HomeAsiaSoutheast AsiaPhilippinesPalawanEl NidoEl Nido Trip + Itinerary Guide for First-Timers By Marcos Detourista. Updated on April 7, 2018.Here’s a detailed El Nido travel guide with sample itinerary, budget, spots to visit, places to stay & more. Places Flights Hotels Tours PromoEl Nido was one of the top destinations in the Philippines that I wanted to visit during my early years of traveling.This coastal town found on the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan is home to gorgeous islands, white-sand beaches, and lagoons. It should be on your bucketlist of places to go in the country because the sea views here rival the best of Asia.El Nido had changed quite a bit since my first visit. There had been a lot of improvements including how easier it is to get to, now, and the wider variety of options available for tourists.Traveling to El Nido for the first time? This detailed travel guide will make it easy for you to plan a trip, save money, and maximize your time.Scroll down to read must-know travel tips before you go, followed by a sample itinerary + budget breakdown, recommended hotels/places to stay, things to do/places to visit and lots of extra travel tips.El Nido Travel Guide Blog ContentsGet StartedEl Nido ItineraryEl Nido BudgetWhere to Stay in El NidoEl Nido Travel Tips Before You GoThings To Do in El Nido + Places to VisitSee More Travel Guides & BlogsGet StartedHow to Go — Most travelers arrive in El Nido on a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS), followed by a 5-6 hour shuttle ride. Princesa Airport serves direct flights from Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Clark, and Davao. If you want to skip the long land journey, fly directly to El Nido from Manila, Cebu or Boracay-Caticlan. This is the fastest but more expensive way. For adventurous travelers who want to maximize their trip, book a flight to Coron-Busuanga Airport (USU) and continue the sea journey to El Nido by ferry.See cheap flightsManila to Puerto PrincesaBring all the cash you need — Do not rely on getting money from the limited number of ATMs in El Nido. It will be safer to withdraw your money in Puerto Princesa. Better yet, pre-book your accommodations and tours online before arriving.Book your hotel early — Grab rock-bottom rates and avoid fully-booked rooms by booking online as soon as you know you’re going. Click below to compare discounts and read reviews by other travelers.Cheapest ratesBest hotel reviewsCheck prices online and pre-book discounts — Save money by checking discounts on tours & airport/city transfers. Booking before you leave also saves you time by avoiding the hassles of bringing large amounts of cash during your actual trip.See tours & discountsPuerto Princesa to El Nido & v.v. Shuttle Transfers10% OFF El Nido Tour A Island Hopping – Lagoons and Beaches Day Trip6% OFF El Nido Tour C Island Hopping – Hidden Beaches and Shrines Day TripDon’t miss island hopping in El Nido — The boat tours around Bacuit Bay islands is the main highlight in El Nido. Don’t ever skip it during your first trip. The best spots are found in “Tour A” & “Tour C.”You need to go on a 3-day trip, or longer — El Nido island hopping tours usually start in the morning and run the whole day. Taking into account the long journey from Puerto Princesa, you’ll have to add one day each for your arrival and departure in Palawan. So, 3 days is the minimum, but I recommend that you spend at least 4 days so that you can enjoy 2 full days for island hopping & inland tours. They are worth it!El Nido does not have to be expensive — Many people think of posh island resorts with a mention of El Nido. Truth is, there are many options here for travelers on a tight budget. If you can afford to stay in a luxury resort, go for it! If you want to save money, stay at many budget-friendly hotels and hostels in mainland El Nido. You can enjoy the islands on day tours.El Nido is very solo travel-friendly — This town is one of the few places in the Philippines that can be traveled easily and cheaply by solo travelers. The daily island hopping tours accept joiners & there are a lot of these tours organized daily, even during low tourist seasons.Top travel blogs + guide to El Nido & beyondPhilippines Tourist SpotsPhilippines BeachesPalawan