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Palawan Ultimate Guide: What to Do, How to get Around, and Best Tours

Experience the ultimate island life in Palawan, the Last Frontier of the Philippines. Learn about its top destinations. how to get around, and the best things to see and do there in this article.

Palawan, one of the best places to visit in the Philippines, is consistently ranked as one of the best islands in the world, and for a good reason.


Find the best Palawan tours for your tropical getaway


It boasts white sand beaches and islands, clear blue waters, a spectacular variety of marine life and shipwreck sites, and majestic towering limestone cliffs. If you love swimming, island-hopping, and diving, this biggest island province in the Philippines should be in your travel bucket list.

Palawan has over 1,700 pristine islands and islets scattered in its four main destinations: El Nido, Puerto Princesa, Coron, and San Vicente.

Popular Tours in Palawan

One of the top Palawan destinations is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, or the Underground River.

El Nido is known as the ultimate tropical paradise because of its stunning beaches and islands. At the northern end of Palawan island is Coron that is famous for its shipwreck and crystal clear lagoons.

Last but not least is the emerging Palawan destination, San Vicente, where you can find Long Beach, the longest beach in the Philippines, and the popular beach town of Port Barton. If you want to explore this top island destination in the Philippines, read this ultimate travel guide to Palawan.

Best Time to Go to Palawan

The majority of your activities in Palawan are highly dependent on the weather because they're located outdoors. That's why it's best to plan your trip around the dry months in the Philippines and check weather updates first to avoid canceled tours or rough currents, especially when doing island-hopping tours in Palawan.

Dry and Summer Season | November to May

The best time to go to Palawan and its destinations is during the dry summer season, from November to May. The warmest months are from March to April, the summer season in the Philippines. Palawan tours, especially the underground river tour and island-hopping tours, are best maximized during these months.

However, this is also the peak season since most locals prefer to go to islands and beaches during this time. It is highly recommended to book your tours in advance during the summer season. You can even avail of private tours if you’re in a big group if you prefer the exclusivity.

Climate and Weather

You can expect a warm tropical climate almost all year round in Palawan, except in the rainy season, usually around July to September. The month with the most rainfall is during September.

The warmest months are from March to April, with temperatures reaching 33°C. The month with the lowest degrees are from November to February with an average temperature of 23°C but is still dry. Here's an overview of the monthly temperature in Palawan:

What to Wear

The best clothes to wear when you’re exploring Palawan are those made with light and breathable fabric that can also let you move freely. If you’re joining island-hopping or beach tours, you can opt to wear aqua shoes for added safety for your feet when swimming.

If you’re joining land or city tours, make sure to wear comfortable clothes as well and sunglasses, hats, and bring an umbrella to shield you from the sun.

How to Get to Palawan

The province of Palawan and its top destinations are accessible via land, sea, and air travel. Puerto Princesa is often the gateway to the province of Palawan since more flights are going here than to other airports. Your choice of entry point will affect your budget and itinerary, so it's best to look into which place best fits your preferences.

By Flights

The easiest and most common way to go to Palawan is by riding a plane, with Puerto Princesa as the main jump-off. There are also flights going to El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente.

However, more flights are going to Puerto Princesa, and it covers international flights aside from domestic. Read more below to learn how you can travel to Palawan through different routes.

Via Puerto Princesa

Domestic and international flights to Puerto Princesa are available almost daily. If you're coming from Manila, the travel time is just over an hour. There are also flights from Clark (Pampanga), Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao going to Puerto Princesa.

It is the usual route of travelers who want to explore the main island of Palawan, which also includes El Nido and San Vicente/Port Barton, which you can reach by bus or van.

Via El Nido

If you want to explore only or go to El Nido first, the fastest option from Manila is to fly directly to Lio Airport. AirSwift is currently the only airline that services this route with up to four flights per day. The travel time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

From Lio Airport, El Nido's Town Proper is easily accessible by land travel of 30 minutes. It is a quicker option than flying from Puerto Princesa then traveling by land to El Nido for 5-6 hours.

Via Coron

Coron is located on a separate group of islands above the main island of Palawan. You can go here by flying to Francisco B. Reyes Airport or Busuanga Airport for around 1 hour of travel time from Manila. Most major domestic airlines have daily flights going here from significant destinations like Manila, Clark (Pampanga), and Cebu.

