Hello folks! As promised, here is the budget summary for the 5 Days Palawan itinerary I’ve shared previously. This trip happened in 2013 though and prices might have changed now. But still, I hope this helps, even if by just giving you a rough idea of the costs involved for a trip to El Nido and to the Underground River at Puerto Princesa. By the way, this budget is on a per person basis.
- Php 7,000 —- Cebu – Puerto Princesa round trip plane ticket via CebuPac (non-promo; you can certainly reduce this by availing of airline promos)
- Php 600 —- van ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido
- Php 600 —- van ride from El Nido to Puerto Princesa
- Php 100 —- tricycle ride from the terminal going to our accommodation and vice versa
- Php 1,400 —- El Nido Tour C booked via Art Cafe. This is a whole day island hopping tour and lunch is included in the cost.
- Php 1,200 —- El Nido Tour A. Again, this is a whole day island hopping activity and lunch is included.
- Php 1,540 —- Puerto Princesa Underground River tour booked via Ysabelle Mansion. This is a day trip and includes a visit to the Ugong Rock Adventures where you can go caving and ziplining for a bit. Inclusions: Air-conditioned van, boat transfer, environmental fee, entrance fee, lunch and tour guide. Note: The caving and ziplining at Ugong Rock requires separate payment.
- (optional) Php 200 – caving at Ugong Rock
- (optional) Php 250 – ziplining at Ugong Rock
- (optional) Php 1,100 – Firefly watching; can be done after the Underground River tour. We actually booked this from Ysabelle mansion but this turned out to be the lowest point on our holiday. The trip on a sizable boat that took us near the mangroves plus the dinner included in the cost went fine but the banca we boarded so we could get into the mangroves and see the fireflies suddenly had engine trouble, so we didn’t actually get to see the fireflies. Worse, no refund! 🙁
- Php 4,500 —- 3 nights at Makulay Lodge in El Nido. There were four of us on this trip, 3 Filipinos and 1 British. Us 3 Pinoys were used to sharing rooms during trips to lower costs. So, we booked Makulay’s family room (2 beds and 1 mattress with in-room shower and toilet) worth Php 4,500 a night. So 3 nights there split between 3 people equals to 4,500 each. Our British friend booked a room all to himself and that cost him Php 2,700 per night.
- Php 600 —- 1 night at some modern hotel in Puerto Princesa. It’s embarrassing to admit but I don’t remember much this part of the trip. Staying here wasn’t actually part of the plan since originally we intended to take the RoRo from El Nido back to Puerto Princesa and that would have been an 8 hours trip, which meant we would’ve arrived in PP during morning and head straight to Ysabelle Mansion. The van driver who took us to El Nido was very convincing though that he takes us back to PP; that trip took only 6 hours (only one stop). As a result we arrived at PP during midnight and needed to check in to a hotel since our booking at Ysabelle Mansion was still, technically, the next day. Conveniently, the van driver ‘helped’ us in finding rooms at a hotel were his ‘relative’ works. Since the price was reasonable, around Php 1,800 for a room good for 3 people if I remember correctly, we didn’t argue much with him since we were just soooo sleepy. 4 hours later, we were out of there since we had to start the Underground River tour. And now for the life of me, I just cannot remember the name of that hotel since I was just so tired at that point and I quickly forgot about that part of the trip when the UR tour started. @_@
- Php 1,000 —- 1 night in Ysabelle Mansion. Once again, we 3 Filipinos booked a family room (with 3 separate beds and in-room shower and toilet) costing Php 3,000 and shared the amount. Our British friend had a single room costing Php 1,100. Breakfast is included in the room costs.
- Php 2,000 —- this is based on a estimate of Php 200 per meal for 8 meals plus bottled water purchases. Lunch is already included in the Tour C, A, and Underground River tours. And as just mentioned, breakfast is free at Ysabelle Mansion. You can certainly lower or increase your food budget depending on your gastronomic desires 🙂 Note that at first glance most of the eating places in El Nido are on the expensive side for us regular Filipinos since most of the crowd there are foreigners. But if you look harder, you’ll certainly find more affordable options.
Here are other things that might cost you during this trip:
- snorkeling mask and fins rental
- souvenirs or pasalubong
Total Budget for our 5 days Palawan Holiday (3.5 days in El Nido and 1.5 days in Puerto Princesa)
Php 23,000 – estimated amount we spent per person. Yeah… we kinda went over our budget since we couldn’t resist trying out a few of those expensive meals that just looked so good on the menu. Plus, we splurged on souvenirs. But do we regret it? NO WAY EVER! El Nido and the Underground River were too awesome for us to care about the 23K. And personally, traveling is my passion and I know it will cost money and that’s what makes me work hard. I toil away at the office so I can go have more wonderful adventures ^_^
Tips for Lowering Travel Cost
Okay, if you really find Php 23,000 exorbitant, here are my tips on how you can bring that amount down:
- Do not go to Palawan during peak season; we did so that’s why no airfare promos for that time of the year plus most budget accommodations were already full. Just don’t choose the rainiest months though because what’s the point? El Nido is all about island hopping and discovering pristine beaches, but if there are heavy rains and winds, boats might not go out.
- Stay at budget accommodations. This goes without saying hehe
- Eat cheap. Again, an obvious thing to do. But I tell you, it was so hard for food lovers like us to avoid those mouth-watering seafood dinners!
- Go easy on the souvenir shopping. Resist the lures of colorful sarongs and I <3 Palawan shirts.
- I suppose you can go find island hopping tours that are way cheaper, but please please choose your boatmen wisely because your few hundred pesos savings could mean you are compromising Palawan’s biodiversity and your safety.
To end this post, here are the contact numbers of all the tour operators and accommodations we dealt with for your reference:
- El Nido Boutique & Artcafé —- here’s their website; mobile: +63-9209026317 or +63-9175604020
- De Loro Inn and Restaurant —- accommodation and restaurant in Puerto Princesa; can also arrange van transfers to El Nido and Palawan tours for you. Here’s their site and their mobile is +63-9177662319
- Eric El Nido Van Driver —- he who took us to El Nido and back to Puerto Princesa can be contacted at +63-9199292810
- Makulay Lodge (our El Nido accommodation) —- +63-9063236470 or +63-9172573851
- Ysabelle Mansion (our Puerto Princesa accommodation) —- they can also arrange Underground River and Firefly Watching tours for you. Here is their website and their mobile is +63-9184089377
Hope this budget summary has been helpful to you all. May your trip to El Nido, the Underground River and the rest of Palawan be successful. May good travel winds forever power your wanderlust!