INIDU ELNIDO

When one hit rock bottom, feel that pain, make it your drive to rise up and be whole again. I found myself in that state again. I said to myself…I do need you, El Nido. 

Travel. Make new friends. Enjoy.

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The Planning

Thanks to social media, it has now been really easy to spot on cheap af flights. When I saw promo flights from Air Asia almost a year ago, I immediately booked my entire famliy (we’re just three, maka-entire) bound for Puerto Princesa (PPS). They’ve been bugging me about my travels for the longest time – why am I the only one who traveled to nice places, rode a plane, you know the drill. So I figured for my mom’s 62nd birthday, I’ll take them to the place where I discovered my passion and love for traveling, Couchsurfing and travel blogging – El Nido.

Tip#1: If you’re planning to go to El Nido, allot at least 4 days in Palawan. Breakdown: 5-6 hours land travel from PPS to El Nido town. That’s 10-12 hours for round trip alone (combined with R&R that’s 1 day already). 3 days in El Nido is painstakingly enough to cover two island hopping tours then an inland tour on your last day. Remember to plan your travels ahead. It will definitely, definitely save you a lot of money and worry. Also for travelers on a budget, I suggest booking cheap inns in El Nido – island hopping will consume most of your energy, then what’s left off it for beach parties. Probably 2-4 hours will be allocated for sleeping, so. I always say why sleep in paradise when you can sleep at work? Well, this is just me.

Scratch that, forget everything I said. There won’t be enough days to digest these majestic slices of heaven.

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How much did I spend on the airfare? Roughly 700 pesos per pax. Yep, roundtrip. Here comes the hard part, I am a DIY traveler slash backpacker slash I can sleep on the beach if I have to – but my mom isn’t. This is our first ever trip together and I wanted them to have the best time. I am pretty sure El Nido won’t disappoint but the little things must be detailed and planned. Good thing, I have a wonderful friend. She hooked me up with an awesome, cheap quote from Kalipayan tours (below). Thanks, Lisa! Next up, Balesin? 😂

Note though, island hopping tours aren’t included in the quote. Pretty understandable, hence, I used another outlet – the DIY Travel Philippines facebook group. This group is amazing. I have never been active to any page or group til I came across this one on my feed. I highly encourage my traveler friends to add this group. Members and admins here were very helpful. So I was following a PPSxEl Nido thread on this group when I saw Michael Yao’s of Tripidito Travel comment. He mentioned 1900php per pax for Tours A&C – I immediately pm-ed him. Normally, Tour A cost 1200php per pax and Tour C for 1400php so it’s actually quite a nice deal. Yep, there are still way cheaper tours on the group but mostly are DIY on the island itself. I wanted to avail those but then again, I have a senior citizen in the midst – I opted for pre-booked tours for a smooth sailing trip. Thanks again Mike for making our lives easier on the island. Before I forget, you need to pay 200php as environmental fee once you start the tours. This is just a one time payment. So if you have multiple tours (say A,B,C), you’ll pay 200php that covers all those aforementioned.

Shall we start?

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The Arrival

We landed in Puerto Princesa on a one fine, humid night of June 8th. We checked in to Circon Business Inn and after settling down, went straight to Kinabuch’s for dinner. Kinda pricey but you’ll get your money’s worth. They even have this humongous TV screen – playing the NBA finals. Service was moderate to slow but the food made up for it. Es muy delicioso!

The Underground

Our van picked us up at around 7:30am the morning of June 9th then made our way to Sabang. We arrived at around 10:30am cos we had numerous stops  (picking up other people included in the tour and finalizing our permits) Even the Balikatan forces were there waiting for their cue to ride the boat that would take them to the infamous underground river. Good thing our fellow tour mates already had a reserved boat, we didn’t wait that much longer. This was my second time underground and I must say, the tour has improved a lot. Now we have this audio device where a synchronized voice over talked to us over our earphones as we pass through this magnificent creation. I found it very relaxing not to focus on what your boat guide had to say when you are seated in front of the boat. You just have to sit back and enjoy the view as you have a personalized voice guide muttering the underground wonders. The tour is about 45 min long and concluded in a sumptuous buffet lunch. I had a pleasure of talking to Fabi, my new found German friend. He introduced me to a place called Port Barton. Yes, that’s in Palawan. And I had no idea – shame on me.