From the airport, you can reach Coron's Town Proper by land travel of around half an hour. From Coron, you can reach El Nido by a 4-hour ferry. From El Nido, you can explore Puerto Princesa and San Vicente/Port Barton by land travel.

Via San Vicente/Port Barton

A newer entry point to Palawan is the emerging tourist destination called San Vicente/Port Barton, located between Puerto Princesa and El Nido. From Manila (1 hour) or Clark (Pampanga) (1.5 hours), you can directly fly to San Vicente airport.

From San Vicente, you can also explore Puerto Princesa and El Nido by land travel.

By Ferry via Puerto Princesa

Since it's an island, Palawan is also accessible by ferry rides from Manila. It is, however, more extended in travel time. Your entry point is Puerto Princesa. 2Go Travel has trips for this route every Tuesday and Friday, with a travel time of almost a day.

There are different types of accommodations on board available, so make sure to book in advance if possible to have the most comfortable long travel by sea.

Getting Around Palawan

Traveling around the top attractions in Palawan destinations is possible through different types of land and sea transfers. You may opt to commute, hire private transfers, or rent self-drive vehicles. Take note that not all of these are applicable for long travels or all Palawan destinations, so find out first, which are the best transportation for the distance and place you're traveling to.

Palawan's leading island destinations like Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and San Vicente/Port Barton can be explored by land transfers, while the separate islands of Coron can only be reached by sea transfer from the main island. Here are some of your options when exploring the island of Palawan.

By Bus

If you're coming from Palawan's main island destinations and want to travel to/from destinations like Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and San Vicente/Port Barton, then riding a public bus is one of your options. You have the option to ride an ordinary (non-AC) or air-conditioned bus.

It is convenient for those who travel with big or multiple luggage since there are compartments where you can store them. There's also more legroom making for a more comfortable ride, especially on long trips. The only downside is that the travel time might be longer than vans because buses make stops along the way to pick-up or drop-off passengers.

By Van

Riding vans is another land transfer option for long trips in the main island of Palawan when traveling to/from Puerto Princesa and El Nido, and San Vicente/Port Barton. Vans are slightly faster than the buses because they usually do point-to-point transfers (ex: Puerto Princesa to El Nido) and only make stops for lunch or bathroom breaks.

Vans alone leave the terminals once it's full of passengers, so you might need to wait, especially during the lean season or hours. There are no big compartments for luggage like buses so it might get crammed inside with little legroom. You also have the option to hire a private van if you're traveling with a big group or want the exclusivity and more legroom.

By Jeepney

The iconic jeepneys in the Philippines are also available in Palawan, mainly in the capital Puerto Princesa. These are ideal only when traveling within a town or a city since they follow a specific route.

You'll be sharing the ride with locals or other tourists since a jeepney can accommodate up to 16 people or more depending on its size. If you want to ride a jeepney, it's best to know first which route will pass by the attraction you're going to.

The drivers and locals are your best source of information, so don't be afraid to ask. You can also advise the driver where you're heading so he can notify you if it's already your stop.

By Tricycle or E-Trikes

Another unique Philippine transportation available in Palawan is the tricycle, an auto-rickshaw similar to Thailand's tuk-tuk. These are best for land transfers within towns or cities as well.

Unlike the jeepney, tricycles can travel outside of their routes and drop you off directly to your destination. Regular tricycles are available in the town centers of Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron, while rechargeable electronic tricycles (e-trikes) are available in San Vicente/Port Barton.

However, these can only accommodate 2-4 people depending on the size and layout of the tricycle. You can also hire these as private transfers for a full day of the tour. Rates will depend on your deal with the driver.

By Ferry

The Palawan main island destinations can be explored by land travel, except for Coron, which is located north in a separate group of islands. You can get to Coron from the main island of Palawan by riding a ferry.

The most popular route is El Nido to Coron and vice versa. Travel time is around 4 hours for this route. Make sure to check the dates of ferry transfers so you can plan your itinerary accordingly.

By Motorcycle

For a more rugged type of travel, you can ride a motorcycle (locally called habal-habal) with a local driver or rent a self-drive motorcycle. These are a great option if you're traveling alone or with a buddy. Motorcycles are suitable for both short and long-distance travel, and can even take you through narrow roads to do your exploring.

Where to Stay in Palawan

Choosing your home base in Palawan is crucial if you want to maximize your time in the different destinations you want to cover. Aside from the itinerary, you also need to take into consideration your budget and preferences so that you can get quality rest.

