How to get to Palawan – Our complete transport guide

Welcome to our getting around Palawan guide, giving you best ways to get to Palawan from around the Philippines, as well as transport tips and routes for exploring the islands themselves. From El Nido to Balabac, we share our top tips for getting from A to B.

How to get to Palawan

How to get to Palawan - Shows boat harboured on the beach

Manila to Palawan

Palawan is a large collection of islands with two main airports – Puerto Princesa and El Nido. You can fly directly from Manila to Palawan via either of these airports in 1hr 20mins, however Puerto Princesa offers much lower cost flights with both Cebu Pacific and Air Asia, offering multiple flights a day. El Nido is the more expensive airport located to the north of the islands. We recommend flying into the airport closest to your final destination. You may wish to fly into one airport, travel around and then leave from another.

Browse Manila to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

Browse Manila to El Nido flights on Skyscanner

Cebu to Palawan

Cebu Matcan Aiport is the second-most well connected airport to Palawan in the Philippines and a popular choice for inbound journeys. Multiple flights a day operate to and from Cebu to Puerto Princesa, whilst one flight a day is available between Cebu and El Nido. The flight time takes around 1hr 20mins and flight costs are generally very affordable. Choose the airport that’s best located to your Palawan destination.

Browse Cebu to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

Browse Cebu to El Nido flights on Skyscanner

Boracay to Palawan

To get from Boracay to El Palawan, you’ll first need to catch a ferry from Boracay island to Caticlan Airport on the mainland. From here, you can then fly directly to El Nido Airport or in just over an hour with AirSwift or Puerto Princesa Airport with Air Asia or Cebu Pacific. Flights to Puerto Princesa are often much cheaper and more frequent than El Nido, however it all depends on your Palawan destination. Compare all dates and prices to find the best option to suit you.

Whilst flying is the fastest and hassle-free way of getting from Boracay to Palawan, it’s not the only option. You can also catch multiple ferries and ground transport via Mindoro Island to Coron and then onwards to the Palawan mainland. Due to the length of time this takes, we only recommend this option if you can’t find suitable flights. Find the full ferry route on Rome2Rio here.

Browse Boracay Caticlan to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

Browse Boracay Caticlan to El Nido flights on Skyscanner

Choose your Palawan destination:

Find more detailed information on how to get to popular towns and beaches in Palawan below, as well as the best ways to travel between locations. Use the following links to jump ahead. 🙂

How to get to El Nido

How to get to Puerto Princesa

How to get to Port Barton

How to get to Balabac Islands

How to get to El Nido

How to get to El Nido - Shows El Nido town and beach from above

Coron to El Nido

By ferry: The stunning island of Coron is just across the sea from El Nido. Travel from Coron to El Nido by ferry in around 3hrs 30mins. Montenegro Lines and Phimal are the main ferry companies and operate 3 routes per day from Coron to El Nido and back. Other ferry routes are available; however, they take up a whopping 9 hours, so be sure to book the correct route! We recommend booking in advance on the Travel Palawan website here. The one-way trip costs around 1800 pesos per person.

By plane: If you’d prefer to get from Coron to El Nido faster, board a 40-minute flight from Busuanga (Coron) Airport to El Nido Lio Airport. The flight operates roughly once per day and will cost you approximately double the price of the ferry.

Browse Coron Busuanga to El Nido Lio flights on Skyscanner

Boracay to El Nido

To get from Boracay to El Nido, you’ll first need to catch a ferry from Boracay island to Caticlan Airport on the mainland. From here, you can then fly directly to El Nido Airport in just over an hour with AirSwift. Flights schedules vary with up to 6 flights per week. If flight times/dates don’t work for you, flying to Puerto Princesa Airport and then catching a 6hr 30min transfer to El Nido may be a better option. Furthermore, you can fly from Boracay Caticlan Airport to El Nido via a connection in Manila. Compare all dates and prices to find the best option to suit you.

Whilst flying is the fastest and hassle-free way of getting from Boracay to El Nido, it’s not the only option. You can also catch multiple ferries and ground transport via Mindoro Island and Coron. Due to the length of time this takes and the sheer hassle, we only recommend this option if you can’t find suitable flights. Find the full ferry route itinerary here.

