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Palawan in the Philippines - everything you need to know & best travel tips



If you’re constantly on the look out for new travel destinations, then you’ve surely heard of Palawan. One of over 7,000 islands comprising the Philippine archipelago, many will describe this place as paradise and it’s hard to disagree! In this post, I will share with you some tips and places where to stay and eat to make the most of your next trip.

GETTING TO PALAWAN

The best way to get to Palawan is to take a flight from Manila (the capital) to Puerto Princesa or from other domestic airports such as Cebu, Caticlan (Boracay). You can also fly directly from Manila to El Nido but it’s more expensive and flights are less often. The most popular airlines which operate in the Philippines are Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.


GETTING AROUND PALAWAN

Getting around the island is fairly easy although some roads are very bumpy. Take this into consideration if you experience a travel sickness. Honestly, I thought I am gonna die on the way from Puerto Princessa to El Nido, and then from El Nido to Port Barton. One of my worst experiences in Asia. The shuttle buses from El Nido to Puerto Princesa cost around 550 PHP (10 USD) it takes about 6 hours to get there.
The best way (however not the safest) to explore cities is to rent a motorbike. The tricycles overcharge big time so spending 350 – 500 PHP (7-10 USD) on a motorbike is a very good deal.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PALAWAN

The best time to visit Palawan is from October to May when the average temperature is around 30 degrees with very little rain. The wet season is between June and October which makes traveling around the island less accessible. I was there in March last year and the weather was perfect! 


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Power cuts are common
There are some places in Palawan where electricity is available only for a few hours a day. For example, when I stayed in Port Barton, as far as I remember, electricity was available from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m. which means no light during the night. You can’t also charge any of your electronic devices and obviously turn on a fan.
In other parts of the island blackouts happen frequently. Most of the time, it’s only for a few hours but sometimes it can last longer.  The bigger hotels usually have their own generator, so if you stay in one of them you will barely notice it.


Internet connection is very slow or… none
For most people, this shouldn’t be such an issue. But if you’re a digital nomad and plan to stay for a while, be aware that finding an Internet connection in Palawan is not an easy thing. Some hotels and guesthouses do have Internet connection, but don’t expect to get any high-speed browsing. You might need to buy a local SIM card with some data. I bought one as soon as I get to El Nido. It didn’t work perfectly but it was still better than a wi-fi in public areas.

There are no ATMs at some places
I was really glad that I brought some money to El Nido because it turned out that ATM usually doesn’t work or it’s empty. It seems like there are more people willing to withdraw than the capacity of the machine. To save you time and troubles, I would suggest withdrawing enough money in bigger cities like Manila or Puerto Princessa.

Environmental awerness
You should know that some places in Palawan, for example El Nido, try to reduce the environmental impact and it is not allowed to smoke on the streets, island hopping tours and use plastic straws, cups etc., which is really good! 

Finding a place where to stay is not easy…
…especially during the high-season. I visited Palawan in March and many backpackers who I met, struggled to find a place to stay, especially in El Nido and Coron. Some of them ended up spending more money than expected or had to change hostels a few times. To avoid any inconvenience, you can book your stay online, for example using a website Booking.com.

Palawan is pretty pricey
I was really surprised when I saw prices in Palawan. I expected they gonna be similar to the prices in the other parts of SE Asia, like Thailand or Vietnam, but I was wrong… Transportation, restaurants, bars, hotels - everything costs sensibly more. Obviously, nothing compared to touristic places in Europe or Australia but if you are on a tight budget, it might be an issue.

Bring your own water on a boat tour
The companies usually do provide water, however it tastes awful and some of my friends got sick after drinking it.  So BYO!


Make sure to bring reef shoes or flippers
On some island-hopping tours you have to walk down a dried coral corridor to get to the lagoons or hidden places. Whilst it is possible to walk without them, it would be far more comfortable and safe with them!

Be awere of mosquitos
Palawan is considered a malaria zone so always remember to take a mosquito repellent with you.

Watch out for rats 
Not sure if anyone remembers my InstaStories from last year but if you do…then you know that my wallet, money and headsets were eaten by rats in a hostel in Port Barton. Make sure you close your suitcase/ luggage before you go to bed. It will help you to avoid a morning “surprise” 😉


WHERE TO STAY

Hotels in El Nido and Coron are available for every kind of budget, however, traveling on tight budget limits your choices drastically.


In El Nido I stayed in Sea Cocoon Hotel and I absolutely loved it!  Good location close to the beach and many restaurants. The hotel was clean and rooms were spacious. All the staff at the hotel were extremely nice and helpful. Had a chance to meet one of the owners and he was very friendly and sweet. Also the breakfast was nice. They have a wide variety of fresh fruits, veggies, pancakes, eggs and selection of sweets. Would highly recommend to anyone.




In Coron I decided to stay at Hop Hostel Coron and I really liked it. The room was very clean, food was delicious and staff was always friendly and helpful, not to mention the excellent terrace view!  In Hop Hostel I met amazing girls from Brazil and the Philippines who I was going on a boat tour with. My last night, we had a lot of fun because the hotel’s owner had a birthday party. There was live music and complimentary food and drinks for all guests.


FOOD IN PALAWAN

Honestly, I can’t say that food in the Philippines was the best I’ve tried in Asia. The style of cooking and the food associated with Philippine cuisine have evolved over many centuries and it’s a mixture of Spanish, Chinese, Malay, and American cuisine. Most of the dishes contain meat and sea food. The most popular ones are: Chicken Inasal, Tamilok (it’s known as woodworm and it’s actually a mollusk harvested from mangrove trees- looks disgusting!), Crocodile Sisig, Lechon manok (chicken) and liempo (pork belly) - roasted meat, Hopia Bread - Filipino bean filled pastry and my favorite -  Halo Halo which  means “Mix-Mix” in Filipino. Halo Halo is a popular refreshing drink which consists of a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened preserved fruits, and crushed ice. The topping is either ice cream or sweet milk.

WHERE TO EAT

El Nido

Cafe Athena - this restaurant is totally amazing! It is a real Greek restaurant and they use very good quality ingredients. Souvlaki, Mediterranean dips with freshly baked pita and chocolate cake were delicious.


I also had a chance to meet the owner of the restaurant, Flaridel and had an interesting conversation about life in Palawan and the best attractions in El Nido.
The place itself is gorgeous too, right in front of the sea with Mediterranean style deco. Perfect spot to watch the sunset! If I am ever back in El Nido I will definitely go there again.



Altrove – super popular place in El Nido. They serve yummy pizzas, but sometimes you need to wait in a long queue.
Other places which I like:
♥️Taste El Nido - The Vegan Cafe PH
♥️República Sunset Bar
♥️The Nesting Table
♥️Art Cafe
♥️Bella Vita
♥️Happiness café

Hope this post will help you guys to plan your visit in Palawan. Let me know if you have any questions related to El Nido and Coron.

xo,
Bea

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