the waves were too rough that the captain called it off since it was too dangerous for passengers to enter. It was late afternoon and the weather took a turn for the worst; it started to pour on us. We were supposed to have an alternative stop #5 but by this time, everyone was so over it and the crew made the ultimate decision to just go back to town. I don’t know if it was because I had way better weather during my day on Tour A, but Tour A was way better than Tour C.

After a yummy sinigang dinner, I had a relaxing last night in El Nido since I had an early morning the next day.

DAY 6: EL NIDO TO CORON

After another free breakfast included with my AirBNB, I checked out and did a short 10 minute walk to the port for my six hour boat ride from El Nido to Coron via Bunso. There are a ton of mixed reviews about "The boat ride from hell" so I wrote a review on my experience (click here for boat ride review).

After a long morning of traveling by boat from El Nido to Coron, I barely had half a day. I took a tricycle ride from the port to “K-Heights Inn” (click here for K-Heights accommodation review). I found this place on AirBNB for $30/night. Definitely steeper than I’d like to pay but it seemed as if Coron was definitely more pricey than other areas of the Philippines. The $30/night included private room, private shower, and daily breakfast. After dropping my things off and settling in, I walked around the town. Coron is much less touristy than El Nido, most everyone walking down the streets were local. I like!

Found a nice Corinderia (small, local family style restaurant, usually has pots and pans of already cooked food out front for you to chose from) to eat dinner at. Love these little hole in the walls bc the food is as local as it gets and a fraction of the price at a standard restaurant you’ll find on the streets.

The town is pretty small so I was able to walk around the main area in less than one hour. As you walk around, look for tourist counters and find the best price to book for a boat tour tomorrow. I did “The Ultimate Tour” and found $30 to be the average price on the streets. 

It was just before sunset on my first day in Coron. I have heard good things about Mount Tapyas and figured it would be the best view of sunset up there so I went up! It is a small hill made of stairs that takes about 30 minutes to go up (time varies depending on your fitness level). Lots of tourists and locals alike going to the top. Of course, sunset draws in a lot more people around that time of day.

Low and behold, I was right. The sunset was nothing short of spectacular from on top of Mount Tapyas. Luckily the top was pretty big and you can walk off to the side to find a secluded area away from all of the people.

DAY 7: THE ULTIMATE TOUR

Meet up for our tour was at 8am and the plan was to be back by 5pm. The company I booked with was Aquos Travel Center. The boat was a bit smaller than other tour boats and it was a good thing bc that meant less people. On my tour, it was just me and one family so it almost seemed like a private tour. YAS! We had a total of six stops:

1st stop: Siete Picatos

2nd stop: Kayagan Lake

3rd stop: Twin Lagoon (my favvvvv!)

4th stop: Lunch at Smith Beach

5th stop: skeleton shipwreck

6th stop: CYC beach

Got back to town around 5pm. Ate dinner and walked around town to sign up for a dive for tomorrow. After I got that all set up, I went straight to The Hippie House. My friend Bea suggested I go there. It was a little reggae bar in a little hidden corner of Coron. Hard to find since it’s not right there on the main road like everything else. But when I found it, OMG I LOVED IT!

Nothing but chill vibes and live music. I asked all the guests how they found out about The Hippie House and everyone had been recommended to visit from a friend, just like I did! I met Chong, the owner. He opened The Hippie House about six months ago after he visited Coron and loved it so decided to stay. Very cool guy! The place sells drinks, some food, and he’ll even give you dreads if you like! I got five dreads as souvenirs hehe

DAY 8: SCUBA DIVING LEGENDARY CORON

I signed up to dive with Amphibi-Ko Dive Center. The total cost was $64. This included three dives, all gear, lunch, and a post-dive beer! Meet up was 8am to get fitting for your gear. There was about 10 of us and it took foreverrrr. We were actually all done being fitted, but the crew took over an hour to prep the boat so we didn’t leave until nearly 10am. One of the other passengers said other companies prep the night before so by the time morning rolls around, its a simple grab and go. Perhaps Amphibi-Ko should do the same. Filipino time I guess? Never the less, we set sail.

