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Palawan

Getting around

Getting around Palawan is almost as easy as getting there, but be warned that road journeys can be time consuming, bumpy and frustrating (due to the local jeepney drivers observing the standard practice of not adhering to schedules). Using boats to travel up and down the island is also possible: two ferries travel up and down Palawan; and bangka can be hired for trips between points on the coast and offshore islands. Finally, air travel is remarkably speedy and efficient in Palawan, and it's certainly the way to go if you can afford it.

Boat

Travelling by boat is a good way to save money and avoid the discomforts of road travel. Two ferries ply routes along Palawan: Superferry, which connects Puerto Princesa and Coron; and Atienza Shipping Lines, which runs between Liminancong, El Nido and Coron.

There used to be regularly scheduled bangka services up and down the west coast of northern Palawan, connecting Sabang, Port Barton and El Nido. This has ceased operating though it is still possible to charter boats between these and other ports.

Of course, it's also possible to hire a bangka by the hour or day for trips between the main island and offshore islands and for island hopping. A typical day rate for island hopping within the Bacuit Archipelago, for example, would be from P1000 to P1500.

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Car & motorcycle

Road

Heavy-duty road trips are the norm in Palawan, and these trips are made by jeepney/bus hybrids (overgrown jeepneys with the seats facing forward). If you've got the cash, you can hire a private van or jeepney to cover long stretches (a good option for groups). Not only will you be able to see more of the scenery, you'll be in a better frame of mind to actually appreciate the view.

Note that the wet season in Palawan runs from June to September. During this time, roads may become impassable after a heavy rain. This isn't always the case, however, and you should not assume that just because it's the wet season, overland travel is impossible. It may just be a matter of waiting a day or two. And if worst comes to worst, you can always fly or take a boat.

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Air

SEAIR is the only airline that links destinations within Palawan. On Tuesday and Saturday, SEAIR flies from Manila to Busuanga, El Nido and Puerto Princesa and back again. SEAIR allows you to fly between the different points on its Palawan routes, so you can, for instance, pick up the flight at Busuanga to go to El Nido. SEAIR is adding routes all the time, and they fly additional routes in the high season, so it's worth checking their website or asking their agents about schedules and destinations. Conversely, be forewarned that during the low season they may 'merge' two flights into one if there aren't enough passengers. Sample fares and flight times include: Puerto Princesa-El Nido (P2315, 45 minutes) and El Nido-Busuanga (P2665, 30 minutes).

One bonus of flying around Palawan is the opportunity for great aerial sightseeing along the way: flying into El Nido from the south, for example, offers eye-popping views of the Bacuit Archipelago. And if you're in a hurry, 30 or 40 minutes relaxing in the clouds sure beats ten hours in a bumpy jeepney!

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