A full belly and aching feet in Puerto Princesa

The previous post is up here. Yes, it’s taken me this long to write about the second part of my Puerto Princesa adventures. This trip happened last July 8-9. *hangs head in shame*

We woke up at 7am because we needed to get an early start for the day’s activities. The latest we could leave Puerto Princesa was 5pm so that we’d arrive in El Nido at the somewhat reasonable hour of 11pm. Since breakfast wasn’t included in the room rate (boooo), we checked out of the inn and had breakfast in Jollibee.

Hibiscus Garden Inn’s small restaurant. Breakfast ought to be included in the room rate since there’s nowhere else nearby to eat.
All hotels should come with hammocks.

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Eating my way through Puerto Princesa

I work in El Nido, a municipality on the northwestern side of Palawan. The funny thing is that people are always surprised they I tell them it takes 6 hours non-stop to travel from El Nido to Puerto Princesa by land. First: Puerto Princesa is on the opposite side of Palawan so you travel via old logging roads turned paved roads that hug the side of the mountains. Even though you’re traveling on flat land, the winding and swerving road from El Nido to Puerto Princesa feels worse than Kennon Road going up to Baguio. Second: the road from El Nido to Taytay isn’t paved. During the dry season, it’s dusty as hell. During the wet season (when we traveled), the road is littered with deep potholes that need to be avoided or traversed carefully. I went on my first El Nido-Puerto Princesa road trip last July 8-9 when we went to Puerto to buy stuff for Family Day.

Rural Palawan from the van window
The long road ahead of us
They’re paving the road very, very very slowly.

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How to get to El Nido, Palawan (AKA Paradise)

Finally decided to visit my work place? Awesome! 😀 There are several ways to get here:

From Manila:
Island Transvoyager Inc.
ITI flies 3x daily from Manila directly to El Nido using 19-seater Dornier aircraft. Travel time is 1 hour 15 minutes. Luggage allowance is 10 kg per person, including carry-on baggage. Excess baggage is Php 100/kg. Drawbacks: unless you’re a guest of El Nido Resorts, you can only book 5 days in advance. Tickets are also pretty steep at Php 13,500 per adult. If you’re super flexible with your travel schedule, you can look out for ITI’s seat sales, which usually happen when ENR has a large group traveling to or from El Nido (necessitating more planes from ITI) and few passengers on the way back.

From Puerto Princesa City: (you fly Manila-PPC using any of the domestic carriers)
RoRo bus
Finally, an airconditioned bus to and from Puerto Princesa City! The bus started operating just this March with daily schedules:

PPC-El Nido El Nido-PPC
6:00 AM non-airconditioned 4:00 AM
8:00 AM airconditioned 6:00 AM
10:00 AM non-airconditioned 8:00 AM
12:00 PM airconditioned 10:00 AM
2:00 PM non-airconditioned 2:00 PM
6:00 PM airconditioned 6:00 PM
10:00 PM non-airconditioned 10:00 PM

The buses leave on time even if there are no passengers, something that isn’t going to happen with the aircon shuttle vans. The seats are also bigger than the van’s and they recline. Travel time is 6 hours, with stops in Roxas and Taytay. Fare is Php 480 per way for the airconditioned bus and Php 350 for the non-airconditioned.

Eulen Joy bus
If you want the ultimate “roughing it” land trip from PPC to El Nido, take the Eulen Joy non-airconditioned bus. The bus ride is 6-8 hours, with frequent stops to pick up passengers (both human and non-human) along the way. The bus leaves PPC at 5am, 7am or 8am, 9am, and 10am. Fare is Php 350.

Shuttle van
If you’re part of a group of 6-12 people, renting a private airconditioned shuttle van may be the way to go. Renting a van is Php 7,000-10,000 per way (depending on how good you are at bargaining). Fare on the regular trip is Php 500 per person, per way.

From Coron:
Supercat fast ferry
The Supercat ferry service just started two weeks ago and will most likely supplant the large outrigger boats that also ply the El Nido-Coron route. The fare is cheaper (Php 1,720 for the Supercat compared to Php 2,200 for the outrigger boats) and it’s FASTER (4 hours for the Supercat vs 8 hours). There’s only one ferry boat and it goes back and forth within the day – El Nido to Coron in the morning then Coron to El Nido in the afternoon. I’ve yet to check the exact departure times though.