Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Solo in El Nido: 4 Day Itinerary and Expenses with Solo Survival Tips

In as much as I would like to be the outdoorsy adventurous person that I seem to be, I value the importance of clean toilets and so I am back to chasing white sand beaches and get-more-than-what-you-pay-for accommodations. 

I can't remember when and why I booked a flight to Puerto Prinsesa. What I recall is that El Nido is what I have in mind while completing the online booking. I do realize that El Nido is known for being one of the top destination for honeymooners and anniversary-celebrating couples, so I thought it will be interesting to go there alone, and because of that my second self induced solo trip was confirmed. (My first solo trip)

I wouldn't say that I enjoy traveling alone more than traveling with someone. I think that traveling with friends is more fun but being alone while in the road is something that I like to put myself into once in a while to put my wanderlust alter ego to test. Also, dragging and begging friends to come with you to your dream destination is frustrating and tiring.

So I found myself lost in a place where there is an influx of tourists with pointy noses, blonde hair and blue/green eyes. Being a Filipino traveler, at times I felt out of place. I actually never got to know a fellow Filipino that is having a vacation in El Nido. Most of the friends I met are locals and friendly folks from another country but even if I have to speak English 80% of the time, I did have a good time.

 My 4 Day Itinerary 


ETD Manila
7:35 AM
ETA Puerto Prinsesa                                                              
 9:00 AM
Pick up at the airport by Lexus Van                                                
9:30 AM
ETD Puerto Prinsesa                                                                    
10:00 AM
Lunch at Bottega Restaurant                                                         
12:30 PM
ETA El Nido                                                                                
4:00 PM
Tricycle from Lexus Van Terminal, Corong Corong to Northern Hope       

Check in at Northern Hope Inn     
4:15 PM

Tricycle going to Las Cabanas/Marimegmeg beach                              
 5:00 PM
Wait for Sunset

Dinner at Aplaya Resto Bar                                                            
 6:30 PM
Rest for the Island Hopping of Day 2                                               
9:00 PM
End of Day 1


Wake up and get ready for Island Hopping                                       
6:00 AM
7:00 AM
ETD Bacuit Bay for Tour A and C                                                     
8:00 AM
Explore Paradise

ETA Bacuit Bay                                                                             
 5:00 PM
Dinner at Sea Slugs                                                                       
6:30 PM
Experience the El Nido Nightlife                                                  

End Of Day 2

DAY 3 

8:00 AM
ETD Northern Hope Inn                                           
9:00 AM
ETA Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches
10:00 AM
Beach Bumming All Day

ETD Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches
3:30 PM
ETA Northern Hope Inn                                                                    
4:30 PM

Walk around the Town of El Nido 
5:00 PM
Reserve a seat for the first trip of Lexus Van to Puerto Prinsesa the next day     

Dinner at IBR Restaurant                                                                  
 7:00 PM
Rest for the trip back to Puerto Prinsesa                                                              
9:00 PM


Pickup by Van at Northern Hope ticketing office                                         
5:00 AM
ETD El Nido                                                                                      
5:30 AM
Breakfast at Bottega Restaurant
8:00 AM
ETA Puerto Prinsesa Airport                                                         
11:00 AM
Lunch at the Airport                                                                           
12:00 NN
ETD Puerto Prinsesa Airport                                                                                       
1:45 PM
ETA Manila                                                                                           
3:05 PM
Back to the real world


Zest Air Round trip Plane Fare
Lexus Van (0917 585 9602), Going to El Nido with airport pickup
Lexus Van from El Nido to Puerto Prinsesa with airport drop off
Nothern Hope Inn (0939 902 2216),  Fan room good for 2 persons, 500 per night
Tricycle to Las Cabanas/Marimegmeg Beach, Round trip
Combination Tour A and C via Northern Hope Travel and Tours
Environmental Fee
Tricycle to Nacpan and Calitang twin beaches, Php 1,200 / 2 persons
Average price per meal - Php 150 (11 meals)

Getting There

Just like a normal person, I went to El Nido via Puerto Prinsesa. I read somewhere that right outside the airport, van companies has a certain area/table that you could approach to buy a ticket but I went there on a Wednesday morning and I did not find any. Good thing I contacted Lexus Van (0917 585 9602) at around 7 AM before my flight to pick me up at the airport. It would be cheaper if I just took a tricycle to the San Jose Terminal for Php 50 and then ride a van bound to El Nido from there but I was a bit overwhelmed of the huge number of people inside and outside the airport so I just took the easy way out. The travel time is 5 - 6 hours. 

