Puerto Princesa and El Nido – they call it paradise..

After a long vacation, I finally came to my senses and am now itching to write. I can say that our last vacation was the most active vacation we ever had in Philippines. We stayed in Las Pinas on the first day, then travelled to Pampanga on the second day, went to Palawan on the 4th day for 3 days, Christmas on the 8th day, went to Tagaytay on the 10th day, attended my sister’s wedding on the 13th day and waited all day for New Year on the 14th day. Then finally, it’s time to go home and again try to save for another vacation.  It was very hectic but I enjoyed most of the time. It’s all worth sharing so I’ll write about Palawan first and hope that this blog can be a guide to those who would be heading to what the tour guide call a Paradise within a paradise.

Planning our Palawan trip was kinda tight as we were leaving the next day when we booked our flights. There were four choices of airlines. Cebu Pacific was the cheapest but flights were not available on our planned dates. Philippine Airlines was the most popular airline, however, it’s a bit costly at $300 for return tickets. The most expensive flight we could find was from Air Swift at around $500 for return which goes directly to El Nido so there’s no need to travel for 5 hours From Puerto Princesa  to El Nido. After searching the net for a while I bumped into Air Asia which only costs $200 for return tickets. I found the timings very convenient too since we were able to choose 6:30 am flight to Puerto Princesa then 5:30 something returning to Manila on the 3rd day. The flight takes 1 hour more or less.

The original plan was to stay at Blessies garden in Puerto Princesa on the first day and go to Underground river then travel to El Nido the next morning and lodge in Calaan Apartment then do the Combination tour at the same day.

We arrived in Puerto Princesa at 7:30 and went directly to the tricycle station. The driver offered to bring us to a travel agent since he learned that we didn’t have a plan so we obliged. In the agency, we were disappointed to learn that the Underground river had just reopened from a five day break because of bad weather and the tour will be crowded and inconvenient for us. They suggested to go to El Nido first and make the Combination tour A and C the next morning. We headed to El Nido at 8 am and were able to make it at 2 pm. Unfortunately, Caalan apartment was occupied and all we can do was to search at the time we arrived. The first cottage style that we saw was Telesfora and luckily, there were 2 rooms available. The accommodation was beachfront, small and simple. Enough for a night stay.

in front of telesfora

We rested for a while and headed to the center. There are no malls, popular restaurants or banks at El Nido. We had our late lunch in sea slug restaurant. Our choices of menu are shrimp, mushroom and French fries with free watermelon. J  I could stay on that place listening to the sea and looking at the people who came back from their island tour.

lunch at sea slug restaurant


The next day, we were picked up from telesfora to our Combination A & C island tour. I will be writing the whole review of the island tour in another blog.

After our island tour, we headed to our accommodation to take our things and went to the bus station to take our El Nido to Puerto Princesa trip. The road between El nido and Puerto Princesa is like a roller coaster and can be a little scary especially if the driver is a little reckless. In our case we were just praying that no other vehicle would come the other way at this time of the night since our driver is zooming like a road runner as the European van mate says.

van trip

The van dropped us to Blessie’s garden which was a very fascinating because of the bamboo nipa huts which are carefully designed and obviously very well taken care of. We didn’t have trouble sleeping since the room was insect free inspite of the whole place being a butterfly garden. The toilet was also interesting.

We woke up at 6 am for our 7 am trip to Subterranean river. We travelled 2 hours to go by van to the port where the boat will take us to the river. At the port, we waited for our tour guide who took the boat number for us. We sailed for around 30 minutes to the beach entrance of the river. There was again a waiting area for the number of our group and we rode an 8 seater boat to the cave.

Inside the cave, they forbid us to open our mouths. There are monkeys, which would think that we wanted a fight. It is also forbidden to use flash. The tour guide would point on spots where rock formations make some images which would resemble different kinds of foods, holy images and many more. A bat crossed onto my cheek and I felt so scared that it would bite or poop on me. But it was a very uplifting experience. After the underground river tour, a buffet lunch was waiting for us which was included in our tour package. We reached the airport at around 4 pm and waited for our flight at 6 pm.

Our Palawan tour was very hectic and enjoyable. We spoke to one Canadian who was disappointed about Palawan. He was expecting a very relaxing trip but unfortunately, I would say that Palawan is not for those laid back type of person. There is too much to see and if you’re not adventurous enough, you won’t enjoy the rocky beaches and the dark caves which you have to work hard, travel long and be patient on the long lines to be able to witness the beauty of this paradise island. It was more than I expected it. The beauty just is amazing and I’m so glad we made this trip.

PS. More photos will be uploaded soon.  Cheers.

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