Sunday, May 18, 2014

El Nido: The Lowdown

As promised, here's a more detailed post about my trip to El Nido. I have to warn you though, this may also come off as a rant post because our travel agent, Juanderer Travel and Tours, was so inefficient we ended up having a big "discussion" on the bangka in El Nido cause we were so mad at our agent.

We scheduled our trip around Labor day so we wouldn't have to be absent from work for too long. So we left Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to go back on Saturday morning. Here's a brief lowdown of what we had in mind:

Day 1: Puerto Princesa Night Life
Day 2: Puerto Princesa Underground River, Travel to El Nido in the afternoon
Day 3: Explore El Nido (Island Hopping Tour Package A)
Day 4: Explore El Nido (Island Hopping Tour Package B)
Day 5: Travel back to Puerto Princesa, Flight to Manila

Day 1: Puerto Princesa Night Life
Since our flight was delayed, we arrived in Puerto Princesa at around 7:30 pm. We were tired but were also very hungry so went to Kinabuch's Bar and Grill, which is one the more famous restaurants in Puerto Princesa.
The place was packed when we arrived so we didn't get to sit immediately. You also dine al fresco, which is nice cause Palawan's weather is very pleasant. I ordered the tofu bistek which to my suprise was very, very good! I could go back to Palawan for this ;)

One of things that Kinabuchs offers is their crocodile meat sisig! One of my friends got this and she says it tastes just like any other meat. Kinabuchs also cooks it spicy which adds to its appeal.

After a few drinks at Kinabuchs, we headed back to our hotel and had more drinks at a nearby bar:
We told the waiter it was my birthday (but it really isn't) so they got me candles and the band sang me happy birthday. lol! The cool thing about the place is that they offer  Palm Reading on weekends, too bad we arrived on a Tuesday, would have loved to have our palms read :)
It was only midnight and still pretty early (by Manila standards) so me and two of my friends looked for another bar that was still open (restaurants in Puerto Princesa close at midnight) and found ourselves in Tiki Bar:
I was pretty drunk at this point so excuse the red face :P
Let's just say that after day 1, our Palawan adventure was starting out to be awesome-- that is until the morning after.

Day 2: Puerto Princesa Underground River (a rant portion)
We were so excited to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR). Even if our main destination was El Nido, we really wanted to squeeze in a trip to PPUR since we're already in Palawan anyways. Well, what have you, when our travel agent picked us up, his first statement was, "I have bad news..." Wow, that's never the best thing to hear from your travel agent...ever. Turns out we didn't have tickets for PPUR. He wasn't able to get tickets and so he took his chance by walking in that morning to get us tickets. We all know what happened. We were so pissed off at him, even if he offered to take us on the Honda Bay tour instead, we just couldn't shake off our annoyance so we just decided to go directly to El Nido, hoping things will be better once we get there.

The land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido is super challenging! It's no joke when they tell you that the travel can be tough. It's not that roads are not cemented, it's that it winds up and down, and spirals endlessly, it's impossible not to get dizzy! If you're going to El Nido, please do yourself a favor and hire a private van. It's very important that you be comfortable in your transportation and have room to maneuver. We were so beat up and tired from the journey that we just wanted to get to our hotel and lie down.

Well, apparently that was just a dream. Our travel agent booked us in Tres Verdes Resort, which is the worst resort ever in El Nido! Our agent's first mistake was he didn't inform them that we would be arriving earlier so our room wasn't prepared yet. We were six in the group and was supposed to stay in one room but the room we were given obviously couldn't fit six. They added another single "bed" (it was an old rattan bed) and pushed the other beds together so we could have one long bed space. It was very small, but the worst part was the place was dirty! The sheets didn't look clean, there were lizard poop on the bed, the beds were rickety, the bathroom was dirty beyond words (*vomit*) and we even saw a centipede on the bathroom floor.

At that point, we were ready to throw in the towel. Our second day in Palawan was turning out to be really bad! We tried to turn it around though by having dinner at Sea Slugs, which is right on El Nido beach. The whole time during dinner though we were on our phones looking for another place to stay. The thought of going back to that rickety place was too much for us, we didn't feel like we were on vacation. After dinner, we went around, walked in hotels around the area and after a few minutes found us another place to stay (which was way better, and within our budget!).

We talked to our travel agent and went back to Tres Verdes Resort to get our things. When were about to leave though, our agent asked me and my friend if the owner could talk to us. So we did. After sitting, the owner asked, "Saan nyo nakita yung alupihan?" (where did you see the centipede?), I answered, "sa banyo" (in the bathroom", then he replied sarcastically, "dapat pinatay nyo para may ebidensiya" (you should've killed it so you have evidence). WOW. If our travel agent didn't butt in at that point, I am telling you, I would have probably mouthed off that rude man!

