Palawan is a province in the Philippines I’d had my eye on for nearly four years. You’ve probably heard of Boracay as a popular tourist destination in the country. But Palawan has also gained some popularity in more recent years.
When I last traveled to the Philippines in 2014, I was determined to come up with a way to fly out to Palawan because I was dying to go. I found round trip tickets for less than $100, and lodging and activities were affordable as well. But I ultimately ended up not going because it was October at the time and the weather was bipolar: the sun could be shining in the morning but rain could be pouring in the afternoon.
While I felt like I’d lost out in 2014 – particularly because I wasn’t sure when I’d be back in the Philippines again – I became more set on making the trip happen the next time I flew back there.
Earlier this year I got the opportunity to go back to see my family and decided to extended my time there so that I could fit in several days in Palawan.
Although at this point in my life I typically like to craft my own itineraries, I’d never really gone around the Philippines without my parents or aunts/uncles/cousins who lived there. And on this trip, only my cousin and I were going. So I decided to just book a 10-day, 9-night tour through a company called e-Philippines. The package included transportation, lodging, breakfast at hotels, and various tours in Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa – all three areas I couldn’t wait to visit.
I was excited to get to go to Palawan with my cousin who had never been there before, either. It was really nice to be able to share a new experience with family.
During our time there, we spent the largest chunk of time going island hopping. The Philippines is made up of 7,000+ islands, and through this trip, we officially visited over 10 of them 🙂
Luli Island, Palawan, Philippines
Since going on this trip, I’ve been asked a couple of times which part of Palawan I liked best: Coron, El Nido or Puerto Princesa. It’s been impossible to pick one because I like each place for different reasons. El Nido has a vibrant vibe; Coron is quieter and seems like it would be a nice place for a honeymoon; and Puerto Princesa has the indescribable Underground River. I still don’t think I can pick a favorite – I’m fond of all of them.
Kayangan Lake, Coron, Palawan
Underground River, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
A hassle-free experience with e-Philippines
I’m happy to report that our whole trip was smooth sailing largely because of e-Philippines. Booking through the company was a hassle-free process. The agent I communicated with via email was always cordial and prompt at responding.
A tour for my cousin and I came out to about $1,000. I chose to pay by credit card through PayPal, which tacked on a 5 percent fee, though you can avoid that fee by paying directly via bank transfer. There were some exclusions we had to pay for like snorkeling masks, entrance fees to islands in Coron, and our dinners. Regardless of the extra 5 percent and those exclusions, I thought it really wasn’t a bad deal for the time we spent there.
I had a great experience with this company and would recommend it if you want to explore Palawan and not have to deal with all the baggage that comes with planning your own itinerary.
Here’s what was outlined for us by e-Philippines:
*Day 1: Arrive at Puerto Princesa; take six-hour public van to El Nido; spend night in El Nido
Day 2: El Nido Island hopping adventure A with lunch
Day 3: El Nido Island hopping adventure B with lunch
Day 4: Take early morning ferry to Coron; Coron island loop
Day 5: Coron island exploration
*Day 6: Take ferry to El Nido; overnight in El Nido
*Day 7: Take public van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa; overnight at Puerto Princesa
Day 8: Underground River tour with lunch buffet
Day 9: Honda Bay island hopping with lunch
*Day 10: Depart Puerto Princesa
(Although the e-Philippines tour advertises 10 days and 9 nights, it was really more like 6 days and 9 nights because four of the days were dedicated to traveling between locations. *I’ve asterisked travel days. You can cut down the travel days to three by booking your arriving flight into Puerto Princesa and the departure flight out of Busuanga Island Airport in Coron.)
However, if you do want to do a DIY Palawan tour, it’s totally doable. I haven’t done this yet, but if I get the chance to go back, I’d just book the transportation right when I arrive at the airport to get to Puerto Princesa or El Nido. I would definitely book the hotels in advance, though, and then just book the tours at the hotel.