Itinerary for two weeks on Palawan (The Philippines)

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Palawan is an archipelago of the Philippines. We had two weeks in the Philippines and decided to spend it entirely on Palawan. This was just enough time to relax but also to enjoy all the beautiful things that can be found on this island! Below you will find our Palawan itinerary and additional travel info. Curious about hotels/restaurants or fun activities in Palawan? Take a look at our Travel Guide.


Itinerary

Manilla – Puerto Princesa – Port Barton – El Nido – Buhay Isla – Coron – Manilla

filipijnen map nieuw

Click on the photo to see our itinerary and information on our hotels and their prices.

Manila & Puerto Princesa (1 night)

After a short stopover in Manila, we flew to Puerto Princesa. Do you do this too? Tip: ensure a minimum of 5 hours between your arrival time and the next departure time. Flights can sometimes be delayed and the terminals of Manila airport are wide apart of each other with a bad connection. In the evening we arrived in Puerto Princesa where we stayed for only one night. It’s not a beautiful city and also not very safe. We didn’t feel like staying here longer, but if you do, you can always visit the village of Sabang on the underground river or visit the special open prison. Puerto Princesa is located by the sea but has no beautiful beaches, you have to go to the west coast. Beautiful beaches nearby are Honda Bay (30 min by scooter), Nagtabon Beach (35 min by scooter), Talaudyong Beach (40 min scooter) and Monkey Beach Sabang (50 min by scooter).

Port Barton (4 days, 4 nights)

Just 3.5 hours north of Puerto Princesa, the sleepy village of Port Barton is located on a beautiful beach. Previously only a settlement of some fishermen, nowadays there are some small-scale hotels and guesthouses. This is the ideal place to get used to the heat of the Philippines and to recover from jetlag. There is not much to do here, but it’s super idyllic. Relax in a hammock with fresh coconut. In this area, there is only a few hours a day electricity available. We stayed here for four days and Ries got his diving certificate. Four days was perfect for us when we would have stayed longer, it might have gotten a bit boring, but shorter we wouldn’t have to time to really relax.

Filipijnen: Port Barton

El Nido (2 days, 3 nights)

Another four hours by bus towards the North and you will arrive in El Nido. Port Barton is sleepy and quiet, but El Nido is completely discovery by tourism. Because of all the tourism, we didn’t like it as much as Port Barton. However, there are many beautiful boat trips that you can make, delicious eateries and good hotels. In addition, electricity is available 24/7 and there is hot water, not bad! We have spent 2 full days here and they were fine. We went to Nacpan and Marimegmeg Beach and we did boat tour Tour A. Highly recommended!

Buhay Isla (3 days, 2 nights)

From El Nido, we went with the organization Buhay Isla three days sailing. We slept on the most fantastic islands, saw the most beautiful coral and got extremely good food. One of the highlights of Palawan for us. We didn’t want to miss this! Wondering how we filled our days? Here you can read more about the Buhay Isla trip (only in Dutch). For us three days (two nights) was just right, it is primitive and after three days a shower and real bed is very nice! In addition, it is also quite expensive (292 euro pp) and a trip of five days would not have become cheaper. Do you want to do a longer trip, check out, for instance, Tao Expeditions.

Coron Town (4 days, 3 nights)

The Buhay Isla tour ended in Coron Town, a town on a northern island of Palawan. We were here for four days where we celebrated my birthday. Coron, unlike El Nido, does not have many beaches but has beautiful nature. In the end, a day less in Coron, wouldn’t have been a problem for us.

If you have doubts about which of the two you have to visit the longest, then here’s the answer: If you go for nature, beautiful diving and fascinating boat trips, choose Coron. Do you go for a lively nightlife, beautiful beaches and a city with many nice places in the neighbourhood, stay longer in El Nido.

Filipijnen: Palawan

Manila (1 day, 1 night)

From Coron, we flew to Manila, which is within an hour. We didn’t want to spend too much time here, so we flew to our next destination (Ho Chi Minh) the next day. Manila is known as an ugly city with a lot of poverty and crime. We did not think it was a beautiful city either and did not make too much effort to see much of the city. It’s grey, has hardly any highlights and the centre is not known as very safe. Our hotel was close to the airport, which was fine, but if we had been here longer, we would have gone for a more luxurious hotel with a large swimming pool.


What other cool places are there in the Philippines?

Had we had more time in the Philippines, would we have gone to the following places?

Cebu – Diving

Cebu is an island that is still on our bucket list, and mainly because of the village of Moalboal. Here you seem to be able to dive very well. Cebu city is very busy and not so nice. In addition, you can swim with whale sharks in Oslob, another village on Cebu. We strongly advise against this: the circumstances under which this happens are bad for the animals.

Bohol – Chocolate Hills

You will visit Bohol to see the famous Chocolate Hills. This beautiful natural phenomenon consists of a thousand hills that, in the months of March and April, turn brown due to the discoloured grass.

Boracay – Very touristy

We strongly decided against visiting Boracay and were happy with this choice. This is the most touristy spot in the Philippines. The beaches are beautiful, but you share this with hundreds of other Asian tourists … It is, however, the place to go, when you want to party a lot.

