Palawan Travel: A Guide For First Timers

It is no secret that the Phillippines is absolutely stunningly gorgeous and diverse and has basically anything you could ever want. The some 7000+ islands that make up this archipelago are all unique in their own way.

Most talked about is Boracay, home to arguably the world’s best beach, a great nightlife, and a level of relaxation virtually unmatched. But I am here to give you the rundown on another, much less developed or explored island in the Phillippines, Palawan and all about Palawan travel.

Island Views - Palawan Travel

During my trip to the Phillippines a few years back, my friends and I had a little over two weeks so instead of trying to see as much as humanly possible, we opted to choose two islands to focus on: Boracay and Palawan.

Palawan is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site: the Underground River that takes you through an insane cave system, but the island has far more beauty than just this site and I can’t wait to take you on a tour!

Palawan Travel Practical Info

Jungle Views - Palawan Travel Guide

Getting There

The Phillippines, in general, is easily accessible via most airlines in the region. To get to Palawan, you’ll need to fly into Puerto Princesa which is accessible via daily flights with Phillippines Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Air Phillippines and Zest Air for under $50 USD one way.

There are weird small terminal fees to pay in Puerto Princessa and many other small airports in the Phillippines so be aware of that.

I had a great experience with Phillippines Air because I was actually stranded on Palawan during a typhoon and they were great about notifying us about our canceled flight and rebooking us as soon as possible.

It is also possible to take a ferry from Manila, although it will be a multi-day journey and could be very uncomfortable according to rumors. Just a thought for those looking for an alternative to flying all over the country.


Stunning Islands - Palawan Travel Guide

The Phillippines is still relatively cheap which is great for your Palawan travels. In Puerto Princesa, we had no problem finding a private room for $10 per person. In El Nido, again, found a room for 3 people for $10 each with a stunning view of the ocean.

Food can be as cheap or expensive as you’d like. Typical Filipino meals will run you under $5 and western style can be $10 and up.

Tuk-tuks around town are usually under a $1 or so.

Puerto Princesa

Sand dollars in Puerto Princesa - Palawan Travel

The capital of the island and home to the Underground River, not many travelers spend much time in this city, but it’s worth a couple days for the day tours that you can take.

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on a hotel in Puerto Princesa but just look around for a guesthouse with good reviews and it should suit you just fine. We stayed in a couple different ones and had great experiences in each one. You can certainly find a bed for $10-$15 per night.

Palawan Travel Excursions in Puerto Princesa

To book tours, every hotel & guesthouse uses the same companies, you can look up typical costs at the time of your visit to ensure you are getting the right deal.

Honda Bay: You need to book this the day before, as the departure time is early in the morning but it is a CAN’T MISS tour. Included in the excursion is an open water snorkel session which is fantastic with some great coral action, a stop on a sinking island which means it is underwater at high tide making for perfect breeding ground for starfish and therefore sand dollars, and finish the day off on the luxurious retreat island of Cowrie that is straight out of a dream. The tour shouldn’t set you back more than 1000-1500P.

Underground River: This one may be good to book two days in advance if you can. I don’t know a lot about the tour, as I tried to go two days in a row but because of the elevated tides from the typhoon in the area, we were unable to enter. Again, this tour shouldn’t set you back more than 1500P.

When it comes to eating in Puerto Princesa go to Balinsasayaw. I ate here more than I care to admit, but it is the absolutely best BBQ you’ve ever had in your life. And for $3 USD for a plate of chicken or pork and garlic rice, it’s a great deal! It’s located right on Rizal Avenue. There are many street vendors and small hole in the wall spots and pretty much every chain restaurant imaginable so you’ll have plenty to choose from.


Headed to Puerto Princesa and Need a Place to Stay?

Deep Forest Garden Hotel is a fantastic option if you want to be close to the beach and also have pool access.  In addition, they have family rooms so this is great if you are traveling with a large group of friends.

Globetrotter Inn is another option if you are traveling in a group or as a couple.  This inn has several apartments to relax in which are either family rooms which accommodate up to seven people or two bedroom apartments which can sleep five.

Sheebang Hostel is a wonderful option if you are looking for a laidback yet social hostel in a residential neighborhood.  With a restaurant and bar on site, you might find yourself not leaving!

El Nido

Ziplining in El Nido - Palawan Travel: Guide for First Timers

To get to El Nido, you can book a shuttle/van for around 600P or a get a public bus for 350-450P. If you get carsick easily, this is not going to be an enjoyable 5-6 hour ride for you. The roads are very windy and speed is not a concern for the drivers.

Once in El Nido, skip the guesthouses and hostels outside of town and either book a room in advance or walk around within the town center and find a deal. Most places don’t book up and aren’t listed online so this is a great place to find a spot in the center of town for cheap.

Once in El Nido, enjoy the beach! Both the beach in town and the neighboring beaches are great places to explore. Highly recommend Marimeg beach for the sunset and the zip line! It actually takes you from one island to the other!

Island hopping tours from El Nido are wildly popular. Coron is the most well-known, especially for its world-class diving which features many sunken Japanese warships.

You should also check out either of the lagoons in the region, they make a great day trip as well if you’re sick of relaxing on a beach.

Do not miss a meal at the Art Café! They feature a daily rotating menu, daily specials, GREAT live music and some of the friendliest, most helpful owners ever. This is a great place to book tours, relax for an afternoon, and pick the brains of some of the areas longest expat inhabitants. Skip the restaurants right near the beach entrance and go down the road to the left for a few places with excellent risotto!

At night, head to the beach and follow the music to the reggae bar where you can sip a rum and coke ($0.50 as opposed to a gin and tonic for $3!) while dancing in the soft waves breaking. It’s pretty much the only hotspot in town, so it’s a great place to run into familiar faces.

Find a Place to Lay Your Head

Spin Designer Hostel is not your average hostel.  Stay in style without the price at this chic and comfy hostel located a short walk away from all the major attractions.

Golden Monkey Cottages is the place to stay if you are looking for privacy and comfort with their four cottages.  In addition to these cozy cottages, you also will have sweeping views of the water and the surrounding islands from your private veranda.

Amakan – Bed | Bunk | Breakfast offers a range of accommodation from dorms to suites and is just a short walk away from El Nido beach.  After a day in the sun unwind on their rooftop terrace!

Palawan Travel Extras

Be Sure to Catch a Sunset During Your Palawan Travel

Filipinos are known for their charming disposition and eagerness to help, so please don’t take advantage of them. Bargain, because that is the Southeast Asian way but pay them a fair price. Treat them with respect and understand that most are well-versed in English.

Stock up on cash while in Puerto Princessa. I believe El Nido now has an ATM but the functionality of it may be sparse.

As you can see there’s plenty to do and see in Palawan, when are you booking your next trip there?


Headed to The Philippines?  Read More About Travel to This Wonderful Country Here!


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Palawan Travel Guide for First Timers


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6 thoughts on “Palawan Travel: A Guide For First Timers”

  1. Thanks for this amazing travel guide for palawan. As a matter of fact, we will be going to Palawan this july (next week) and we are in need of some kind of guide or assistance and I feel so relieved seeing your blog. Thank you so much again!

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