Lexus Van terminal is in Corong Corong, from there you could have a tricycle for Php 50 to take you to El Nido town proper. It is where Bacuit Bay is and where all the party's at.

Lexus Van at San Jose Terminal

Stopover and Lunch at Bottega
Bacuit Bay

Where to Stay

For 3 nights I stayed in the fan room of Northern Hope Inn with the rate of Php 500 each night. The people who own and look after this place are really nice and accommodating but I will not recommend it to my friends. There are a lot of other better places to stay and you do not have to look hard.

The one that I would recommend is Devayn's Inn (0929 675 2851). For only Php 600, you could get a fan room which is way better than the fan room in Northern Hope and the aircon room is Php 800. When I spoke to the owner, she even said that she will allow me to get the aircon room for Php 600 since there are not many tourist during my visit in El Nido.

Lessons Learned/Tips and tricks

1. Do not believe the internet and your favorite travel bloggers too much, learn to really listen to the locals.
2. There are more foreign tourists than Filipino tourists in El Nido, make sure to bring enough English.
3. Haggling is not bad but know your limits, respect the locals and their means of living. The foreigners do, us Filipinos should too.
4. If you are going to El Nido during off peak season, it is best to just walk around the town to find the best accommodation that suits your need
5. In case you haven't googled it yet, electricity in El Nido only runs from 2PM - 6AM but between these times, it is not uncommon for power glitches to still occur so if you are alone, make sure you have a mini flashlight handy.
6. Smile at everyone. Chances are nobody knows you here so the heck if they think you are crazy. 
7. Roro buses only take 5 hours from El Nido to Puerto Prinsesa when you are traveling at night (10 PM).
8. Let your guard down and do not be afraid to be vulnerable, it is in vulnerability that we learn and we are shaped thoroughly by the people and experiences we encounter along the way.
9. Live, laugh, love.. and actually mean it.
10. Bring an underwater camera. Seriously.

The Solo in El Nido Series
Solo in El Nido: 4 Day Itinerary and Expenses with Solo Survival Tips
Solo in El Nido: Things To Do
Solo in El Nido: Romancing Nature in a Honeymooner's Paradise


  1. Replies
    1. Hey JC! Yeah, definitely a must visit. Either you are alone or with your friends and family, you will definitely enjoy it. One of the best place in the Philippines. :)

  2. Hi Paula!! i really need your help..i wanna go to El Nido alone between May 19-21. Pls help me where I can stay or what to do in order for me to enjoy my vacay!? im not too much of an adventurer bec of my back problems din kc so plan ko lang talaga is beach stroll!! and meeting foreigners! haha. pls gimme auggestions for a 3d2n stay!!

    1. Hello! I think magkakasundo kayo nung friend ko na happy and gay from El Nido. Siya ang caretaker ng Northern Hope Inn. Alam nya ang ok na mga party place to meet foreigners. Lol. I suggest sa Northern Hope ka magstay para makilala mo siya and siya na ang bahala sayo :) Siya rin yung nag accommodate sakin nung pumunta ako dun magisa, :)

    2. Hi Paula. Friend mo caretaker ng Northern Hope Inn dba at pwede ako makakuha big discount sa accomodation and van transfer to airport? Thanks

  3. Hi Paula! Would we survive if we stay at Northern Hope Inn (we're just 2, and both girls)? Also, how was your tour A & C with Northern Hope Travel and Tours? Would you recommend their services? Hoping for your feedback on this. Thanks!

    1. Hello! Yes, I will definitely recommend Northern Hope Travel and Tours. I've been to El Nido twice and I always book the tour with them. The guides are really nice.

      As for Northern Hope Inn, I think they have a new building now aside from the one I stayed in. I could not comment on their current facilities as I have not been there. Their old place is ok if you just want a place to stay but honestly there are better places with the same price range.

      If you are arriving El Nido during normal hours during weekdays, I suggest that you list down different hostels/inns and have the tricycle driver bring you to each place so you can choose.

      I personally recommend Cliffside Cottage. It is not in the beach front but I enjoyed the peaceful ambiance of this place.

      Enjoy your stay :)