For such a long time I wanted to visit the Philippines. It was a dream I had ever since I was a kid. All this crystal clear water, waving palm trees and white beaches I had to see for myself. So when I had the chance to visit this country I didn’t think twice and immediately booked my plane ticket!
After booking this ticket 3 weeks of unforgettable experiences followed. When I think back at my trip I think back at paradise BUT.. first things first! How do you get to this paradise?
How to enter The Philippines?
First of all, El Nido is located on the North-end of the island Palawan. This makes El Nido a remote place and quite hard to reach but definitely not impossible!
First things first! You will arrive in the Philippines by a plane landing in Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The entry conditions in the Philippines are different for every country, however for most European and Western countries you won’t need a visa if you staying less than 30 days. Always make sure you have a return ticket so you have proof that you will leave the country within 30 days.
Manilla to Puerto Princesa
Now that you are landed in Manilla my biggest tip is to get out of there as soon as you can. Manilla is a huge and polluted city where you will get hours of traffic and people are not interested in tourists.
To get out of Manilla you need to have a connecting flight. I had the same day a connection to Puerto Princesa, this is the capital of the island Palawan.
The best thing you can do is to make sure you will have the connection to Puerto Princesa the same day. However, make sure you will have some time between these flights! I think a minimum of 3 hours is needed because there are different terminals and like I just said, there are BIG traffic jams in Manilla. The two main companies operating daily flights between the two cities are Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
Why not take a plane straight to El Nido?
This is very expensive and not suitable for travelers with a tight budget (just like me).
Now that you are in Puerto Princesa, how will you get to El Nido?
There are many options but the most popular one is to go there by van. This will take around 6 hours and the costs are 500 to 700 PHP (around 11 euro’s/ 12 dollars). You can also choose to go there by bus, this will take around 7 to 9 hours and will cost around 8 euro’s / 9 dollar.
Once you step out of the airport of Puerto Princesa, lot’s of van drivers will come up to you and ask if you need a ride to El Nido. You can go with them, however their van will only leave the airport once it’s full, so sometimes you can wait a couple of hours for the next flight to land so more people can join the ride.
I contacted my hotel and asked them to book a mini-van, that way you are sure you have a ride, and the waiting time will be less. If you don’t have a hotel booked you can just buy your tickets online. Lexus shuttle is one of the main transfer companies so you can easily book your ticket with them!
How will the ride go?
If you check Google Map’s, it will say that the ride is about 4 hours from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. The explanation herefore is that Google Maps doesn’t take the state of the road into account. There are lot’s of hill’s and turns and it’s impossible to drive fast on these roads so therefore the ride will take about 6 hours.
Halfway during the ride you will have to opportunity to have a quick lunch in a local restaurant and to go to the toilet.
After 6 hours (or more) you will be dropped off by your hotel or at Corong-Corong bus terminal. This depends on where you have booked your ticket for the mini-van. Always ask before where they will drop you off! If you are dropped off at Corong-Corong bus terminal you can take a tricycle to El Nido. This will be a few minutes further. Walking is not a great idea since the roads in El Nido are very busy and accidents happen very fast, therefore is it wisdom to just take a tricycle.
Now that you are in El Nido be prepared for white sand beaches, crystal-clear water and tropical vibes!