Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan in the Philippines and offers many attractions, including white-sand beaches and snorkelling sites. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Underground River Tour, which is about an hour away from Puerto Princesa.
The distance from El Nido to Puerto Princesa is 260 km (162 miles). In this post, we compare the two best options to travel from El Nido to Puerto Princesa: by minivan (5.5 hours) and by bus (5.5-7 hours). Ticket prices range from 610 PHP ($11) – 730 PHP ($13).
The van is the most preferred transportation for the El Nido to Puerto Princesa route. Although it is more expensive than the bus, with rates starting at 730 PHP ($13), it is more comfortable for passengers for the 5.5-hour ride. Also, the last stop is the airport, which is convenient if you’re travelling to Puerto Princesa to fly out of Palawan.
Taking the bus is definitely more budget-friendly, as the cheapest option costs only 610 PHP ($11). However, the bus ride can take 5.5 to 7 hours, which means you have to endure an uncomfortable trip for much longer with all the twists and turns on the roads.
Own experience: It was not comfortable to sit 5 hours in a van and that’s why I wanted to try the bus on the way back from El Nido to Puerto. Unfortunately, this ride wasn’t better. Due to the narrow size of the road, you could feel every turn the bus had to make. The bus offers a bit more leg space than a van, but being swung from side to side wasn’t worth the extra leg space.
Most travellers opt to take the van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa even though it is more expensive than the bus. From my own experience, the van is the better option for this route. Because of its smaller size, you won’t be thrown from side to side with every turn.
For now, only Fortwally and Eulen Joy Express offer minivan services for the El Nido to Puerto Princesa route. The first trip is at 05:00, and there are multiple departures until 18:30.
The minivan ride takes 5.5 hours with costs starting from 730 PHP ($13).
Departure and arrival station
Minivans depart from El Nido Transport Terminal. In the El Nido downtown area, you can take a tricycle from your hotel to the transport terminal for 50 PHP ($0.90).
The last stop for both minivan operators is Puerto Princesa Airport. If you wish to get off in the town centre, you can simply inform the driver in advance. The airport is only a 5-minute drive from the centre in Puerto Princesa, so it’s also easy to get a taxi or even walk to your hotel from there.
If you are travelling from El Nido to Puerto Princesa in a big group, there is also an option for you to book a private van on BookAway. Rates start at 6,750 PHP ($120), and you can split the cost among 10 passengers max. Another option is to contact DayTripper if the vans above are already fully booked.
Pro-tip: The minivan is the most preferred mode of transport in Palawan. Seats can fill up quickly, so always try to book your van at least 1 day in advance!
El Nido to Puerto Princesa by Bus
Duration: 5.5-7 hours
Cost: 610 PHP ($11)
Duration: 5.5-7 hours
Cost: 610 PHP ($11)
Although the bus is the cheaper option when travelling from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, it might not be the most comfortable experience for a long-distance ride. There is also only one scheduled trip per bus in a day, which does not give you a lot of options.
The expected travel time is the same as the van, but it can still get longer as buses make a lot of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.
Bus tickets are cheaper with rates from 610 PHP ($11).
All operating buses depart from El Nido Transport Terminal. You can buy your bus ticket directly at the terminal, but make sure that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure. We suggest that you book your bus ride online in advance.
*UPDATE: The last time we checked (September 2022), Chery elite buses are unavailable. Please check the provided link to see if anything has changed.
Only Cherry Bus is operating for this route for now, and they offer three types of buses for passengers. The cheapest option is the non-airconditioned Economy bus, but we don’t recommend this bus unless you’re up for a hot and bumpy journey.
You can also take a Tourist bus from El Nido to Puerto Princesa and enjoy an air-conditioned ride. The most expensive option is the Elite bus that offers recliner seats and has a toilet on board. This bus is worth your money if you want to leave El Nido at night and take a peaceful sleep on the bus.
All Cherry Buses drop passengers off at San Jose Terminal, about 6 km from the town centre. You would need to take local transportation to get to your next destination, and the local transport fare will depend on the distance you are travelling.
If you’re travelling from El Nido to Puerto Princesa to fly out of Palawan, you need to take a tricycle ride from San Jose Terminal to Puerto Princesa Airport. It’s a 20-30 minute drive and the ride will cost around 150 PHP ($2.70).
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Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.
Abby is a writer who finds joy in mountains, beaches, and road trips. She considers her solo backpacking trip to the rice terraces of Bontoc one of the most fulfilling moments in her life. She’s loyal to the islands of her home country, the Philippines, but Thailand’s beaches also have a special place in her heart.