Monday, December 24, 2012

planning for palawan trip

i previously mentioned that a friend and his wife are planning to go to palawan this august. this friend is someone i've known way, way, back in grade school (think almost 2 decades ago). i recently received a message again asking me to help him plan. hehe, callous me just told him to check out my previous posts as i was sure i've covered most of the things he and his wife needed. however, a thought popped in mind "you were scared too when you planned for your first, second trip." i know my friend wasn't 'scared, scared' but was more like tentative, perhaps overwhelmed. maybe, i should have told him to leave the planning to his wife, hehe (peace, bay!). girls are more savvy when it comes to planning, bordering on planning to the last minute detail. anyway, i realized that there could be someone out there who's also planning a trip to palawan, and it could be that person's first time to travel. additionally, it had always been my goal to help fellow pinoys to explore the country, and the world. so, i'm writing this post just as a refresher (of previous palawan posts) and to share my two cents as far as planning for a palawan trip is concerned. hopefully, the tips will help you, my dear reader, plan the trip.
  1. best time to visit
  2. my first visit in 2008 (puerto princesa/el nido) was in february. during that time, puerto princesa experienced fine weather. but, when we were in el nido two days later, weather was cloudy and it rained a bit the next day. last year, i went to coron in august. while it didn't rain while we were in town (coron), it definitely rained while we were in caluit island in busuanga. i'd say, the best time to go to palawan is during summer (march to june) in the philippines. i think one would better appreciate the beauty of palawan's crystalline waters when the Sun is shining in its full glory. unfortunately, with climate change - the country's dry and wet seasons don't come as predictably as it used to. so, it's best to consult weather forecasts from time to time.
  3. duration of stay
  4. once you've decided on the "when you will go", the next thing to decide on is the "how long you will stay." below is my own quick itinerary back in 2008 and 2012.
    • 2008- feb. 16-21.(puerto princesa-el nido itinerary)
    • day 1) arrived noon on the 16th - half day city tour - stayed overnight in puerto princesa
      day 2) 5:30 AM call time for travel to el nido (6 hours++ on the road, with stop at roxas city on the 3rd hour), arrived around 1 PM
      day 3) el nido island hopping
      day 4) travel back to puerto princesa (6=7 hours)
      day 5) 6 AM call time for travel to sabang, palawan: jump off point to underground river; 3 hours travel on the road + 15 minutes ferry ride + X minutes waiting for ferry ride to river + x minutes waiting time for turn to go to underground river + 45 minutes whole underground river ride + lunch + back on the road + stop at buena vista viewing deck + visit to vietville (vietnamese village) back in puerto princesa around 5 PM + visit to puerto princesa market for souvenirs (pearls, danggit, kasuy, etc.)
      day 6) travel back to cebu.
      generally, if you want to do puerto princesa and el nido together, then you had better allot at least a week. points of interests are far in between, and thus necessitates allocation of time for travel. i also say this because there are also nice island hopping tours available if your base is puerto princesa (honda bay and dos palmas). moreover, el nido is too beautiful a place not to savor. however, if you can only spare at the most 4 days, then i'd suggest you do these places separately. plus, it gives you another excuse to visit palawan again.
    • 2012, august 18-21 (coron, calauit island)
      day 1) - 7 AM flight to manila from cebu, 1 PM flight to coron via air phil delayed for at least 3 hours - arrived in busuanga past 5 PM, travel time to coron town proper is roughly 45 minutes, dip at makinit hot spring. (sched to mt. tapyas was moved to another day due to our late arrival)
      day 2) - island hopping (siete pecados, twin peaks, kayangan lake, dicantuman beach), call time 9 AM
      day 3) - calauit island safari, call time 4:30 AM
      day 4) - flight back to manila
      much like the advice above, if you can spare a few more days in this beautiful island, i suggest that you do, and really make time for coron. apart from the islands covered during my trip last year, coron still has other islands worth visiting (malkapuya etc). my sibling's trip last month could attest to that. i may post their own trip here, sometime.
  5. budget
  6. well, this is really up to you, but i guarantee you - all the money you'll spend on any palawan trip is worth every penny. my puerto princesa-el nido trip in 2008 cost me PhP13,700++ for airfare, accommodation, tour fees, and other miscellaneous items. the coron trip last year cost me PhP6,670 for the tour (4D3N), and more or less 5K for the airfare/dinners/misc.
  7. accommodations
  8. if you opt to avail of tours, like we did in both palawan trips, then accommodation costs are already covered in the fees. if you want to do it on your own, palawan is not short of hotels and inns. you really have nothing to worry. in our case, we stayed in skylight hotel palawan (formerly skylight apartelle) in puerto princesa, greenviews in corong-corong, el nido, and coron village lodge in coron, palawan.
  9. food
  10. package tours usually cover either breakfast or lunch. dinners may also be included in the package. it depends on you. as for me, i would suggest excluding dinners in the package. that way, you will be able to sample the different restaurants in town. in puerto princesa, the most recommended place is ka lui restaurant. in el nido, we went to balay tubay (el nido town proper) and marber's along el nido beach (el nido town proper). the hotel we stayed in el nido, greenviews, has its own restaurant, too. so, it was convenient for us. as for coron, we tried la sirenetta (PhP378), kawayanan grill(PhP345), and seadive restaurant(PhP256).
    basically, all 5 are the essential things one has to think about when planning a trip to palawan. i hope this little guide helps.
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  1. Bay,

