We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
1 post
15 reviews
Save Topic
PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

Hello! First time traveller to the Philippines here. Planning a trip this July.

If I had 5 days and 4 Nights on Palawan, do you think it is feasible to attempt to cover the above three destinations or is the time allocated too little?

Day 1: PPUR + travel to Port Barton (3 Hours Boat?)

Day 2: Port Barton Island Hopping

Day 3: Travel to El Nido (6 Hours Boat?). El Nido Island Hopping

Day 4: El Nido Island Hopping. Travel back to Puerto Princesa (~ 7 Hours?)

Day 5: Flight at Puerto Princesa airport.

My concern is the travelling time involved, and weather the boats are frequent in the off peak season.

Please advise!

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines, Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
23,726 posts
1,719 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

You are trying to do too much in 4 days. Im exhausted just looking at your itinerary.You will be spending a lot of your holiday travelling.

Forget about Port Barton and spend the extra time in El Nido.

Tommo

Philippines
Destination Expert
for Philippines
Level Contributor
5,940 posts
263 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

@ Des

1) There is no regular boat from Puerto to Port Barton - this is arranged on the spot with the boat men. It can be a rough trip - and I do not recommend it (sadly, the only alternative is a bumpy once per day bus trip which leaves at a time completely out of sync with flight arrival timings or a personal hire minivan)

2) I agree with Tommo - 4 days itself is just right for Puerto or El Nido. Travel take s a long time and energy in Palawan. Transport is not well developed.

3) My personal suggestion - Spend all 4 days in Puerto Princessa (do island hopping from there)

4) OR - Take a bus to El Nido 7 hours) , island hop on 2 days and return the last day (this too will be a bit tiring). Synchronise your bus timings ... even Puerrto - EN buses are not as frequent as you would like them to be (Just one air con bus every 4 hours, alternating with one non-air con bus every 4 hours)

Boracay, Philippines
Level Contributor
66 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

I agree with the other two responses, it's too much to try to fit 3 destinations in especially when travelling in July, which is likely to have wet days - although Philippines is experiencing El Nino (A dry spell) at the moment. Last year I also wanted to visit San Vicente and Port Barton, on the route back from El Nido but it had to be cancelled as we could potentially have got stuck there due to poor roads and were flying back to Boracay 2 days later.

You can pre-book mini-vans online to El Nido from PP and to make the most of your time, perhaps book the 6pm arriving at 12 midnight in El Nido. However, if you are travelling from July-August and it is wet, the journey can take longer than the standard 6 hours because the roads can be potholed and water-logged.

El Nido, as a town, I was not that impressed by but the Island Hopping was what made the trip. The two tours that almost everyone takes are Tour A & C. I would recommend booking through Caera Tours; the food cooked at lunch-time was amazing and plentiful .. which was not the case with all of them. You can hire snorkeling gear too and even if you're not a confident swimmer you can get in the water in a life-jacket and be towed around by a Life Ring. The guides were attentive, fun and informative too.

If you're planning on doing the Underground River Tour, you should book in advance, to secure the permits and also to maximise your time .. rather than arrive in Puerto Princesa and then try to find a tour operator to go and secure the permits for you. It is also possible to pre-book a mini-van to collect you from the Sabang Junction and drive you to El Nido after the UR Tour in the late afternoon, again Maximising your time by travelling at night rather than during the day

4. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 6:05 pm, June 05, 2014
Boracay, Philippines
Level Contributor
66 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

There aren't any bribes paid by Tour Operators - they have a set amount of 'permits' available to them and once they have used up their allocation they can 1. Approach the Underground River Authority for a Walk-in Permit, which is available to anyone or 2. they can talk to another Tour Operator and negotiate with them to take some of their unsold allocation.

If you have plenty of days in Puerto Princesa and you're not travelling at peak times, you can go get the permits yourself, which is cheaper but takes about a day of travelling and administration, or you can go to a tour operator like Topstar Tours (located underneath A&A Plaza Hotel on the main road) and they can do it for you ... as long as you are booking 1-2 days ahead (outside of the peak times; Christmas NY, Chinese NY, Holy Week and Summer Holidays)

Puerto Galera...
Level Contributor
3,807 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

" A day of travelling and administration" It sounds like a system designed to confuse, I apologise for suggesting there is corruption, it must be just plain incompetence then.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines, Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
23,726 posts
1,719 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

I did this tour a few years ago with my family. I organised this through my hotel. Tour was easy to organise, prices were cheap and I didnt notice any corruption unless things have changed.

Tommo

8. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 6:05 pm, June 05, 2014
Wirral, United...
Level Contributor
2,657 posts
142 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

Sampag1ta, is this what you were thinking about when you posted? Vetus posted this thread last year highlighting a press article investigating what was happening with the permits.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294245-i3256-k731…

Edited: 2:47 am, June 06, 2014
Puerto Galera...
Level Contributor
3,807 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: PP Underground River, Port Barton and El Nido

LoubbyLou yes thank you this was what i was referring to.

I have returned from Beijing where my trip to the Great Wall and Ming Tombs including a full lunch where the admission costs were 900 pesos cost 1200 pesos.

I am now planning a trip to Palawan where a trip involving admission costs of 220 pesos can realistically only be achieved by booking through a cartel of travel agents who charge between 1500 and 3500 pesos.

When I suggested that this stinks and used an analogy that if I found my trip to the Theatre in my home country to sit in a $10 seat could only be achieved by spending up to $130 as part of a package aimed at rich tourists the Tripadvisor came down on me like a ton of bricks and deleted my posts.

At least unlike in Tripadvisor there is a free press in the Philippines and free debate and the Philstar article pointed out that on the face of it people are getting ripped off.

Edited: 5:36 am, June 06, 2014