Tourist SpotsBalabac Travel GuideEl Nido ItineraryHere’s a sample 4 days & 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary to give you a quick look at how to enjoy a trip to El Nido’s top tourist spots. Click below to see prices & discounts online.Day 1: El Nido arrival Overlooking Bacuit Bay Islands of El Nido from Taraw Peak, in Palawan, Philippines Sunset from Corong-Corong Beach in El Nido, Palawan, PhilippinesFlight to Puerto PrincesaCompare fares & airlines 0710 am to 0100 pm: Puerto Princesa to El Nido transferSee discounts 0100 pm: El Nido hotel check-in & arrivalCheck rates & reviews Register at tourism office & pay ETDF fee …expandVisit El Nido Tourism Office. Register & pay PHP 200 Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF).OPTION #1: OPTION #2: 0500 pm: Sunset in El Nido …expandBest spots are in Corong-Corong Beach & Marimegmeg Beach.Day 2: El Nido Island Hopping Secret Lagoon Beach in Miniloc Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines0800 am: Start El Nido island hopping tour A or CSee discounts 0500 pm: Back to hotel / Sunset in El NidoDay 3: El Nido Island Hopping or Land Tour Matinloc Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Calitang Beach, in El Nido, Palawan PhilippinesOPTION #1: 0800 am: El Nido island hopping tour A or CSee discounts OPTION #2: 0800 am: Nacpan-Calitang twin beachSee discounts 0500 pm: Back to hotel / Sunset in El NidoDay 4: Puerto Princesa0700 am: El Nido to Puerto Princesa …expandLand transport on bus / shuttle van0100 pm: Puerto Princesa arrivalPuerto Princesa city tourPuerto Princesa departureEl Nido BudgetYour travel expenses in El Nido will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 4 days and 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.Transport expenses breakdownPHP 1,700Puerto Princesa to El Nido shuttle — PHP 850 one-way, per person + return. Including hotel drop-off/pickup.Book discount herePHP 300Marimegmeg/Corong-corong Beach tricycle charter — Round trip rate per tricycleActivities/attraction costs breakdownPHP 200El Nido Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF)PHP 900El Nido island hopping tour ABook discount herePHP 1,250El Nido island hopping tour CBook discount hereBudget Trip – Backpacker ExpensesPHP 2,000Transport — Roundtrip El Nido-Puerto Princesa transfers and tricycle charter to Marimegmeg/Corong-corong BeachPHP 1,800Accommodations — PHP 600 per night at a budget hostel x 3 nights.PHP 1,800Food — PHP 450 sample budget per day, per person x 4 days.PHP 2,350Activities — Including, El Nido tourism fee, Island hopping tour A & C.PHP 5,600Total (excluding activities) — Includes accommodation, food, transport for 4 days. Excluding flightsPHP 7,950Total — Includes 4 days expenses + El Nido activities posted above. Excluding flights & activities during your transit in Puerto Princesa.I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can travel in El Nido. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.Where to Stay in El NidoThe most popular place to stay is in El Nido town proper area. You can find many hotels along the beachfront and nearby streets that cater to budget-conscious and mid-range travelers. This area is perfect if you want to stay within easy walking distance to a wide variety of restaurants, bars, shopping, and tourist offices.If you want to enjoy El Nido’s best, stay at many island resorts in Bacuit Bay. Not only do they offer amazing private beach views, they are also a short boat ride away from the island hopping highlights in town.Stay at peaceful resorts along beaches near the town proper if you want to stay away from the crowds, including Corong-Corong Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, Sibaltan Beach.Compare all rates & reviewsEl Nido hotels & hostelsHere’s a list of recommended hotels, hostels & places to stay in El Nido. Click below to check prices, discounts & guest reviews.Bnky Bed and BreakfastBudget; El Nido Town ProperCheck RatesNovie’s Tourist InnBudget; Corong-Corong BeachCheck RatesLolo Oyong Pension HouseMid-range; El Nido Town ProperCheck RatesEl Nido Bayview HotelMid-range; Marimegmeg BeachCheck RatesColumbus InnMid-range; Corong-Corong BeachCheck RatesShipwrecked Pension HouseMid-range; El Nido Town ProperCheck RatesMatinloc