Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Getting In

Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, PAL Express are flying from Manila (MNL) to Puerto Princesa (PPS).  I prefer Cebu Pacific over Philippine Airlines, for one, Cebu's plane is bigger and the staff are way more friendly and down-to-earth than PAL's stiff on-board crew, just my personal experience and opinion.  Plus Cebu Pacific have a 1-peso fare promo (+taxes and surcharges).  Book way in advance to get a better fare.

From PPS to El Nido:

Take a tricycle or the shared multicabs to San Jose “New Market” Bus Terminal, and from there you can jump on either the nice airconditioned RORO bus (yes, they’re already operational as of writing) or Cherry Bus Lines (fare cost PHP 465) reaching El Nido in 7 to 8 hours, picking up passengers along the way.

Cherry bus.
I don’t recommend the non-aircon, but they are available for the adventurous (or not) travelers at PHP 285.

There are also airconditioned vans, mostly the Granvia transport type (fare cost PHP 600) which are faster than buses, you reached El Nido in 5 hours.  Fortwally, Eulen Joy and Lexus are popular van transport companies and you need not worry searching for it when you arrive at the San Jose Bus Terminal, they will approach you, lots of people there will ask you if you’re heading to El Nido and they will usher you to their vans.  They’re parked opposite the buses parking area.

From El Nido Bus Terminal to town:

There are tricycles queued at the waiting shed right at the terminal that will whisked you to the town for PHP 50 per tricycle, maximum passengers are 4.  If you want to save more, the trick is, walk a little on the highway pass the queue of tricycle and hail a passing trike and you’ll be paying only PHP 10.  But if you’re a group of 4, the 50 fare for the trike queued at the terminal is reasonable. 

If you’re the adventurous type, you can easily walk from the terminal to the town in 15 minutes or less.  I did walked from town to Corong Corong which is way passing the terminal.


Getting Around:

El Nido is a small town and can easily be navigated on foot.  But if you'd like to go further and visit some sights out of the town's limit, rent a motorbike, see the waterfalls and hot spring, or watch the sunset in Corong Corong.  There are a couple of motorbike rentals along the main street (Calle Hama).

Tricycles are the main public transport mode and they pass along the main street, just hail one by waving your hand, to go to any destination you want within the town, fare is PHP10.




Getting out :

Reverse the “Getting in” process above - take a tricycle from El Nido town to the bus terminal and take either the bus (RORO or Cherry)  or vans that goes to Puerto Princesa. 

Here’s a tip, you can bargain with the vans EN, the usual PHP 600 can go down to 500 if you know how to haggle nicely.  Palaweneos (locals) are a bunch of truly kind and nice people.


What to see/do in El Nido:

If you’re staying at any of the beach front hotels, then the beautiful Bacuit Bay is your view.

There are 4 popular island hopping tours :

Tour A = PHP 700
Tour B = PHP 800
Tour C = PHP 900
Tour D = PHP 700

Each island hopping boat tours are unique with different sets of islands, lagoons and coves destination.  Inclusive of picnic lunch at one of the islands in front of the beach which consist of a sumptous feast of grilled fish, shrimps or crabs, pork chops, grilled eggplant and seaweed salad in tomatoes and onions, and fresh fruits (pineapple, watermelon and bananas, cucumbers).  ToursIsland hopping are available at all the tour operators in El Nido town or your hotel. Boats starts cruising at 9:00am til 5:00pm.  The good boats I took (in terms of boat, friendly staff and food) are – Islanen 2 and Caera.



Inland tours by van or tricycle are also available and destinations are waterfalls, hot spring and beach.

Scuba Diving - offered by several diving operators in town like Submariner Diving Center with office just along the beach line, below Habbibi Café.


Massage – get a nice massage at one of the massage parlors lining the main street.

Massage parlor.

My favorite tour operator.
Internet Café:

Some restaurants and restobars like Sea Slugs and Squido’s have wifi, as well as some hotels.  There’s however an internet café along the main street of the town (Calle Hama).

Intenet cafe.


Laundry Shops:

I spotted a couple of laundry shops along the main street (Calle Hama), they have sign boards, popular one is beside the La Chupetta bar.

Laundry shop.


Money Matters:


Money Exchange shop.
The only foreign exchange in El Nido, along the main road. (see pic).  Although the exchange rate isn’t as attractive as in the city of Puerto Princesa but you ain't got much choice, do you?  

