People don’t believe me when I say I only spent PHP 6,000 (USD 135) on a 3-day trip to El Nido, Palawan.
Obviously, there’s still that notion that this paradise is an expensive destination. Private island resorts cater to the high end market, but then there’s El Nido town for the budget backpackers. You don’t get an island to yourself, but hey there are dozens others (Tours A, B, C or D, anyone?) which can be more fun when shared with fellow travelers.
Consider these when planning your trip:
1. Off- season travel / It was drizzling when I arrived but the sun eventually came out. The weather may be moody at times but fewer crowds and cheaper everything makes it still enjoyable! I said cheaper because I got my island hopping tour and van transfers at much lower prices than the published ones on the internet.
2. Accommodation / Home stays and pension houses abound in town, with some as cheap as PHP 250 a night. I chose to stay at OMP (Our Melting Pot) Hostel and I highly recommend it! Location was perfect, staff was amazing and it’s a good place to meet other travelers as well. It’s just walking distance to the beach and bars/ restaurants.
Cost of 3-night stay at OMP w/ breakfast (dorm room) = PHP 1,500
3. Food and nightlife / The food choices are quite diverse, but nothing beats seafood and grilled everything when you’re at the beach! 🙂 Squidos had this buffet dinner for PHP 250, including crabs, mussels, vegetable dishes, and even pasta. We also tried Aplaya which is beachfront, and there’s Sky Grill which serves the famous bird’s nest soup (PHP 200 / bowl). There are also cheap canteens scattered around town.
The nightlife is not as wild as in Boracay, but the beach front bars can get crowded at this time, especially the reggae bar. We also sang our hearts out on videoke one night, and only paid PHP20… for all 7 of us! 🙂
4. Transportation / The most important thing to note is the trip schedule, and there are a lot of resources on the internet for this. It’s best to book in advance since trips are limited. One way takes around 5 hours, with several stops along the way. From Puerto Princesa, I booked my ride with Eulen Joy. They have an office / terminal right outside the PPS airport. I booked my return trip with Fort Wally through the hostel. There’s no difference really in terms of service and I paid the same price for both ways.
Cost of round trip van = PHP 1,000
5. Activities / Two full days isn’t enough to explore El Nido! I was only able to do 1 tour out of 4. This already took up the whole day. I wanted to do another tour the following day, but I was convinced to do some cliff climbing and beach bumming instead. Not a bad decision at all! Corong-Corong beach is famous for its sunset view, and is 15 minutes away from town. The beach is lined with resorts but the best spot is right in front of Las Cabanas resort.
Cost of island hopping tour C = PHP 1,100
Cost of round trip trike to Corong-Corong beach (3 pax) = PHP 300
Cost of cliff climb = PHP 250
The beauty of El Nido deserves a post of its own. 🙂 That’s coming up!