ResortSplurge; Matinloc IslandCheck RatesLast Frontier Beach ResortSplurge; Corong-corong BeachCheck RatesEl Nido Coco ResortSplurge; Corong-corong BeachCheck RatesCauayan Island ResortSplurge; Cauayan IslandCheck RatesWhere to bookBook your stay online through these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently to grab rock-bottom prices & enjoy convenient bookings.Click below to see more places to stay and compare rates/discounts:AgodaBooking.comHere are some of the top reasons why I prefer to book online & why you should too:Show moreWide selection of El Nido hotels/hostels for all budgets.Often cheaper prices than walk-in rates. Earn rewards points for every booking. The more you book, the more you earn!Trusted by millions of travelers. Read reviews from actual staying guests.Instant confirmation & free cancellation on most properties.Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies. Convenient & secure payment by credit card or Paypal.Fast customer support.How to find affordable yet decent hotels perfect for your budgetStep 1 — Go to Agoda.com.Step 2 — Show the best locations only by filtering results by neighborhood.Step 3 — View all properties within your price range by tapping on the “Filter” button. Then, scroll down to “Price per night” and select your price range. Tap on “Filter” to see the results. For desktop users, you can find the filters on the left side of the page.Step 4 — See properties with the highest guest reviews by using the “Guest Rating” filter. Select “9+ Exceptional”. In case there are few results displayed select “8+ Excellent”.To check the cheapest rooms/beds, simply sort the results by price from lowest to highest.To check the best places to stay, sort the results by guest ratings. Tap the “Sort” button. Then, choose “Guest ratings” > “All guests” or any of the choices you like. For desktop users, the sort button is located on top of the results.Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score. A higher number of reviews mean a more reliable review score.Pro tip — Go to Booking.com to check more properties, reviews and rates. Use the “Location Score” filter to narrow down to hostels/hotels with the best location. Select “Superb location: 9+.”El Nido Travel Tips Before You GoHow to get from Manila to El Nido?You can either book a flight via Puerto Princesa, El Nido Airport or Coron.Via Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) — The most popular and cheapest way. Go on a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Princesa. Then, ride a bus or shuttle van to El Nido (5 to 6 hours). Flights are operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia.Via El Nido Airport (ENI) — The most convenient but expensive option is to fly directly to El Nido Airport. Manila-El Nido flights only take one hour. From El Nido Airport, the town center is a 15-minute ride away by shuttle van or tricycle. Flights are operated by AirSWIFT.Via Coron-Busuanga Airport (USU) — If you are feeling adventurous, you can book a flight to Coron. Then, continue the journey to El Nido by ferry. That way, you can maximize your time and visit two of Palawan’s best destinations in one trip. Flights are operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, SkyJet, Air Juan.How to find cheap flights to El Nido?The easy way is to search on airfare comparison sites that can show you the lowest fares on many airlines in one go. You can also check promo fares for flights on sale & discounts.Start now on Momondo, or Wego.How to get from Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay to El Nido?If you are coming from places in the Philippines outside Manila, you can book a flight to Palawan from Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay.Here are alternative routes you can consider booking:Cebu – Puerto Princesa (1 hour) — Operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia.Cebu – El Nido (1.5 hours) — Operated by AirSWIFT.Clark – Puerto Princesa (1.5 hours) — Operated by Philippine Airlines.Iloilo – Puerto Princesa (2 hours) — Operated by Cebu Pacific.Davao – Puerto Princesa (2.5 hours) — Operated by AirAsia.Boracay (Caticlan) – El Nido (50 minutes) — Operated by AirSWIFT.How to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?Ride a van from