The world-famous municipality of El Nido remains one of the most favorite destinations in Palawan, Philippines. It is also one of the three most visited places on the island, conveniently located in the middle of the other two – Coron and Puerto Princesa.
Occupying the northern tip of the main island, it also includes about 45 rocky islands in Bacuit Bay. It is a protected area that inhabits rich marine life ecosystems and white pristine beaches.
El Nido is a small quiet town without that many tall structures except for a couple of hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, and local stores. Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s busier capital city, is five to six hours away.
- Language: English is understood and spoken most of the time. Tagalog is the language of the majority. Some people speak Cuyonon and other Visayan languages.
- Money/Payment: Philippine peso (PHP, ₱). ₱1 = USD1.92 = EUR 1.56 = SGD2.52 (as of April 2018). Most establishments prefer cash, only a few resorts and restaurants accept credit cards. It is advisable to exchange/withdraw money in main cities like Manila or Puerto Princesa before coming here. There’s only one ATM in El Nido, and few pawnshops/restaurants exchange currencies.
- Connectivity: Hotels generally offer free wifi but the connection can be slow. Main cellphone company providers are Globe and Smart, which have a decent reception in town proper and offers data internet connection.
- Safety and Security: Crime rate is very low; however, there is no major hospital in town, the nearest one being in Puerto Princesa.
- Power: 220V, 60Hz, mostly Socket Type A. There are common power outages; electricity supply can be erratic.
- Best Time to Visit: The sunniest months will be January to April. March to April is the peak season – the summer months in the Philippines. This period can be very crowded though, so best to visit between January to February if you want a quieter time to experience El Nido.
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- Remember to pay the P200 environmental fee and keep the receipt. It is only required to pay once but if you lose the receipt and someone looks for it, you’ll need to pay again.
- If you’re going through Puerto Princesa Airport, remember that it collects P200 terminal fee.So make sure you don’t spend all of your pesos in El Nido and save some for the flight out.
- Tip your boatmen. Show your appreciation if you enjoyed their service – what they do is not easy. If you managed to negotiate your tour fees with the travel agencies, you may give the amount you saved to the boatmen as their tip.
- Since electric supply can be erratic in El Nido, ask your hotel if they have a generator as a back-up in case of power outage.
- Be very careful as there are no major hospitals in town. Bring your own first-aid kit and other medical maintenance if needed.
- Secure cash in pesos before coming to town for there’s only one ATM available. Withdraw or exchange currencies in other major cities like Manila or Puerto Princesa.
- Thanks to its location, Palawan’s mainland is not commonly hit by typhoons. However, it can still be pretty damp even in some “dry season” days due to the short, passing rain showers that are usually expected in the afternoon.
- Cebu Pacific and AirAsia airlines offer the lowest flight fares from Manila to El Nido but the published rates online usually don’t include baggage allowance, seat selection, and meals. Philippine airlines, on the other hand, include the information in their published rates.
- Klook, an online booking website or application, offers lower rates than the standard prices on packaged El Nido tours. It also includes hotel transfers (pick-up and drop-off).
- If you’re on a budget and not after Instagram-worthy restaurant photos, try out the carinderias (eatery or canteen) and local fast food joint around town to save more money. The carinderia meal price is almost a quarter of the usual meal price in the restaurants.
- It is possible to haggle the tour prices if you are in a big group.