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Planning The Ultimate Palawan Itinerary [2020]

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
/
Last Updated:
February 11, 2020
Travel stories
Looking for the ultimate Palawan itinerary? Then look no further, we've got everything you need to know to plan the perfect adventure in Palawan...
palawan itinerary
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Palawan is one of the many islands in The Philippines and it’s bursting with beauty, and amazing things to do. If you’re planning on visiting Palawan, then keep reading for lots of useful information on planning the perfect Palawan itinerary! 

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Why Visit Palawan? 

Palawan is one of my favourite islands in The Philippines for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it’s super easy to get around, it’s surrounded by the most magical water I’ve ever swam in. It’s also got some of the best dive and snorkel spots in the world and you will constantly be AMAZED at the beauty it offers. 

If you’ve only got time to visit one area of The Philippines then I suggest Palawan as your destination. 

There are actually A LOT of islands and areas that make up “Palawan”, but I’ve only included places we actually visited on this Palawan itinerary. If you wanted to see it “all”, you’d need a lot of time. This itinerary will allow you to see the highlights! 

Where to include on your Palawan Itinerary 

There are a number of amazing areas and islands that make up Palawan that you should include on your Palawan itinerary. I’m going to list them below, then go into detail about planning a Palawan itinerary that fits the time you have to explore. 

Coron

This is up there with my favourite area in all of The Philippines. Coron town itself is a little run down, but it still has some amazing things to do and see, such as, hidden beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and Coron's answer to the Hollywood Sign, “The Coron Sign”. 

So it’s worth visiting for that, but when you visit Coron you simply have to visit “Coron island” and this is typically done on an island hopping tour, But you can actually stay on a houseboat in the middle of the island that brings you a unique opportunity to literally step into paradise off a boat, snorkel to the popular tourist sites (before anyone else has arrived, like the cleanest lake in Asia: Kayangan Lake) and simply be in awe at the surroundings. 

It’s one of the best things we did in The Philippines and you can read about the experience here. Coron is also famous for its diving spots and wrecks, but we aren't divers so we didn’t experience this. 

coron islanf

Things to do in Coron

  • Visit the Manquit Hot Springs 
  • Visit Bali secret beach 
  • Hike the Coron sign 
  • Take an island hopping tour 
  • Go snorkelling and/or diving 

Read: Staying On The Payoln House Boat In Coron 

hour boat paolyn
The location of the houseboat...

El Nido

El Nido is one of the most famous areas in Palawan, and The Philippines in general. It’s a backpackers hub thanks to it’s amazing island hopping tours which allow you to explore some amazing places and do some awesome things (like kayaking down one of the biggest and most beautiful lagoons). El NIdo also has fantastic waterfalls, and is home to the most beautiful beach in Asia: Nacpan beach which is truly stunning! 

Read: The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Nacpan Beach In El Nido 

el nido

Things to do in El Nido

  • Take an island hopping tour 
  • Visit Nacpan Beach 
  • Drink at the beach bars 
  • Chase waterfalls 
nacpan beach

Port Barton 

This is one of the most up and coming places in Palawan, it literally only got 24 hour electricity the year we arrived (2019!), but you can tell it’s going to be super popular in the coming years. Again it showcases some amazing island hopping tours and the chance to swim with giant turtles (which is fantastic), but there are also some of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever witnessed on offer, amazing waterfalls to discover and they even hold a full moon party! 

port barton

Things to do in Port Barton

  • Swim with turtles
  • Take an island hopping tour 
  • Enjoy the epic sunsets 
  • Have a massage on the beach 
  • Explore “white beach”
starfish on port barton

Puerto Princesa 

This is often one of the final stops on a Palawan itinerary and it was actually Brad and I’s least favourite place out of all the areas in Palawan we visited. BUT, we didn’t do some of the most popular things to do there, such as, the famous underground river tours, and the island hopping opportunities. We did head off on our moped and discover some pretty cool beaches, but they weren’t as beautiful as the ones in El Nido or Port Barton, but they did have epic views! 

Either way, I still think it’s worth visiting and you should definitely do the things we didn’t.

Things to do in Puerto Princesa 

  • Take an underground river tour 
  • Find hidden beaches 
  • Dip in hot springs 
  • Take an island hopping tour 
  • Visit the boardwalk for dinner 

Now that we’ve established the core destinations on this Palawan itinerary, it’s time to put it into numbers! 