This section will discuss the types of accommodation, neighborhoods, and areas, and recommended hotels, resorts, or guesthouses in Palawan.

Types of Accommodations

You will have several options on where to stay in Palawan, each one offering a different experience, crowd, and view. Read on below to learn about the types of accommodations around Palawan so you can choose the best one for your preference and budget.

Island and Beach Resorts

Like a tropical getaway destination, the best accommodation locations in Palawan are those on islands and beaches. You'll get an unobstructed view and direct access to the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and stunning sunsets for that idyllic island life. These resorts are perfect for those who want to go on a honeymoon in the Philippines. Price points depend on the amenities and how secluded or private the island or beach is.

But the majority are on the mid- to high-range prices. Most of these Philippines luxury resorts have restaurants, bars, pools, and dive centers in the property already.


Palawan also has a variety of hotels, from low to high-range prices with modern to native designs. If you're staying in town centers, you'll most likely find several hotels that can suit any budget or preference.

It's just a matter of choosing the best ones to fit your criteria and preferred location. The higher-priced hotels have complete amenities with magnificent views, while lower prices hotels have basic features.

Backpacker Hostels/Inns/Guesthouses

For shoestring budget travelers, don't fret because Palawan also has accommodation options for you. There are backpacker-friendly accommodations like budget hostels, inns, and guesthouses all over Palawan.

You can choose from dorm-type to private rooms. The majority of these have shared bathrooms and shared spaces. If you like meeting other travelers from all over the world and don't mind a busy crowd, especially at night, then this is a good option for you.

Rodriguez Lodge

Camping and Glamping

Want to be one with nature and sleep under the stars while the crashing of the waves lulls you to sleep? Go for camping or glamping type of accommodations in Palawan.

You can choose to bring your tent and pitch in camping grounds or book in glamping resorts. Glamping is a more glamorous type of camping where you're provided with a tent furnished with a mattress and other fixtures for a comfortable stay.

Vacation Rentals

Live like the locals when you book vacation rentals in Palawan. These are privately-owned houses where you're given exclusive use of the units that have a fully-equipped kitchen and furnished bedrooms and living room. These are a good option if you're traveling with a big group and prefer to lessen expenses by preparing your food.

Neighborhoods and Areas

Where you stay during your trip is essential. It will significantly affect where you eat, the duration of travel time, transportation budget, and the vibe of the place. It is why you have to carefully choose which neighborhoods or areas you prefer to stay in before booking accommodation.

Town Center

If you want to be close to restaurants and bars, souvenir shops, and transport terminals, then you should book accommodation in the town centers of Palawan destinations. The majority of accommodations here, however, don't have direct access to the beaches. Most town center accommodations are hotels, backpacker hostels/inns/guesthouses, and vacation rentals.


If you prefer to splurge for exclusivity and privacy, you should check out accommodations like luxury resorts in the islands of Palawan.

Island accommodations usually already have complete amenities and in-island establishments since you can't easily travel to the town centers. Island accommodations are typically limited to just several rooms or villas per island, so it's best to book these in advance.

Towns Outside of Center

A variety of accommodations are available also in towns outside of the town centers in Palawan. These range from budget to luxury accommodations and offer different experiences and vibe, depending on the location and infrastructure. Puerto Princesa, for example, has areas like northwest of the city center, El Nido has areas like Corong-Corong, and San Vicente has areas like Port Barton and Long Beach.

Accommodation Highlights in Palawan

Regardless of where you plan to stay in Palawan, there are options for every budget needs and preferences. You can stay in budget, mid-range, or luxury accommodations. Here are some of the top accommodations in Palawan’s Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente that you can choose from:

Budget Accommodations

Palawan doesn't need to be expensive. There are budget-friendly accommodations like backpacker hotels, inns, and guesthouses in the top Palawan destinations. You will be provided with necessities in a dorm-type room or private room.

Most of these also have shared bathrooms and standard rooms where you can mingle with other travelers. Here are some of the top budget hotels in Palawan that you can choose from:

What to See and Do in Palawan

Exploring Palawan and its multiple destinations' attractions requires at least a week because of the transfers needed. You can also select which Palawan destinations you want to explore if you have limited time. Here's a list of the top attractions that you can add to your Palawan itinerary:

Explore the Underground River in Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa isn't just a jump-off point for Palawan destinations like El Nido and San Vicente/Port Barton; it's also home to the UNESCO Heritage Site and New7Wonders of Nature Underground River or the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

Here you will board a boat while cruising along the turquoise waters of the river, and you will see the natural rock formations of the protected cave.

