Due to specific planning choices undertaken by us, we actually spent the whole of Day 6 going from El Nido to Manila only to catch an early morning flight out on Day 7. So we thought it’d be befitting to talk about transport in Philippines peppered into a short Day 6 rambling. All transport tips will be prefaced with “Tip“.
We had to start nice and early as we had a 7 AM van to take us back to the Puerto Princesa city. We couldn’t leave our brilliant Lio Villas resort without taking a few snaps in the soft morning light.
As opposed to the way into El Nido where we got an AC bus, we took the more popular AC Lexus shuttle on the way back (arranged by the resort at 700 PHP for resort pickup & airport dropoff). When we boarded the van, we were only 4 people on board. Then we headed into town to become 10 people, which was still pretty comfortable. Then just outside the city, we picked up 4 more people (after opening up folded seats), two of them with young children on their laps!!
Tip: If you’re are visiting the Philippines from the West, it’ll behoove you to check your concept of personal space at the door. Case in point is the El Nido Lexus shuttle that holds 14 people most of the journey.
Tip: Use all breaks provided in a shuttle journey to stretch your legs as legspace is quite low. Also make sure you’re stocked up on snacks and if not, the rest stops do stock them.
We used a stop to load up on more cashewnuts & bebinca (they’re so good) and another to have a plate of Pancit (60 PHP) & ice-cream (40 PHP). Also took a pic of the highway to remind us how beautiful Palawan roads are.
We reached Puerto Princesa city in around 5 hours driving time which is pretty fast. It also gave us time to try out the No. 1 rated restaurant on TripAdvisor called KaLui. We were not impressed, especially compared to the feast we chowed down at Badjao Seafood (highly recommeded) just 4 days ago. The fish in the Sisig was too chewy, the calamari lacked flavour & the grilled Lapu-Lapu was ok. The only thing great about its menu are its amazing fruit juices. Go there just for the juices!
Took a trike to the airport and checked in our solitary backpack & began waiting for our flight. Our skin was heavily sunburnt due to the adventures of the last few days & in pain. Took the time to apply aloe vera gel to little relief. Please apply sunscreen generously in the Philippines. Arrived at Manila before 6 PM (11 hours of transferring)
Tip: Many domestic airports in Philippines (Puerto Princes & Cebu atleast) charge an extra Terminal fee. Keep 500 PHP cash per person extra in hand for domestic flights and 1000 PHP per person for international flight to pay the terminal fee as cards are not accepted.
Tip: If you want to take a taxi at Manila airport Terminal 4, get out and immediately walk to the right to catch a white cab at the end of the terminal building. Avoid the yellow cabs that are prepaid that are just across the building. The latter takes forever to get as the person who makes the prepaid receipt isn’t very efficient.
Tip: Traffic near Terminal 3 is an absolute nightmare but there are some really nice AirBnb flats for staying the night if you have an early morning flight (like we did at this flat). Allow 30 minutes extra time for transit if transferring to / from Terminal 3 in the daytime.
After checking into our flat, both of us went straight to sleep, tired from the day of travel. Dalek would wake up in 90 minutes to pick up their friend Toothless (meeting us from Singapore) from NAIA T1 in a half asleep zombie fashion. Thanks to the free WiFi at NAIA, they were able to meet in the arrivals waiting area.
Tip: DO NOT take the taxi from the arrivals waiting area, their prepaid rates are daylight robbery. They asked for 800 PHP to go to T3 where Dalek paid 120 to get in and “reduced” their rate to 500 PHP. WTF!!
If picking someone up from T1, wait upstairs in the Departures Jollibee (left side of terminal) and take the flight of stairs down as soon as the flyer(s) exits the arrivals area. Catch the white regular taxi immediately outside the arrivals area on the right without going to the arrivals waiting area on the ground level. Non-flyers cannot access that area once they have entered the waiting area.
We ended the day eating a cheese pizza (as Toothless is vegetarian) from Yellow Cab pizza just downstairs from our flat and going to sleep before an early morning flight.
Other transportation options
Trikey / Tricycle: It’s essentially a motorcycle with attachments and is the normal mode of transport in the islands (especially Palawan).
Jeepney: This is the most normal mode of public transport in most Filipino cities. Their route is written on the front & are the most affordable mode of transport.
Bus: We took a number of intercity buses in the islands to go to various attractions. We recommend the Pinoy Travel website if you’d like to buy tickets online using your Credit Card. It shouldn’t be a problem to buy them at the bus station but may need cash (a valuable resource).
Ferry: We took a fast ferry from Tagbilaran, Bohol to Cebu city and it was a convenient mode of transport. Took just under 2 hours to make the trip.
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