7 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to El Nido

//7 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to El Nido
  • 7 Things You Need To Know Before Coming To El Nido

7 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to El Nido

El Nido, Palawan is a tropical paradise. Its blue lagoon, its white sand beaches, its clear and clean water, its welcoming and friendly people, its sunny weather… This makes it a dream place to spend your vacations, for sure. But, as you know, nothing is perfect in this world. There are a few things you need to know before your arrival to avoid any disappointment or inconvenience and, above all, make your stay a pleasing and memorable one.

#1 There is no ATM in El Nido (Edit: Or they may be empty)

Despite being one of the most touristic place in Philippines, El Nido doesn’t have any international ATM. A lot of tourists are not aware of that when they arrive, leading to tricky situations where they desperately look for a place where to withdraw money. There are some solutions, which I addressed in a previous post: How to get cash in El Nido? But do yourself a favor and be far-sighted by bringing enough money with you in the first place. It will save you time and troubles!

Edit: There are now a couple of international ATMs in El Nido, which is great. The only issue is that they are very often empty starting around 4:00 or 5:00PM. That is especially true during high season. It seems that there are more people willing to withdraw than the capacity of the machines, so if you’d like to withdraw in town, plan to do it in the morning. It also happened that, for some reason, the ATM were off for several days. As a general rule, we still recommend to withdraw in Puerto Princesa to avoid facing the issue of ATMs being not available (because they’re empty, because of the power outages or for unknown reasons 🙂 ).

#2 Finding a place where to stay is not that easy…

…at least during high-season. But chances are that it’s exactly when you’ll come (the peak of the season is between december and march/april). A lot of tourists and travelers arrive at that time and have some difficulties to find a place where to stay in El Nido. For sure, you can still find something. But maybe it will be in a place that clearly exceeds the budget you planned to spend on your accommodation.  To avoid any inconvenience, you will be better booking beforehand. You can do it online, for example here: Booking.com – Hotels in El Nido.

#3 Connecting to the Internet can be tricky (understand: “very slow”)

For most people, this shouldn’t be such an issue. I mean, you’ll still be able to share on Facebook your 1 gigabit of beautiful pictures later on. But if you’re a digital worker and plan to stay for a while, be aware that finding a good Internet connection in El Nido is a hard task. Some hotels and guesthouses do have a good Internet connection, but don’t expect to get any high-speed browsing in most bars and restaurants.

#4 There is no medical clinic or hospital in El Nido

For sure, you don’t want to think about anything bad while traveling in such a beautiful place. But, as the saying goes: “Shit happens“. For minor medical cares, you’ll find three places where to go: the Medical City Center, the Rural Health Center, and the private office of Dr. Reyes. None of them can deal with serious medical conditions though. The nearest hospital is located in Taytay (1 hour away from El Nido) but in fact, any serious medical urgencies are to be transferred in Puerto Princesa, which is 4 and half to 5 hours away.

#5 There are no sidewalks in town

That’s right: no sidewalks. But this doesn’t mean one can walk in the middle of the street, like if it were a giant sidewalk. There is trafic, and by walking onto the street you will annoy the drivers and expose yourself to injuries if you were to provoke any accident. To know where to walk on the streets, look at the locals. You will see that they stay on the side and listen to the trafic coming in their back, to move off a bit more if needed. Just pay the same kind of attention and you will avoid having drivers honking at you every two minutes!

#6 Power cuts are common

Until October 2014, there was no 24h/day electrical supply. Electricity was only available between 3pm and 6am. It’s not the case anymore and you can normally get power all day. Nonetheless, blackouts still happen frequently. Most of the time, it’s only for a few hours. Sometimes, it can last longer.  Only real inconvenience of that is during the night, when your fan stop to work and that it gets really hot. But bigger hotels generally have their own generator, so if you stay in one of them you’ll barely notice.

#7 El Nido isn’t that cheap

Actually, El Nido is probably one of the most expensive places in the Philippines. Transportation, restaurants, bars, hotels – you name it! – everything will cost you sensibly more. This is simply because, yes, it’s a touristic place. Rest assured that it’s nothing compared to touristic places in the western parts of the world. But – and it relates to #1 – be sure to bring enough money with you to pay for everything you’d like to do once you’re there (and there are many super-cool things to do: island hopping, scuba diving, inland tours…)!

