Palawan Practical Information

Your Comprehensive Guide for Planning a Memorable Trip

Palawan Island is a tropical paradise with stunning beaches and diverse wildlife, making it a popular destination for travelers. This guide provides practical information for a hassle-free trip, including accommodation, transportation, visa requirements, and more. It also covers currency exchange rates, weather patterns, safety tips, and cultural richness. With this comprehensive guide, you'll be well-prepared to experience Palawan's natural wonders.

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Nationals from 151 countries are eligible for visa-free entry to the Philippines for a maximum stay of 30 days, provided their passport remains valid for at least 6 months beyond their period of stay.

The list of countries that require a visa to enter the Philippines can be accessed by visiting the website of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs or the Bureau of Immigration. Updated information on visa requirements for foreign visitors is provided by these government agencies.

Furthermore, confirmation on the need for a visa for entry into the Philippines can be obtained by checking with the Philippine embassy or consulate in the individual’s home country. The embassy or consulate can provide the most current information and assist with the visa application process, if necessary.

Yes, visitors must present proof of a return or onward ticket to their country of origin or their next destination country upon arrival.

This policy ensures compliance with immigration regulations and helps to prevent travelers from overstaying their visas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Varicella, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio for all travelers. Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended as there is a risk of getting these diseases through contaminated food or water.

If the trip is longer than a month, vaccinations for Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, and Hepatitis B should also be considered.

Palawan has reported cases of malaria, especially during the wet season. The rural areas below 600 meters altitude are at the highest risk. However, the likelihood of malaria in urban areas is generally low. Travelers must take necessary precautions against mosquito bites by using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations, and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net. Pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides is also advisable. Antimalarial medication is highly recommended for those traveling to the jungle or high-risk malarious areas with limited access to medical facilities.

Dengue, another mosquito-borne viral disease, is prevalent in Palawan, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas such as Puerto Princesa and El Nido town. Symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle, and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. Travelers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, particularly during peak biting periods early in the morning and evening before dusk.

Other mosquito-borne illnesses such as Chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and filariasis are also present, especially during the wet season.

Palawan is also home to sandflies (nik nik) that leave large, itchy bumps similar to mosquito bites. Over-the-counter repellents with high concentrations of DEET are effective against sandflies.

The box jellyfish and Stonefish are the most venomous and potentially fatal animals in Palawan’s coastal regions. It is recommended to wear shoes or sandals while walking in the ocean and wear a wetsuit for protection against jellyfish stings.

Yes, it is highly recommended to have travel insurance when visiting Palawan to avoid financial strain in case of a medical emergency. Private hospitals on the island can be expensive, especially if air medical evacuation is required.

If you require hospitalization, you may be asked to pay the bill upfront, but you will receive a receipt that can be used to claim reimbursement from your health insurance. It’s important to keep your travel insurance information on hand in case of an emergency.

There are two private hospitals in Puerto Princesa:

Palawan Adventist Hospital
Junction 2 San Pedro Puerto Princesa City, Puerto Princesa, Philippines
Phone: +63 (048) 433 1247

MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital
54 Burgos corner Mabini Streets, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan 5300
Phone: +63(48)433 6137

Recommended items for a personal medical kit:

antibacterial cream
antibiotics for diarrhea
antibiotics for skin infections
antifungal cream
antihistamine for allergies
antispasmodic for stomach cramps
paracetamol for pain
steroid cream for allergic/itchy rashes

Palawan Island, particularly the northern region and Puerto Princesa, is considered a relatively safe place for tourists. However, like in any other tourist destination, pickpocketing and bag-snatching can still occur. As a precaution, it is advisable not to carry large amounts of cash with you and to keep a copy of your passport separate from the actual passport. Thousands of foreign visitors travel to Northern Palawan daily without any safety incidents.

On the other hand, the southern Sulu Sea near the coast of Sabah, Malaysia, poses a high risk of kidnappings of foreigners. If you’re planning to travel to the southern tip of Palawan, it is essential to exercise extreme caution and travel only with an experienced local tour guide. Following these safety tips and warnings can ensure a secure and hassle-free trip to Palawan.

National emergency telephone number: 911

The island has a tropical wet and dry climate, characterized by a dry season from December to June and a wet season from July to November. The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit), with cooler nights.

The best time to visit Palawan is from late February to mid-May, during the summer season. The peak season is from December to April, coinciding with major public holidays.

Although the strongest rainfall occurs in August and September, there are still dry days during the rainy season. Travelers can take advantage of the off-season rates during this time, as the island is less crowded.

Palawan Island is a safe destination when it comes to natural calamities such as typhoons and earthquakes. Its geographical location shields it from typhoons that typically affect the Philippines from July to September. While tropical depressions and cyclones may bring rainfall and winds to the island during the wet season, they rarely cause damage.

In terms of earthquakes, Palawan is considered one of the safest islands in the Philippines as it does not lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is known for seismic activity. Therefore, tourists need not worry about earthquakes or volcanic eruptions when visiting Palawan.

The weather forecast for the next few days can be viewed on the Pagasa website (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration). Detailed updates on typhoons and floods are also provided by Pagasa.