Swim in Coron’s Kayangan Lake

Experience swimming in the cleanest lake in the Philippines, Kayangan Lake. It is the most popular attraction in Coron and can be visited by booking island-hopping tours. Also known as The Blue Lagoon, the lake is set in the middle of towering limestone cliffs and is best for swimming, snorkeling, and freediving.

The stop during the hike to the lake is the iconic view of the sea with azure waters, which is usually mistaken as Kayangan Lake.

Lounge in El Nido’s Nacpan Beach

Enjoy a laid back beach day at El Nido’s top destination, Nacpan Beach. This 4-kilometer strip of cream-colored sand lined with coconut trees is a favorite destination for local and foreign tourists apart from island-hopping tours in El Nido.

Here you can work on your tan, read a book, or relax under the shade of the trees while listening to the calming crashing of the waves. Nacpan Beach is part of the Twin Beaches with the adjacent Calitang Beach. Make sure to hike up to the highest point to see the stunning view of the two beaches.

Explore San Vicente’s Port Barton

If you want to chill at a beach town, head to Port Barton in San Vicente, just 2-3 hours of land travel from Puerto Princesa. This idyllic Palawan destination is famous for tourists because of its laid back atmosphere. Travelers from Puerto Princesa usually spend a night or two here where they enjoy the relaxed beach nightlife offered by Port Barton.

Discover Miniloc Island’s Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon in El Nido

You cannot leave El Nido without exploring its breathtaking lagoons in Miniloc Island, particularly Big Lagoon in the island-hopping Tour A, and Small Lagoon in the island-hopping Tour D. Big Lagoon is a postcard-worthy sight because of its turquoise-colored waters surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.

It is the spot in El Nido most featured in movies and travel photos and drone shots. In the Small Lagoon, you can explore paddle a kayak where you enter through a crack in the limestone walls, and this will lead you to a natural pool with serene crystal clear waters.

Go Wreck Diving in Coron

Apart from Kayangan Lake, Palawan's Coron is also a top diving destination because of its World War II shipwreck sites. You can explore a total of 13 shipwrecks in its open waters; the majority were Japanese fleet during the war.

Forbes has also declared these diving sites in Coron as one of the world's best. For non-professional divers, you can also see some of these shipwrecks that are found in more shallow areas that are good for snorkeling like the Skeleton Wreck.

Unwind in San Vicente’s Long Beach

Did you know that the longest beach in the Philippines is found in Palawan's San Vicente? Stretching 14.7 km, the aptly named Long Beach is an emerging tourist attraction in this part of Palawan.

It's also the second-longest in Southeast Asia. Long Beach is three times the length of Boracay's famous White Beach but without the crowds and establishments lined up on the beachfront.

What to Eat and Drink in Palawan

Apart from the natural sites and exciting activities that await you in Palawan, a must-try experience is to feast on the local cuisine and dine in the top-rated restaurants. In this section, we’ll let you in on the unique local cuisine of Palawan and some highly-recommended restaurants and bars that you should check out when traveling to different destinations in the province.

Local Cuisine

As an island destination, seafood is abundant in Palawan. You can feast on fresh fish, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and more at an affordable price compared to those served in metropolitan cities. These are also served in island-hopping tours in Palawan, where your boat crew serves a hefty spread in one of your beach or island stops.

Apart from seafood, Palawan is also known for an exotic delicacy called tamilok (woodworm) that are freshly harvested from wood and eaten raw or cooked in vinegar like ceviche. In El Nido, a must-try dish is the Bird's Nest Soup that is made from nests of swiftlets formed by its saliva.

These nests are sourced from the crevices of the limestone cliffs of El Nido. El Nido translates to "The Nest" because of the abundance of this ingredient in the town

Practical Information and Tips

Excited to plan your Palawan trip? Read on below first on some essential travel tips that will make your Palawan trip hassle-free. Sometimes it’s these small things we tend to ignore that make or break a trip.


Bring enough cash in Philippines Peso (PHP) wherever you're going in Palawan. While there are ATM in Puerto Princesa and some town centers, it's better to be always prepared. Make sure to break your cash in smaller bills if you're exploring areas that are not busy. Some high-end restaurants or hotels and resorts accept credit cards, but to be safe, cash is still the best.


