Puerto Princesa to El Nido // Heaven through Hell || PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES

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19 (Tramonto) (3)

For our third week we have flown to Palawan Island. O-M-G what a paradise!

Unfortunately only spent a night in Puerto Princesa due to a flight cancellation that has costed us a lot in terms of money and time. So we had to give a miss to the Underground River (a good reason to come back..).

But. We managed to visit a nice Vegetarian restaurant for dinner that I would definitely highly recommend. The name is NAMASKAR VEGETARIAN, and most of their dishes are actually vegan. Super cheap and super delicious…we have probably ordered everything they had on the menu LOL. The staff is super nice and the atmosphere is typical Filipino.

Where we stayed: Butterfly Totem Guesthouse, at walking distance from the town centre, the market and actually the airport. Found through Booking.com. they offer free airport pick up. Run by a very nice family, rooms are small but clean. Breakfast is included: just notify them you’re vegan. He managed to get some bread with homemade pineapple jam (gelatine free) and some fresh fruit.

With no time to waste, we organise our transfer for El Nido, located in the North of the Island. There is unfortunately one uncomfortable way to get there…and it’s on the road, for about 6 hours.  Prices varies, but we managed to pay 500php each to go by minivan, with another 9 people. Possibly the most terrible trip ever, considering their way to drive and their determination in having the van completely full of passengers before leaving Puerto Princesa. On the way, they stop 3 times for toilet break and lunch. Once arrived in El Nido they drop you off at the Bus terminal, as vans are not allowed to drive in town. That’s where you can either walk (about 20 min) or get a tricycle for about 40php (for two people).

15 (El Nido sign)

Yes, El Nido is a very touristic destination so do not expect it to be too cheap, unfortunately.  Still worth to visit tho. What this part of the island offers is no comparable to anything else.

El Nido bay is surrounded by hundreds of little island and visiting them through Island hopping tours is a MUST!  We have been on Tour A and Tour C, departing from Caalan beach (where we have stayed), so a bit out of the main beach in town, inside the HADEFE Beach Resort.

This allowed us to be in a very small group (only 6) and avoid the huge crowd leaving from El Nido town. Our guide was the best, choosing the spots to visit according to how busy they were, so we managed to see most of them with only few or no people at all. Cost is 1200php for tour A and 1400php for tour C (prices are the same everywhere so don’t look for cheaper options). Lunch is included and for us they have prepared delicious veggies with rice, salads and fresh fruit.

 

You’ll be out all day visiting surreal places, like the Small Lagoon, where you can hire a kayak for 300php and get inside for an unmissable experience, or the Secret beach, where you can snorkel and Find Nemo!! Take your snorkelling gear with you and don’t forget your water shoes! The area is surrounded by coral reef and it’s always very important to be careful towards its conservation.

Our little Filipino style apartment was located about 15 min walking to town so we have basically always walked while in El Nido. There are not many vegan options around so, having a kitchen corner back to our place, we normally cooked our meals. There’s a quite big veggie market just out of town, opposite the Bus terminal, and a supermarket few metres from the Tourist Office.

 

We have rented a motorbike (500php) only for a day to be able to go to Las Cabanas Beach and experience the Zipline! IT IS A MUST! You will fly to a small island hanging like superman for just 700php and you’ll never regret it! Just keep in mind that the way to walk up to the flying station is super steep and on a hot day it could make you a bit sick.

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El Nido Zipline

Where we stayed: La Salangane Studio Front Beach (Caalan Beach). Located only a 15 min walk from town, this place is the most relaxing and quiet option we could ever expect! Best spot for sunsets. Found it through AirBnb, they have 4 Filipino style studio apartments with kitchen corner. A bit outdated inside but very functional and there’s everything you need to cook your own meals and relax on the balcony watching the most amazing sunsets ever!

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Vegan eats and options:

Falafel Snack Food (El Nido town) located in the traffic limited area, it can definitely save you if you are in town and super hungry! They have the most delicious falafel wrap for only 200php.Ask it with all the veggies and remember to choose the spicy sauce as it’s the only vegan option they have.

The Beach Shack (Las Cabanas Beach), nice bar directly on the beach, has few vegan options. A bit pricey due to the location, portions are not huge. Nice place to chill out tho.

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There are two options to go back to Manila to catch your fly back home: another road trip on a crazy van down to Puerto Princesa (cheapest option) or a direct flight from El Nido (which, despite the price, we chose, not having enough time to drive down to Puerto Princesa again.

In Manila we stayed at a very nice guesthouse at walking distance from Terminal 3.

The name is Cornel’s Place, found through Booking.com and it’s super close to supermarkets, food courts and shops. Super clean and the staff is amazingly friendly and helpful.

If you’re flying with Philippine Airlines we strongly recommend this option as you can save lots of money in airport transfers. You can easily walk to the Terminal 3 and show your ticket to get a FREE transfer to Terminal 2 where the company flies from.

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And that’s how the vegan  trip ends. An amazing journey through the beauty (and sometimes the sadness) of this country made of 7000 islands. Few last notes:

  • Try to travel in the most eco-friendly way. Bring your cutlery, containers, reusable straws, water bottle with you. Choose biodegradable tooth brushes, eco-friendly beauty products and have always a reusable fabric bag ready for your shopping.

REMEMBER: TAKE ONLY MEMORIES AND LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS.

  • If you’re stuck and unsure what to eat, find the closest supermarket/convenient store. Here’s a list of vegan-safe snacks: Bingo Vanilla flavour (cookies) – Sky Flakes Crackers (Garlic / Onion & Chives / Plain flavours) – Oreo double stuffed (cookies) – Sumo mini cookie sandwiches – PikNik ketchup fries.

 

  • Remember their culture is very different from ours and you’ll see many farm animals around, mostly neglected and treated very poorly. It’s very hard to deal with the situation. But if you can stop and give them some cuddles and love, nobody will send you away, so please do it.

 

  • Most of fruit and veggies in the supermarkets are ridiculously expensive as imported. Try to choose local products: not only you’ll save some money, but they will also taste much better!

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