Last updated: 13 NOVEMBER 2019

For more travel tips about El Nido, Palawan, read: El Nido Budget Travel Guide.

El Nido is a town in the northern part of Palawan which encompasses 45 islands in Bacuit Bay. It is popular for white sand beaches, snorkeling and diving sites, and steep karst cliffs. Although famous, reaching this tropical paradise can be quite a challenge to travelers because of its remoteness.

PAL Express A320 at the Puerto Princesa airport

There are several ways to reach El Nido and here are four of them.

  • Direct Flights. El Nido has its own airport (Lio Airport) but its short runway prevents most airlines using relatively big planes to land here. Airswift offers direct flights to El Nido but tickets are expensive (compared to other destinations in the country) most of the time. An off-peak one-way fare is at P5100 (including taxes, a meal in Manila, and welcome snacks El Nido). An additional P200 is collected for 10kg baggage allowance. There are also other companies offering chartered flights but the rate might be a little too much for many travelers.
  • Via Coron. You may also consider flying to Coron. From there, take a Montenegro Fastcraft to El Nido. Travel time: 4 hours. The boat leaves Coron at 12nn and arrives in El Nido at 3:30pm. Fare: P1760.
  • Via San Vicente Airport. San Vicente is the municipality next to El Nido. It has a newly opened airport. From Manila, you can fly from Clark to San Vicente Airport.
  • Via Puerto Princesa Airport. From Manila, there are several cheap flights to Puerto Princesa City, the Palawan capital. From there, there are buses and vans that can take you on a road trip to El Nido. Travel time is five to six hours.

This post focuses on the PUERTO PRINCESA route.


PUERTO PRINCESA AIRPORT TO EL NIDO BY VAN

This is probably the most popular option among tourists because it’s slightly faster. If you book in advance, the van can pick you up at the airport and take you straight to El Nido in 5-6 hours.

Here are the companies offering this service:

  • Eulen Joy Express
    Contact No.: +63 915 829 3735
    Facebook page
  • Lexxuss Shuttle
    Contact No.: +63 917 686 1118
    Facebook page
  • Fort Wally Travel & Tours
    Contact No.: +63 917 276 2875
    Facebook page
  • DayTripper Palawan
    Contact Numbers: +63 917 8488755, +63 920 4966975
    Email: hello@daytripperpalawan.com
    Website: www.daytripperpalawan.com

There are a lot more van companies plying the Puerto Princesa-El Nido route, but the four above are the most prominent.

Travel time is usually 5-6 hours. Based on experience, these vans are fast. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. I sometimes find myself saying a silent prayer in the middle of the journey. And I’m not even religious!

Fare is usually between P550 and P600. However, Fort Wally sometimes brings the cost down to P450 when they have a promo. Locals usually get a discount.

Some of these vans don’t leave until they’re full. But it doesn’t take that long these days.

DayTripper charges more. At P875-P975 per trip, DayTripper goes the extra mile by picking up and dropping off passengers in front of their hotel, instead of the terminal. They are also known for their excellent service (with seatbelts!), and they only need 5 passengers to go.

All van journeys stop halfway for a quick restroom and snack break.


PUERTO PRINCESA TO EL NIDO BY BUS

The bus is another option. It’s my preferred option, actually. Buses are more comfortable now than before, more comfortable than the vans (at least in my opinion). Wider legroom, cooler temperature, and just bigger breathing space overall. Haha. The downside: it’s slower, taking 6-7 hours. And there are fewer journeys per day. But if you’re not in a big hurry, it’s a great option.

To travel to El Nido by bus, you must first make your way to San Jose Terminal!

PUERTO PRINCESA AIRPORT TO SAN JOSE TERMINAL

  1. Walk to the gate of the airport.
  2. Hail a tricycle and ask to be taken to San Jose Terminal. Fare is P120 per ride. Split the cost if you’re a group. Alternatively, you can take a trike+jeepney combo, which is cheaper. But since I’m guessing you have heavy bags in tow, just go straight to the San Jose Terminal.
  3. Board a bus to El Nido.

SAN JOSE TERMINAL TO EL NIDO

You have two bus companies to choose from: RoRo Bus and Cherry Bus.

RoRo Bus
Ordinary: P290
Airconditioned: P380
Operating hours: 5am-9pm
Frequency: Every 2 hours

Cherry Bus
Ordinary: P385
Airconditioned: P480
Operating hours: 4am-10pm
Frequency: Every 2 hours

Both buses will make several stops along the way to pick up more passengers, the longest will be in Roxas.