The locals of Palawan speak Filipino, Cuyonon, and other dialects and languages. The majority can understand and speak basic English, especially those that work in tourism-related establishments. Try to talk in a neutral accent so locals can easily know what you're saying.

What to Pack

If you plan to do physically-demanding activities like trekking or extreme sports, make sure that you pack the right gear. Some accommodations in Palawan, like El Nido, don't have electricity 24/7, so bring flashlights with you. San Vicente is particularly notorious for sand flies or small mosquitoes during night time, mainly near the beach, so make sure to pack insect repellant.

Sample Itinerary: Puerto Princesa + Port Barton/San Vicente + El Nido + Coron

Day 1: Puerto Princesa

  • 05:30 AM - ETA in Puerto Princesa

  • 06:00 AM - Breakfast

  • 07:00 AM - ETD for Underground River tour with lunch

  • 04:00 PM - Back to the hotel to freshen up

  • 06:00 PM - Dinner

  • 08:00 PM - Drinks and social

Day 2: Puerto Princesa

  • 07:00 AM - Breakfast and prepare for the tour

  • 09:00 AM - Honda Bay island-hopping tour with lunch

  • 05:00 PM - Back to the hotel to freshen up

  • 06:00 PM - Dinner

  • 08:00 PM - Drinks and social

Day 3: Port Barton

  • 06:00 AM - Check-out of hotel and breakfast

  • 07:30 AM - ETD to Port Barton

  • 10:30 AM - ETA in Port Barton; check-in at the hotel

  • 12:00 NN - Lunch

  • 03:00 PM - Lounge by the beach

  • 06:00 PM - Dinner and drinks

Day 4: San Vicente

  • 07:00 AM - Breakfast

  • 09:00 AM - San Vicente Island-hopping tour with lunch

  • 05:00 PM - ETA in San Vicente’s Poblacion

  • 05:30 PM - Ride e-trike to the hotel in Long Beach or Poblacion

  • 06:30 PM - Check-in at hotel

  • 07:30 PM - Dinner and drinks

Day 5: San Vicente + El Nido

  • 07:00 AM - Breakfast

  • 08:00 AM - Lounge at Long Beach

  • 10:00 AM - Check out of the hotel

  • 11:00 AM - Lunch at Poblacion

  • 12:30 PM - ETD to El Nido

  • 03:30 PM - ETA in El Nido; Check-in at hotel

  • 05:00 PM - Chill at Nacpan Beach

  • 07:00 PM - Dinner and drinks

Day 6: El Nido

Day 7: El Nido

Day 8: El Nido + Coron

  • 05:30 AM - Check-out of hotel

  • 06:00 AM - Ride the fast ferry to Coron

  • 10:00 AM - ETA in Coron

  • 10:30 AM - Check-in at hotel

  • 12:00 NN - Lunch

  • 03:30 PM - Climb Mt. Tapyas and watch the sunset

  • 06:00 PM - Dip at Maquinit hot springs

  • 08:00 PM - Dinner and drinks

Day 9: Coron

  • 07:00 AM - Breakfast and prepare for the tour

  • 09:00 AM - Coron island-hopping tour with lunch

  • 05:00 PM - Back to the hotel to freshen up

  • 06:00 PM - Dinner

  • 08:00 PM - Drinks and social

Day 10: Coron

  • 07:00 AM - Breakfast

  • 08:00 AM - Explore the town of Coron

  • 11:00 AM - Early lunch

  • 12:00 NN - Check-out of hotel and travel to the airport

  • 01:00 PM - ETA in airport

  • 03:00 PM - Flight departure

Start Planning Your Ultimate Palawan Trip!

Experience the perfect island holiday at Palawan’s top destinations. Discover the enchanting beauty of the underground river and explore the islands of Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa, chill at Port Barton and Long Beach in San Vicente, find out why El Nido is a top island destination with its island-hopping tours, and last but not the least, discover the underwater treasures and Kayangan Lake and lagoons of Coron.

Nature and adventure lovers will truly enjoy and fall in love with Palawan. Find out for yourself why tourists rave about this island province and why it’s consistently named as one of the best destinations in the world.

Plan your Palawan trip today! Check out Palawan tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary for the ultimate island getaway


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