HomeAsiaSoutheast AsiaPhilippinesPalawanEl NidoEl Nido Trip Guide for First-Timers By Marcos Detourista. Updated on March 7, 2018.Traveling to El Nido, Palawan for the first-time? Here’s a detailed travel guide with sample itinerary, budget, spots to visit, where 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 on places to stay, eat, etc…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. Read must-know tips, sample itinerary, where to stay, budget breakdown, places to visit and lots of extra travel tips.Get 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 ATMs in El Nido. There are only two of them in town (as of early 2017). It will be safer to withdraw your money in Puerto Princesa or before arriving in Palawan.Book your hotel early — Reserve your stay as soon as you know you are going because prices rarely go down the closer you are to your trip. Not to mention, lower-priced rooms tend to get fully booked faster. Click below to compare rates & read reviews by other travelers.Cheapest ratesSee reviews & discountsDon’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.” Book the combination tours, especially “Combo Tour A + C,” if it is available.Pre-book tours & discounts online — Check discounts on tours and attractions as well. Save money & avoid hassles of bringing large amounts of cash by booking before you leave.See all 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 TripYou 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 on low tourist seasons.Top Palawan & Philippines guides & blogsPhilippines Tourist SpotsPhilippines BeachesPalawan Tourist SpotsEl 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. Click below to see prices and plan your budget.Day 1: Arrival in El Nido 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 Princesa (Compare fares & airlines)Puerto Princesa to El Nido transfer (See discounts)El Nido hotel check-in (Check rates & reviews)El Nido town proper sightseeingDay 2: El Nido Island Hopping Secret Lagoon Beach in Miniloc Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines Matinloc Island in El Nido, Palawan, PhilippinesEl Nido island hopping tour A or C (See discounts)See more trips on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest.Day 3 to 4: El Nido inland tour & Puerto Princesa Nacpan Beach, in El Nido, Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido inland tour — Nacpan-Calitang twin beach (See discounts)Back to Puerto Princesa / ManilaScroll down for the detailed version of this 4D3N El Nido itinerary and tips on how to spend 3 days 2 night (3D2N) & more.Top discounts booked by other travelersTours17% OFF El Nido Tour B Island Hopping – Caves and Coves Day Trip10% OFF El Nido Tour A Island Hopping – Lagoons and Beaches Day Trip10% OFF El Nido Tour D Island Hopping – Islands and Beaches Day Trip6% OFF El Nido Tour C Island Hopping – Hidden Beaches and Shrines Day TripTransportPuerto Princesa to El Nido & v.v. Shuttle TransfersWhere 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.El Nido resorts, hotels & hostelsSee top rated resorts, hotels, hostels & pension houses in El Nido. Click below to check rates, discounts & guest reviews.Check RatesBook Now1. Our Melting Pot HostelBudget backpacker | El Nido Town ProperCheck Rates2. Spin Designer Hostel El NidoBudget backpacker | El Nido ProperCheck Rates3. El Nido Viewdeck CottagesBudget | El Nido ProperCheck Rates4. Bnky Bed and BreakfastBudget | El Nido ProperCheck Rates5. Swiftlets InnMid-range | El Nido ProperCheck Rates6. Joaquinn’s Bed & BreakfastMid-range | El Nido ProperCheck Rates7. Lolo Oyong El Nido Pension HouseMid-range | El Nido ProperCheck Rates8. El Nido Bayview HotelSplurge | Marimegmeg BeachCheck Rates9. El Nido Resorts Miniloc IslandSplurge | Miniloc IslandCheck Rates10. Matinloc ResortSplurge | Matinloc IslandCheck Rates11. Cauayan Island ResortSplurge | Cauayan IslandCheck Rates El Nido itineraryHere’s a sample itinerary that you can follow during your trip. Scroll down for the budget and list of expenses.4 days El Nido trip via Puerto PrincesaDay 15:50 am — Manila to Puerto Princesa flight departure.7:10 am — Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) arrival.7:10 am to 1 pm — Puerto Princesa to El Nido transport shuttle transfer. Ride a direct shuttle to El Nido at the airport parking if available.1 pm — Arrival in El NidoVisit El Nido Tourism Office. Register & pay PHP 200 Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF)1 pm onwards — Visit Taraw Peak or go sightseeing in El Nido town proper.Rest in El NidoDay 28 am to 5 pm — El Nido “Combo Tour A+C” island hopping5 pm to 6 pm — Sunset at Corong-Corong Beach / Marimegmeg BeachRest in El NidoDay 38 am to 5 pm — El Nido inland tour.5 pm onwards — El Nido town proper sightseeing / pasalubong shoppingRest in El NidoDay 47 am — El Nido to Puerto Princesa transport on bus / shuttle van1 pm — Puerto Princesa arrival1 pm to 4 pm — Puerto Princesa city tour / pasalubong shopping4 pm — Flight check-in at Puerto Princesa Airport.5:50 pm — Puerto Princesa to Manila flight7:10 pm — Manila Airport arrivalIf you only have 3 days to spend in El Nido, you can skip “Day 3” of the itinerary posted above. If you are not up for the Taraw Cliff hike, you can visit Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beaches instead.El Nido budgetTo help you set a budget, here are expenses you can expect to spend during your trip.Expenses breakdownPricePrice per person. 