Puerto Princesa Airport arrivals area. Travel time by shuttle takes 5 to 6 hours. The shared shuttle costs up to P850 one-way per person for a spacious van with hotel drop-off/pickup.You can also catch a bus (P360+ to P480+ fare per person) or van (P550 to P600 fare per person) from San Jose Terminal located on the outskirts of the city center. Travel time by bus may take 7 hours, or more if the bus makes frequent stops along the way.Vans depart from San Jose Terminal almost every hour from 5 am to 6 pm. Meanwhile, Cherry & RORO buses depart almost every hour from 4 am to 10 pm.To get to San Jose Terminal, can charter a tricycle from the airport (P100 per ride). If you prefer to do a local commute, ride a tricycle from the airport exit (main road) to Junction 1 (P8 fare per person). Then, ride a multicab / jeepney to San Jose Terminal (P13 fare per person).How to get from Coron to El Nido?Coron to El Nido ferries depart once a day, 3 times a week. This route is operated by MBCA/Overcomer. Travel time takes around 7 to 8 hours. Book in advance because the ferry trip may be fully booked on the day of departure.What tour should I book?You can choose between many types of standard island hopping tour routes. They are codenamed “Tour A,” “Tour B,” “Tour C,” etc.The best spots are in “Tour A” and “Tour C.”El Nido island hopping tour packagesSee the list below for a list of islands & spots included in each route:Check rates onlineIsland hopping tour A — Small Lagoon*, Big Lagoon*, Secret Lagoon*, Shimizu Island*, 7 Commando Beach.Book onlineIsland hopping tour B — Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Entalula Beach*, Cudugnon Cave, Snorkeling Site.Book onlineIsland hopping tour C — Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine*, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Hidden Beach.Book onlineIsland hopping tour D — Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Paradise Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Natnat Beach, Bukal Beach.Book online*Items marked with an asterisk are the best spots.You can go on a mixed/combination tours if you’re willing to spend time arranging the boat charter. For example, “Combo Tour A+C” and “Combo Tour B+D.”How to book an island hopping tour?You can book your island hopping trip when you arrive in El Nido. Multiple tours run every day. It is very easy to find and book one even in the low tourist season. The tours start early in the morning, so you need to make arrangements a day before or earlier.There are a lot of offices along the main tourist area in El Nido town proper that sell these tours. You can shop around before booking to get the best deal. Tours usually have picnic lunch, drinking water, and snorkeling gear (mask/fins) included in the package.Better yet, book your tour online to avoid the hassle of bringing large amounts of cash on your actual trip.Click below to see all discounts posted on these top booking sites:KlookKkdayEco Tourism Development FeeThis is P200 fee is required for all tourists visiting El Nido. It is paid once per person, valid for all tours for a 10 day period. If you’ve already paid the fee, take the receipt with you.Should I book my room online?It’s highly recommended that you book your stay online to get ahead of fully-booked rooms & enjoy cashless convenience.You can find many places to stay, book cheap prices, and read guest reviews on these trusted travel sites. Make sure to set your travel dates to see actual room prices & discounts.AgodaBooking.comTripAdvisorIs there an ATM in El Nido? Where can I withdraw money?Yes. You use your ATM card to withdraw money from these locations: (1) RCBC ATM at the municipal hall entrance; (2) BPI Branch ATM. These ATMs accept international cards but be mindful of daily withdrawal limits, which is usually P20,000 per day.Prepare extra batteriesPower outages are common in the mainland. Bring a power bank and extra batteries for your camera/phone to avoid running out of power during your trip.How many days to spend in El Nido?You should spend at least 2 full days for El Nido island hopping & inland tours. Considering the long travel time to get to El Nido, plan a 4-day trip, or longer, if you are traveling via Puerto Princesa Airport.Things To Do in El Nido + Places to VisitCheck