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The City

The city tour is not my cup of tea. I wouldn’t take it if I was with my friends. But I wasn’t- so. Our half day city tour started at 9am of June 10. We visited Binuatan Creations, Mitra’s mansion and ranch, Baker’s Hill, Crocodile farm, bay walk, Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa Cathedral and my favorite and last stop – Pasalubong center (souvenir shops). At the end of the day, I pondered and realized, oh yeah, I did enjoy the city and discovered things on a more personal level than just reading them online. So hurry book a city tour if you have ample time in PPS- plus it’s one of the safest cities in the Philippines so why the hell not, right?

The Last Frontier

Right after we had lunch, the van picked us up for our 5hr journey to the highlight of our weeklong trip – El Nido. We safely arrived at our lodge – El Nido (Bacuit) Sands Inn at around 8pm night of June 10. Note that this inn is for backpackers, solo travelers, travelers on a tight budget- they have public toilets and showers. Since it’s our first night in paradise, we decided to splurge a bit and ate at the beach front. Food’s bordering on the average – guess we’re just paying for the ambiance and this view:

What a sight to behold – picturesque view from our balcony.

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The Tours

Tour A – Day 1

7 Commando Beach (yes, senyora was commanding me 7 times at the back, magsaing na daw ako)

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Paglugaban Beach (Shimizu at the time was so crowded; this was where we had lunch )

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Secret Lagoon (pardon my orgasm face)

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Big Lagoon (candid moment as we head out of this lagoon hashtag priceless)

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Small Lagoon (our first kayak!)

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Tour C – Day 2

Helicopter Island (the island all to ourselves)

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Talisay Beach / Matinloc Shrine (we just passed through since we don’t wanna pay entrance fee – had buffet lunch on the boat instead)

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Hidden Beach

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Secret Beach

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Snorkeling Area (wait for the underwater photos below, it’s so good!)

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Inland Tour – Day 3

Nacpan Beach (yup, my Nacpan-Ko-Daw-Nipples-Ko shot)

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Calitang Beach (Twin Beach) actually for me, that’s a trio beach – 3rd beach on the left side

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Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

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Las Cabañas

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It’s a completely different world down under:

The Itinerary

Kalipayan Tours – June 8 to 15, 2016 (Island Hopping tours excluded)                            Contacts: Venus – +63977 711 4332 | Grazel – +63917 526 2008 (Kalipayan Tours & Circon)

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Tripidito Travel – Tours A & C

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Inland Tour
Contact Kuya Wames Niel – (0950) 500 5419
Negotiated 1500php (for 3 pax via his tricycle whole day) for the tour mentioned above. He even volunteered to be our guide for Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls where there’s a 200php charge per head. Trek to the falls took us 30 minutes one way (blame my mom ha! nope, amazing she managed to finish the trek at her age – well folks, age is just a number!) We saved 600 bucks! Started the tour at 9am ended at around 6:00pm.

The Expenses

Kalipayan Tours Php 20,100 (3 pax)

Tripidito Travel: Tours A&C Php 5,700 (1900 per pax)

Night 1 (PPS)
400 Grab Bacoor to Terminal 4, NAIA
200 Toll fee
350 Airport food
30 Tricycle to Kinabuch’s
930 Kinabuch’s (dinner for three)
30 Tricycle back to Circon Inn
105 Beers before bedtime
300 Essentials & groceries

Day 1
200 Shakes at Sabang
120 Environmental fee (40php per pax)
45 Bottled water
60 Coffee sachets
218 Take out dinner from guess what, McDonalds

Night 2
97 Essentials & groceries
265 ChowKing dinner

Day 2
135 Baked goodies from Baker’s Hill
294 Lunch – Jollibee
70 Plastic Bag for pasalubongs and extra baggages
110 Lunch part 2 at Halfway restaurant (roughly 100km to El Nido)

Night 3 (El Nido)
660 dinner by the beach; hence the expense  (first night so we splurged)
30 wet wipes

Day 3
170 water & coffee

Night 4
320 (8) RH beers at Bacuit Grill #happyhour
120 fries
180 sisig
140 (2) SML beers
140 (2) SML beers
100 mom’s dinner
50 tip
70 sprite
320 junk foods

Day 4
90 groceries water
90 meds for hangover and flu like symptoms

Night 5
250 dinner at a local carinderia
388 groceries

Day 5
60 water
100 entrance nacpan
10 bata
1700 inland tour (200 tip)
30 gate pass wfalls
320 food in nacpan
40 water in waterfalls

