The Ultimate 10 Day Palawan Itinerary: Puerto Princesa to El Nido
Made up of 7,641 islands, there’s so much to see and do in the Philippines.
Palawan is my favourite island within the Philippines for so many reasons, but mainly because it is an island with everything – gorgeous beaches, incredible islands, breath-taking sunsets, awesome food, and an insane nightlife.
All this, and yet, the Philippines isn’t on the typical backpacker’s route. The pro of this, however, is that due to the lack of tourism, the country isn’t very westernised. This means less crowds, and more culture.
Any existing popular Philippines itinerary includes El Nido, but not every backpacker or travel influencer will explore the rest of Palawan’s treasures.
This guide will talk you through 3 epic places in Palawan: El Nido, Port Barton, and Puerto Princesa. Information on how to get to Palawan, how to get around it, where to stay, what to see and do in the Philippines, and more are included!
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The Ultimate 10 Day Palawan Itinerary: Puerto Princesa to El Nido
Getting to Palawan
First things first, visa. If you, like myself, are British, then you are able to visit the Philippines for 30 days visa-free. You can apply to extend your stay at the Bureau of Immigration.
Please note: things regularly change in Asia, so be sure to double check whether these are the most up-to-date visa regulations for the Philippines by checking on the UK GOV site.
Your Philippines adventure will most likely start in Manila, like mine did. Depending on the rest of your Philippines itinerary, where you come to Palawan from and where you leave from will vary. For us, we flew to El Nido from Boracay, made our way up and flew out of Puerto Princesa back to Manila, but there are many many options on how to get to Palawan.
For some more basic travel information including the best time to visit the Philippines, typical costs when travelling the Philippines, some money saving tips, and how to get around the Philippines, check out my Philippines destination guide.
Where to stay in Palawan
El Nido is much more built up than other places in the Philippines, and so, there is a wide variety of accommodation to choose from.
Outpost Beach Hostel – I stayed at Outpost for about a week, and loved it. Outpost is located on Corong Corong Beach (also known as Sunset Beach) and offers the most incredible sunset views from their bar. It’s a super social hostel, featuring an on-site bar with nightly events (Okay, it’s a party hostel). This hostel made my Philippine experience. They also have an on-site restaurant ran by Iron Chef Champion, Chef Alvin, as well as having their own tours.
Mad Monkey Nacpan Beach – Another super cool party hostel, Mad Monkey is pretty new to the Philippines but is popular in many other Southeast Asia countries. Mad Monkey Nacpan features an on-site restaurant, a beach-front bar, and an awesome vibe.
The Cavern Pod Hotel – This is another hostel I’ve stayed at in El Nido, and offers a completely different vibe from the above. The Cavern offers numerous transfer services including to and from almost anywhere in El Nido and to the airport. It features pod-style accommodation, ensuring your privacy with black-out curtains. The Cavern has an on-site bar & café as well as numerous tours available such as snorkelling, surfing, and diving, with watersports equipment and canoes available to rent also.
Isla – The Island Experience – Featuring a guest rating of 9 on Booking.com, this accommodation offers a stay in a traditional nipa hut facing the ocean. This property allows pets, so you can enjoy a swim with your pup on the 200m private beach if you fancy! Other amenities include snorkels and and masks, on-site restaurant, free parking, and a free breakfast buffet.
Cabanas de Nacpan Camping Resort – This unique accommodation offers “indulgence and adventure gift-wrapped with farm-like, nature-based life”. Glamping like no other, Cabanas de Nacpan includes use of automatic motorbikes within their room rate. The resort also has a range of walking tours, diving opportunities, and hiking trips available at an additional cost.
Port Barton is much quieter than the other two places we’ll be heading to on this itinerary. There are little to no ATMs, hardly any wifi or 4G, just one long crescent shaped white sandy beach and a handful of cafés.
My favourite – Ohlala Guesthouse
We stayed in Ohlala Guesthouse whilst in Port Barton and it was amazing. The staff were amazing and provided free breakfast every morning made with homemade bread (sooooo yummy). They also provided their own awesome tours and included is a fresh lunch.
Prince John beachfront cottages – Picture-perfect wooden houses right on the sand, Prince John’s has an on-site waterpark and restaurant, free use of kayaks, and offers their own private tours.
Parrots Boutique Resort – Just 200 yards from Itaytay Beach, Parrots Resort features white-stone traditional buildings, a turquoise pool, rooms with a garden view, and BBQ facilities. There is also a very tasty breakfast included.
Wanting to explore more of the Philippines? Check out my 3 week Philippines itinerary below…
Puerto Princesa City
My favourite – 4C’s Tourist Lodge
4C’s Tourist Lodge is located within 5 miles of Honda Bay, there are lots of cafés and activities located nearby, including a shopping centre. The staff went above and beyond for us, cooking a very tasty Asian breakfast each morning and even taking us to the airport free of charge. They also helped us book some awesome local tours.
Bluemoon Café & Guesthouse – Bluemoon is located just 5 minutes away from Nagtabon beach, within the small village of Maranat 3 in Bacungan. Bluemoon is a very social hostel with an on-site bar, karaoke system, a dining area serving both Filipino and international food, as well as a gorgeous spa-type pool.
The Farm Cottage – This gorgeous cottage-core vibe accommodation is apart of La Virginia Farms, offering unique accommodation within organic farms. They provide home-cooked fusion meals with their own organic products. The farm is only 20-25 minutes from the Puerto Princesa International Airport, making it a great base for activities.
Day 1: El Nido
We’ll be starting this itinerary in El Nido, but if you’d like to start it in Puerto Princesa, click here and scroll up instead.