Dive #1: East Tangat Ship Wreck
Length 35m, Depth 3-19m

Dive #2: Morazan Maru ship wreck
Length 93m, depth 25m

Dive #3: Barracuda Lake
Depth 27m

There is a thermocline at a certain depth that separates the hot and cold water. In this picture, my hand is in cold water and the rest of my body was in hot water! So cool!

Got back to the shop around 5pm. I wanted to go back to the Hippie House tonight but I completely forgot how exhausting diving can be. I ate dinner, went home, took a shower, and passed out by 8pm!

DAY 9: DEPARTURE

On the day of departure, you will have half a day before you have to be at the port by 4pm for your boat ride back to Manila. I rented a motor bike and explored by land! I have heard about the Maquinit Hot Springs so I went to go check it out. After a 20 minute bumpy ass motor bike ride, I made it to the hot springs.

To much of my dismay, it cost a whooping $4.00 to enter. Sheesh, so expensive (yes, that’s expensive to a backpacker. Hey, that is one night accommodation at most hostels)! But whatever. I paid. It was a hot day and there was barely anybody there, score! I got to take pictures with nobody in it; but of course, it was way to hot to go into a hot spring lol so I just took pictures and dipped my feet. I asked the worker if it was always this empty. He said most people come at night when it’s cooler. Makes sense.

I continued down the dirt road to Cabo Beach. There was an entry fee of $1.00. After having had spent $4.00 at the hot springs, you can see how I was reluctant to pay any more money to enter something I was just stopping by to see. So I didn’t pay. I just took a quick glance and moved on. Nothing too spectacular. Just another beach.

By then it was nearly 1pm. I needed to ride back to town, return the motor bike, eat lunch, pack my bags, and get to the port. Lots of cushion bc the last thing you want to do is miss a flight or boat ride.

Made it to the pier with time to spare. Stocked up on snack and drinks for my 15-hour ship ride with 2GO travel from Coron back to Manila (click here for 2GO travel review).


Quick recap on how much I spent in Palawan (currency in USD):

Day 1: $107
$90 (one-way airfare Manila to Puerto Princesa)
$4 (taxi)
$3 (dinner)
$1 (tricycle)
$9 (treehouse inn)

Day 2: $53
$1 (breakfast)
$2 (lunch)
$1 (tricycle ride)
$12 (happy hour)
$12 (dinner)
$1 (tricycle ride)
$23 (airBNB)

Day 3: $75
$0 (breakfast included)
$20 (tour A)
$0 (lunch included)
$7 (beers for boat crew)
$3 (night out)
$3 (dinner)
$42 (AirBNB)

Day 4: $64
$0 (breakfast included)
$10 (motor bike)
$3 (food poison lunch lol)
$8 (night out)
$1 (late night snack)
$42 (AirBNB)

Day 5: $73
$0 (breakfast included)
$24 (tour C)
$0 (lunch included)
$7 (dinner)
$42 (AirBNB)

Day 6: $63
$0 (breakfast included)
$28 (El Nido to Coron boat ride)
$1 (tricycle ride)
$2 (lunch)
$2 (dinner)
$30 (AirBNB)

Day 7: $78
$0 (breakfast included)
$33 (ultimate tour + snorkel rental)
$0 (lunch included)
$1 (dinner)
$14 (dreads & beer)
$30 (AirBNB)

Day 8: $103
$0 (breakfast included)
$64 (dive)
$0 (lunch included)
$9 (dinner)
$30 (AirBNB)

Day 9: $50
$0 (breakfast included)
$6 (motor bike)
$4 (hot springs)
$0 (lunch was dinner leftovers)
$4 (snacks)
$36 (Coron to Manila ship ride)
$0 (dinner included)

Total accommodation, food, airfare, taxi/tricycle transportation, & activities for nine days costs me an average of $74/day. This was definitely more than my usual daily average in the Philippines, but this is because tours and diving can be pretty pricy. Not to mention the food and accommodations were way more expensive here in Palawan than other parts of The Philippines. It was more of a treat yourself destination. Spend a little more here, spend a little less in other spots. It’s all about balance.

If you go to Palawan, you'll need at least two full days minimum (minus the travel days). That's for one of the two islands. If you go to both El Nido and Coron, you'll need minimum 4-5 days to enjoy, considering it takes nearly a full day to travel between the two. I hope you enjoy Palawan as much as I did! Don’t forget to visit the Hippie House!