El Nido sounds like a mighty remote destination, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually pretty simple to get to and you have plenty of options, depending on what your budget is.
Fly to El Nido
If money isn’t a problem, Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) flies directly from Manila to Lio Airport everyday, at 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM. You can’t beat ITI for convenience, but the downside is that all flights may only be booked five days in advance unless you’re staying at El Nido Resorts. A one-way ticket is a little less than 7,000PHP and there is a 10kg weight restriction.
SEAir offers direct flights from Manila to El Nido for more reasonable rates, but they only fly 3 times a week: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays.
Travel Overland to El Nido
If you have some time, you can fly into Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital, and make your way to El Nido overland. It’s not as complicated as it seems. Once you arrive at Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS), you can make your way to city center and then take a multi-cab (jeepney) to San Jose Terminal. If you don’t know where the San Jose Terminal is, which I assume you don’t, just ask the locals and the jeepney drivers. It’s about a 20 minute ride to the San Jose Terminal. If you’re trying to take the early morning bus to El Nido, take a tricycle from city center to San Jose Terminal instead for about 50 – 80 PHP, depending on your bargaining skills.
Once you arrive at the San Jose Terminal, ask for the buses headed for El Nido. You have three options of overland transport:
1. Public vans cost 500 – 600PHP and take about 6 hours traveling time. They depart at 5 AM, 7 AM, 9 AM, and occasionally at 11 AM. There are only 10 seats so make sure you’re there at least a half hour before the departure so you can save a seat.
2. Public Buses costs 300PHP and take about 8 hours traveling time. They also depart at 5 AM, 7 AM, 9 AM, and occasionally at 11 AM. These buses stopover for breakfast and a restroom stop and then again in Taytay to pick-up more passengers, so depending on these variables, the traveling time may lengthen.
Public Bus Companies:
- Sweety Transport. Contact: +63 926 699 8700 (Puerto Princesa); +63 919 716 2210 (El Nido)
- Eulen Joy Transport. Contact Details: +63 919 716 2210
If you’re traveling with a large group, you can rent a van for about 12,000PHP one-way and split it between everyone. The total trip time is around 5 – 6 hours, but the air-conditioned 4×4 vans are much more comfortable than the open-air buses.
Take a Ferry to El Nido
You can take a ferry straight to the El Nido port at Buena Suerte from Manila, Busuanga, Coron, and Sabang.
Atienza Shipping Lines has a route from Coron to El Nido once a week, at midnight every Thursday. It is 910PHP one-way and you should book at least a day in advance. Contact: +632-242 8845
There is also a boat from Sabang (where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is) to El Nido that runs every Monday and Thursday for about 1,800PHP per person, one-way. It takes about 8 hours. Contact: +63-921-518-7947