2 people in group.Puerto Princesa to El Nido shuttle — One-way fare per person.PHP 550El Nido terminal to town proper tricycle — One-way fare per tricycle.PHP 50PHP25El Nido Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) — Price per person.PHP 200Taraw cliff climbing — Guide fee, up to 3 people.PHP 500PHP 250El Nido island hopping combo tour A + C — Rate per person.PHP 2,000El Nido inland tour tricycle rental/charter — Whole day (round trip) rate per tricycle.PHP 1,500PHP 750Marimegmeg Beach tricycle charter — Round trip rate per tricyclePHP 300PHP 150Puerto Princesa Airport terminal fee — Price per person.PHP 200Food — Budget per day, per person.P300 to P600Mid-range hotel — Aircon room good for two people. Rate per room per night.PHP 2,400PHP 1,200Backpacker hostel dorm/bed — Rate per person per night.PHP 450Here are the budget estimates for the 4 days El Nido itinerary posted above. It includes accommodation, food, transport and all tours in El Nido. It excludes the cost of flights and tours you might want to do during your transit in Puerto Princesa.Budget estimate per person2 people in groupSolo travelerBudget backpackerPHP 7,000PHP 8,500Mid-range travelPHP 10,000PHP 15,550If is, of course, possible to travel cheaper in El Nido and bring the budget down to P6,000 or less.You can easily do this by traveling in a bigger group so that expenses are shared among more people. If you are traveling solo, look for other travelers willing to join you.Also, If you’re only interested in the island hopping tours, you can skip the inland tours and do two full days on Tour C and Tour A instead.Top El Nido spots1. Go island hopping around Bacuit Bay islands — See amazing underwater and “over water” views of El Nido. These islands are found just off the coast of the town proper. 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, Philippines2. See Nacpan and Calitang — The twin beaches of El Nido. Calitang Beach, in El Nido, Palawan Philippines3. Take a sunset stroll along Corong-Corong and Marimegmeg Beaches — Get 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. Sunset from Corong-Corong Beach in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines4. Hike to the top of Taraw Peak — Enjoy breathtaking views overlooking El Nido. This steep karst hill is located right within the town proper. Overlooking Bacuit Bay Islands of El Nido from Taraw Peak, in Palawan, Philippines5. Try the Bird’s Nest soup — This 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 seafood — Go on a food trip in many seafood restaurants along El Nido beachfront.7. Explore inland El Nido — In 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 Linapacan — El 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 Palawan — Take 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.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.Palawan flightsCompare airlines & fares 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. 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.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.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.. You can go on a mixed/combination tour, if available. For example, “Combo Tour A+B” and “Combo Tour C+D.”The best spots are in “Tour A” and “Tour C.” So, book a “Combo Tour A+C” if your can.See the list below for a list of islands & spots included in each route:El Nido island hopping tour packagesCheck 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.Other tours & packagesTaraw cliff climbingBook onlineEl Nido inland tour — Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beach, Las Cabanas Beach, Nagkalit-kalit Falls / Bulalacao FallsBook onlineHow 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.Don’t stop hereDid you find this travel guide helpful? Share your trips & tag #detourista. Follow updates on:Instagram @detouristaHQFacebook [email protected]PinterestDon’t leave yet. There’s more!26 Most Beautiful Islands & Beaches in the PhilippinesBalabac Trip Guide for First-TimersSingapore Itinerary – 3-4 Days SG Legoland Tour12 Best Places to Visit in Palawan for First-TimersDiscover more blogs and travel tips in:El NidoSoutheast AsiaPhilippinesPalawanAsia See all placesFind more posts about:FeaturedItineraryPinoy Travel BlogTravel GuideBudgetTourist SpotsLeave a Reply Cancel reply 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!ReplyStart A TripSee travel guides and blogs about the Philippines and beyond.