Most people think that El Nido, Palawan is an expensive place to travel to. That was the same thought that I had for years and became the sole reason why I didn’t go here before. But after being here for more than a week now, I noticed that it can also be a cheap place to go to if you play your cards right.
Here’s 15 tips that can help you travel cheap in El Nido.
1. Stay Long Term: Most accommodation if not all offers a decent discount to people staying for more than five days. Some are even offering discount if you stay for more than three days. It’s not voluntarily offered by the staff so you better ask for it. It’s very common during low season because hostels and guesthouses in El Nido are mostly fully booked during the peak season.
2. Travel during the Off Peak Season:Most guest houses that I talked to consider June as the beginning of their low season and it ends on November. If you travel within these months, there’s a high chance that you’d be able to score a huge discount on your accommodation.
3. Bring your own Snorkeling Gear: Rentals here cost around P100 (cheapest that I found) up to P300. You will definitely save a lot of money if you just bring your own.
4. Wash your Own Clothes: Bring light cotton clothes so it’ll be easier to wash them. Bringing your clothes to the laundry shop will cost you some money. Some even charge as high as P70 per kilo here. The sun is always up especially during summer and your clothes will definitely dry up quickly. Wash them every day to avoid dirty clothes from piling up. If it piles up, you might feel lazy to wash them yourself.
5. Travel Light: Need I say more. You save money if you don’t check in your baggage. Check out my previous article about travelling light.
6. Book Ahead: A direct flight to El Nido from Manila will cost you a lot of money since there’s not much traffic going on here. Wait for some seat promotion and you’ll definitely save a lot of money.
7. Take the Bus: If you fly from Puerto Princesa, you still need to travel overland to El Nido. The van will usually cost you around P600 if you make it to the 5am, 7am or 9am journey. If not it will cost you around P700 or more if you take the special trip to El Nido. The bus will only cost you around P300. The downside though with the bus is a longer travel time since it picks up and drops off passengers along the way. If you’re a foreigner, it’s one of the best ways to meet local people.
8. Stay in Bgy. Corong Corong: There are beach cottages that cost as low as P500/night in Corong Corong which is just one tricycle away from the El Nido town proper.
9. Walk: Walk instead of taking the tricycle usually costs around P8-P10 per person. You’d be able to save this if you just walk.
10. Cook Your Own Meals: You can whip up a simple meal for two for less than P100 or $2 if you cook your own meal. Bring a small cookset with you. In my case, I brought a small electric stove and a pot.
11. Eat Local Food: If you don’t want to cook your own meal, you better eat local food since it’s cheaper. There’s a nice eatery in the El Nido town proper in front of Casa Buenavista. The meals cost as low as P20/dish (fish). You get the same jaw dropping view as the other restaurants nearby.
12. Bring a Refillable Bottle: There’s only one water refilling station (Ionic) in town and it will costs you around P5 to have your 1.5L bottle refilled. If you’ll be staying longer, you can opt to get their five-gallon water container for only P290, they will return your P240 once you return their container. Refill for the container will cost you around P50.
13. Join Group Tours: It’ll be cheaper if you join tour groups instead of renting your own boat to see the nearby island in El NIdo. The tours will usually costs around P700-P900.
14. Bring your own WiFi Enabled Device: If you need to be constantly online, you better bring your own wifi capable gadget such as tablets, laptops or smart phones. A number of restaurants offer free Wifi to their customers. I highly recommend Lonesome Carabao (it’s near El Nido Beach Hotel). They offer fast connection and decent drinks and food price.
15. Bring Water Proof Pouches: Since you’ll be hanging out near the ocean for most of your stay, you better bring a water proof pouch to protect your mobile phones, credit cards, and other fragile non-waterproof gadgets. This will save you a lot of money from possible repair due to water and sand damage.
Have you been to El Nido? What are your money saving tips for future travellers to El Nido?
Photocredits: Pics by Frameless World