Ready to escape Manila’s hustle and bustle and head to paradise? Palawan’s El Nido is best known for its coral reefs, pristine white sand beaches, colorful lagoons and dramatic cliffs. Off the coast of El Nido lie even smaller islands like Miniloc and Lagen, each with luxurious resorts.
Whether you’re looking for a prestigious getaway or a smaller budget hotel, El Nido is one of the best places in Palawan for relaxation.
There are 3 ways to travel the 420km distance from Manila to El Nido: a 1.5-hour direct flight; a 7-hour combined flightand van ride via Puerto Princesa; and a 14.5-hour ferry ride via Coron. Fares range from 1,850 ($36) to 3,800 PHP ($75).
Direct Flight, Flight via Puerto Princesa or Ferry?
The flight via AirSwift is the only direct option for the Manila to El Nido route. It is also the fastest at only 1.5 hours. There are 4 flights operating daily, with fares from 3,800 PHP ($75).
An indirect flight via Puerto Princesa is the most common option travellers choose as it is both convenient and affordable. The flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa takes only 1.5 hours, but you need an additional 5.5-hour van ride to reach El Nido. Combined rates cost about 1,850 ($36).
The ferry is the slowest, but an option to consider if you’re hoping to make a stop in Coron anyway. The 2nd leg of this journey is very scenic as it will pass through smaller islands between Coron and El Nido. This option includes 2 ferry rides with a total travel time of 14.5 hours. Expect to pay 3,700 PHP ($73).
AirSwift operates 4 direct flights from Manila to El Nido daily. Since El Nido is a prime location, the tickets are quite expensive, but this is probably your best option if you’d rather save time than money. You can expect to pay 3,500 PHP ($69) for a one-way plane ticket. Note that this can easily double during peak season or when you book your ticket late. The flight takes 1hr 20mins.
From El Nido Airport, you can take a tricycle to El Nido town. Fares start at 300 PHP ($6) for a trike that can fit 2 passengers with luggage.
Manila to El Nido via Puerto Princesa by Flight
Duration: 7 hours Cost: 1,850 PHP ($36)
If taking a ferry is too long of a trip but a direct flight is out of your budget, your best option is to fly to Puerto Princesa and then take a van to El Nido.
Step 1: Manila to Puerto Princesa by Flight
Duration: 1.5 hours Cost: 1,300 PHP ($25)
AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) offer multiple flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa. AirAsia and Cebu Pacific flights start at 1,300 PHP ($25) for a one-way ticket. During peak season, however, it can be 3 times more expensive. Book your flights in advance to avoid paying higher prices. The flight takes about 1.5 hours.
The flights depart from various terminals in Manila Airport, depending on the airline. Cebu Pacific departs from Terminal 3, Air Asia flies from Terminal 4, PAL from either Terminal 2 or 3. All planes land at Puerto Princesa International Airport.
Tip: Cebu Pacific and AirAsia offer many promotions annually. Keep an eye out for these promotions so you can book a cheaper flight for this route!
Step 2: Puerto Princesa to El Nido by Van
Duration: 5.5 hours Cost: 550 PHP ($11)
Upon arrival, head to the exit hall. Van drivers are usually present outside the exits and will happily guide you to their vans. If you feel uncertain, you can always ask the transport counter at the airport and they’ll be happy to assist you.
We recommend booking a van ride online beforehand so you won’t have to worry about anything at the airport. Also, you can already check their reviews to be assured that you’re travelling with a trusted company.
Fares start at 550 PHP ($11) and the journey takes 5.5 to 6 hours. You can check out our page from Puerto Princesa to El Nido for more info and schedules. If you’re ready to book your ride, just click the link below.
Klook is another option. This transfer costs 540 PHP ($10.50). Reviews for this route consistently get 4 out of 5 stars, citing friendly staff. Some reviews mention the lack of legroom and the van not leaving on time, but these are common occurrences when taking a van in the Philippines.
Manila to El Nido by Ferry
Duration: 14.5 hours excl transfer time Cost: 3,700 PHP ($73)
There are no direct ferry trips from Manila to El Nido. Since the ferry from Manila only heads to Coron, we advise you to spend at least a night in Coron before heading to El Nido via ferry.
Step 1: Manila to Coron by Ferry
Duration: 11 hours Cost: 1,900 PHP ($37.50)
The ferry trip from Manila to Coron takes 11 hours. 2Go Travel operates only 1 trip weekly, which departs at 19:00 on Fridays from Manila North Harbour Pier 4. For more information about the ferry trip, read how to go from Manila to Coron.
You can book your ticket directly at the 2Go Travel website or via 12go.Asia through the link below. Fares start at 1,900 PHP ($37.50) for air-conditioned tourist class. This is also available to book on 12go.Asia for a few dollars more. Just click the link below.