(#wanderlusttips #Palawan) Nothing defines Palawan (Philippines) more than the water around it. And sea diving is the best way to witness the mesmering beauty of underwater life.
Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines. The province is comprised of 1.780 islands of varying size and its capital city is the bustling Puerto Princesa. The main island is Palawan, which has maintained its pristine landscape of forests, mountains, white sandy beaches and clear blue water. Thanks to its mesmerizing beauty and great biodiversity, Palawan island is considered “the ultimate ecosystem in the Philippines”. National Geographic and CNTravelers have also rated the island as one of the most beautiful in the world.
Most tourists come to the north, to El Nido or the town of Coron, which serves as the departure spot for sightseeing and diving tours to Bacuit and Calamianes. The most popular destinations for tourists in Palawan are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. Each place has a distinct attractiveness. Puerto Princesa is the culinary hub, and the main gateway to numerous beautiful destinations in Palawan. The area has a bustling town featuring attractions such as the ancient church Immaculate Concepcion, an underground river in Sabang, museums, vibrant neighbourhoods and night markets. The cuisine of Puerto Princesa is highly praised for being cheap, fresh and unique. Tourists can dine at popular restaurants such as Kalui, Captain Ribs, Kinabuch Bar & Grill and La Terrasse. Accommodation is relatively affordable, prices range from 400,000 to 1,500,000 VND per night. There are many motels that offer cheaper prices. Around Puerto Princesa Gulf there are many beautiful diving spots, where divers might see bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays, many types of fish and colourful coral reefs. Reliable companies that organise diving tours here are Dive Puerto Princesa (No. 1 and 2) and Let’s Dive. Prices for scuba diving tours range from 400 – 500 USD. Regular diving tours cost between 80 and 100 USD.
From Puerto Princesa, visitors can take a bus to El Nido, which is about 200 kilometres away. El Nido fascinates visitors with its majestic limestone cliffs and stunning underwater world. Bus tickets to El Nido range from 230,000 – 330,000 VND with travel time of five to seven hours. Visitors have a range of options when it comes to accommodation, from cheap motels at 250,000 – 400,000 VND per night to hotels and luxury resorts costing 1,000,000 – 5,000,000 VND per night. Food here is abundant, with mainly rice, seafood and other traditional dishes on offer at affordable prices ranging from 40,000 VND for a standard meal to 70,000 – 150,000 Vietnamese Dong at restaurants and coffee shops. Do not miss out on the chance of a BB on the beach for about 100,000 – 200,000 VND per person.
In El Nido, visitors can rent kayaks for about 400,000 VND per day and explore the small islands in the surrounding area by themselves, or visit the two beautiful beaches, Nacpan and Dagmay, to relax in the shade and play in the crystal clear blue water. Sightseeing and scuba diving tours are the most popular activities in El Nido, with four types of tour (A, B, C, and D) that each visit different destinations. The most popular is A and C with prices ranging from 550,000 – 700,000 VND. During the tour you visit beautiful lagoons and swim in crystal clear water. Scuba diving enthusiasts can book tours with diving centres like Palawan Divers, Submariner Diving or Deep Blue Dive Seafari to enjoy the splendid underwater world at El Nido, with its great variety of coral reefs, fish, and marine animals.
El Nido has enough on offer to mesmerise any ocean enthusiast, but if you have more time go to Coron as well. This is a group of islands that possess an impressive beauty that makes for a paradise on earth. Coron is about an 8-hour boat ride away from El Nido. There is one trip available per day, with a 700,000 Vietnamese Dong fare. If you want to visit Coron by yourself you can catch a plane from Manila. You can stay in Coron for a whole week without getting bored, as there are many tours that explore the islands, lagoons, white sandy beaches, diving to see coral reefs and see a ship wreck in Lake Barracuda. You should rent a private boat if you have a large group to enjoy the scenery to the fullest. Hotels, motels and resorts in Coron are relatively expensive, with the lowest price being 350,000 VND for a bed in a dormitory. Tour prices are affordable at about 300,000 – 600,000 VND excluding equipment rental fee.
The best time to visit Palawan is from October to May, when the weather is not too hot or rainy and ideal for ocean activities. The peak tourism months are in the summer, and low season is around September to October. From Vietnam, visitors can fly to Manila the capital of the Philippines from where they can take a flight to Puerto Princesa at affordable prices or directly to El Nido.
Minh Hang | Wanderlust Tips | Cinet