Siargao – Surfing

Do you enjoy surfing? Make sure to make the trip to this surfing paradise. It is a bit out of the direction, but that also means that there are few tourists! The food here seems to be super too. We definitely want to go there one day!

Siquijor –  Cool Vibes

Last but not least, the quiet Siquijor. Here we MUST go one day! It seems to be nice and quiet here, with exactly the right relaxing vibe. Locals say that this is El Nido from 30 years ago. Sounds good, does not it?

Filipijnen: img_4297

Transportation towards and on Palawan

Flying to Palawan

There are several daily flights from Europe to the Philippines. The flight duration from for instance Amsterdam to Manila is +/- 15 hours.

The Philippines consists of hundreds of islands. Island hopping is a lot less easy than often seems. Flying is sometimes necessary if you don’t want to sit on a boat for days. Airline tickets in the Philippines are not as cheap as in other Asian countries (prices from € 60 to € 150). However, when you book on time, the prices are relatively low. Only at the airport or a few days in advance is not recommended. You can also subscribe to the newsletters of the various Philippine flight companies. Sometimes nice deals come along, especially at Cebu Pacific.

Some airlines in the Philippines:

  • Cebu Pacific (Cebgo), great company, we flew with them from Busuanga (Coron) to Manila.
  • AirAsia (Philipines). Always try to avoid AirAsia in the Philippines !! In other countries they are fine, but in the Philippines, they almost always are delayed. We had more than 9 hours of delay. In addition, the aircraft is very dirty.
  • PAL (Philipines Airlines). Slightly more expensive but good service!
  • Air Swift. This is a relatively new player in the Filipino market. Currently, they only serve the route Manila-El Nido (and are also the only ones flying on El Nido). Soon they will also operate the Cebu – El Nido and Manila – Secogon routes. Slightly more expensive but the convenience of going directly to El Nido instead of via Puerto Princesa.
  • Skyjet Airlines. We have heard bad stories about this airline (flights that are cancelled and where you can not get money back, bad planes and extremely high costs for baggage). So we deliberately did not fly with this.

Using buses/minivans on Palawan

If you travel over Palawan, you will most likely sometimes catch the bus/minivan. The roads on Palawan are bad, winding and well … no fun. It can easily take 2 hours to go 50km. The buses in Palawan are also not in a great state, and never drive on time! We have mainly travelled with minivans. This is slightly more expensive, but often a bit faster, much safer and you will be picked up from your hotel. You can often book a minivan at your hotel, but you will pay a surcharge. Booking directly bij calling SBE for example (the only company with somewhat positive reviews) is cheaper. Keep in mind that you will almost always be picked up too late.

Filipijnen: Buhay Isla

Travelling by boat around Palawan

Transportation by boat is also possible in Palawan. The sea around Palawan is sometimes very rough and boats are not always in good condition. We didn’t take a boat (except for the amazing three-day excursion with Buhay Isla).

Using a scooter on Palawan

For small distances, a scooter is perfect on Palawan. The freedom to drive yourself and discover places is super! Renting a scooter at Palawan is very cheap, no more than 8 euros per day. Keep in mind that Filipino scooters, in Europe (and therefore for your health insurance) are seen as motor because of their high cc. In case an accident happens, your insurance won’t cover this most likely.


Other tips for Palawan

  • Travel time. In the Philippines, it is always warm, but it is a tropical country, with a rainy season and typhoon season. Especially the latter you don’t want to experience. Typhoon season coincides with the rainy season and is from June to October. In November it can also sometimes rain well, but we did not suffer from this.
  • Money. The currency in the Philippines is the Peso. Currently, you get for 1 Euro, 65 Peso. Getting cash out of the ATM on Palawan is not easy everywhere. In Port Barton, they don’t have ATMs, and you almost never can pay with a credit card or debit card. So take enough money with you. In El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Coron there are cash machines, although it can happen that some of them are broken. We went to the ATM in advance at the Domestic terminal in Manila, which is highly recommended (best exchange rate also).
  • Cost. The Philippines are cheap, not as cheap as Thailand or Indonesia, but still very well priced. We paid an average of € 29 per night (prices per night are shown in the diagram above). Food was on average 3 euros per meal (pp) and public transport is very cheap. A daily activity (boat trip) cost 10 euros. Our excursion with Buhay Isla was the only really expensive part of this holiday. We paid 292 euros per person for 3 days and 2 nights. This includes all the food, drinks (water and rum), equipment and access to nature reserves. It was more than worth the money for us!
  • Wifi. Most hotels offer Wi-Fi. This is often slow Wi-Fi that also sometimes fails, but sending a message or with some patience, google might work.
  • SIM card / Providers. We bought a Philippine SIM card on arrival so that we could call locally, but also always have an internet connection. We bought this at the airport, there are several stands where SIM cards are sold. There are roughly 2 providers, Smart and Globe. What is crazy is that you can only call people who have the same provider as you. That’s why all the Philippines have a phone with two SIM cards in it. Companies therefore often have 2 numbers. The connection is not always good with both cards. We had a Smart prepaid card with 4 GB and paid around 15 euros for this. More budget tips on how to stay online abroad can be found here.

 


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