All my Palawan itineraries start in Coron and end in Puerto Princesa. The reason for this is that it’s easy to get to Coron via an overnight boat from Manila, or a short flight from Manila, and Puerto Princesea is home to an airport that will take you to where you need to go next. 

manquit hot springs

2 week Palawan Itinerary

If you’ve got two weeks in Palawan then you’ve got time to see it all and see it well. This is my suggested itinerary below. 

  • Coron mainland: 2 nights 
  • Coron island (houseboat): 2 nights 
  • El Nido: 5 nights
  • Port Barton: 3 nights 
  • Puerto Princesa: 2 nights 

This 2 week Palawan itinerary will allow you to see all the sights on mainland Coron, and experience the beauty of Coron island and all the related sights. It will also allow you to do all 4 island hopping tours in El Nido, as well as a full day to see all the sights on El Nido itself too. If you only wanted 3 island hopping tours, you could easily spend 2 days sightseeing El Nido itself too. 

kayagan lake

10 Day Palawan Itinerary

We actually spent around 10 days on Palawan, so this Palawan itinerary is pretty close to what we did! 

  • Coron mainland: 1 night 
  • Coron Island (houseboat): 2 nights 
  • El Nido: 3 nights 
  • Port Barton: 2 nights 
  • Puerto Princesa: 2 nights 

This is pretty much what we did, but I think we had about 12 days, so we may have had an extra night on Coron mainland! 

This 10 day Palawan Itinerary will allow you to see all the main of Coron, some of the El Nido tours and the beauty of Port Barton and Puerto Princesea. What I will suggest is, if you are short on time in El Nido and only want to do one or two tours, the tour A should definitely make it on your El Nido itinerary!  

kayacking in coron

1 week Palawan Itinerary

One week in Palawan is going to be short and sweet and you’ll need to move quickly. So opt for fast boats, or flights when possible. 

  • Coron mainland: 1 night
  • Coron Island (house boat): 1 night 
  • El Nido: 2 nights 
  • Port Barton: 2 nights
  • Puerto Princesa: 1 night 

If you decided you just wanted to focus on El Nido and Coron, then you could skip out the rest as both those areas have airports you can fly to and from. However, Port Barton is a gem! 

The beauty of all these Palawan itineraries listed above is that they can be reversed! You can start in Puerto Princesa and end in Coron...it won’t make too much of a difference to your plans. 

Getting Around Palawan

Getting around Palawan is super easy and I’m going to make it super easy for you too. You’ve got a few options: 

  • Flying: You can fly at different stages of your Palawan adventure. You can fly between Coron and El Nido, but I don’t think it’s worth it….but you can check Skyscanner for prices!
  • Ferry: Boats are your new best friend with planning a Palawan trip. You can get ferries from Coron to El Nido which you can book right here! 
  • Shuttles: Once you’re on the mainland of Palawan, you can get shuttles to and from various places. For example you can get a shuttle from El Nido to Port Barton, Port Barton to Puerto Princesea. 
  • Moped: When you’re in Coron mainland, El Nido and Port Barton, you can rent out mopeds for around 500 pesos per day to get yourself from A to B. This is great if you like planning your own itineraries! 

Book your shuttle from El Nido to Port Barton here. 

Book your shuttle from Port Barton to Puerto Princesa here. 

Book your shuttle from El Nido to Puerto Princesa here. 

paoyln house boat

Budget for Palawan 

You’ll be pleased to hear that The Philippines in general are fairly cheap as is Palawan. Accommodation is not as cheap as other areas in Asia, but it’s still cheap, however accommodation in The Philippines isn't as nice as some places we visited, but it does the job! 

Check out my Backpacking The Philippines Travel Guide for more information on budgets!

Food is cheap too, and rum is excellent and cheap! Shuttles between areas and boats are also reasonable, so to enjoy a comfortable experience in Palawan I would suggest a budget of around $35 a day. You could do it cheaper, and more expensive if you’re doing more tours…

Speaking of tours…

It’s actually cheaper to book your island hopping tours in El Nido and Coron online...I don’t know why! 

But I’ve listed them below anyway..

Island hopping in Port Barton: Book here

Where to stay in Palawan 

We’ve actually produced a range of guides which will help you choose your hotels and hostels in Palawan, but in general we tend to use booking.com to book all our hotels. You can check out our individual guides below for some more planning inspiration…

Where to stay in El Nido 

Where to stay in Coron 

So there you go, my guide to planning the ultimate Palawan itinerary. I hope this guide has proved useful and hopefully helps make planning your Philippines adventures a little easier. But you’re going to LOVE Palawan, and once you leave, you’ll already be planning your return!

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