Palawan | Planning the Perfect Travel Itinerary

Together with the awesome Iligan Bloggers Society fambam, we kicked off summer 2018 with an epic Palawan trip. With its picturesque sites and beautiful people, it is no surprise that this idyllic island has been voted “world’s best island” by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine three times (2013, 2016, and 2017).

Photo by: Doi of The Travelling Feet

Here's a quick video of our trip:


We planned our Palawan trip to follow the exit conference of Go Social: A Digital Marketing Tour Boot Camp. We needed some serious rest and relaxation after going to Iligan, Cotabato, Cebu, and Baguio for the implementation of our project. We felt we have exhausted our energies and brain power to plan, and we just needed a trusted agency to take care of the planning for our much-needed R&R. Thank goodness for travel agencies!

Our Palawan escapade was arranged by Northern Hope Tours. We wanted to visit both El Nido and Puerto Princesa, and would love to have a good combination of places to visit for us to appreciate nature, great food, and incredible culture. Here's what our friends from Northern Hope Tours suggested for our tour:

*Detailed itinerary you can copy/paste at the end of this post. 

We took the MNL-PPS flight via AirAsia. I remember loooong queues and a whole lot of rushing in the airport. Good thing AirAsia serves in-flight meals, and I got to try Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice, a Chinese Malaysian dish made of seasoned rice, served with roast chicken and accompanied with a chili, ginger and garlic sauce. Yumyum!

Our flight arrived in Puerto Princesa at around 3:00 in the afternoon, giving us enough time to travel and check in at our El Nido accommodation. El Nido is 6 hours away from Puerto Princesa. Northern Hope Inn arranged for pickup from the airport. We had a quick stop for supplies (water, toiletries, and snack items) and aqua shoes rental in Puerto Princesa before heading to El Nido.

We stayed in Northern Hope Inn Extension. It's a stone's throw away from the port and a few steps to shops and restaurants. Plus, we have this nice view from the rooftop:

Following a day of traveling to El Nido, day 2 of our Palawan adventure was a lazy beach day. We spent the day in Nacpan Beach. We stayed for lunch until sunset viewing, all the time on a full-on beach-bum mode.

After a lazy day on the beach, we are ready for the highlight of El Nido travels -- island hopping. They have standardized tours categorized into A, B, C, and D, with each tour covering at least 5 places of interest. Each tour starts at around 9:00 in the morning and ends at around 4:00 in the afternoon.

Here's a list of the standard tours offered:
Tour A: Lagoon Tour. Includes a visit to Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach. Standard Rate: Php 1,200/person

Tour B: Cave Tour. Covers traveling to Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave. Standard Rate: Php 1,300/person

Tour C: Shrine Tour. Includes a visit to Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach. Standard Rate: Php 1,400/person

Tour D: Beach Tour. Covers Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach. Standard Rate: Php 1,200/person

*Rates include lunch, mask & snorkel, life vest, and guides to assist you

We allotted 2 days for island hopping, and to allow us to experience the best of the best, Northern Hope Tours offered their combination tours. Day 3 was for Tours C&D; and day 4 for A&B. 

Travel Tip: Ask about combination tours to maximize your travel time in El Nido. 

We couldn't get enough of the amazing islands and islets in Palawan, so our Puerto Princesa tours started with another island hopping activity -- Honda Bay Tour. We embraced an extra day of swimming, people watching, and beach bumming. 

Travel Tip: We took this island hopping tour as a chill day after our adventure-filled El Nido island hopping. You may want an 'easier' kind of day and have a city tour instead to buy pasalubong.

Day 5 also ended with a lovely Iwahig Firefly Watching experience. It's definitely one of the highlights of our Palawan Adventure. If you're planning a Puerto Princesa trip, do yourself a favor and make sure to book a firefly watching tour. The rate includes a buffet dinner by the way.

For our last full day of tour, we visited the famous Puerto Princesa Undergound River. 

And then, we went on a Puerto Princesa City Tour, stopping by the crocodile farm, Baker's Hill, and Palaw'an Village. We also stopped at Karst Mountain / Elephant Cave, which was featured in The Amazing Race Philippines (2012) and The Amazing Race Ukraine (2013). We ended our stay in Palawan with a sumptuous dinner at KaLui.

We spent 7 days in Palawan, but we felt it is not enough. There's still so much places to explore, food to devour, and culture to appreciate. But thanks to the amazing people of Northern Hope Tours for the amazing experience. It is a great sneak peek of what Palawan has to offer. We are definitely coming back for more! 

As promised, detailed itinerary here: 

Day 1
  3:15 PM ETA Puerto Princesa International Airport
  Pick up of Van Transfer from PPS Airport to El Nido
  10:00 PM ETA at El Nido
  Check-in at Northern Hope Inn Extension

Day 2
  Van Rental to Nacpan Beach

Day 3
  8:30 AM Pick-up
  9AM-5PM El Nido Island Hopping Combination Tour C&D

Day 4
  Check-out of Northern Hope Inn Extension
  8:30 AM Pick-up
  9AM-5PM El Nido Island Hopping Combination Tour A&B
  6:00 PM Van Transfer from El Nido to PPS
  12:00 AM ETA at PPS
  Check-in at Kuhl-in Pension

Day 5
  7AM-4PM Honda Bay Tour
  6PM-10PM Iwahig Firefly Watching

Day 6
  7AM-12PM Underground River Tour
  12NN-5PM  PPS City Tour

Day 7
  Check-out of Kuhl-in Pension
  1:25 PM Check-in at PPS Airport
  3:25 PM ETD

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