#8 It really is a tropical paradise

For sure, not everything’s perfect in El Nido. But the most important it that you will find there what you’re coming for: beauty, friendliness and a pleasing sense of simplicity. After you’ve done one of the El Nido island hopping tours, you’ll be comforted in the idea that you made the right choice coming here. You will simply be amazed at the beauty of the place: this IS a paradise. And you can even enjoy it without all the other tourists, as long as you do the smart moves (for example, by taking a private tour). Chances are that when you’ll leave El Nido, you’ll have only one wish: coming back!


Do you think I left some thing to know about El Nido aside? Don’t hesitate to tell it the comments below. And if we can be of any help in the planning of your trip, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to get in touch and help you have the best stay in El Nido!

Photo Credit: MrGaryLarson

2019-02-01T12:06:51+08:00August 14th, 2015|Life in El Nido|45 Comments


  1. Ana August 30, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

    “Chances are that when you’ll leave El Nido, you’ll have only one wish: coming back!“ I can totally relate to that… jajaja 🙂

    • Pierre September 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your message, Ana. Hope to see you back there one of these days! 🙂

  2. Rosie February 4, 2016 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Hi. Is there a place on el nido where we can rent underwater camera and water equipment like snorkles?

    • Jun Rafol February 18, 2019 at 2:42 am - Reply

      Yes they rent Go Pro cameras in town. Snorkels are provided free by island tour operators on board the boat.

  3. Pierre February 4, 2016 at 5:05 am - Reply

    Hi Rosie,
    We do have masks and snorkels for rent, but for the underwater camera, it might be a little difficult to find at the time being.

  4. Kevin June 12, 2016 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Just came across this and wanted to point out some updated info. There are now two banks that have ATMs here which take foreign cards. A full BPI branch opened in June 2016, and RCBC has two ATMs at the town hall.

    Additionally, you can purchase a Globe LTE sim card, and if your phone has LTE capabilities then you wont have an issue with connecting to the internet.

    Finally, there’s a GoPro shop close to Squidos restaurant.

    • Mat September 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      thanks for the update! We’ll be visiting the place in November, cant wait!!

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the update Kevin. Some ATMs did arrive in El Nido, which is great. Nonetheless, from repeated experience in the last couple of years, they are very often empty and unavailable starting at the end of the afternoon (especially during the high season).

  5. Natasha July 14, 2016 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I am planning to go to el nido this 6th Sept.. What u guys think of the weather that time? Kinda worried..

    • Pierre July 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Natasha,
      It’s still the wet season, but it really depends. You can have a great weather, or it can be covered, raining or even have a typhoon. It’s quite impossible to predict… That being said, generally speaking, Palawan is not as rainy as some other parts of the Philippines, which makes it also enjoyable during the low season. A lot of Korean tourists for example come during the months of July, August and September.

  6. maj September 12, 2016 at 1:16 am - Reply

    is it really that hard to find an accomodation to stay in el nido?

    • Pierre September 12, 2016 at 6:24 am - Reply

      Hi Maj,
      During high season, yes.

  7. Leo January 13, 2017 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Hi! I’m planning to go to El Nido by 4th week of February. Is it high season already?
    Thank you!

  8. Eric January 31, 2017 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    hey my family and i are planning to go in May of this year i just wanted to ask as far as booking and everything, how do i pay online coz the frequency that they have as an option at the checkout is only Php? we’re from texas.

    • Pierre February 6, 2017 at 1:10 am - Reply

      Hi Eric,
      You can pay online using a PayPal account or your credit/debit card. Please see here: https://www.elnidoparadise.com/booking
      The prices are all in PHP but the amount will be converted into your own currency by PayPal when you checkout.

    • Leizel May 6, 2019 at 10:28 am - Reply

      Is mineral water really expensive in el nido?

      • Pierre May 30, 2019 at 9:39 am - Reply

        Hi Eric,
        No worries about that, local drinking water is quite cheap. 🙂

  9. Yvette Marie Panaguiton February 2, 2017 at 2:04 am - Reply

    Hi how much the usual rate for a private tour for itinerary A and C?


