How Much to Budget for El Nido (6D/5N)) | SGMT
An El Nido vacation can cost as little as ₱5,000 to as much as…I don’t know…₱5,000,000 or more. This budget, which we used for our Palawan trip last June, is somewhere in between. It’s nowhere near luxurious but it’s not exactly cheap either. It’s for smart spenders — people who are willing to pay, but not needlessly — who want to treat themselves to a nice, easy, stress-free holiday covering the best of both Puerto Princesa and El Nido.
For the Palawan itinerary covered by this budget, see:
El Nido, Nice and Easy: A Stress-Free 6-Day Itinerary for Non-Backpackers.
Airfare – ₱1,322
We got our round-trip Cebu-Puerto Princesa tickets during a Cebu Pacific seat sale. Philippine Airlines and Air Asia also fly to Puerto Princesa while direct flights to El Nido can be booked with AirSwift.
Accommodations (5 nights) – ₱5,884
This price is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room, and covers:
- 1 night at Orchid Lagan Place Palawan (Puerto Princesa) — ₱1,952.00 — ₱976.00 per person
- 3 nights at Spin Designer Hostel (El Nido) — ₱7,835.00 — ₱3,917.50 per person
- 1 night at Holiday Suites (Puerto Princesa) — ₱1,980.00 — ₱990.00 per person
For more accommodations options, see these lists:
Firefly Watching Tour – ₱1,037
This activity starts at around 6 PM and is a great option if you have a free night in Puerto Princesa. You can save a few hundreds if you go DIY, but the tour package, which we booked through AsiaTravel, already includes hotel pick-up and dinner as well as the tour itself.
Dolphin Watching Tour – ₱1,000
Another half-day Puerto Princesa tour, this one takes place in the morning and is a wonderful last-day activity for people whose flights don’t leave till the afternoon. After canvassing prices, we booked with Dolphin and Whales Travel & Tours and had the best time.
Island Hopping Combo Tour – ₱2,000
After considering the pros and cons of single vs. combo tours and comparing tour operator prices and reviews, we decided to go on El Nido Paradise’s Combo Tour A & C. Our rationale in a nutshell: a combo tour saves both time and money. Separate tours would have taken two days and cost ₱2,600. The drawback is having less time in each stop compared to a regular tour but we decided we would rather do all the sightseeing in one day so that we can spend the whole day after that just chilling and beach bumming. No regrets: we loved our island hopping tour — you can check out our experience in Island Hopping in El Nido: Combo Tour A & C so you can decide for yourself — and we got to spend the next day lazing around Nacpan Beach, which some people have called the most beautiful beach in the world.
You can check out El Nido Paradise’s other tours here.
Van Transfer – ₱1,150
To avoid hassle, we also pre-booked our van transfers with El Nido Paradise. Each van transfer (PP-EN and EN-PP) costs ₱550 and we also paid a ₱50 surcharge to be picked up from our hotel in Puerto Princesa. It’s a 6-hour ride so check out: How to Survive the Van to El Nido.
Meals – ₱3,200
There are tons of dining options in El Nido but meals in restaurants and cafes can prove to be rather expensive. We didn’t want to scrimp on food so we budgeted ₱400 per meal for a total of 8 meals. Whenever we went over ₱400, we re-balanced our budget by eating at a carenderia next time. Luckily, we enjoyed free breakfast at the inn/hostel/hotel we stayed in and the tour price for island hopping already included an absolute feast for lunch.
Our go-to place for good food in El Nido was Trattoria Altrove. Art Cafe was also good. For cheap meals, try the carenderia across the Catholic church in El Nido — a meal of rice and delicious chicken adobo only cost us ₱60 there.
In Puerto Princesa, we enjoyed dinner at Kalui, which certainly lived up to its reputation as the no. 1 restaurant in the city.
Miscellaneous – ₱1,407
Some of the expenses we took out of our miscellaneous fund are:
- ₱500 – transportation to and from Nacpan Beach (₱1,000 per tricycle, negotiated down from ₱1,500)
- ₱150 – transportation to and from Marimegmeg Beach (₱300 per tricycle)
- ₱25 – transportation from the El Nido van terminal to Spin Designer Hostel (₱50 per tricycle)
Total Budget – ₱17,000
For a frugal traveler like me, ₱17,000 can sound like much but, when you think about it, it’s for 6 days, it already includes airfare, and it enabled us to have the most unforgettable experiences in both El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Anyway, if you were going to spend nearly ₱20,000 on travel, wouldn’t you rather spend it on your own country so your countrymen can benefit from it as well? And Palawan is absolutely worth it. If you haven’t been yet…go! You won’t regret it.
wise budget… the bulk was on accom and meals…! Hmmmm! 🙂 nice!
Thank you! 🙂
The dolphins!! I can get seasick but I would possibly brave the seas (with a lot of medicine) for a chance to see that.
They’re definitely worth it! I’m prone to motion sickness too — not so much with boats but I try to avoid long stuffy bus rides as much as I can.
I would love to see one in its natural habitat – sometimes there were dolphins or porpoises in New Jersey when I was little and I could never see them! People would be all excited and pointing but I couldn’t see a thing. I should put dolphin watching on my bucket list. Thank you for the idea.