In this article, you can find my travel guide to visiting Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
If you’re looking for a paradisiac place for an unforgettable holiday, then Palawan is the right place.
People who visit Asia often choose countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, or Indonesia, but the Philippines is increasingly popular. Out of all the 7107 that are part of the Philippines, there is one particular island that I love: Palawan.
Palawan is an amazing place, probably the place you’ve always dreamed of!
How to get to Palawan
There are daily flights for Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, from Manila and other cities in the Philippines. If you book your flight a few months in advance, you can find good deals with Cebu Pacific, the low-cost airline in the Philippines. Alternatively, you can take the ferry from Manila, but it takes a long time: about 24 hours. Once you land in Palawan, you can get around using Jeepneys or Tricycles, the country’s most popular means of transportation. There are no taxis.
If you want a quiet place to sleep in Puerto Princesa, check out Booking.com. You’ll find plenty of options.
If you want to fly directly to El Nido without passing by Puerto Princesa, you can book a flight with Air Swift. They connect several cities in the Philippines with El Nido.
Things to see in Palawan: the Underground River
Palawan is a rather large island, 450 km long and 50 km wide, so it is difficult to summarize what to do and see on this island in a single post. But one of the things you can’t miss is Puerto Princesa’s Underground River: one of the seven new wonders of nature.
The river is 8.2 km long and flows slowly through a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites with the most bizarre shapes. There is a limit of about 1000 people per day to protect the place, so booking a tour in advance is a good idea.
The Underground River is not exactly located in Puerto Princesa but is about an hour away. Ask your driver to leave early, around 6:30 am, to avoid the crowd.
The Van will not take you directly to the cave entrance but to a pier about 15 minutes from the river. You will then have to wait for your group to be assigned a boat to travel the short distance to the beach near the river.
On the beach near the Underground River, you can see some of the local wildlife: Long-Tailed Macaques, the Palawan Water Monitor (a sort of lizard), and if you’re lucky, the Palawan Peacock-Pheasant.
Lunch is included on the tour, and if you are brave enough, you can try the Tamilok, a woodworm that grows in the mangroves… Delicious!!
Things to do in Palawan: El Nido
However, the most famous place in Palawan is El Nido, in the island’s northern part. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll understand why this is the name: it’s a circular inlet protected by high cliffs (El Nido means the nest)
Getting to El Nido is not easy. There is a small airport, but the prices are very high. The only alternative is a 5/6-hour trip from Puerto Princesa. You can either take a bus or a mini-van.
Remember that the vans can be a bit uncomfortable. Even if you’ll probably be tired by the end of the trip, you’ll be rewarded by the sight of this paradise.
Alex Garland, the author of the book from which the film The Beach was based, with Leonardo di Caprio, actually lived in El Nido and was inspired by this paradise to write his story.
In El Nido, you should try some island-hopping tours. There are 4 available: Tours A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. The price ranges from 1200 pesos to 1400 pesos. Tour A is not to be missed. You’ll see Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon: two lagoons in the middle of the sea, which is fantastic.
The price also includes the lunch prepared on one of the islands where you will stop. Also, in this case, it might be a good idea to book a private boat to avoid the crowd and stop longer on the beaches you want to. Tour C is also worth it.
Remember to bring some cash with you because there are no ATMs in El Nido!
If you are looking for a place to stay with a beautiful view, I suggest you stay in Corong Corong, a couple of miles before El Nido. I stayed here, in a bungalow on the beach. The view from my bed was that of the photo below…
Where is the best place to see the sunset in El Nido?
Unfortunately, in El Nido, the afternoon sun goes behind the cliff to the west, but Corong Corong is located just behind the mountain, and the sunsets are perfect.
Actually, it might be a good idea to sleep in Corong Corong rather than El Nido. It is quieter, and several resorts on the beach do not cost too much. I chose Corong Corong; if I had to return, I would make the same choice. I took the post’s first photo in Corong Corong, and one of the resorts can be seen on the left.
Remember to bring a tripod, a wide-angle lens, and a set of ND filters to take good sunset pictures.
Things to see in Palawan: Nacpan
Do not forget to reserve a day to visit Nacpan, which is about 45 minutes from El Nido. Even better: if you have time, I recommend spending maybe a few days in Nacpan.
Unlike El Nido, Nacpan is much less touristic, and most people spend only one day at this beach. So around five o’clock in the afternoon, you will be almost alone in a truly heavenly place.
In Nacpan, you can see how local people live: a village of fishermen is right on the beach, and another village is not far away. Poverty is evident, but people are very kind.
This village has neither electricity nor internet: a great place to relax for a few days.
In recent years, I have had the chance to visit several countries, but I can honestly say that Palawan is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Is it the most beautiful island in the world? I haven’t seen the whole world, and therefore I can’t say, but why can’t you check it for yourself?