So luck of all lucks, we get to El Nido have a few days of the best weather we have had in a while and then it starts to rain. And it keeps on raining. I mean it has been four days of rain. That of cause doesn’t stop anyone from getting down and getting their vacation on. We’ve been in EL Nido for 2 weeks now and to be honest, we are loving it. It is a beautiful place, the beaches are amazing, and having the chance to spend some time with our friends is pretty ok, lol.
So what have we have learnt so far?
El NIDO: A town
El Nido is a small town 6 hours away from Puerto Princesa. It’s a touristic town, most of the buildings in El Nido are bars, tours shop, or hotels. Forget about the supermarket or the nice road. They are no lights and no stops. It’s safe. You can walk around with no fear. Coming back home at 4 in the morning is not a problem.
How To Get To El Nido
When you are booking your ticket you will probably be checking for flights straight to El Nido. Sounds fair but don’t. Instead get a ticket to Puerto Princessa and then from there take a van to El Nido. It will save you money. A fair price is 450 to 500 pesos. If your driver says 600 negotiate. Negotiation is a cornerstone of the culture. Also don’t forget there is the “foreigner tax” (the extra they will try to charge foreigners, cause they think you don’t know).
Negotiation! You Can Always Negotiate
If you are used to taking the prices of things according to the tags, you need to leave that tendency behind. Here you can negotiate and you will win most of the time. But remember to be fair.
The people are pretty cool. They are super nice and not only to people they know. They try to be helpful as much as possible. This can lead to problems because they hardly ever say they don’t know and will instead direct you in the wrong direction.
As a side note, if you invite a local to dinner or the bar, know that you are expected to pay.
Dress wise…the locals can be more conservative, so opt for covering up particularly the chest area. This of cause does not include the beach. In town, though things are different. You will probably not be confronted for revealing a little, but you may get a stare or two. If you reveal too much the locals may get offended so the sheer crop top may not be the way to walk around town.
Other than that, pack for heat. Shorts, loose fitting t-shirts and sandals are winners, anything else and you will be constantly waddling through pools of your own sweat.
Tricycles are the main means of getting around. If a motorcycle and a jeep had sex you would get the tricycle. They seat 5 people. Four in the passenger area and one behind the motorcycle driver. What they look like is not important what is important is that you make sure to tell them where you are going clearly and also make sure to tell them what you are willing to pay.
If you don’t they may take you for a ride literally and figuratively. Ask around to find out how much your ride may cost. Generally, it is 10 pesos within the town and upwards as you leave town. The most we have had to pay was Las Cabañas which was 150 pesos from town. All else fails to see rule 3.
Most of the people in El Nido use scooters or tricycle to get around. Since the streets aren’t large. However, it is still very safe. I haven’t seen any accidents. The plus is you can rent a motorcycle for a day/week/month at around 400 pesos/day. We suggest renting it for one day, do some sightseeing and then use the tricycles for everyday things. See number 6.
Do not drink the water! Ok that is a little alarmist, what I meant to say is do not drink the tap water, drink from those blue bottles that your hotel/Airbnb will have, look for Nido Life (Drinking water provider) . If you do drink the tap water you may end up with a few hours spent on Mr Loo, which will just be a stain on your holiday. However, it is totally safe to shower with it as well as brush your teeth and any such activities. Sometimes we even cook with it, but best to boil it first.
First World Problems
As a tourist area, you may find El Nido to be a bit more expensive than Puerto Princessa. But this is negligible, I spent a night out bar hopping to 6 bars and I only spent 10 dollars. And that was with drinking, eating and a whole load of other things. Check here for tweets of the night and bad pictures. I was already a little intoxicated when we started and I did stash a bottle of rum in my bag!
That being said, take note there are only two ATMs in the town, one at BPI bank and another at the Municipal Building. If there’s no power, which is really common, then the ATMs don’t work. You have to carry cash as card machines are not a thing in most restaurants or bars.
The internet can be rather slow, but who needs the internet with natural beauty like this? Well, writers and online freelance workers like me, but that’s another story. We were able to get great accommodations with excellent WiFi here.
To the Trumps of the world, these may seem bad, but it all blends together to make this a great and interesting places to stay and experience. Check out our first impressions of El Nido here.
El Nido has been great, we have seen and done so much. We have done everything from tourist stuff like boat expeditions, to helping out friends with renovating their coffee shop, to learning more about how things work around El Nido. And I have to say there have been numerous occasions when we have thought of just settling down here, but then the urge to travel keeps us on our toes. Another week or two in El Nido and it will be time to move on.