    • Pierre February 6, 2017 at 1:11 am - Reply

      Hi Yvette,
      The rate for public Combo Tour A&C is P2,000/person. You can find all details about this tour here: Combo Tour A & C.

  10. Kaye February 5, 2017 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Hi there, we just got back here in Manila after 4 days stay in EL Nido. Indeed, it is a paradise. But please be reminded everyone not to eat seafood and always always bring bottled water. My bf and got hospitalized due to diarrhea and probably food poison. When we arrived at DR reyes’ clinic, there were few tourists as well who had the same complaint.
    My bf was too weak already and dehydrated thus we decided to admit him, for only 2 hours the doctor asked us to pay Php10,200. 🙁
    We noticed that’s the amount they ask from the tourists especially if you are a foreigner. It is too sad coz we feel like they take advantage of the tourists.

    • Pierre February 6, 2017 at 1:19 am - Reply

      Hi Kaye,

      It can indeed be difficult to find a doctor in El Nido… In addition to Dr Reyes office, there’s also the Medical Center, located at the entry of town when you come from Corong-Corong. This is probably a better option if you’re looking for a medical treatment in El Nido. Also, there’s the Rural Health Center, located next to the covered gym at the center of town.

      About the food and water: never drink water from the tap in El Nido (or in the Philippines)! But normally, in good restaurants, the sea products should be fresh and good to eat.

  11. Eric February 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    hey guys just wanted to ask if you’re coming from Manila and you want a direct flight from Manila to El nido are there any airlines that go straight to El nido? the ones that i saw were mostly Manila to puerto princesa and theyre telling us to just take a van from PP to El nido but i think it’s 6-8 hours if im not mistaken?

    • Kevin February 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      It’s not cheap, but: http://air-swift.com/

      • Eric February 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm - Reply

        any issues/concerns you had when you used airswift airlines?

        • Kevin February 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

          I haven’t used it but my friends have. The planes are small. No concerns though. It’s fancy but you pay for the convenience.

  12. ivan March 27, 2017 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Hello from PPC to EL NIDO get more or less 6 hours by Van , so I would like to make a stop during the trip , what you racommend as place for 1 day stop ?

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Ivan,

      The middle of the road would in Roxas, but this is not a place has no particular tourist activities (as far as I know, there are no tours at all). The other places are almost just as far as El Nido (Port Barton for example), so it wouldn’t really make it shorter. I would say Taytay, but Taytay is only 1 hour away from El Nido, so… My best advice would be to go for the full ride. 🙂

      If you want to require a 1-2 hours break on the road to El Nido, and take the time to eat in a nice restaurant, I would recommend to hire a private van and ask your driver to stop in Non La Aromasit in Roxas (filipino-vietnamese restaurant) or in La Guinguette (international food) located just a few tens of meters away.

  13. David Glass July 3, 2017 at 2:03 am - Reply

    I’ve been dreaming of visiting this magical paradise in the Philippines for many months now.

    Now Iam really going in September.

    I never thoughts dream would happen.

    I’ve been to the Philippines before in Puerto Galera.

    That’s when I first fell love with the Philippines.

  14. Tedwell October 17, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Hi! Been to Puerto Princesa this last September with my family, and I, being Filipino, talked to tourist guides, and
    they really recommend El Nido tour. Planning to do that next time. According to them December and summer season is the
    peak season, so expect heavy tourist arrivals, both foreign and local, and higher prices. SM and Robinsons mall, bars and restaurants, fast food chains, souvenir shops, etc. is quite concentrated at Puerto Princesa. So, after our everyday tour, we enjoyed exploring the city with ourselves. Transportation is also not a problem, considering their honest drivers, and cheap fair (only 10PhP per head on a tricycle) while all you want to visit is concentrated in the city, you’ll never spend heavy on transportation fares. Going back to my plan, I’ll book a flight and accomodation at Puerto Princesa, then book a tour at El Nido for a day or three, then the last day/night stay at Puero Princesa (for rest and shopping for pasalubong/gift..:), and book a morning flight back to Manila the following day. Tips: 1.)Google map the vicinity you would like the stay/visit, 2.)Souvenirs are a lot cheaper in Puerto Princesa (because it is where the supplies comes from), 3.)Majority of hotels in Puerto Princesa from the Airport is just 5 to 15 minutes away on average (see tip #1), 4.) ATM machines not a problem, especially at SM and Roninsons mall, 5.) September month is not a peak season, so it’s not crowded, prices are normal, only experienced about 1 hour of rain on one of our island hopping tour, 6.) Got some of these tips from a fellow tourists and professional tourist guides! Happy touring everyone!!

