11 Sep Essentials You Need to Know When You Travel to Palawan Philippines
El Nido, Palawan is a tropical paradise you simply must experience. You will love its blue lagoons, clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, sunny weather, and welcoming and friendly people. Before you get too eager and just pack up and go, keep yourself informed of the essentials you need before heading out to the island.
El Nido does not have to be expensive
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You will also find a wide range of meal options, from Php50 to Php300 (USD1.06 to USD6.35). Island hopping tour fees usually include buffet lunch, allowing you to save money. Buying souvenir items in town is a cheaper option than shopping in souvenir shops at the airport. You will want to buy cashew nuts, a known delicacy in Palawan. It will only cost you around Php120 (USD2.54) per pack.
El Nido is not expensive if you are a smart traveler. To reach the island, the fastest and most expensive route is via the El Nido airport. But this is also costly. The cheaper option is to fly from Cebu or Manila to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. You can then head over to San Jose terminal for a five-hour van or bus ride to El Nido. Taking the Puerto Princesa route will take more time, but the plane ride will cost half as much. Shuttle vans usually cost Php500 to Php600 (USD 10.59 to USD 12.70), while bus trips cost Php380 to Php480 (USD 8.05 to USD 10.16).
Accommodation options in El Nido range from luxurious to budget-friendly. Hotels facing the scenic Bacuit Bay can cost you from Php1,000 to Php1,200 (USD 21.17 to USD 25.41) per night while accommodations located near the town proper often offer fees from Php500 to Php800 (USD 10.59 to USD 16.94) per night. I would suggest staying in hostels located near the beach, as it lets you spend the night outside in a hammock. You will love listening to the sound of the soothing waves as you gaze at the starry sky. I personally find the experience very therapeutic.
The locals are warm and helpful
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You will love how practically everyone in El Nido is smiling. From the tricycle drivers and travel guides to the tourists and locals, everyone seems to be in a state of joy. Maybe this is because El Nido is gorgeous, peaceful and laid back. If you need anything, like finding affordable eateries and tours, you can easily approach the locals for help. They would even willingly share their own food with you if you find yourself stuck somewhere away from the town, as I have personally experienced. A tricycle driver could easily become your friendly guide should you need assistance navigating the trickier terrains, just as a local driver kindly helped me climb a hill in Nacpan Beach so I could get a great view of the pristine twin Nacpan-Calitang beaches. Everyone is very helpful.
It is also noticeable just how much the locals love their town. You would notice the deep pride they feel, as they bring up praises of their town and talk of stories and legends about the origins of the caves and islands’ names.
There are no hospitals in El Nido
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El Nido doesn’t have a public or a private hospital and there are only a few drugstores to cater to your basic medical needs. For immediate medical concerns, you can only go to a small clinic. Make sure you buy your medicines before traveling to El Nido, and that you take extra precautions so you don’t get into any emergency situation while on the island.
Bring enough cash
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Make sure you bring enough cash when you travel to El Nido because there are only four ATMs to cater to hundreds of tourists who visit the area. Withdraw enough cash at the Puerto Princesa airport before heading out to El Nido, and prepare a budget plan for your trip, and include a little extra for spur of the moment activities and side trips. Your foreign currency will come in handy should you find yourself scraping for cash, as you can easily run to Palawan Money Changer, a popular pawn shop and money exchange center in the Philippines.
There are endless activities in El Nido
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It’s impossible to get bored while in El Nido, Palawan, with countless activities waiting to be experienced and islands to be explored. Whether you are an adventure junkie or a beach bum, El Nido has something for you.
You can choose from four island hopping tours and one inland tour. You can enjoy snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, and kayaking, or simply chill by Marimegmeg Beach or wait for the sunset in Nacpan Beach. From sunrise to sunset, Bacuit Bay is a sight to behold.
There are several tour agencies in El Nido offering their services ranging from Php1,200 to Php1,400 pax per day (USD 25.41 to USD 29.65). You can negotiate for lower prices, so work on your haggling skills! Some hotels and hostels offer tour packages for their guests. Booking one to two months in advance will let you avail of some promos. The tours usually operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include buffet lunch, free use of snorkeling gear and life vests.
El Nido offers a myriad of gastronomic delights
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El Nido is a world-renowned tourist destination and hundreds of foreign guests flock to this tourism gem even during the off-peak season. To cater to the visitors’ varied preferences, diners and restaurants offer Japanese, Korean, Italian and American dishes alongside the usual Filipino comfort food.
There are no sidewalks in town
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You will not find any sidewalk in town, and you are not allowed to walk in the middle of the street. There is, after all, traffic and doing so will not only annoy drivers but will endanger you as well. To know where to walk, observe the locals. You will notice that they keep to the side and cautiously pay attention to traffic so they can move further to the side when necessary. Just follow suit, and you can avoid drivers honking at you.