How to get from El Nido to Coron or vice versa: Easy tips to make your travels around the Philippines easy and efficient!!
When I was planning our trip to the Philippines, I couldn’t find a lot of info on how to get from place to place. The Philippines is made up of thousands of islands, and it isn’t always easy or cheap to hop from one to the other.
I love planning, and I’ll research for hours and hours to get the best info….I love it!! But when it came to the Philippines….I couldn’t find a lot of clear….solid info on how to get from El Nido to Coron…which is where most travelers/including myself want to go when exploring the Philippines for the first time!!
I could find a lot of info on what to do once I got there, but I couldn’t find the nuts and bolts…the logistical stuff….that you need to make traveling around a foreign country as easy as possible!!
Even my Lonely Planet book, didn’t have the deets..it said the only way to get to El Nido was via the 8 hour bus ride from Puerta Princessa…which we will get to in a moment.
So we just kind of winged it, and we learned a lot along the way!!! For more info..check out our You Tube Video on how to get to Coron from El Nido.
We also did video’s that are super informative…beautiful & fun….. on our island hopping tours in both El Nido and Coron.
From talking with fellow travelers we realized that they too, we’re having the same issues and confusions we were experiencing.
So we wanted to share what we have learned from our own travels through the Philippines, and all the mistakes we made along the way…so you can spend less time googling, searching, and planning, and more time soaking up the sun!!
This blog is a little lenghty…but I’ve jammed packed it with TONS of valuable tips, tools, and info that will help make planning your trip to the Phillipnes sooo much easier!! If you read this to the end..and take notes…I promise you will save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration!!
Side Note: We only spent time in Palawan. So this blog will be focused on getting from El Nido to Coron and vise versa!!
El Nido is pretty remote, which ads to it’s charm, because some feel the travel to get there is not worth the trouble…I.E.. not as many tourists!!!
But I promise once you get there, it’s totally worth it!!! From it’s crystal clear waters, to it’s sprawling limestone cliffs, to it’s untouched white sandy beaches….El Nido is a true paradise!!!
Let’s begin with how you get into the country of the Philippines:
Manila is the capital and it’s where the main, international airport it located. Majority of international flights will come through Manila, and then you will connect from there.
*You can also fly into Cebu, but that will be more expensive.
LIFE SAVING TIPS…. at the Manila Airport: VERY IMPORTANT INFO
Manila Airport gets a really bad wrap….but we had a pretty easy experience at the airport. Follow the tips below…and you’ll be good to go!!
- If your traveling to El Nido or Coron….You will need to get cash in the airport…90% of the hotels…restaurants..ect…only take cash!! There is only 1 or 2 ATM’s in both Coron and El Nido..and they do not always have cash available!!!! Be Prepared!!!
- That being said..if you can get Filipino Pesos ahead of time…before even getting to Manila that would be ideal…There isn’t always cash In the ATM’S at the Manila airport either. *I would recommend going to a money exchange and getting a good amount of Peso’s before you begin your travels. At the time of this blog the conversion rate was about 50 Peso’s = $1 USD
- We tried like 7 different ATM’s and they were all empty!!!
- We finally found some cash on the 3 floor of the departure area of terminal 3…at the Manila Airport!
- ALLOW YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME….at least 3 hours….when transferring terminals at the Manila airport!! This is HUGE!! The Terminals are very far apart…and you have to take the shuttle..which doesn’t usually come…or a taxi to get to the next terminal.
- Most flights leave/arrive at terminal 3..which is where you’ll get your cash..and then you transfer to terminal 4…to connect to your flights to Coron or El Nido.
- We took a Grab Cab…their version of Uber..to transfer from 3 to 4. They have an app…or there is a little stand outside of terminal 3..there are people there..who will call you a Grab Cab for you. We preferred doing this over taking a random taxi. The cost was only a few dollars.
- If you have a long lay over before your next connection….like us…there is a lounge on the 3rd floor of terminal 3..this was LIFESAVER!! You can rent a room to sleep…shower…they have WIFI…computers…snacks…water…coffee…massages ect.. It cost us $35 dollars for 7.5 hours…and it was the best money we ever spent!!!!! They’re open 24 hours!! The Lounge is called WINGS…you can either book online in advance..or walk in….we didn’t have any problem walking in and getting a room!!
- FOR ALL OF MY HEALTHY GREEN JUICE LOVERS:There is a pressed juice shop on the 4th floor of terminal 3!! This was such a treat…We had pretty much gone 10 days without having access to fresh greens and veggies…so a super green juice was exactly what we needed to get a boost of energy!!
