Palawan First Impressions

Before I left, Palawan was on my radar, but I didn’t plan on going.  Instead, I was going to bask in the glory that is that mountains.  When it came time to leave Bantayan, though, I just wasn’t ready to give up the beach.  After a month and a half in cold Taiwan and Japan, I was ready to enjoy the heat, it’s not like I was going home to warm weather either.

This is where Palawan comes in.  One of my dear new friends was headed there by land, which, SPOILER ALERT:  It’s not possible, and I was now going to join her!  With some vague information and one last mango juice, we set off.  I’ll skip all the details and say eventually we made it in one piece.


Our first stop was Puerto Princesa.  This is your average Philippine city.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.  It was hot.  And there were a couple cockroaches in our room.  But we got to have delicious pizza at Shakey’s, so it mostly worked out.  We found a cool hostel that gave us all kinds of information about getting to El Nido, Port Barton, and Sabang.

The next morning we were heading off to El Nido to work our way down the island over the next two weeks.  We booked a tourist shuttle and ended up leaving almost two hours after they picked us up.  That was two hours of driving around and waiting with no idea of what was going on in Puerto Princesa.


Once we were finally on the road, I wished we weren’t.  It was the fastest, bumpiest ride ever.  At least I’m fairly certain it was.

Pro tip:  sit as close to the front as you can.  Especially if you get car sick.  And take Dramamine.  So much Dramamine.  (I’m kidding, just take one.)

We were on the road for about four hours and got there earlier than anticipated.  That was nice.  It felt like we were riding on the Knight Bus in Harry potter.  Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time I thought that on this trip.


As for El Nido itself now.  I had high expectations.  It was the place everyone said you HAD to go to.  Everyone said this whether they had been there or not.  Did I mention my expectations were high?  Because they were.

It was time.  I was finally there.  I was going to see what all the fuss was about.

I will admit, I was a bit underwhelmed when I first saw it.  The town itself is really small.  And crowded.  I knew if there was a place i was going to get run over, this was it.  There were tricycles and scooters everywhere, and they will try and drive through any space close to big enough for them to fit.


The beach in the town isn’t all that awesome.  It’s pretty small, but there is still room to lay around on it without getting washed away.  I did end up spending some time doing that.  I don’t drive scooters, and was definitely not going to learn here, and tricycles were too expensive to the places I wanted to go.  And I couldn’t find anyone else to go with me to split the cost.  I made the most of what I could though.


It was a lot more expensive than Bantayan and Malapascua.  Lunch or dinner at a restaurant would be 300-400 PHP.  This really isn’t all that expensive, maybe 6-8 USD, but that was a lot compared to what I was spending previously.  The hostel I was at was also quite a bit more than my last two stops.  And the island hopping tours were all around 1500 PHP, but that was totally worth it, so ignore that part.


Overall, my first impressions of Palawan and El Nido weren’t super great, but I did end up enjoying my time there for the most part.  More on island hopping coming soon.  Would I recommend it?  Yeah, but I’m not in a huge rush to get back there in the near future.  I will say though, it is pretty darn nice to look at.


Helpful things:

  • It’s easy to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa.  There are tons of shuttles.
  • Book accommodation ahead of time, especially in the winter.  It gets pretty busy.
  • The beach in El Nido isn’t that great, but it’ll do if you don;t want to leave.  Otherwise venture out to some of the beaches nearby.  Walk along it to the right and around some rocks for more, less busy beach.
  • Definitely go on an island hopping tour.

kayaking-through palawan

Have you been to El Nido?   What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?  

5 thoughts on “Palawan First Impressions

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