Manila to El Nido – El Nido to Manila

The best way to get from Manila to El Nido and vice versa is to fly directly to or from El Nido Lio Airport with AirSwift. Flights operate once per day and the flight time is 1hr 20min direct.

If these flights are too expensive on your dates or the times don’t work out, you may also consider flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa. You can then catch onwards road transport to El Nido, with the journey taking around 6hr 30mins. This is a cheaper but more hectic journey than the direct flight to El Nido so choose wisely.

Cebu to El Nido

As the Philippines’ second largest city, Cebu City is well connected to all of the major islands and cities in the country. You can fly directly from Cebu to El Nido Airport in 1hr 40mins. Flights operate sporadically throughout the week and are usually more costly than flying to Puerto Princesa. As stated above, flying into Puerto Princesa and then driving to El Nido may be a more affordable option, however it takes a lot longer.

You may also wish to travel to El Nido airport via a connecting flight in Manila if prices are more attractive. We recommend comparing all three options and choosing the best one to suit you.

Browse Cebu to El Nido flights on Skyscanner

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

There are 3 ways to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and they’re all by road. These include:

  • Shared van transfer (our preferred option) – Book seats on a comfortable private van transfer with your accommodation or at a local travel agency in Puerto Princesa. The direct journey from Puerto Princesa to El Nido takes around 5hrs 30mins (traffic dependant). The one-way cost is around 600 PHP per person. If you’d like to book in advance before arrival, we recommend Diskubre Palawan transfers.
  • Private car/van transfer – If you prefer to travel alone with a personal driver, you’ll also be able to book this with your accommodation or at a travel agency. The journey takes around 5hrs 30mins and costs around 6000 PHP for the one-way trip in a private van. This option can also be pre-book in advance with Diskubre Palawan transfers.
  • Local Palawan bus service – The local Cherry Bus local bus company is the cheapest way of getting from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, however it’s not the most comfortable ride. The journey takes around 6 – 8 hours and you’ll likely be sharing a crowded bus with many locals and tourists. It’s the most budget friendly route from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. View the bus schedule on the Palawan transport website here. The cost is around 600 PHP per person.

Port Barton to El Nido

The journey from Port Barton to El Nido is a little more complicated than perceived on a map. Although the areas look fairly close together, the road that connects the two towns is a winding road (part dirt path) that takes you to El Nido via Puerto Princesa. The best way to get from Port Barton to El Nido is by booking an organised private van transfer. The journey will take you around 4hrs 30mins and costs around 750 PHP per person for a shared trip, or 7000 PHP for your own van. We recommend booking through Diskubre Palawan Transfers.

A private van transfer is the only direct way to travel. If you’d prefer to get the local bus, you’ll need to catch a bus from Port Barton to Puerto Princesa and then another bus onwards to El Nido. This can take up to 11 hours in total, can be more expensive and isn’t recommended.

How to get to Nacpan Beach from El Nido Town

Nacpan Beach is a 45-minute drive from El Nido town and is located to the north-west corner of Palawan. From El Nido (see tips on getting there above), you can either catch a street-side Trike taxi there for around 600 pesos or book an organised shared or private van transfer with a tour agency for a similar price. We much prefer the transfer van option for comfort as it’s a long way to travel on a Trike. You’ll also be able to arrange your transfer to Nacpan with your hotel or hostel in El Nido.

How to get to Puerto Princesa

Shows a beach near Puerto Princesa Underground River - How to get to Puerto Princesa

Manila to Puerto Princesa

Multiple flights operate from Manila to Puerto Princesa and back multiple times per day. The flight time is only 1hr 25mins and fares are low cost with Air Asia or Cebu Pacific.

Compare Manila to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

El Nido to Puerto Princesa

There are 3 ways to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. These include:

  • Shared van transfer (our preferred option) – Book seats on a comfortable private van transfer with your accommodation or at a local travel agency in Puerto Princesa. The direct journey from El Nido to Puerto Princesa takes around 5hrs 30mins (traffic dependant). The one-way cost is around 600 PHP per person. If you’d like to book in advance before arrival, we recommend Diskubre Palawan transfers.
  • Private car/van transfer – If you prefer to travel alone with a personal driver, you’ll also be able to book this with your accommodation or at a travel agency. The journey takes around 5hrs 30mins and costs around 6000 PHP for the one-way trip in a private van. This option can also be pre-book in advance with Diskubre Palawan transfers.
  • Local Palawan bus service – The local Cherry Bus local bus company is the cheapest way of getting from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, however it’s not the most comfortable ride. The journey takes around 6 – 8 hours and you’ll likely be sharing a crowded bus with many locals and tourists. It’s the most budget friendly route from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. View the bus schedule on the Palawan transport website here. The cost is around 600 PHP per person.

