Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Puerto Princesa to El Nido and back

view from Habibi Restaurant where we had our breakfast

This is by far the most tiring trip ever! It was a 4D/3N trip but we only did a few activities, and this is quite different coz it's not my usual DIY trip so I have less information especially on the expenses.

From Puerto Princesa airport, we went straight to El Nido which was a 6-hour drive. We arrived in El Nido around 8pm and what we did that night was to roam around the small town to look for bars and restaurants to chill out.

Where to stay in El Nido.

Well there are a lot of  hotels there that are located along the beach. We stayed in Garnet Hotel and it's just a few meters away from the beach. It's a nice place, they've got a nice room and nice restroom and if you wanna stay there, you'd better stay on the 3rd floor to get a nice view of the beach especially in the morning. 

where we stayed

outside our room
inside our room
view from our window

Things to do in El Nido at night.

Unlike in Boracay, El Nido doesn't have a lot of bars and restaurants. Most of their restaurants are located in front of the beach and when it's high tide, the waves get near to the restaurants and you can't seat outside to eat.

We've tried on Trattoria Altrov'e. They are only open up to 10pm so better get there early. For me, their pizza was the best pizza I've ever tasted. They are managed by foreigners of nationality which I don't know of coz I never had the chance to ask. Their restaurant was really nice. It's just an old house turned into a simple yet cozy restaurant. They require every guests to remove their slippers and this is one common thing I've noticed in most shops in El Nido. So remember to read signs before getting in to any shops there.

We also went to Balay Tubay. This is where we spent most of our time on our first night in El Nido. This is one popular bar there. They have a live band which plays most old songs but they also sing some popular songs if you request it. You could also sing along with them and dance to their music. I love the style of their bar. It's tribal-reggae-oldschool type.

We've also tried to Asylum bar which was kinda funny coz the moment we went inside, we were shocked with what we saw. There were bar girls dancing with some guests and I can't take the sight of it. The place doesn't look friendly. We sped out after like 2-3 minutes.

ladyboys are not allowed here

We've also tried on a newly-opened bar near the beach just beside the bar that plays reggae music. Here we met some foreigners and most of them are from Sweden. I find it nice to have some chat with foreigners coz they teach me some lessons and I learn from their stories and their culture.

The best thing to do in El Nido.

ISLAND HOPPING!!! Yes, if you go to El Nido, you should never miss the island hopping. They've got different island hopping types/tours. They categorize it to Tour A, B, C and D. In each tour you can only go to 4/5 places. We selected Tour A. This is a whole day activity and I don't think you can indulge into 2 or more tours in 1 day coz you won't be able to fully enjoy one place if you just stay there in a short time. Another thing that I love in their island hopping is the food that they prepare for you during lunch. I've never had a lunch like that before during my previous island hopping trips. The food was great and the presentation too. That really amazed me.

small lagoon

lunch time!

If you go swimming during your stops, be very careful with the territorial fish. One of our friends got bitten and chased by it when she accidentally stepped on the coral where the fish lives.

I really wished I've stayed more days in El Nido so I could try on tours B, C and D.

Souvenir Shops.

This is one thing I do in my every trip, looking for souvenir shops. In El Nido, there are only a very few of them. One shop that I love though expensive but the quality was good is A Little Corner of Paradise. Their tshirts are made of abaca and some other native plants. It is managed by a foreigner.

If you wanna buy some souvenirs with a Palawan print or no print at all, I suggest you just buy them in Puerto Princesa market coz the price there was half than the price in El Nido. But if you want one with an El Nido print then you have no choice but to buy it in El Nido souvenir shops.

Puerto Princesa.

If you plan on going to Underground River, you should book to any agency that handles the Underground River tour days before your trip so you will be scheduled early. They fetch you with their own van at an intersection somewhere (I forgot to ask where that was) coz they don't allow any other vans to go to the wharf even if you hired that van.

In our case we were scheduled at 2pm but we arrived in Sabang Wharf at around 10am so that was a long hours of waiting. You should prepare yourself in a lot of "waiting". Waiting for your turn to ride the banca going to Underground River and waiting for your turn to get inside the cave. While waiting in Saint Paul Mountain Range, we enjoyed taking pictures with the wild monkeys and monitor lizards which are scattered all over the place.

the van will take you here. VERY EXPENSIVE RESTO! we paid 90 pesos for 1 sunny side-up egg, 1hotdog, 1rice and 1coffee set meal

eat-all-you-can buffet at Sabang Wharf included in the Underground River tour
the famous tamilok (worth 100pesos)
while waiting @ Sabang Wharf, i learned to do fishtail :)

Some facts...

Cashew Nuts are popular pasalubong from Palawan. It comes in two varieties: roasted and fried
terminal fee is cheap! :)

On my next trip.

Next time, I want to go to  Coron. They say it's more beautiful than El Nido. I can't wait!!

Puerto Princesa plane runway

Friday, January 11, 2013

Malapascua - little Boracay

One of the perks of living in Cebu is having easy access to beautiful places like Malapascua. It was my first time there and I fell in love with the place. It's almost the same as Boracay but with less people, less bars, less shops and less water sports. But the set-up was almost the same. Resorts are situated in front of the beach but the beach itself is open to all. The sand is fine and the water is clear. I didn't know a place like this could be this accessible to me since I've really envied the people living near Boracay which was my last trip before Malapascua.

How to get there.

We took the non-aircon bus going to Maya from North bus terminal. Paid 150 (discounted price).

From Maya(the last bus stop) we took a banka going to Malapascua Island. We had to pay for the whole banka so it would be exclusive to us. I'm not sure of the exact amount but I remembered it was about 1000+ and that is good for 16 of us. 

Maya port
we had our lunch here

Arrival at Malapascua.

Where to stay.

We stayed at Jonee's Camp Resort a small resort which was like a 5/10-minute walk from the beach. 

I dunno if my friends enjoyed the walk going to our resort but I did! It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of my hometown. It was fun. It was like walking in a maze and in every intersection you'll meet some locals and foreigners.

it's like entering a secret garden

a cute girl from the Island
At Jonee's Camp Resort.

From the name itself "camp", you could actually camp their in their neat open area. They will provide you a tent and pay for it or you could stay at their rooms which was really small and the walls between each room was so thin you could hear people talking from other rooms and think they are just inside your room.

we get water from this well to wash our utensils

Inside our Room.

Waking up the next day.

We woke up at 6am the next day to prepare for our island hopping. While the rest was busy preparing the food, I was busy taking pictures at the beach... hahaha. 

Island Hopping.


As far as I can remember, we had 4 stops and all we did was snorkeling and not island hopping.

The first stop was snorkeling at the spot where a ship sunk during World War II. It was scary at first coz it was dark and big. All I was thinking was there might be a shark or skeletons there. It was my first time to see a shipwreck and I find it cool to see one not just in movies.

The 2nd stop was near a cliff where you can dive. The 3rd one was what they call the sanctuary and it wasn't like the ordinary sanctuary that I've been to. It was at a farther part of the sea, farther from the shore and the waves were big and the current was strong but the corals are really pretty and there were a lot of fishes.

diving cliff

The last stop was at this place surrounded by rocks. The corals here are really beautiful.


It was a 2D/1N trip. Yes that was pretty short but I had so much fun. I can say for a budget traveler, this place is perfect!