- Terminal 3 is where you are going to find your restaurants….Subway…Starbucks..Dunkin Donuts ect…There is also tons of shopping!
- Most airlines will only allow you 10 or 15 Kilograms for your checked luggage…I know right!! You will have to pay about 300 pesos…about $6 USD.. per extra pound…AND YOU WILLL NEED CASH FOR THIS!!!!
The million dollar question….HOW THE HECK DO YOU GET TO EL NIDO?:
The Beautiful El Nido…this is the place where most people want to visit when they think of coming to the Philippines, but it’s also the hardest and most complicated destination to get to!!
The typical route….or the most frequented route to get to El Nido, is to fly into Manila, and then catch a connecting flight from Manila to Puerta Princessa..which is the main city in Palawan.
There’s only a few flights each day leaving Manila…to Puerta Princessa….so you may find yourself hanging out in the Manila airport for quite some time!!!
From Puerta Princessa you catch a bus…hopefully you get an AC bus..but there is no guarantee…
The ride from PP to El Nido…is an 8-9 hours…with one stop along the way.
They even say it could be longer, because the road to get there isn’t well developed and pretty bumpy!!!
One stop….I mean…I’m not sure if my bladder could handle it!! That did not seem like a very fun bus ride…so we kept digging!!!
THE EASIEST WAY TO GET TO EL NIDO…THIS IS WHAT WE DID:
We found some info on a very small airline…that has direct flights from Manila to El Nido that run daily!! The airline is called Air swift….www.airswift.com
The flight is 55 minutes!! 55 minutes or 8-9 hours!!!
*Again there are only a few flights out of Manila with specific times…you will have to wait at the Manila airport to connect to these flights…we got into Manila at 1:30am…and had to wait until 7:00am for our next flight out!!! There is really no way to get around this!!!!
Our tickets were about $120-ish bucks per person for one way…when we factored in all of the costs…of a hotel in PP…because after hours and hours of travel and hanging out in airports just to get to Manila…and then flying to PP…chances are your probably gonna stay the night before getting on an 8 hour bus ride to El Nido.
So with the hotel…and food ect…we realized we were just paying a little bit more money to have the convenience of flying…and getting there in 55 minutes!!
So Air swift was a life saver!!!! Check them out…it’s so worth it!!
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: WHY STAY IN PUERTA PRINCESSA:
PP is home to one of the 7 wonders of the world….The Underground River. We were going to stop in and check it out, but after doing lots of research and chatting with other travelers who’ve been, it seemed liked it was just a super touristy, overcrowded spot, that had unfortunately lost a lot of it’s charm and beauty because of all the people!! But if your interested in exploring the underground river…then flying into PP would be a great option for you!!
How to get from El Nido to Coron:
There is a fast boat called the Montenegro that leaves El Nido everyday at 6am and heads to Coron. The Voyage is about 3.5 to 4 hours long!
You must check in one hour before departure time.
The same boat leaves everyday from Coron and heads to El Nido…that boat leaves Coron daily at 12pm.
The boat has AC, and a potty on board. It was a very easy trip
Make sure to book your ticket 2 days in advance..because seats book up fast. As far as I know, you can’t book tickets online yet, but there are tons of places in town that are selling tickets…so you’ll have no problem finding a spot. We recommend booking through the Art Cafe.
The tickets for the fast boat are 1760 Pesos for one way. You can pay with a card at the Art Caffe in El Nido town, which was very convenient.
We had to pay cash for our tickets at the office when we left Coron…so make sure you have the cash handy.
There is a slow ferry that is cheaper…I think it was around 1200 Pesos….but it takes 8-9 hours to get to Coron….so that didn’t sound like very much fun.
The main airlines to look for cheap flights are:
Air Asia..www.airasia.com .this is what we flew pretty much the whole time we were there
SkyJet- This was the cheapest we found…tickets as low as 70 Bucks
I also like to use kiwi.com to compare prices. Usually I find the best deal on Kiwi
Another thing to note…Cebu also has an airport…we did not go to Cebu..but next time we definitely will. It’s pretty simple to get to!!
The Philippines is a hidden treasure for travelers on the other side of the world!!….a true paradise…I’m sure it won’t stay a secret for long!! So plan your trip to the Philippines now!!!
I hope you found this blog helpful!!
If you have any questions about travel to the Philippines, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to answer any questions, and help you plan your travels in anyway that I can!!
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