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Practical Information for your holiday in Palawan Island

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.

 

ENTRY REGULATIONS 

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. 

For the list of 151 countries, please click here.

Chinese Nationals, including citizens for Hong Kong and Taiwan, will need a special permit.

 

Do I Need A Return Ticket To Fly To The Philippines?

 Yes, you will have to present a return or outward bound ticket to your country of origin or to a next country of destination.

 

HEALTH

Which vaccination and health precautions do I need?

There is a risk of malaria in some part of Palawan Island, especially during the wet season. Southern Palawan, jungle and rural villages are the most affected and there is a low risk in the urban areas.
Malaria and dengue are serious and occasionally fatal diseases that are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent (te local brand, ‘Off’, works very well and widely available) and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping 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 fever which is endemic in Palawan, is another infectious disease carried by mosquitoes that is sometimes fatal, especially for young children. The only protection from dengue is not to get bitten by mosquitoes. If you don't get bitten by mosquitoes, you won't get malaria either.
Other mosquito-borne illnesses include Japanese encephalitis and filariasis, particularly during the wet season.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all travellers 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.

There is no risk of yellow fever in the Philippines.

The annoying Sandflies ,also called Nik Nik, can be found in Palawan, especially on the pristine beaches in Sabang, TaytayPort Barton and El Nido. 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 aniaml, dangerous, and even fatal to humans. They are found in the coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific, including Palawan Island. The best way to guard against a stonefish sting is to wear shoes or sandals while walking the ocean and wear wetsuit for protection against the box jellyfish.

Recommended items for a personal medical kit:

  • antibacterial cream
  • antibiotics for diarrhoea
  • antibiotics for skin infections
  • antifungal cream
  • antihistamine for allergies
  • anti-inflammatories
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic for stomach cramps
  • DEET-based insect repellent
  • laxative
  • paracetamol for pain
  • Permethrin (to impregnate clothing and mosquito nets) for repelling insects
  • steroid cream for allergic/itchy rashes

 

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Yes. If you are travelling 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 which 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
Phone: +63(48)4343255

 

SAFETY

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 foreign in southern Sulu Sea near the cost of Sabah, Malaysia. You should exercise extreme caution if considering travel to 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 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 DISASTERS

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/ savannah climate with a pronounced dry season from December until June and wet season from July until November. The average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) although it can be become chilly in the night time. The best time to visit the island is from late February to about mid-May. The strongest rainfalls in Palawan are in September. But even in rainy months there are dry days.The off season, when the best rates are available and the island is less crowded is during the wet season. The peak period is March and April.

Palawan Island suffers from water shortages during the dry season. Most of the hotels are equipped with 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 and August is the wettest season especially on Luzon and eastern Visayas as typhoons usually visit the country this time of the year, but still Palawan is usually not passed through by these weather conditions. The tropical storms occur mainly in the wet season and lasts for about 2-3 days of incessant rain. Palawan Island 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 not on the ring of fire.

 

What will the weather forecast be like in the next days in Palawan Island?

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 available only in Puerto Princesa. There are NO ATM Machine in El Nido and other places in Palawan, so bring enough cash when travelling outside Puerto Princesa. Preferably book your tour and hotel in advance in order to avoid carrying lots of cash. ATMs are sometimes all offline due to the daily rotating brownouts and you may not be able to withdraw cash.

The main credit cards are accepted only at high hotels at hotels, some restaurants and a couple of shopping malls in Puerto Princesa (Robinson Place and NCCC Mall). Some shops accept credit cards but they may charge a hefty 6 or 7 % 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 other countries in South East Asia:

  • Lunch at local restaurant = P 80-100 per person 
  • Dinner at local restaurant (seafood) = P250 – 300 per person 
  • 1 large pizza = P150 
  • 2 liters of Coca-Cola = P64 
  • Cappuccino = P75
  • 1 bottle of San Miguel Beer = P60
  • Tricycle ride (less than 8km) = P10 per person 
  • 1 package cigarettes = P50

 

ELECTRICITY

In 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.

Currently in Puerto Princesa we are experiencing a 3-4 hours rotational brownout due to power supply insufficiency. Other less developed places on the island may be experience longer scheduled power interruption. Emergency generators are installed in high-end hotels and resorts, some restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals. However some small guesthouse and pensions are not equipped with generators. You can find the daily rotation brownout schedule on the Facebook page of PALECO (Palawan Electric Cooperative).


ACCOMMODATION

Most of the hotels are found in the capital Puerto Princesa. The accommodation possibilities range from luxury five-star hotels to pension houses and quaint beach bungalows. El Nido and Coron are another important hub with several hotels.
The cost varies depending on the hotel category. The cosy pension houses are obviously cheaper than hotels and are the ideal accommodation for large families and group of friends.

Those who want to stay in upper class hotels and enjoy a luxury atmosphere while travelling can opt for El Nido Resorts in Bacuit Bay and Taytay Bay, Huma Island Resort & Spa 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.

 

TRANSPORT

There are no flights around Palawan except from Puerto Princesa to Coron. The main methods of transport are tricycle, jeepney, bus, van, hire van (with driver) and taxi. Taxis (10 units at present) are now operating in Puerto Princesa. Service is restricted to Puerto Princesa "proper". Except Puerto Princesa there are NO taxis in other places in Palawan.The Jeepneys, the symbol of Philippines, and the multicab are the cheapest way to travel around Palawan Island. 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 van and bus departs daily from San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Private van for tourists departs from the airport and can be hired with a driver for a private journey across Palawan Island.


GETTING TO PALAWAN ISLAND

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:

~On Busuanga Island, the YKR Airport serves Coron town and the resorts of the Calamian Archipelago.
~ El Nido and the Bacuit Archipelago are served by the small privately owned Lio Airport and Island Transvoyager, Inc (ITI), which caters to guests of the offshore luxury resorts.


Cebu Pacific, Philippines Airlines and AirAsia Zest offer several flight between Manila and Puerto Princesa
Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airlines has also flights from Cebu and Iloilo.

2GO Travel, the country's premier passenger ship company, offer 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.