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