Coron to Puerto Princesa

As Coron is on the far side of Palawan to Puerto Princesa, getting between the two destinations is a slight challenge. For this reason, many travellers choose to stop in El Nido on the way. If you’d like to get from Coron to Puerto Princesa directly, you have the following options:

By plane – Take a bus or taxi to Busuanga Airport from Coron and then catch a flight to Puerto Princesa with a short layover in one of many Filipino cities. Direct flights aren’t available. Cebu, Manila and Luzon City are the top layover options and the journey will take you 4-6 hours depending on flight times. Even with the layover, flights can be very affordable.

By ferry – Travel from Coron to El Nido by ferry in around 3hrs 30mins. Montenegro Lines and Phimal are the main ferry companies and operate 3 routes per day from Coron to El Nido and back. Other ferry routes are available; however, they take up a whopping 9 hours, so be sure to book the correct route! We recommend booking in advance on the Travel Palawan website here. The one-way trip costs around 1800 pesos per person.

Once you arrive in El Nido, you’ll need to catch an onward private transfer or the local bus to Puerto Princesa. We recommend booking your transfer in advance with Diskubre Palawan transfers. The journey costs 600 PHP per person in a private van and the journey takes 5hrs 30mins.

By ferry – Take the bus or book a private/shared van transfer from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. From El Nido (6.5hrs), you can then catch a ferry directly to Busuanga and Coron Town (3.5hrs). Due to the length of the journey, you may have to stay overnight in El Nido and catch the ferry the next day. It’s a great place to see in itself!

Port Barton to Puerto Princesa

There are two ways of getting from Port Barton to Puerto Princesa. You can either hop on the local bus for a journey that’ll take around 4 hours and cost you ~250 PHP. The SBE bus departs from Port Barton San Jose Bus Terminal multiple times per day. See the timetable here.

Alternatively, book a private or shared van transport for a quicker and more comfortable journey. Travelling by private transfer from Port Barton to Puerto Princesa takes roughly 3hrs and costs 500 PHP per person for a shared van. You can book a private transfer at your hotel, at an agency or online with Diskubre Palawan transfers.

Cebu to Puerto Princesa

Cebu Matclan International Airport is very well connected to Puerto Princesa and you’ll find frequent flights throughout the day between the airports. Book a low-cost Air Asia or Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesa with a flight time of only 1hr 15mins.

Brose Cebu to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

How to get to Port Barton

How to get to Port Barton - Shows beach with boats and an I love Port Barton sign

Puerto Princesa to Port Barton

There are two ways of getting from Puerto Princesa town to Port Barton. You can either hop on the local bus for a journey that’ll take around 4 hours and cost you ~250 PHP. The SBE bus departs from Puerto Princesa town multiple times per day. See the timetable here.

Alternatively, book a private or shared van transport for a quicker and more comfortable journey. Travelling by private transfer from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton takes roughly 3hrs and costs 500 PHP per person for a shared van. You can book a private transfer at your hotel, at an agency or online with Diskubre Palawan transfers.

El Nido to Port Barton

The best way to get from El Nido to Port Barton is by booking an organised private van transfer. The journey will take you around 4hrs 30mins and costs around 750 PHP per person for a shared trip, or 7000 PHP for your own van. We recommend booking through Diskubre Palawan Transfers.

A private van transfer is the only direct way to travel. If you’d prefer to get the local bus, you’ll need to catch a bus from El Nido to Puerto Princesa and then another bus onwards to Port Barton. This can take up to 11 hours in total, can be more expensive and isn’t recommended.

Coron to Port Barton

Getting from Coron to Port Barton is a bit of a tricky journey and you have two main options:

By plane – Take a bus or taxi to Busuanga Airport from Coron and then catch a flight to Puerto Princesa with a short layover in one of many Filipino cities. Direct flights aren’t available. Cebu, Manila and Luzon City are the top layover options and the journey will take you 4-6 hours depending on flight times. Once you arrive in Puerto Princesa, you’ll then need to take a private transfer or the local bus 3/4hrs onwards to Port Barton. We recommend booking in advance with Diskubre Palawan transfers to save time and for a more comfortable journey.

