The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. Each one just as beautiful as the next. When I was planning my trip, I knew I wanted to stay in the popular city of El Nido. Full of amazing island hopping opportunities, culture, great food, and even better prices.
Here is my guide for visiting.
There are two easy ways to get to El Nido: you can fly directly into the city or fly into the southern part of the island to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido. I found that flying into El Nido was easiest for me because I did not have all the time in the world to experience the area. If you have a lot of time and want to save a little bit of money, taking the bus may be the best for you.
The only airline that flies into El Nido is AirSWIFT. I flew in from Manila and was welcomed with open arms. This airport is completely outdoors – so keep that in mind when flying out from it. You need to schedule transport from the airport or take a tricycle into town. I say take the tricycle – it will be fun for you and an exciting way to see how the locals get around.
Where to stay:
El Nido covers a wide range of lodging. You can find guest house and hostels as low as $10 USD per night to private island luxury resorts than can cost over $400 USD per night. The options are available for every price range.
I decided on staying in the city in a newer hotel, Sea Cocoon, and it was perfect. 1 block from the beach, central in town to everything, had a private pool, balcony on every room, modern decor in the rooms and public areas, private bathrooms, A/C, WiFi, free breakfast, and wonderful staff! I would recommend this hotel if you are planning to adventure and spend time in the city. You can book tours right in the hotel, plenty of food options surrounding it, grocery store, gift shops, massage options, and so on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful at Sea Cocoon, so if you need anything, just ask the staff.
What to do:
Island hopping is the most popular thing to do in El Nido. You can book tours with Binibini Travels for which ever you decide to do. I had planned on doing Tour A, B & C – which are the most popular. However, at fault of my own, I forgot to wear sunscreen during my first Tour A and was burnt to a crisp and could not be in the sun for my other two tours. Wear sunscreen! Even if it is cloudy.
Tour A was stunning! I was able to see the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, secret beaches, Secret Lagoon, cruise all around the beautiful waters and islands, and have lunch cooked on the boat and eaten on a small private island. This was literally paradise.
I would suggest seeing the other tours while you are in town – you will have the tie of your life. Just remember to protect your skin. Also, pack shoes for getting in the water on the tours as there are rocks and coral.
There is also snorkeling, scuba diving and beach days to be had while visiting. Because of my unfortunate burn, I was not able to participate in these activities. I have heard wonderful things from friends and fellow travel bloggers who have visited the area that recommend doing so.
There are so many places selling food on every street and everything was so good, and very cheap. I don’t think I ever paid more than $5USD for a meal and they were large and more than enough.
Two meals that I fell in love with were pineapple chicken and an orange chicken dish. I loved the pineapple chicken one more and I ate it twice! It is made with a coconut milk and absolutely divine.
I also found some local snacks over the week I was there that I loved.
You cannot go to the Philippines and NOT eat mangoes. they are the absolute best!
Read More: Tips for visiting the Philippines
Things to note:
- Currency: Philippine Peso
- I did not find one place that took a credit/debit card – so have cash handy before you arrive. There may be places who accept cards, I was just unable to locate them
- WiFi is not very strong and I struggled to find a strong enough connection to open any websites on my laptop or to work – so keep that in mind if you have things to do
- Pack flip flops or sandals of some sort – when it rains the streets rise with water
- Protect your skin from the sun – my mistake ultimately left me indoors for days
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Sea Cocoon and Binibini Travels, but as always, opinions are my own.