Palawan, Philippines is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse landscapes. Here are some must-visit destinations in Palawan:

El Nido – known for its limestone cliffs, clear waters, and beautiful beaches.
Coron – home to World War II shipwrecks, great snorkeling, and diving spots.
Puerto Princesa Underground River – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Port Barton – a laid-back beach town with a beautiful coastline and a great spot for island-hopping tours.

The most common methods of payment in the Philippines are cash, credit/debit cards, and mobile payments like GOCASH.

Major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in many establishments. However, it is still advisable to carry some cash for small purchases or in case of emergencies.

Major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and JCB are widely accepted in most establishments in the Philippines. Some establishments may charge a convenience fee or a surcharge when using credit cards, especially for small transactions. It is best to check with the establishment before using your credit card.

GOCASH is a mobile payment system that allows users to pay for purchases using their mobile phone. It is a cashless and contactless payment system that is becoming increasingly popular in the Philippines.

Palawan’s unit of currency is the Philippine peso (P), divided into 100 centavos. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos. While ATMs are common in Puerto Princesa, they may be more difficult to find in other areas. Major hotels and shopping malls accept all cards, but small and medium-sized businesses typically do not accept credit cards, and those that do may charge a high commission. Foreign currency can be exchanged at high-end hotels, banks, and authorized money-changing shops.

The cost of living in Palawan is relatively affordable compared to other Southeast Asian countries. For instance, lunch at a local restaurant costs around P200-500 per person, while dinner at a seafood restaurant costs around P500-800 per person. A large pizza costs about P300-400, a McDonald’s meal P160-200 while two liters of Coca-Cola costs P80-100. A cappuccino costs P100-120, and a bottle of San Miguel Beer costs P60. 

In Palawan, like the rest of the Philippines, the standard voltage is 220 volts and the frequency is 60 Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachments and two-pin round plugs are commonly used, so if you’re bringing appliances with electrical current of 110 volts, you’ll need a transformer to use them.

One thing to keep in mind when visiting Palawan is that power cuts are common due to the chronic shortage of electricity on the island. However, most hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants are equipped with generators to keep the lights on during these times.

It’s important to note that some remote and isolated areas in Palawan may not have access to electricity at all, while others may only have electricity for a few hours a day. Make sure to check with your accommodations or tour operator if you have concerns about electricity availability during your stay in Palawan.

When it comes to internet services, Palawan is still facing some challenges. While fiber-optic high-speed internet is now available in the major towns, it’s hard to find a decent connection in other places on the island. However, most hostels, guesthouses, hotels, cafes, and bars now offer free Wi-Fi, but the speed may be below average.

Regarding telecommunications, landline phones are not commonly used in Palawan. Instead, most small and medium-sized businesses rely on mobile phones for making and receiving calls. Facebook Messenger  and Viber are widely used for communication rather than other apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.

To make local calls and access the internet, you can purchase a local SIM card. Smart and Globe are both active in Palawan, but Globe has better coverage. Keep in mind that mobile network signal strength can be spotty in remote and isolated areas.

A range of accommodation options is offered by Palawan, catering to every budget and preference. From luxurious five-star hotels to humble beach bungalows, there is something for everyone.

The cost of accommodation depends on the location and hotel category. Island resorts in El Nido are generally more expensive compared to those on the mainland. Budget-friendly pensions and guesthouses are readily available for travelers on a tight budget.

For those seeking an indulgent and high-end experience, the luxurious Cauayan Island Resort, Pangulasian Resort, and Lagen Resort in El Nido, Two Seasons Coron Island Resort in Coron, and Amanpulo Resort are recommended.

Long-term visitors to Palawan can choose from various vacation houses, ranging from affordable apartments to traditional bamboo homes and opulent villas.

During peak travel seasons, availability may be limited. Therefore, it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance.

The main entry point for visitors to Palawan is the Puerto Princesa Airport, where they typically fly in and connect to their local destination from there. There are two smaller airports further north that are relevant for the majority of travelers:

~ Coron Busuanga Airport: direct flights are available from Manila, Cebu and El Nido.

~ El Nido Lio Airport: flights are available from Manila, Cebu, Coron, Boracay, and Bohol, and are operated by Air Swift.

~ Puerto Princesa: there are direct flights available from Manila and Cebu.

2GO Travel, the country’s premier passenger ship company, offers scheduled ferry transfers from Manila to Puerto Princesa and Coron, as well as from Puerto Princesa to Coron.

Transportation in Palawan is mainly facilitated by tricycles, jeepneys, long-distance buses, shuttle vans, private vans, and taxis. Taxis are available only in Puerto Princesa and operate within the city proper.

Jeepneys and multicabs are the most economical way to travel around Palawan, with a seating capacity of 8 to 12 passengers. For those seeking adventure, they can opt to sit on the roof of the jeepney for a unique travel experience.

From San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa, regular shuttle vans and long-distance buses depart daily for El Nido. Tourists can also hire private vans with drivers for a more personalized journey across Palawan.

Ferry companies operate from Coron and El Nido, while traditional boats or “bancas” can be used to reach smaller islands.

It’s important to note that availability and frequency of transportation options may vary depending on the location and season. It’s recommended to plan and book your transportation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.