Where is El Nido? El Nido is a town located north of Palawan, an island province in the Philippines. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and is known for its diverse marine life and gorgeous white beaches surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs.
Option A: Direct Return Flights from Manila (MNL) to El Nido
– Fastest but expensive (at least for budget travelers like us!)
– I just learned that Seair has suspended its flights to El Nido so the only carrier that flies the MNL-El Nido route for now is ITI, which flies 3 times daily.
– COST: Approx P12,000 (USD 291) per person return trip.
– Travel Time: 75 minutes
Option B: Fly to Puerto Princesa (PP) then overland trip to El Nido
B.1: Getting to Puerto Princesa
– Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan.
– You can reach Puerto Princesa either from Manila (NAIA Terminal 3) or from Clark, Pampanga (Clark International Airport). Airlines that offer flights to PP: PAL, Cebu Pacific, Seair and Airphil Express.
– We flew AirAsia from Clark to Puerto Princesa. Unfortunately, according to the AirAsia website, this route has been suspended effective December 2012.
– COST: Varies. Budget airlines offer frequent promo fares so you can get all-in fares as cheap as the ones we got via AirAsia at P700 (USD 17) per person round trip. If no such luck, regular return trip fares per person range from P2,700 (USD 65) up to P14,000 (USD 40) last I checked.
– Travel Time: 1 hr and 15 min
B.2: Puerto Princesa to El Nido
Okay, so you’ve arrived in Puerto Princesa…now, what? The next part would be getting to your final destination of El Nido which would take 5-6 hours of land travel.
It’s up to you if you want to continue traveling. We did the one continuous travel on our trip back home but going there, we stayed the night in the capital city and then took a 10am bus ride to El Nido the next day.
Whatever you choose, it is best to book seats in advance. We traveled off-season and the bus was full with people sitting in the aisle. Good thing we bought our tickets at the San Jose Terminal the day before our trip.
Transport options include several buses and vans that run daily from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa. We took the newest line to El Nido, the RORO bus. Other bus companies are Sweety Transport and Eulen Joy. Travel schedules vary so check with each provider. RORO buses depart every 2 hours from 4am to 6pm and the last trip is at 10 pm so you can travel overnight (save on hotel expense) and be in El Nido early morning the next day! Fare costs P480/person (air-con bus) and travel time is about 6 hours.
For the trip back to Puerto Princesa, we made reservations right away as soon as we arrived at the El Nido terminal located in the town market. We took a van from Lexus Shuttle this time because the RORO bus conductor wasn’t sure if they had a 4am trip to PP on the day we had to leave. Fare costs P600/person and travel time is 5 hours.
Word of advice: Expect zigzag roads and a bumpy ride on some parts. The van ride is like riding a roller coaster for 5 hours! So if you have motion sickness like me, you must take Bonamine!
Here’s what’s waiting for you in El Nido (just one of the many gorgeous islands around the area). Definitely worth the trip!