El Nido is definitely one of the most visited places in the Philippines. It’s an awesome backpacking hub, has infamous island hopping tours, and an epic nightlife.
Arrive in El Nido and check into your accommodation. Today we are just going to relax and get settled.
Head to the town for pizza not to forget at the infamous Altrove. You may have to queue, but it’s worth it! After having dinner, head to a tour desk and book a tour for tomorrow. Or, you can book a tour beforehand…
We did a combo tour, but this is now forbidden in the Philippines due to new travel rules.
It’s going to be a long and fun filled day today!
TOUR A – Secret (not so secret) Lagoon, Shimzu Island, Big Lagoon, and 7 Commando Beach.
TOUR B – Pangulasian Island, Entaluala Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, and Cathedral Cave.
TOUR C – Secret Beach, Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Star Beach.
TOUR D – Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Cove, Nat Nat Beach, Bucal Beach, Paradise Beach, and Small Lagoon.
The most popular tours are A and C, so choose carefully!
The tour will drop you back in El Nido town, make sure you book your travel from El Nido to Port Barton today! There’ll be numerous places in town offering this. It takes around 4.5 hours to get to Port Barton. TIP – Book travel with a van not a bus – vans are air-conditioned.
Today we will explore all that El Nido has to offer. The best way to do so is by hiring a moped, but if you are a little uneasy then you can also hire private drivers for the day.
Stop 1 – Nacpan Beach: Nacpan is one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, and serves the best Pina Coladas. If you’ve chosen to stay at Mad Monkeys, then you’ll be pretty familiar with this beach by now. If not, take some time to stroll the 4km of pure white sand, and relax. Pop into the hipster cafés, and take pics in front of the huge pink sign.
Stop 2 – Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls: Only a small distance from Nacpan lies two gorgeous waterfalls only accessible by a jungle trek. You need to hire a guide (there’s quite a few around) in order to visit these falls.
Stop 3 – Bulalacao Waterfalls: Less accessible than Nagkalit-kalit falls, Bulalacao Waterfalls is made up of “Big” and “Small” falls. There is only a small hike to Small falls, whereas it’s about a 1.5-2 hour hike to Big falls. A guide is recommended.
Stop 4 – Las Cabanas Beach: A must-do spot for sunset. There are numerous bars and cafés scattered with bean-bag chairs. There is also a famous zip-line you can go on!
Day 4 – Port Barton
Today we’ll be heading to Port Barton!
After almost 5 hours of travelling, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing. But before you head to your accommodation to check in, make sure you book your onward journey to Puerto Princesa for day 7!
After checking in, you can choose to either walk or catch the boat to White Beach, located around 30/40 minutes walk from the port.
You do have to pay a fee of 50 pesos on arrival, this enables you to use the hotel’s hammocks, toilets, and showers.
Another tour day!
The Port Barton tour was my absolute favourite, and by far some of the best snorkelling opportunities!
You visit Fantastic Reef, Lagoon Reef, Wide Reef, German Island, Twin Reef & Starfish Island.
Twin Reef was incredible, we saw clown fish and some turtles!!
Please make sure you don’t pick up any starfish, you can read more why here.
Today we’ll be exploring Panayuam Beach and Panayuam Waterfall.
You can either rent a scooter or walk, but the falls are a little far out of Port Barton town.
The beach is about a 30 minute walk from the falls.
When you return to Port Barton, head to Taytay Beach. This is the main beach in Port Barton, and the perfect place to spend your last night in this slice of paradise. It’s also very popular for sunset pics.
Day 7 – Puerto Princesa
The van ride from Port Barton will take around 3 hours. After settling into your accommodation, I recommend heading out on a city tour.
Included on the city tour are 4 popular places to visit in Puerto Princesa: the Conception Cathedral, a World War II fort in Plaza Cuartel, Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, and the Binuatan Creations Weaving Center.
On you tour, you will also stop by Mitra’s Ranch, taste Hopia at Baker’s Hill, and be given the chance top shop for local delicacies and souvenirs.
In the evening, I recommend joining a Firefly tour. You will experience a local-style dinner before seeing an absolutely magical sight.
Today we experience one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature! Regardless of who you have booked your Underground River tour with, it’s always an early start as the river is located around an hour from the city.
With the tour linked above and many like it, there is also an option to head to Ugong Rock Adventure Zipline and Spelunking after the boat journey.
If you opted out of the adventure zipline, I recommend heading to the Baywalk and trying some awesome fresh seafood.
For your last full day in Puerto Princesa, it must be some more island hopping!
Honda Bay Island has some of the most incredible snorkel spots in Palawan, and is much quieter than El Nido’s tours.
On this tour, you will visit Luli Island, Pambato Reef, and Cowrie Island. You will also indulge in a tasty buffet-style lunch.
Make sure you make the most out of tonight, as it’ll be your last one on Palawan!
If you fancy an early morning, the sunrise trek at Mt. Magarwak is meant to be absolutely incredible.
If not, today is departure day!
Make sure everything is packed, and that you’re ready to continue on whatever journey you’re heading on next!
Ultimate tips for travelling Palawan
- Buy a local sim card, 4G will come in handy if you ever get lost!
- Purchase some water shoes and a waterproof bag ahead of time. You will need to wear water shoes on some of the tours, so why not bring your own? Keep your phone and other important bits dry in a dry bag.
- Look out for jellyfish, sometimes you may not be able to swim in waters due to them.
- You will most likely need to pay some form of Environment tax. Definitely on Port Barton, and possibly on either island hopping tours.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this “Ultimate 10 Day Palawan Itinerary” post! I absolutely loved the Philippines, especially Palawan. I hope this post can help/inspire you and your adventures!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments…