All the practical information you need to plan a trip to Palawan Island, from accommodation and transport to visa questions and other practical information such as currency, weather, safety, and much more.
Do I need a visa to visit Philippines?
Nationals from 151 countries may enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for a maximum of 30 days, provided they are holders of a passport valid at least 6 months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines.
Chinese Nationals, including citizens for Hong Kong and Taiwan, will need a special permit.
Do I Need A Return Ticket To Enter To The Philippines?
Yes, you will have to present a return or outward bound ticket to your country of origin or to the next country of destination.
Which vaccination and health precautions do I need?
There are cases of malaria in Palawan, especially in the wet season. The rural areas below the altitude of 600 meters are the most affected. The risk of malaria is generally low in urban areas.
It’s of utmost importance for travelers to protect from mosquito bites – this includes covering up, using insect repellent (te local brand, ‘Off’, works very well and is widely available) and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleep under an insecticide-treated bednet.
Antimalarial medication is highly recommended if you are planning to travel in the jungle and to high-risk malarious areas, remote from medical facilities.
Dengue, another mosquito-borne viral disease, is widely spread in Palawan, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas including Puerto Princesa and El Nido town.
Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by 2 of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.
The only protection against dengue is not to get bitten by mosquitoes – peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
Other mosquito-borne illnesses include Chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and filariasis, particularly during the wet season.
The World Health Organization (WHO)recommends all travelers should be covered for, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Varicella, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio.
It is recommended the vaccination against Hepatitis A and typhoid as there is a risk of getting typhoid and Hepatitis A through contaminated food or water.
If your trip will last more than a month, you should also consider vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Hepatitis B.
The annoying Sandflies, known locally as “Nik Nik”, can be found in Palawan, especially on the beaches. Sandfly bites may leave large, red itchy bumps that may turn into a rash. These bumps are frequently several times as itchy as mosquito bites and tend to last longer as well. Over-the-counter repellents with high concentrations of DEET works well against sandflies.
The box jellyfish and the Stonefishes are the most venomous animal, dangerous, and even fatal to humans. They are found in the coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific, including Palawan Island. The best way to protect against a stonefish sting is to wear shoes or sandals while walking the ocean and wear a wetsuit for protection against the jellyfishes.
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
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Yes. If you are travel to Palawan, make sure you have travel insurance to stop a medical emergency turning into a financial disaster as well. Private hospitals in Palawan Island are very expensive especially when the patient requires an air medical evacuation.
Who to contact in case of an emergency?
In case of hospitalization, you might be asked to pay the bill on spot, but you will receive get a receipt that will allow you to claim a reimbursement from your health insurance.
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 2244
MMG-PPC Cooperative hospital
54 Burgos corner Mabini Streets, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan 5300
Is Palawan Island a safe place? is safe for foreign tourist to travel to Palawan?
Northern Palawan and Puerto Princesa is a relatively safe place. Still, you need to be aware of pickpockets and bag-snatching. Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you, and always keep a copy of your passport separately from the actual passport. Thousands of foreigners travel every day to Northern Palawan without incident.
There is a high risk of kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Sulu Sea near the coast of Sabah, Malaysia. You should exercise extreme caution if considering travel to the southern tip of Palawan and it is recommended to travel there only if accompanied by an experienced local tour guide.
What are the main emergency numbers in the Philippines?
Emergency services 112 or 911
Police 117 or 168
Police & Fire 757 or 116
Tourist Hotline (632) 524 1728; (632) 524-1660
Dept. of Tourism Assist Line 524
Weather and natural disaster
What is the climate like in Palawan?
The climate in Palawan can be very different compared to other parts of the Philippines. Palawan Island has a tropical wet and dry climate with a pronounced dry season from December until June and a wet season from July until November. The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) although it can become chilly in the night time.
The best time to visit the island is in “summer” from late February to about mid-May.
The strongest rainfalls in Palawan are in August and September. But even in rainy months, there are dry days. The offseason, when the best rates are available and the island is less crowded is during the wet season.
The peak season is from December until April and during the most important public holidays.
Palawan may suffer from water shortages during the dry season. Most of the hotels are equipped with a water tank for storing liquid during the dry months, however, small boarding houses may not be so equipped and water may be available only early morning and late evening.
Is there any risk of Typhoons and Earthquakes in Palawan?
Due to its geographical position, Palawan Island is rarely hit by typhoons.
July, August, and September are the wettest season especially on Luzon and the Eastern Visayas and it’s the time when typhoons visit the Philippines, however, Palawan is usually not passed through by these severe tropical storms.
The tropical depressions and cyclones’ tails may lash Palawan during the wet season and they can last up to 5 days.
Palawan is considered one of the safest islands in the Philippine archipelago, there are no strong earthquakes and no volcano and it’s the only province that not lies on the ring of fire.