Get cash in Puerto Princesa as there are no ATM machines in EN.  The only bank available is the First Consolidated Bank and can only dispense cash at the teller's counter exclusively for their depositors, I repeat - no ATM.  If you ran out of cash and you would like your relatives or friends to send you cash, there’re 2 agencies I know similar to Western Union, one is called Lhuiller in front of the big church and the other is Palawan Pawnshop.


Where to Eat:

BBQ along the street.
El Nido town offers a variety of dining experience, from shoestring budget to a bit on the high end.

Decent reasonably expensive ones are SeaSlugs and Squido’s.  IBR Fastfood along Calle Hama is on the very affordable mid-range and has a lot of choices.  If still you want to settle for the shoestring budget, then there are dozens of local eateries around, set meal of rice + a choice of a viand on display = PHP60 - 70.  The downside is - the food isn't newly cooked, therefore, cold.
  

Supermarket:


Inggo Supermarket
Grocery stuff in El Nido is a bit costly compared to the prices in supermarkets and stores in Puerto Princesa City.  Ministores are aplenty along the main street of Calle Hama.  But if you go to the only supermarket (big store) called "Inggo" located just after Squido's, prices of commodities are cheaper and almost the same with big cities.  Colas in cans costs PHP 25, and they have a lot of grocery stuff, from personal hygiene to drinks to foodstuff to slippers to plates, etc., anything you probably might need.





Accommodations:

Room at Rosanna's Cottages.
Several hotels and cottages line the beach from low-budget-end to high-end big hotels, and I suggest staying along the beach line.  I highly recommend Tandikan Beach Cottages and Dara Fernandez for budget accommodations (fan rooms), or Rosanna’s Cottages, El Nido Beach Hotel, Lally & Abet Beach Resort, Entalula and Periking for the mid-range to high-end accommodation (airconditioned rooms).

Read my Accommodation List on my previous blog.




Electricity:

Electrical sockets Type A, Class II ungrounded plug with two flat parallel prongs.  So be sure you have an adaptor if your electronic gadgets are of different type (i.e. 3-prongs or rounded).  220V.

EN has no electricity town-wide from 6:00am til 2:00pm daily, which means electricity is only available 18 hours a day from 2:00pm til 6:00am.  Some hotels, mostly the big ones have generators, nonetheless, they can only cover about 2 hours from 6:00am til 8:00am (i.e. El Nido Beach Hotel).  So better charge your gadgets (i.e. digicams and mobile phones) in the evening while you're sleeping to make sure they’re fully charged the following morning when you need them for the island hopping tours, you wouldn't want to miss capturing those postcard-perfect scenes, right?

What to wear:

EN is an island, beach, sands, sun and fun.  You don’t need your best suits or dresses here.  Whatever you normally wear on beaches, that’s what you should be bringing along.  Flipflops seemed to be the official footwear.  Barefoot optional – at least on the beach. 

What to bring:

Sunblock is a must.
Flipflops or rubber/plastic sandals.
Swimwear, sorry but Speedo isn’t popular.
Waterproof bag – I was forced to buy an Aquamundo beside the Art Café – when it was raining during our island hopping tour, and even if it’s not raining, the ocean waves sometimes splashes onto the boat.
Snorkeling gadget – great coral gardens on some of the destinations.      
Underwater camera – same reason as above.
Diarrhea, sea sickness, headache meds - in case you'll be needing one, you'll never know.  I hid in one of the sharp-edged rocks in one of the islands to ;)  --- you know.

Nearby Destination :

The better half of El Nido which is likewise an amazing place – Coron – can be reached by boat.  A popular but expensive one is the pumpboat named “Essabel”, leaves EN for Coron twice a week at 7:30am right at the port.  But there’s a cargo vessel that goes to Coron and also available for passengers at half the price as I was told, check more info at the port.

More Information:

Visit the EN Tourist Information Center right before Lhuiller and the big church of St. Francis of Assisi, get some maps and lots of info.

Palawan Tours and Packages on Budget:

Holidays in Palawan gets affordable with "Palawan On Budget", get more info and contact Jimmy at :  http://palawanonbudget.jimdo.com/


Signboard schedule for boats to Coron.
Motorcycle rental shop.

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