Palawan is recently ranked one of the most beautiful islands in the world and having witnessed a small portion of this unspoiled paradise for myself, I CAN AGREE! Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Singapore. Maybe that’s why it feels it’s quite rewarding to get there.
Travellers usually hit up Coron or El Nido when it comes to Palawan. I was having a hard time deciding between those two but ultimately, we chose El Nido (which is also significantly more difficult to get to, too).
From what I gather, there are a few ways to get to El Nido from Singapore.
Option #1: Fly to Puerto Princesa via Manila, then a 7 hr bus ride up to El Nido
Cons: Takes quite long
This is the most inexpensive option, and also the most common route people take. Since there are no direct flights to Puetro Princesa, you would have to fly Singapore > Manila > Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan. You can also fly to Puerto Princesa via Cebu too.
Afterwards, you have an option to take a van or a public bus to El Nido. From what I’ve heard, the 6~7 hour ride is super bumpy and crazy (rough terrains, winding roads) so prepare yourself for the 230km journey.
Option #2: Fly to Coron via Manila, then a ~10 hour boat ride to El Nido
Pros: Cheap + get to enjoy Coron
Cons: Takes quite long + boat ride is said to have rough conditions
This is also another popular option (lots of people I met on the trip were doing this), since you can see the best two highlights of Palawan (Coron and El Nido) in a single trip.
So you can fly Singapore > Manila > Coron, spend a couple of days there exploring, and then take a boat to El Nido, and then spend a couple of days there. Maybe you can take the van/bus back down to Puerto Princesa, and fly back to Manila, then back to Singapore from there. Sounds really chaotic, I know. But this is a cheaper way to see both destinations in a trip.
However, I’ve also heard warnings about how crazy the boat rides are too due to the sea conditions so best to take some motion sickness pills, especially if you are prone to seasickness like me.
Option #3: The easiest, fastest, but most expensive way – fly direct to El Nido from Manila
Cons: Air Swift is damn expensive
We had limited time, so we opted for the fastest route possible to El Nido, and it’s what I will elaborate on, in case you might be interested in taking Air Swift (website link). Also previously known as ITI AIR (Island Transvoyager Inc.) Note that it is quite expensive for an hour’s worth of flight though. We paid around ~SGD380 per pax for a return flight.
My journey involved:
- ~3h30 Flight: Singapore to Manila via Jetstar (2.20am – 5.55am)
- ~1h Flight: Manila to El Nido via Air Swift (9.55am – 11.10am)
- ~15mins tricycle taxi to El Nido town
THINGS TO NOTE: allow 4 hours in between your arrival time at Manila and your Air Swift flight. This is to avoid missing your connecting flights, as the Manila airport runway tends to get congested quite often.
For the first leg, we were quite bored because we arrived in Manila (Terminal 1) ahead of schedule, and rushed too quickly to the domestic terminal (Terminal 4).
HOWEVER… Our flight from El Nido back to Manila was delayed for 1.5 hours, so we arrived in Manila behind schedule. Furthermore, we had to wait a while for the shuttle bus transfer (which took some time), and rushed to catch our flight back home. If we didn’t play it safe (4 hours), we definitely would’ve missed it. Brrrr!
Taking Air Swift to El Nido
This was definitely a luxurious way to get to El Nido. Even though we didn’t stay at the super expensive group of El Nido Resorts, probably more than half of the people on the flight were headed there. I wish we did though. Maybe someday!!!! If you do have the budget, definitely check out any of the beautiful island resorts: Pangulasian (the most luxurious one), Lagen, Miniloc and Apulit (website link).
A shuttle bus brings us from the domestic terminal to our Air Swift jet.
Super humble little airport, we just landed on the tarmac and it was a short walk to the little huts (which is the arrival ‘terminal’ so cute lol!) The jeepneys are here to transport our bag to…
This tiny little hut area! So hipster haha.
This is the arrival terminal. Drinks and snacks are provided while you wait for your bags. Can’t get over how cute it is. There are ladies singing to welcome you to El Nido, too.
Just a 15-minute tricycle taxi ride (very cramped though, and remember to wear sunnies because it gets super dusty thanks to the sandy roads) and we’re here in El Nido town! The beach itself isn’t the greatest because it’s mostly used as a port. The magic is in the islands nearby!
Leaving El Nido
Back here for our flight back to Manila. Our flight was delayed for 1.5 hours and it was quite hellish because it was super humid and there is no air conditioning. Super stuffy and crowded (because the passengers for the next flight after us started to arrive and share the space, too). Brace yourselves!!!!
The Air Swift terminal used to be at another private hangar but it has been moved to Manila NAIA for our convenience. However, their boarding tickets used to be wooden with seat numbers carved on them. HOW COOL IS THAT! Now we just get the typical printed paper… Boooooo. Novelty factor gone!!!
The departure hall.
Also be prepared to open your check in bags to get it manually ‘scanned’. Haha! I felt like I was traveling in the olden days. So fun but damn I was sweating nonstop.
I’m sure you guys will have so much fun in this unspoiled paradise!!! I really did!
Check out my other blog posts about El Nido!