Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Make the Most of Your Off Peak Palawan Trip the Cheapest Way Possible

I have been to Puerto Princesa 3x in the last 2 years.  On this recent visit, we would only use it as a jump off to El Nido but will be staying a night since we don't want to endure the 6 hour land ride straight from the airport.

Tip No. 1:  Book a cheap hotel and avail five star amenities from other resorts.

I have researched on the cheapest accommodation within the city and the most reasonable so far is Yin Yang Guesthouse right along Rizal Ave. walking distance from the airport and between Ka Lui and Kinabuch.  There are accommodations within the same price range, but is located remotely.

Yin Yang Guesthouse
(+63) (48) 434 8581 / 723-2010 Mobile # - 0919-668-8838

During tours, most of your time is spent outdoors.  Its not really wise to spend a lot on accommodations you will just sleep on.  Yin Yang has fan rooms for 660 php, but we availed their Air conditioned room for only 770php.

Now for your 5 star amenities,  Aziza Paradise Hotel is offering a dinner buffet that lets you use their resort type pool for free from 6PM to 10PM for only 399php including drinks.  We spent the first 2 hours eating before swimming, and then ate again before going back to the lodge.

We got to swim here! They will even lend you the towels!  Photo from:

Demeter Cafe, they have a wide selection from seafood to meat dishes and desserts!  Photo from:

Tip No. 2:  Befriend a Tricycle Driver

There are plenty of tricycles during the day, but it can become difficult on certain areas of the city especially late at night.  I was fortunate to have met a reliable tricycle driver during my previous visit.    He was the one who brought us back to Yin Yang from Aziza after all that eating.  They don't charge as much for special trips as well.

Tricycle Driver / Tour Guide
Jaypee Latoja

Tip No. 3: Avail the City Tour

If you happen to arrive early and have the afternoon free, book the city tour.  It usually costs 500 php per person and most hotels and lodging houses can arrange it for you.  This is the best way to see Puerto Princesa apart from the more popular destinations like the Underground River and Honda Bay.  This will also give you a chance to interact and learn from other tourists.

If you're going to El Nido, then check out the next set of tips.

Tip No. 4: Make room reservations but don't make advance payments.

This may only be an option during off-peak.  Making reservations guarantees you a place so stay, but without making advance payments, you still have the option to scout for alternatives on site.

Accommodations in El Nido are divided into the Beach Side and the Town Side.  The town side is a lot cheaper, with modest amenities.  You have to be careful in booking your beachside rooms.  Although the hotel itself is facing the beach, the room they might assign to you does not.  These are the things you will only see for yourself once you reach the area.

Upon reaching Puerto Princesa, I made reservations with Marina and Ogie's lodge but ended up staying at Shorepass Lodge for 1,000 php a night.

This is the view from our balcony, and Art Cafe, another famous landmark in El Nido is just across the narrow street.  You can even pull a chair on the other balcony and enjoy the music from the cafe across while enjoying a cold beer purchased from a store nearby.

Shore Pass Lodge

Tip No. 5:  Combine the Tours

Tours in El Nido are divided into four.

Tour A = 1,200
Tour B = 1,300
Tour C = 1,400
Tour D = 1,200

The groupings are based on the clusters per location.  The most popular is Tour A that showcases Lagoons and Beaches and Tour C that lets you visit the Matinloc Shrine.  Each tour consists of 5 destination, snorkels and lunch prepared by your guide.

One of the best meals I ever had.

You can actually combine these two tours allowing you to visit as many as 10 destinations in a day and costing only 1,500 per pax.  You need to remember to also pay the Environmental fee of 200 pesos per person.

Another benefit of combining tours is not many tourist avail this package.  In our case, we had the boat to ourselves.  This gives you more control of the time allocated per destination, and the flexibility to forego areas that can be challenging. The waves were strong making access to the Secret Beach difficult.

The boardwalk at Matinloc Shrine

Tip No. 6: Charge all your gadgets at Night

Electricity in El Nido is only available from 5PM until early morning the next day.  I completely forgot about this since we arrived late in the afternoon. We woke up the next morning without electricity and was so glad that we charged our gadgets the night before.

Also, maximise your tour, and estimate your return to the time electricity is available.  The last destination in Tour A which is the 7 commando beach is a perfect destination to kill time.  There are stores that sell beers and drinks, even halo-halo.  It's a nice place to watch the sunset or to take an afternoon dip.

This was the only store during my first visit last year.  Now 2 more opened,
with cheaper prices per bottle than the original store.

Tip No. 7:  Find A Ride That Suits Your Budget

There are many options to get to El Nido.  From the airport, there are vans that will take you there straight after your flight.  If you're up to the 6 hour ride, then do it.  But please don't expect that you'll be able to catch up on sleep because the roads are winding and bumpy especially after the 2nd stopover.

Van Fare is only 500 php, but they may charge more at the airport.  Vans at the Terminal leaves every hour until about 6:30 pm.  If you're going on a later night trip, there's a non air-conditioned bus that leaves at 9:30 in the evening.

We decided to try Daytripper Palawan Van.  They charge 850 php for the ride that was available on the booking site.  I was expecting the huge van as what's mentioned on other blogsite, but it turned out that they have two types.  The 11 seater executive coach at 950 php and the 10 seater executive van, which is what we had.  Whats good is that there's only 4 of us sharing the ride and they don't take in passengers along the route. It also includes a free bottled water, banana chips and burp bags.

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