Browse Busuanga/Coron to Puerto Princesa flights on Skyscanner

Book private transfers to Port Barton with Diskubre Palawan transfers

By ferry – Travel from Coron to El Nido by ferry in around 3hrs 30mins. Montenegro Lines and Phimal are the main ferry companies and operate 3 routes per day from Coron to El Nido and back. Other ferry routes are available; however, they take up a whopping 9 hours, so be sure to book the correct route! We recommend booking in advance on the Travel Palawan website here. The one-way trip costs around 1800 pesos per person.

Once you arrive in El Nido, you’ll need to catch an onward shared transfer to Port Barton. We recommend booking your transfer in advance with Diskubre Palawan transfers. The journey costs 700 PHP per person in a private van and the journey takes 5hrs 30mins.

How to get to Balabac

Shows the crew on board a boat on a sand bar - How to get to Balabac Islands

Being a remote collection of islands with practically no tourism industry, the elusive Balabac Islands are stunning, however, they’re quite difficult to get to. To get to Balabac, you’ll first need to travel to the town of Bataraza to the south of Palawan’s main island. The journey from Puerto Princesa Town takes around 4hrs 30mins with a private transfer. Whilst buses are sometimes available, the journey is a mammoth 7 hours and routes are always changing so we recommend a transfer instead.

Once you arrive in Bataraza, you can board a boat to the Balabac Islands from Rio Tuba Port next to Bataraza. If you arrive at the port around 10am, you’ll find a collection of boats waiting to take passengers to the islands. Browse itineraries and negotiate prices and then set sail for this beautiful island paradise! It’s a bit of a hassle to get to Balabac but well worth it!

Top tips for getting around in Palawan

How to get to Palawan - Shows a Trike taxi in El Nido town
  • Most taxis are in the form of ‘Trikes’. They’re essentially motorbikes with an attached side car that fits up to 3 passengers and luggage can be tied to the back. They’re in all of the main towns and you can simply wave them down and tell them your destination. Research rough journey prices so you don’t get ripped off.
  • For longer distances, organised private van transfers are the way to go. Share with other passengers to save money or book your own car. The best way to book private transfers is via your hotel or a travel agency book in a town. You can also view the top private transfers in Palawan on TripAdvisor here. We recommend Diskubre Palawan for affordability and their great reviews ?
  • Travel light and plan out an itinerary. As there’s so much to see and do in Palawan you won’t want to limit yourself to one area. Carefully choose your locations so you’re not doubling back on yourself and wasting precious sightseeing time. Puerto Princesa > Port Barton > El Nido > Coron is one of the most popular routes for seeing the key destinations.
  • If you’re on a budget, Palawan’s local bus service is a very cheap way to get around. Journeys are a little cramped and take longer than a private transfer, however you’ll save a lot of money. See the bus timetable on the Palawan Transport website here.
  • Some hotels and accommodation options offer free airport pick up and drop off, particularly if you’re staying in Puerto Princesa Town. Check your accommodation website to see if you can take advantage of this freebie!
  • Consider travelling with new friends to share the cost of transport. Many travellers you’ll meet in hostels, airports and bus stations may be heading the same direction and can split the cost of a private transfer or Trike. It’s always worth asking around!
  • Arrive at least an hour in advance for ferry departures as they board early and sometimes even depart early! Check your ferry booking confirmation for exact arrival details.
  • If you’re travelling to Puerto Princesa Airport from El Nido or another faraway destination, leave plenty of time for arrival before your flight. Traffic and other delays may mean that a 6-hour journey soon becomes 8!
  • If you have a scooter licence, consider renting a moped to jet around the islands. They’re a cheap and convenient way to travel and you’ll get to see hidden spots away from the tourist trail.

The above guide includes the most searched for how to get Palawan, Philippines, as well as the top routes between towns and beaches. If you’re looking for a journey that wasn’t included on our list, we recommend using the Rome2Rio website. It’ll help you track your route between destinations and gives you rough prices for each option. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions and enjoy the beautiful islands of Palawan ?


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