The bus will terminate at the station in El Nido. From there, you can take a tricycle to your hotel or resort. Fare is P50.

View on the way to El Nido from Puerto Princesa

If you’re on the left side of the van like I was, you’ll have a great view of the sea and other islets playing hide and seek with you as trees cover and reveal them every now and then. It was a fantastic experience having a glimpse of what was in store for us!


Arriving in El Nido

The first thing I noticed was the imposing limestone cliffs surrounding the quiet town. While our driver was helping us with our bags, I was busy falling in love with this giant wall-mountain as though it was etched by the gods. The holes in the wall were not flaws but signs of life as birds flew in and out of them like little children running around at a playground.

The steep Karst cliffs surrounding the town of El Nido as seen from the terminal

As soon as we got our things, we were approached by tricycle drivers who offered to take us to our hotel.

“It has started,” I said as I stared at this giant cliff towering above me. The break that I had always wanted, “It has started.”


Top Hotels and Resorts in El Nido

As scored by Agoda customers.

Search for more Palawan Resorts!


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Yoshke Dimen
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Alexis

Excellent read so far, especially as I’m planning on doing the exact same journey (+underground river) at the end of January!
I look forward to reading your following entries.

Danica dimampao

Palawan is so nice pleace

Anonymous

We just came back from el nido with fort Wally. While the bus up was late by 2 hours, the trip back was worse. Bus broke down 4 times, replacement bus promised never turned up, AC was turned off and we were towed 5 feet behind another van for about 20km where we almost crashed into the back of. El nido is well worth the trip but avoid fort Wally.

Bea

you mean a shuttle or a bus? or does fortwally have both? @poortraveler, how was the ride? was it uncomfortable and crowded?

The Poor Traveler

Hi Bea, the ride was comfortable and not crowded. 3 people per row. :)

Vitha

By Hayley Holbrook May 12, 2011 – 3:26 pmEl Nido is something the place is awomsee, water is clear so so blessed to have witness the Great Creation of God We travel by van from Puerto Princessa about 4 hrs. stayed overnight. What a wonderful memories with my family .quite expensive though but worth seeing the place.

Jason Bourne

Absolutely avoid Fort Wally.

And Lexus too, who recently had one of their van drivers go over the edge of a cliff because he had been drinking on the job.

I ride with Eulen Joy almost twice a month and never have experienced any problems.

Princess

Do you have the number?

The Poor Traveler

Hi Jason! Thanks for sharing! I should check out Eulen Joy the next time I visit El Nido! :)

Andrea

@poortraveler thanks for the info here… My friend and I are planning to go in El Nido this coming May, if we will opt to go there by roro bus how much is the updated fare from puerto? and sa kayo nagstay in El Nido, do you still remember the Hotel and their contact #?can u suggest cheaper place to stay pero beach front? thanks…:-)

The Poor Traveler

Hi Andrea, we stayed at El Nido Waterfront Hotel. Posted my review here: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2012/03/el-nido-waterfront-hotel-el-nido-palawan/

Re the cost of Roro bus, not sure but my friends who just went there recently said it was definitely cheaper than the shuttle. Will try to get the exact price from them :)

Andrea

thanks sa info!

Evangeline Ohoylan

I love puerto princesa city,palawan bcoz my country.

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[…] and the locals say the buses are getting older now and not as comfortable as they used to be (see HERE for more info on transport). Our 6 hour ride ended up taking longer because we had to drive […]

warner

hello, im planning to go to el nido this May and I saw your blog. I just have a curious question, since its a van so isn’t it “masikip”? and how about your bags where will you place them? how many people will they manage to load? pls email me at waner_so@yahoo.com thanks!

Christopher Fagaragan

boss pag 2pm dumating wala na bang van?

Mariz Sunga

Hi! I just want to ask kung yung fee sa shuttle service is 700/pax or 700 group na kayo. :)

yoshke

Per person. :) The bus is more comfortable though.

res

hi! the shuttle picks up other passengers din di ba? meron bang for rent na private car that’s good for 2 adults and a kid. do you have any idea how much? also, has any of you stayed in bayview resort? how is it? any issues or concerns sa facilities and services duon? thanks!

res

thank you! :) which beaches did you go to? we’re right next to las cabanas beach.. some said no need na for island hopping.. any advise as to places where we can go during our 5 day stay? thank you? :)