What will the weather forecast be like in the next days in Palawan?
To see the weather forecast for the next few days, click here to visit Pagasa website (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration). In addition to the weather forecast, Pagasa provides detailed updates on typhoons and floods.
Money and cost of living
The unit of currency is the peso (P), divided into 100 centavos. Banknotes in wide circulation come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.
ATMs are common in Puerto Princesa but may be more difficult to find in other places. There are only two in El Nido and Coron and sometimes they are unable to dispense cash or are offline due to the blackouts. Bring enough cash if you travel in the rural area and preferably book your tour and hotel in advance in order to avoid carrying lots of cash.
All cards are accepted at major hotels and shopping malls. Small and medium-sized businesses do not accept credit cards in Palawan and those few who accept them may charge a hefty 5 % commission.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at high-end hotels, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. For the latest exchange rate, check Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines)
The cost of living is cheaper than in other countries in South East Asia:
- Lunch at local restaurant = P 100-200 per person
- Dinner at local restaurant (seafood) = P300-500 per person
- 1 large pizza = P200
- 2 liters of Coca-Cola = P80
- Cappuccino = P90
- 1 bottle of San Miguel Beer = P60
- Tricycle ride (1 km) = P10 per person
- 1 package cigarettes = P50
In the Philippines electricity is 220 volts, 60 Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachments and two-pin round plugs are used. A transformer is necessary for appliances with electrical current of 110 volts.
The chronic shortage of electricity in the Palawan may lead to regular power cuts throughout the island. Most hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants are equipped with generators.
The most remote and isolated areas of Palawan are without electricity and many other rural places may have electricity a few hours a day only.
Internet and telecommunications
Internet services is still a challenge in Palawan. Except for Puerto Princesa city center where fiber-optic high-speed internet is available, you will hardly find a decent connection in all the other places.
Most hostels, guesthouses, hotels, cafes, and bars now offer free Wi-Fi but the speed is typically above average.
With regard to telecommunications, landline phones are not common in Palawan. Most small, medium-sized businesses use mobile phones to receive and make phone calls. Facebook Messanger is the form of communication widely used, rather than Whatsapp, Skype, and Telegram.
It’s possible to buy a local sim card to be able to make local calls and access the internet. Smart and Globe that are both active in Palawan, although Globe has a better coverage.
Most of the hotels are found in the capital Puerto Princesa. Accommodation range from luxury five-star hotels to pension houses and quaint beach bungalows.
El Nido and Coron are another two important hubs with a good choice of hotels and beach resorts.
The cost of the hotels varies depending on the category and location. The resorts on the islands in El Nido are much more expensive than the hotels located on the mainland.
There are many cheap pensions and guesthouses that are perfect for those traveling on a budget and also for large families and group of friends.
Those who want to stay in upper-class hotels and enjoy a luxurious atmosphere while traveling can opt for Sheridan Beach Resort. Lagen Island Resort in El Nido, Two Seasons Island Resorts in Coron and Amanpulo Resort for a VIP holiday.
Those who wish to stay longer in Palawan Island to enjoy the tropical climate, they can find a variety of vacations houses ranging from budget apartments to traditional rustic bamboo houses and luxury villas.
The main methods of transport in Palawan are tricycle, jeepney, long-distance bus, shuttle van, private vans and taxi.
Taxis are now operating in Puerto Princesa. Service is restricted to Puerto Princesa “proper”. Except for Puerto Princesa, there are NO taxis in other places in Palawan.
The Jeepneys, the symbol of the Philippines, and the “multicabs” are the cheapest way to travel around Palawan. They normally carry from 8 to12 passengers, but the more adventurous can sit on the roof of the jeepney for a unique travel experience.
Regular shuttle vans and long-distance buses depart daily from San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa to El Nido. A private van for tourists departs from the airport and can be hired with a driver for a private journey across Palawan.
There are a couple of ferry companies operating from Coron and El Nido. Other small islands can be reached by traditional boat ‘banca”.
Getting to Palawan
Visitors typically fly in via Puerta Princesa Airport and then connect to their local destination from there. There are other two smaller airports further north relevant for the majority of travellers:
~ Coron Busuanga airport: direct by flights from Manila, El Nido, and Puerto Princesa.
~ El Nido Lio airport: by flights from Manila, Cebu, Coron, Boracay and Puerto Princesa. Flights operated by Air Swift.
~ Puerto Princesa: direct flight from Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo.
2GO Travel, the country’s premier passenger ship company, offers scheduled ferry transfer from Manila to Puerto Princesa and Coron and from Puerto Princesa to Coron.
The ferry from Brooke’s Point ( South Palawan) to Kudat (Sabah, Borneo Malaysia will operate soon We will keep you updated as we know that there are many tourists interested in continuing their trip to Sabah, Borneo after their holiday in Palawan Island.