Night 5
66 Bottled water
60 Mom’s dinner
100 Beer from somewhere I can’t remember
720 Happy hour RH beers from Las Cabañas
150 Hotdog – recovery food
100 trike back to El Nido town

Day 6 (El Nido – am then PPS – pm)
30 Water
240 Lunch at local carinderia
122 Essentials & groceries
360 Lunch part 2at resto beside halfway
50 Tricycle to terminal
100 Tip to Bonbon (Sands Inn front desk)
20 Tricycle to Pasalubong center
16 Tricycle back to Circon Inn

Night 6
340 Lunch again at Jollibee
2110 Pasalubongs
500 Cake

Day 7
60 Tricycle to airport
600 Terminal fee (200php per pax)

Air Fare RT  Php 2,203.20 (all in for 3 pax)

Grand Total of Php 43,078.20 (for 3 pax)

Expenditures Analysis

We definitely saved a lot in terms of the tours I already pre-booked and thanks to my haggling skills on the inland tour I negotiated with Kuya Wames. However, half of the cost of our 1 week itinerary is attributed to the miscellaneous items we bought in the island which can be trimmed down exponentially with careful planning.

Tip#2: Before you start your way to El Nido, make sure to bring your essentials (or buy in the city) with you – water (if you rented a van or taking a public shuttle, bring those 5L gallons with you), toiletries and miscellaneous stuff for your rituals. Trust me, you’ll save a few hundred bucks!

Tip#3: You can definitely spend less compared to what was written here. I, myself, is a poor traveler. This trip is one exemption to the rule cos it’s a first of many – first family travel, their first time in Palawan, let alone El Nido, their first airplane ride, among others. There are many carinderias (local eatery) in the area just 3-5 minute walk from the beach where prices are comparable to carinderias in Metro Manila. Go explore, talk to people.

Tip#4: If you love alcohol like me, utilize the Happy Hour! Bars and restaurants scattered across the beach front had this happy hour from 4-7pm. Beers and cocktails were cheap af!

Tip#5: Take pictures, build memories, mingle with people i.e, below.

Shout out to my new found friends from around the world. See you around beautiful people.

Fabi – I have a contact now in Port Barton, I think she’ll give me discount. Hi Ma’am Josie hehe. I met her the day after we did the underground tour haha!

Linda & Candice – It was so nice meeting you ladies from our first night in El Nido to your last. So happy bumping with you in the streets from time to time 🙂

Jon – Don’t ever slip again haha you got me out of breath for like 2 seconds! See you in Guam or back here? You decide and stay alive! 😛

Pablo, Greta/Carla, Crusti – Thank you for being such an accommodating group. You made our last night in El Nido extra special! I’ll invite you in my “resort”, you tour me in Madrid? Deal?

Kuya Bangkero and Kuya Chefs, thank you for serving a sumptuous feast! Sa uulitin!

It took me 4 years to go back here. I’m surely hoping it won’t take another 4 years for me to experience another slice of heaven here on Earth. *cough* sponsors *cough*

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Til my next quick escape, El Nido.

Photos were taken using iPhone 6S+, GoPro Hero 4 and SJCAM 4000. Special thanks to Tinai and RB for lending their awesome gears. Videos and mini vlogs coming soon!

Cheers!

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El Nido or Coron?

This is my take on the Palawan dilemma our country is currently facing. Yes, I know this is serious and should be featured on the nightly news.

Yesterday, I underwent odontectomy where my wisdom tooth #48 (lower right molar) was surgically removed. Now, I have pretty much ample time to dwell on some serious matters. One of which is the ever bugging question I received from friends, which is really is which… El Nido or Coron?

El Nido, 2012 (Snake Island)

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Coron, 2014 (Mt. Tapyas View Deck)

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My answer would always be – depends on what you’re after. The two places offer exquisite experience for nature lovers. If you’re into a quieter, more serene, soul searching vibe – I would suggest El Nido. Otherwise, go to Coron.

The much better option would be why not go and see both, right?

I did.

And boy, those trips were forever etched in my adventure seeking heart.

I ‘ll give a rundown of my travels – first up would be El Nido then Coron. So quickies, shall we?


Use El Nido in a sentence: Go for it! El Nido to go for it! (okay it sucked but believe when I tell you to go and fly here!)

