El Nido in the Philippines is such a beautiful and magical place but getting there is quite the hassle. However, once you reach the little down, the journey was well worth it. If you want to get to El Nido from somewhere outside the Philippines you basically have two options to get there.
↠ Fly through Puerto Princesa ↞
Puerto Princesa has the biggest airport on Palawan island. You can either fly there from Manila or Cebu. There are numerous airlines flying to this airport such as AirAsia, Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. They have a flew flights throughout the day and flights from Cebu or Manila are pretty cheap.
Once you get to Puerto Princesa you step out of the airport there are a few options on how to get to El Nido.
1. Take a van that will take you to El Nido, or rather a bus terminal in Corong Corong. This is actually the most popular mode of travel. The van costs 600 PHP and the journey will take about 5 hours with a 30 minute break in between. One disadvantage of going by van is, that the driver will wait until the whole van is full until he leaves. Sometimes this can take up to 2 hours (so until the next plane with people wanting to get to El Nido arrives). This can get slightly frustrating, especially when you already had a long trip getting to Palawan. Most of the vans are airconditioned which is nice considering the temperatures outside. Sometimes the A/C is a bit cold, so just remember to bring a sweater or scarf for the journey.
From the Bus Terminal in Corong Corong you then have to take a tricycle to get to El Nido town which is about 50 PHP. Do not pay more for it because it is really not that far.
2. Take a bus from San Jose Bus Terminal which will take around 9 hours but is cheaper than the van. The bus costs around 350 – 500 PHP one-way. The bus terminal is a few minutes away from the airport so you would need to take a tricycle there. So in the end, the bus might not be that much cheaper than the van or might actually be more expensive when you add up all the costs.
3. Rent a car or motorbike and drive by yourself to El Nido. But to be honest, you won’t need a car in El Nido unless you want to explore other places on the way to the town. Then again, if you are not as experienced with a motorbike, going for a 5 hour drive on roads that you do not know might not be such a great idea and I wouldn’t recommend it. You can easily rent a motorbike in El Nido if you want to explore the region there.
↠ Fly directly to El Nido Airport ↞
AirSWIFT has direct flights from Cebu and Manila to El Nido. These are, however, more expensive (7,000 – 9,000 PHP) than what you would pay to fly to Puerto Princesa and continuing with the van. If you do not have much time, though, I would recommend flying directly to El Nido since it will take almost a day when you decide on the first option. Plus arriving at El Nido Airport is quite the experience because the runway is so close to the beach. The flight from Manila to El Nido is only about an hour so compared to the first option this is definitely much faster!
I hope this guide will help you decide which mode of travel is the best for you. I chose the van when I went to El Nido and I loved looking out the window, admiring the beautiful nature of Palawan Island. Also, I met a good new friend on the van which made the van ride a lot more enjoyable.
Read more about my trip to El Nido here.
How did you get to El Nido? Did you decide to take something else except the van?
I would love to know!