    I do understand that options of getting and having island hopping within and nearby places of puerto princesa are also good in lieu to el nido. although, a lot of write ups for el nido are indeed convincing, but to what extend and reasons should i go and not to miss the chances of burning my calories to el nido. he he he...


    1. bay,

      unsa imo pasabot? your goal in traveling to palawan is to burn calories? haha, good luck on that - the food, especially if you like seafood - is super yummy! (at least in the places i've tried).
      if your primary goal is to see the underground river (AND you can only spare 4 days tops), then i suggest you postpone el nido lang usa. just stay in puerto princesa (book a hotel along rizal avenue (closest to airport, hotels, restaurants). do the city tour on your own (hire a trike to take you to butterfly farm, mitra ranch, baker's hill, crocodile farm). city tour costs 600 per person. then book underground river (1 day ni, pwede hangyo na pahapit sa vietville (if you're curious about authentic vietnamese food). choose between honday bay tour or dos palmas tour, or do both (each tour is good for 1 day pud). if honeymoon, stay overnight at dos palmas (mahal gamay, but check lang ka.afford bitaw ka), hehe....
      if your primary goal is honeymoon (AND you can only spare 4 days tops), then i'd say choose EL Nido, and stay at greenviews. place is away from the hustle and bustle of city life. it's also just 15 minutes away from the main El Nido beach where most accommodations and restaurants are. if you want to stay in greenviews, you need to book in advance. they're always fully booked, and mostly by foreigners. basta mas nahan ko dinhi than any other resorts. i'll write about going to el nido by public transportation soon. basta, because el nido is far, everything has to be timed and consider travel time/eta/etd of flights. to remove TIME factor, allocate more days. you'll not regret going to el nido, promise - unless mo.ulan, haha^^

  2. Greetings,

    I would like to spend 12 days in Palawan since it is great, big and, I think, it is one of most beautiful Island.

    from your experience, what are the best three places you recommend for me in Palawan and they are like I have visited the whole Island.

    1. @ anonymous - hi, thanks for visiting. i'm not sure what your goals are in visiting palawan. but if you're a beach person, diver - you'll never go wrong with palawan, especially el nido. check out my travel guide particularly the entry on 'palawan preview' - that should give you ideas.

    2. I am planning May 12. I hope nothing comes up to change my plan. I can not hide the truth. Palawan is Magic.

      Thanks for your reply.

    3. @anonymous. sure no problem. i hope youwill have a grand time in palawan. if you have the means, check out lagen island in el nido. price is steep @$400~$650, though. the resort was featured in the march 14, 2013 issue of the wall street journal. check article --->stranger than paradise. according to this report, you'll not going to regret lagen island. but then again, it will really depend on what your travel goals are. but just the same, ENJOY PALAWAN!!!


fellow itchy feet, leave your footprints here. would love to hear your thoughts and ideas..