El Nido allures travelers with its stunning island hopping tours, diving, and serene beauty. After you have scratched these off your to-do list and are looking for something a bit more adventurous to do, you should look into climbing up one of the mammoth limestone cliffs that surround El Nido town proper. Before travelling to El Nido I had read about others who had hiked up Mt. Taraw and saw how breathtaking the views were. Afterwards, I knew this was something I had to do while I was here.
As amazingly wonderful as the town of El Nido is, it’s missing one thing. Because of the looming limestone cliffs to the west of the town, you are unable to see the sunset. This also means it gets dark much earlier in the day than you would probably like. Thankfully, we ended up finding a solution to our lack-of-a-beautiful-sunset problem.
Island hopping tours in El Nido are one of the main attractions in this charming town. When you head there, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is which tour to go on. Fortunately, I was able to go on two incredible tours: Tour A and Tour C. If you’ve read up on island hopping in El Nido, you’ll probably know that Tour A is highly recommended if you can only do one during your stay. If possible, you should try to get around to going on both tours.
As I mentioned in my last post, El Nido is a must-visit destination with its incomparable beauty and small town charm. When you visit, you will undoubtedly go on an island hopping tour, as it is one of the main things to do here. There are four tours you can choose from, cleverly named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. These tours are a great way to explore the islands of El Nido and take in all of its rare visual appeal. Tour A and C are the most popular tours, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do both. However, if you can only squeeze one tour in during your stay, I would recommend doing Tour A.
The small town of El Nido exudes this quaint, friendly, and charming vibe throughout. El Nido is not as developed as many other popular South East Asian destinations (though it might very well become just that in the near future), which I really liked about it, so don’t expect a street filled with bars and drunken tourists, or any chain restaurants or shops.
After we had been in Puerto Princesa for two nights, we made our way via van to the -almost- northern most part of Palawan; El Nido. The ride there was pretty painful; it took about 6 or so hours with multiple stops picking up and dropping off passengers (both tourists and locals) along the way in the towns of Roxas, Taytay, and who knows where else. However, I was in for a real treat on the ride back to Puerto Princesa when we were stuck in a much smaller van with the same amount of people, and had a pregnant lady moaning as if she were having contractions and an older woman who was horking into a baggy that she tied around the back of a seat… But, I digress.
After we finished climbing up and ziplining down Ugong Rock, we made our way to the Underground River (more specifically known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park). The river is a UNESCO Heritage Site in Sabang, about an hour or so drive from Puerto Princesa City. Established in 1999 and confirmed as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World in 2012, this site has been a huge tourist spot and economic boost for Palawan.
We had booked our day tour to see the Underground River, which has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site as well as one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Unbeknownst to us, there was actually a morning stop at Ugong Rock before we made our way to the Underground River. Initially, I was annoyed that we would have to sit around and wait for an hour or so while the only person in our tour van who had paid for this ahead of time was to go up the rock and zipline down. Fortunately, the friend I was with convinced me to go as it was inexpensive and was better than doing nothing for an hour. Not that difficult to convince me under those circumstances, to be fair.
Like I mentioned in my previous post on stopping over in Puerto Princesa, there isn’t that much to do in the city center. If you have a day to spend wandering about the city, there are a handful of tourist attractions you can visit during the day and some great restaurants and bars to check out at night. They are all within walking distance, unless you’re incredibly lazy or are on the verge of heatstroke and can’t bear to walk another step. If that’s the unfortunate case, there are plenty of tricycles haphazardly about the streets that will take you to any of the locations below for a nominal fee.
The majority of travelers who go to Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines are not there for a long time. Usually they stop for a night or two at most before heading north towards El Nido and/or Coron. Because the turnover of travelers is quite high, there isn’t much to do in Puerto Princesa.
I was like many of these other in-and-out travelers, as we only had a three night stay in Puerto Princesa before I made my way on a long and exhausting journey up to El Nido. Though my time in PP was short, I tried to make the best of it by going to see most of the touristy things I found online, as well as the obligatory wanderings of a backpacker who has found themselves in a new place.