My orgmates fresh outta college decided to pay a visit to Lisa’s hometown – El Nido. Who am I not to join, especially when most of our expenses will be shouldered by her. I have such great friends, right? This trip didn’t just bring me to one of the best destinations in the Philippines; or perhaps, in the world but awakened my traveling feet. 3 years later, I’ve been to major hot spots in the country and now starting a travel blog.

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Itinerary & expenses of my PPS x El Nido trip

Day 1 Puerto Princesa (PPS)

Dinner at Ka Lui – 8 to 10:00 PM (200-300php/pax)

Firefly watching – 10:30 PM (didn’t push through due to weather)

Day 2 PPS to El Nido

ETD from Lisa’s house (PPS proper) to Sabang (drop off going to Underground river) – 7:00 AM

Underground river tour – approx. 9 to 11:00 AM (Free c/o my generous friend Lisa)

Lunch – Sabang (Buffet at 200php)

ETD Sabang to El Nido: 1:00 PM

ETA El Nido: 6 to 7:00 PM

>walk by the beach, explore town, dinner and walwal!  (Expenses depend on your preference)

Oh my hello El Nido!!!

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Day 3 El Nido

> Whole day island hopping – (Package B 800php/pax)

Day 4 El Nido to PPS

> If you guys have tour packages then good for you. For those who are backpacking, you have to rent a van that will take you to PPS. Well that’s the case back then, I don’t know now if they have established public vehicles now. Feel free to comment. As for our case, thanks again to Lisa for providing the van and just had us chip in for gas which cost me a staggering 100php for a 6 hr ride.

> Lunch at PPS ( approx.150-200php)

> Rushed city tour and souvenir shopping before the flight (1000php)

Expenses:

Air Fare: Php 2600

Day 1: Php 400 (Dinner at Ka Lui)

Day 2: Php 400 (100 for breakfast and 200 for lunch at Sabang)

Day 3: Php 1800 (800 for Package B and 1000 for food & lodging during my entire El Nido stay)

Day 4: Php 1300 (gas x lunch x pasalubong expenses)

Total: Php 6,500 (including air fare)

Notes: Careful planning is the key in visiting El Nido as you will need a transportation time of about 12 hours (round trip via land). Travel and tour packages definitely make traveling easier. But hey, I’m a backpacker and a big fan of DIY trips. So if you insist of backpacking El Nido and saving money in the process, by all means 🙂

Yey we’re complete here! Let’s set another one, out of the country maybe?

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Let’s get it on, Coron!

I dare you, yes you reader, go book a weekend flight to Coron/Busuanga (preferably this coming weekend and a seat sale) and never come back. Kidding! Just a weekend trip, no plans, no ifs, no buts. I guarantee you, you won’t regret it. Well, you might. You might regret staying for just a couple of days. That’s the good thing in Coron (aside from stable commercial flights – as opposed to El Nido), you can definitely find a place to stay even after you land! And go with whatever you wanna do in the island while you’re at it.

Top View (photo taken a Mt. Tapyas View Deck)

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Yeah, you get to see that after climbing a flight of stairs, 700++ steps to be clear.

Itinerary x Expenses

Day 1

Mt. Tapyas hike (Php 100 – 3 bottled water)

Maquinit Hotspring (Php 150 entrance)

Day 2

Whole day island hopping part 1( approx. Php 1000)

It’s underwater madness down there, I am urchin everyone not to step on anything! Oops!

Dinner at local restaurant (Php 300)

Social drinks at No Name Bar (Php 300)

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Day 3

Island hopping part 2 (approx Php 850)

Ship wrecks, fish feeding, picturesque views, Kayangan lake’s brackish water.. Coron got it all!

Pasalubong hunting (Php 200)

Tipid dinner in the city (Php 100)

3 night stay at Kimberly’s (Php 3600 good for 3 pax)

  • Php 1200 per pax

Miscellaneous (transportation, bottled water, some toiletries, etc) Php 300

Air fare: Php 1200

Total: Php 5,700 (including air fare)

I got to experience Coron for 4 days in less than Php 6,000 (~$130)

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And I was dancing Nae nae long before its hype.

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See you again, Palawan! My family and I will be flying back to El Nido by mid next year. I will make sure to provide you guys with an intensive blog post by then. I realized I was there in El Nido for just more than a day. Next year, I’ll stay there for the entire week (hoping)

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Credits to Lisa, Anjo, Migs (who almost died reaching the Mt. Tapyas’ 400th step) and Poli for some of the photos posted here.

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