Saturday, December 29, 2012

Palawan: DIY or Packaged Tour?

in continuation to an earlier post about planning a trip to palawan, let me discuss another essential point: manner to go about the whole trip.
i should have discussed this point earlier on. but well, discussing about it only occurred to me now. so, let's get on with it, shall we?

first thing first, what kind of traveler are you?

do you take glory in getting your hands dirty OR are you the type who can't spare time to 'google' information? that your very definition of traveling is simply to relax and to let other people plan everything for you. after all, what's the point of having a vacation if you'll be faced with the possibility of stress, right? you tell yourself, isn't the very definition of taking a vacation is to get away from all stress that life brings?
well, as trivial as this thing might be - i believe deciding on whether to DO-IT-YOURSELF or pay for the services of a TOUR OPERATOR (agency) is one of the first step you have to take when planning for a vacation. once you've decided on whether to DIY or to avail of a tour package, then you can proceed from there.
in my previous travel experiences, i've tried both. like any other option, each has its own merits and demerits. it's really up to you. sometimes it's just a question of which you value more: convenience vs. cost.
obviously, if you DIY - the possibility of cutting and SAVING on COST is higher compared to availing the services of a tour operator. however, while this could be true - sometimes, getting a packaged tour could turn out more cost effective. generally, it's truly a case to case basis. let me explain.
if you are traveling as a couple - getting a packaged tour can be more expensive. well, there's no arguing that the fewer the number of travelers there are, the more expensive travel expenses can get. that said, it should, however, not discourage couples to travel on their own. because, really, everything is still up to the couple.
obviously, traveling as a group could be cheaper because you all could split the costs but believe me, sometimes it's a hassle to travel in a group: too many people to consider + transportation could be more difficult, especially if traveling by public transportation. of course, you don't want to leave a travel member behind if the available seats in a public transpo couldn't accommodate the entire traveling crew.
so, what's the better option to take: DIY or packaged tour? well, i can't answer that for you because we each differ on what we value. haha, having said that made me question the very point of why i am writing this post in the first place. i don't have any intention to cause you further confusion. i just want you to examine this for yourself, and i couldn't make you think about it if i don't point it out. so, what i'm going to do instead is just tell you my own experiences in traveling to palawan.
  1. puerto princesa and el nido
  2. when i vacationed in puerto princesa and el nido in 2008, i traveled with 7 other people. ours was partly DIY and partly tour package.
    because there were 8 of us, traveling to these two beautiful places was a bit cheaper. the DIY part was the choice of accommodation and the puerto princesa city tour.
    • puerto princesa city tour
    • as of writing, the half-day city tour to palawan costs PhP600/person for a group of 6. i believe doing the city tour on your own is a bit cheaper. what you can do is just hire a tricycle/motorcycle, and negotiate with the driver to take you to these places of interests: butterfly farm (25 pesos/2008), crocodile farm (40 pesos/2008), rancho sta. monica (mitra's ranch) (free), and baker's hill (free).
    • puerto princesa underground river
    • this has to be care of an agency or book through your hotel. tour cost per person as of writing is PhP1,500. in our case, we booked through EMF travel agency. tour cost includes, AC van - travel guide - ferry ride to underground river - entrance fees - 45 mins. to 1 hour river tour, lunch at tribal bar and cafe, and stop at buenavista viewing deck. [we got a free public market tour from our guide].
    • el nido transportation
    • our travel group opted to have a van at our disposal while in el nido. thus, for this convenience we paid a steep PhP2,062 per person for the 3-day use of the van (pp.el nido.pp). but trust me, getting to el nido via a travel package that includes transportation to el nido from puerto princesa, is still way expensive. so, i suggest going to el nido via public transportation. my brother and sister went to el nido last february 2012 thru public transportation. van cost to el nido from puerto princesa (2012) was 500 pesos/person. i will blog about how to get to el nido via public transportation soon.
    • el nido island hopping
    • as we didn't avail of any travel package, we just asked the staff in greenviews to arrange us an island hopping tour. for the island hopping tour around bacuit archipelago, we paid PhP700/person. tour includes lunch and visit to these 7 lovely places: cudugman cave, snake island, pangalusian island (snorkeling), south miniloc island (lunch stop), secret island, and small/big lagoons on miniloc island (for those who remembered, this was where the famous BENCH commercial was shot, with then young richard gomez's kayaking scene..hehe)
    while in puerto princesa, we only did the underground river. our main goal then was to travel to el nido. thus, we were unable to visit the other islands in nearby puerto princesa. so, if given the chance and i could go back to puerto princesa i'm going to do the following:
    • honday bay island hopping tour
    • as of writing, tour fee is PhP1,300/person. tour includes, visit to 3 islands; pandan island/snake island/starfish or pambato island), tour guide, entrance fees, picnic lunch, travel insurance, and boat fee.
    • dos palmas day tour
    • as of writing, day use fee is PhP2,500/person* during lean season and PhP3,000/per person* during peak season, and includes lunch.(*prices quoted from skylight hotel's tour package/other tour operators may have a lower fee)
  3. coron, busuanga
  4. for this trip, i traveled with almost the same people i went with during the puerto-princesa and el nido trips.
    we went august 2012, and because there were 9 of us - we availed of a package tour through coron village lodge for a 4D3N package for a fee of PhP6670/person. our itinerary was as follows:
    1. day 1: arrival from manila @3:40 PM
      4 PM - town tour: plaza, market, school, etc.
      5 PM - go up mt. tapyas for panoramic view of town and islands, sunset viewing.
      6:30 PM - maquinit hot spring
    2. day 2: island hopping
    3. siete pecados, twin peaks, kayangan lake, and dicantuman beach; with lunch and snacks
      7:30 AM - breakfast / 9 AM - off to islands / 5 PM - back to town
    4. day 3: calauit island safari
    5. 4:30 AM - off to calauit / 6AM - breakfast @ salvacion / 7:30 AM - registration at calauit / 8:30 AM start of safari tour / 11:30 AM - lunch at salvacion / 3:30 - ETA to coron town , snacks
    6. day 4: free time
      7:30 AM - breakfast 1 PM - travel to airport for flight back to manila
      ***cebu pacific now flies direct from cebu to busuanga. at time of travel, only manila had direct flights to busuanga.
below are some travel operators that we've used previously, click on the picture to direct you to their website:
emf travel and tours

skylight hotel palawan

greenviews resort and hotel, el nido

disclaimer:this is not a paid advertisement. i recommend these places because we had a good experience with them back in 2008 and 2012. your own travel experience might be different from ours. so, i strongly advise on doing further research. check trip advisor, virtual tourist, or travbuddy for other traveler's experiences. these sites provide feedback from other travelers. so, they provide great user feedback

please click ---> HERE to go back to PALAWAN TRAVEL GUIDE.

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