Want to know how to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the two ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan in the Philippines. A popular gateway to gorgeous destinations on the archipelago (like El Nido and Port Barton), travellers often skip a visit to Puerto Princesa.
If you’re just passing through, we recommend that you at least check out the interesting cuisine and cosy cafes in Puerto Princesa. But if you have extra time, why not also explore the iconic Underground River? It’s the longest subterranean river in the world! You can also visit Puerto Princesa’s white-sand beaches during the day and watch fireflies across the Nagsaguipi River at night.
2 ways to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa
There are two ways to travel the distance of 260 km (162 miles) from El Nido to Puerto Princesa: by bus (5h 30m - 6h 30m) and minivan (5-5.5 hours). The journey takes between 5h - 6h 30m and the quickest way is by minivan. The lowest priced tickets start from 600 PHP ($10.70) for the bus.
The bus used to be the cheaper option when travelling from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. However, the arrival station is now 10 km away from the city centre, making for an expensive tricycle ride.
The expected travel time is almost the same as the minivan, but it can still get longer as buses make a lot of stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. Keep in mind too that the bus is not the most comfortable option for a long-distance ride.
Cherry Bus is currently the only bus company from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. You can choose to ride an economy, standard, or VIP bus with rates from 600 PHP ($10.70).
All 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.
The cheapest Cherry Bus 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 standard bus from El Nido to Puerto Princesa and enjoy an air-conditioned ride. The most expensive option is the VIP 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.
Before, the main bus terminal was San Jose Terminal, where the minivans also arrive at. As of January 2023, though, buses now arrive at Irawan Bus Terminal near the crocodile farm. It’s a 30-minute ride to the city centre, and tricycle drivers would charge between 300 PHP ($5.00) and 500 PHP ($8.50).
If you’re travelling from El Nido to Puerto Princesa to fly out of Palawan, a tricycle ride to the airport would cost a few more dollars.
El Nido to Puerto Princesa by Minivan
Duration: 5-5.5 hours
Starts from: 650 PHP ($11.60)
Duration: 5-5.5 hours
Cost: 650 PHP ($11.60)
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.
The minivan ride takes about 5-5.5 hours with costs starting from 730 PHP ($13.10). The first trip is at 05:00, and there are multiple departures until 18:30.
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).
Fortwally and Eulen Joy Express both head to Puerto Princesa Airport, while Lexxus Shuttle arrives at San Jose Terminal. From this terminal, a 15-20 minute tricycle ride to the city centre costs 150 PHP ($2.70).
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 minivan on BookAway. Rates start at 3,300 PHP ($58.00), and you can split the cost up to 10 passengers. 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!
Our favourite places to stay in Puerto Princesa
Most people use Puerto Princesa as a jumping off point to other spots in the Philippines, meaning they’re only looking for a place for 1-2 nights. We’ve made sure our favourite stays tick that box, but are also great options if you want to stay a little longer.
All of our favourite stays are located in Puerto Princesa City. Here, you’ll be close to the airport, have easy access to the city’s attractions and have local markets to explore.
Area: San Jose town — approx. 30-minute drive to Puerto Princesa city Baywalk Park and restaurants
An infinity pool overlooking the sea and jungle, a rooftop bar and an on-site spa. Can you ask for much more than that? Well, they’ll give you more! For every three nights that you book here, you get a free massage.
At Panja Resort, you’ll be able to escape the hustle and bustle of Puerto Princesa, but if you do need to get to the city, the hotel offers a free shuttle. This is the kind of place where you literally have to think about nothing!
Area: Next to BM beach — approx. 10-minute drive to city centre
This place is an absolute steal! Summer Days feels like a high-end boutique hotel, just without the high price tag. Lucky for you! The hotel boasts an open and minimalist design, where every corner looks perfect.
The perfection continues with the owner and staff. They are fantastic and there to help with everything! Even better, you’re not far from the beach either.
Frequently Asked Questions about El Nido to Puerto Princesa
What is the distance from El Nido to Puerto Princesa?
The distance from El Nido to Puerto Princesa is 260 km (162 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa?
The fastest way to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa is by minivan and takes 5-5.5 hours.
What is the cheapest way to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa?
The cheapest way to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa is by bus with ticket costs starting from 600 PHP ($10.70).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
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.