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Transportation to El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

How to Get to El Nido - By Air, By Sea, and Overland


ITI plane on El Nido Airport runway.

ITI plane on El Nido Airport runway.

Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

Getting to El Nido in the Philippines depends on your budget and on your appetite for punishment. Flying in is relatively effortless, but can be expensive. Going overland from the capital of Puerto Princesa is the cheapest way, but requires a tolerance for hours of travel over rough roads. Riding a boat depends entirely on the whims of the weather.

  • El Nido for noobs: Find out more about this remote Philippines island group in our el Nido travel guide.

By Plane - Direct to El Nido

Getting to El Nido by plane is the fastest and least troublesome option. Visitors with a roomy budget and a horror of dusty roads can spring for a flight to the privately-owned El Nido Airport (IATA: ENI; also known as Lio Airport) about two miles north of El Nido town.

  • Location of El Nido Airport: 11°12'10.8565''N 119°24'48.6526''E (Google Maps)

Island Transvoyager (ITI) operates a charter route with a single 19-seater Dornier 228 airplane. The flight departs twice daily, morning and afternoon, from Soriano Aviation Terminal along Andrews Avenue in Pasay City, Metro Manila, and arrives at Lio Airport an hour and a half later.

  • Fares: PHP 6,750 (about $163) one way
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Restrictions: 22 pounds (10kg) weight restriction
  • Contact Details: +632 851 5674 / +63 920 902 6317 / +632 855 2678

Visitors heading to El Nido town can ride a motorized tricycle from the airport; the ride takes 15 minutes.

Lio Airport is also the official jumping-off point to the swank El Nido Resorts on the islands of Miniloc and Lagen; upon deplaning, passengers board boats at the nearby marina heading to the outer islands.

Air passengers to El Nido are charged PHP 100 (about two dollars) environment fee; proceeds go to the El Nido Foundation, an NGO overseeing environmental issues within El Nido and the islands in Bacuit Bay.

By Plane - to Puerto Princesa

The Philippines' major airlines fly daily to the provincial capital of Puerto Princesa (Puerto Princesa Airport – PPS). Passengers heading to El Nido can then board a bus or rented van for the bumpy, dusty eight-hour ride. (See "Overland from Puerto Princesa")

Overland from Puerto Princesa

Travelers willing to endure the 140-mile bus ride from Palawan’s capital Puerto Princesa should set aside about five to eight hours travel time to complete the journey. The highways are mostly paved, but obstructions are not uncommon.

Overland trips to El Nido depart from the San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa. The terminal is located next to a public market, and can be reached straight from the airport via motorized tricycle (fares from PHP50-PHP80, or about $1.25-$2 per person; about 10 minutes). Upon arriving, just ask where the bus or van to El Nido is parked.

  • Location of San Jose Bus Terminal: 9°47'1.6202''N 118°44'37.6472''E (Google Maps)

El Nido by bus: Sweety Transport and Eulen Joy Transport leave Puerto Princesa for El Nido daily, with stops at Taytay and Roxas towns. Return trips to Puerto Princesa from El Nido also available. Trips take five hours each way. These buses are old, not air-conditioned and tend to have very little leg room – you give up plenty of comfort for the relatively low price.

  • Fares: P300 (about $6) one way
  • Contact Details: +63 926 699 8700 (Puerto Princesa terminal); +63 919 716 2210 (El Nido terminal)

The El Nido RORO bus service uses newer and larger buses, with both air-conditioned and non-aircon services departing regularly from Puerto Princesa, with stops at Taytay and Roxas. These buses are roomier and far more comfortable than the older bus services plying the El Nido route. The RORO bus also runs the only night trip to El Nido, departing Puerto Princesa at 10pm and arriving at El Nido at about 4am.

  • Fares: PHP 485 (about $11; air-conditioned) and PHP 350 (about $8.50; non-air-conditioned) per trip
  • RORO bus contact Details: +63 908 920 2568; +63 999 787 9469 (day operator); +63 919 330 2718 (night operator); inquire about the schedules

El Nido by van: Shuttle van companies use 4x4 vans that can take the punishment of Palawan's unforgiving roads. These are far more comfortable than the open-air buses, if slightly pricier; passengers also arrive earlier, taking six hours instead of eight to get to El Nido.

Fortwally Shuttle Van picks passengers up from Puerto Princesa Airport and proceed to El Nido directly. Shuttles leave the airport at 7am, 9:30am, 11am, and 1:30am. A 6:30pm trip may be added, depending on the volume of passengers.

For return trips to Puerto Princesa from the El Nido terminal, Fortwally’s shuttle vans leave at 5am, 7am, 9am, and 1pm. A 6pm trip may be added, depending on the volume of passengers.

  • Fares: PHP 700 (about $17), or you can rent the whole van for about $250 (P12,000) per round trip.
  • Fortwally Shuttle Contact Details: +63 917 276 2875, +63 921 311 8755. Tour packages available upon request.

By Sea

The El Nido port at Buena Suerte services a number of ferry lines from Manila, Busuanga, Coron, and Sabang near Puerto Princesa.

San Nicolas Lines travels twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday) from Manila to El Nido and back. Meals are served onboard.

  • Fares: PHP910 (about $19) one way
  • Duration: 30 hours
  • Restrictions: Book a day in advance
  • Contact Details: +632 243 2830

Atienza Shipping Lines travels on Thursday at midnight between El Nido and the nearby diving hotspot of Coron. The trip is often delayed.

  • Fares: PHP910 (about $19) one way
  • Restrictions: Book a day in advance
  • Contact Details: +632-242 8845

Boat ride from Sabang. You can also travel by sea from Sabang, where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located. (Ferry from Sabang to El Nido)

  • Fares: PHP 1,500 (about $31) one way
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Contact Details: Malou at+63 921 5187947

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