  15. Bambam January 11, 2018 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Hello. I will be going to El Nido by July .. I really liked the spot there on your cover photo. Where is that place in El Nido ? How to get there. wanted to have that Pic as well with that background. 🙂

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Bambam,
      This is taken from the Taraw cliff in El Nido. 🙂 You can get there with a guide, but there are many times this climbing is not allowed. The best is that you just come to our office and we’ll check if it’s possible to organize it for you on the day of your choice. 🙂 You can find our address and details here: https://www.elnidoparadise.com/contact/

  16. Rozaini Delphaut February 21, 2018 at 7:01 am - Reply

    Hii . I really enjoy reading your articles. But 1 more thing that I wanted to know, if there’s day care that I could send my daughter . I will be at el nido this october for 10 days for snockling and diving . Waiting for your reply.. thanks in advance.

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Rozaini,
      At the time being, I never heard of anyone offering that kind of services in El Nido, but it sure would be very convenient for parents traveling with young kids! Maybe one day… 🙂

  17. sehar March 6, 2018 at 6:42 am - Reply

    hi you said there is no hospital, how safe is it to travel with a serious allergy to nuts and peanuts. If anything where to happen would the clinic be able to treat that?

    • Pierre March 11, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Sehar,
      I couldn’t answer that, the best is probably to ask your doctor. The nearest hospital is in TayTay (60 kms) and the ones with the more modern equipments are in Puerto Princesa (280 kms). Any serious condition is generally redirected to Puerto Princesa. If you have a condition that would require some rare and specific medication you should definitely bring some with you, just in case. That being said, as I stated I’m in no way entitled to prescribe any kind of behaviour/recommendation upon that matter. Checking up all that with you doctor before coming here is the only definitive advice I can give you.

  18. Jennifer April 17, 2018 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Wondering where the locals deliver babies? Do they travel to taytay or deliver at home?

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennifer,
      It’s possible to deliver in the medical center, so I would think that’s the easiest way. But it’s also possible in Taytay, or in Puerto Princesa. Regarding delivering at home, there’s a penalty from the government for people who do. As far as I know, it’s a national policy.

  19. Merle Malan April 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    What is the weather like in El Nido for month of July? This is the only time we can visit the island as my kids are on school vacation. What is the good place to visit this month time of July. Is the beach still safe?

    • Pierre September 20, 2018 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Merle,
      It depends, as it’s impossible to predict the weather, but it’s during the rainy season, so there’s much more chance of rain than during the dry season (November to May).

  20. Marylou November 17, 2018 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    Hi we’re planning to visit Palawan . I’m a bit confuse where to stay ? Get a direct fly to el nido or puerto princesa ? The nice places to explore is in el nido ? Is it cheaper to stay in PP then travel to el nido for one day ? And can you tell me which best places to explore in PP and El Nido because our days is just limited . Will be in Palawan for only three days . Thank you

  21. Andrew January 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Not a good suggestion to carry lots of cash around in El Nido. I lived there for 2 yrs and during that time our Japanese friend who owned a small resort was murdered in her bed by 2 men with machetes who went on to ransack her house. As far as I know at least one of the supposed men have been caught, but local law enforcement leaves a lot to be desired there.

  22. Candy April 30, 2019 at 3:43 am - Reply


    I’ve read the weather is good in January, but I’ve heard the water is choppy? Thoughts??

  23. Jeff May 1, 2019 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Finding it hard to contact accomodation places like Ogies, Chislyk etc.Tried phoning, but it comes back as cannot be reached or cannot be completed, or unattendend out of covered area. Is it my phone or theirs that’s not working? No response to email or text yet.

    • Pierre May 5, 2019 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeff,
      The SIM cards can be bought freely here in the Philippines and they also get deactivated after a couple of months if no load is bought. That can explain why a lot of numbers here are not reachable and/or outdated. We couldn’t tell you about these particular places though, but it’s a common phenomenon here…

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