out these top tourist spots, best places to visit & things to do in El Nido.1. Go island hopping around Bacuit Bay islands Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Secret Lagoon Beach in Miniloc Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Matinloc Island in El Nido, Palawan, PhilippinesSee amazing underwater and “over water” views of El Nido. These islands are found just off the coast of the town proper.2. See Nacpan and Calitang Calitang Beach, in El Nido, Palawan PhilippinesThe twin beaches of El Nido.3. Take a sunset stroll along Corong-Corong and Marimegmeg Beaches Sunset from Corong-Corong Beach in El Nido, Palawan, PhilippinesGet away from the crowded main beach of El Nido and enjoy peaceful late afternoon views. These sandy shores can be reached on a quick tricycle ride from the town proper.4. Hike to the top of Taraw Peak Overlooking Bacuit Bay Islands of El Nido from Taraw Peak, in Palawan, PhilippinesEnjoy breathtaking views overlooking El Nido. This steep karst hill is located right within the town proper.5. Try the Bird’s Nest soupThis rare and often expensive Chinese delicacy is made from the nest of swiftlets (Balinsasayaw) that are harvested in El Nido. One kilogram of the edible nest can fetch prices of up to USD1,000 in Hong Kong and the US. Get a taste of it in El Nido, where it is a lot cheaper.6. Indulge in fresh seafoodGo on a food trip in many seafood restaurants along El Nido beachfront.7. Explore inland El NidoIn addition to Nacpan and Calitang twin beaches, there are many places to see in El Nido mainland like Makinit Hot Springs, Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls, Kuyawayaw Waterfalls & Sibaltan Beach.Beyond El Nido8. Discover Coron, Taytay, and LinapacanEl Nido’s Bacuit Bay is just one of the islands groups in Northern Palawan. Adventurous travelers can ride a ferry to more islands worth visiting in Coron, Taytay, and Linapacan.9. See mainland PalawanTake a land trip south and visit beautiful spots dotted on Palawan mainland. Extend your trip to Taytay, San Vicente / Port Barton, Puerto Princesa, Tabon Caves in Quezon and Balabac.Don’t Stop HereDid you find this travel guide helpful? Share your trips & tag #detourista. Follow updates on:Instagram @detouristaHQFacebook @detouristaPinterestCheck out these pages for more travel inspiration beyond El Nido:Philippines Tourist SpotsPhilippines BeachesPalawan Tourist SpotsBalabac Travel GuideDon’t leave yet. There’s more!26 Most Beautiful Islands & Beaches in the PhilippinesBalabac Trip Guide for First-Timers12 Best Places to Visit in Palawan for First-TimersIndochina Itinerary – Thailand, Cambodia…Discover more blogs and travel tips in:El NidoSoutheast AsiaPhilippinesPalawanAsia See all placesFind more posts about:FeaturedItineraryPinoy Travel BlogTravel GuideBudgetTourist SpotsLeave a Reply Cancel reply This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Comments Aljhon Gallego saysMay 24, 2017 at 6:20 amThank you so much bro for the tips. Sobrang makakatulong ito sa akin. 👍👌Reply Marcos Detourist saysMay 29, 2017 at 11:01 pmThanks for the awesome feedback Aljhon!Reply Kathleen Capulan saysJune 11, 2017 at 8:44 pmHi,I saw in your itinerary that you were able to avail of a combination tour. What agency did you make reservations with for the combi tour? Thank you!Reply Marcos Detourist saysJune 12, 2017 at 2:16 amDon’t have the contact anymore. You can find a lot online or during your actual trip in El Nido.Reply James saysJanuary 11, 2018 at 1:48 pmNot sure why I can’t view other tabs e.g Guimaras, Cagayan de Oro. When I clicked it, it’s routed back to your home page. Interested to read you blogs but you need to fix some bugs. ThanksReply Marcos Detourista saysFebruary 2, 2018 at 5:35 amThanks for the feedback James :)Reply May saysMarch 13, 2018 at 4:25 pmjust exactly what i needed! flight booked this june =) thanks so much for the info.Reply Marcos Detourista saysMarch 14, 2018 at 11:07 amThanks for the encouragement! I’m glad that this El Nido Travel Guide helped you. Happy trip!Reply Kamille saysMay 20, 2018 at 6:51 amyou have the best and most detailed blog about el nido! twas very helpful planning ny own itinerary. kudos! 😍ReplyStart A TripSee travel guides and blogs about the Philippines and beyond.