To the owner of Tres Verdes Resort in Corong-corong beach, El Nido Palawan, this I have to say: May I remind you that you are in the hospitality business. It is your duty to ensure that you provide GOOD SERVICE to your customers. Your customers do not have to prove anything to you because first of all, WE ARE PAYING FOR YOUR SERVICE. Your "resort" (if that is what you call that shabby place) is not as spectacular as you think. It is dirty, the rooms are small, and the advertising is all wrong! "beach front property" -- well yah, except that that part of the beach looks more like a dock than a beach, complete with green algae (yuck, puro lumot!) and large rocks. And full moon party, my arse. Most of all, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE RUDE. Regardless of whether we enjoyed staying (briefly) at your resort or not, you have no right to say those things to us. You should have been apologetic! I cannot believe you called us, made us sit in front of you, only to question us and be rude. You are very disrespectful, arrogant, and you deserve all the bad publicity you are receiving now.


After this annoying experience, we transferred to our new accommodation, Garnet Hotel. Garnet Hotel is such an amazing place! We got one big room at the penthouse for all six of us at Php3,600 per night. For Php600 per person, that is a really good deal! Garnet Hotel is a hotel in every sense of the word. It does look and feel like a hotel. Plus the room was really huge, we had three double beds and a couch inside. The bathroom was also spaceous and clean (yehey!). The fact that we got the penthouse room was also major plus! And oh, they even have unlimited coffee in every floor! Thank you Garnet Hotel for saving our vacation!

Day 3: El Nido Island Tour (Package A)
We were so excited for our first tour around El Nido because even if we were on our Day 3 already, we haven't seen much of Palawan yet (ugh, mishaps!). We were told we had a private tour so we were surprised when we saw three other people on the boat with us! It's not that we weren't friendly but we didn't appreciate the misinformation our travel agent gave us. Another early morning "surprise" from the best tour agent everrr.

The El Nido Package A tour includes the small lagoon, big lagoon, secret lagoon, Shimizu island, and seven commandos beach. The tour was really nice! I particularly enjoyed the small lagoon and shimizu island where we went snorkeling. I can't believe I actually swam with fishes in the middle of the sea! Thank you, lifevest!

Day 4: El Nido package B 

We were excited for this day because it was technically our last full day in El Nido. However, while randomly having a conversation with our driver, we learned that we were to leave by 6 pm that night. 6 pm? We haven't even returned from our tour by then! We were so mad because our travel itinerary indicated that we were to leave at 10 pm. Why, another "surprise"? At that point we had enough of surprises from our travel agent so we cornered him on the boat and gave him a good long sermon. He was so inefficient as a travel agent and instead of the feeling of not having to worry about your trip, we were on edge the whole time because of him. It was also very annoying that he was acting like he was on vacation too. While we were very annoyed at how things were not working out on our trip, there he was enjoying his morning swim. We tried hard not to throw him off the boat but he did get a good scolding from us. We're trained diplomats and we really, really tried our best to be understanding and keep our cool but our buttons can only be pushed so much. It was really bad, we were all very quiet for the first few minutes on the way to the islands. And oh, we had a weird itinerary because there was a miscommunication between our travel agent and the bangkeros. They didn't know where to take us. So went to entalula, pinagbuyutan island, cathedral cave, sand bar (our request) and pangulusian beach (also our request).

We ended up leaving at 9 pm instead of 10 pm which was still annoying on our part cause our flight was at 9 am and we'd be arriving in Puerto Princesa by 2 am. 6 hours waiting time? And can you believe our travel agent didn't even ensure we had somewhere to go to at 2am? We eventually decided (on our own) that we'll just have them drop us at a 24-hour Mcdonald's branch. But it was still very annoying. Our travel agent didn't even send us off or say goodbye. It was so bad! We were at McDonald's like homeless people with our backpacks, sleeping on the tables. It was so horrible and embarassing!

If not for how beautiful El Nido is, our vacation would have been the worst. I've never felt so aggitated while on vacay as much as during that trip. I blame our travel agent Rene Abueg of Juanderer Travel and Tours for that. And he deserved the humiliation he got on the boat and the bad publicity he is getting now. We paid good money for a trip that should have been one of the best we've ever had but we were served with rudeness, inefficiency, lack of concern, disrespect for our time and effort, and unprofessionalism. We are working people too and we do our jobs well, so we were so disappointed to meet someone who doesn't do his work well and doesn't even care if he keeps disappointing his clients. I hope you learn your lesson, Rene.

I'm sorry if this turned out to be a rant post but I'm just being honest and you know how I'm not very good at sugarcoating things, I like saying it as it is. This blog post may not even mean much to anyone, but for all the trouble that we went through, and how rude a lot of people were to us on this trip while we remained calm, this is my payback.

Thank you El Nido for being beautiful, despite the mishaps and all.

Related post: Take me to papapa-paradise! (El Nido in pictures)


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Great place, people and food! :) I am planning to have a trip the same as yours. May I know what travel agency you're with?
    Boracay TV /

    1. We had a travel agent when we went but it was a really bad experience so I won't recommend them to you. But that doesn't mean El Nido is not worth the trip because it is! It's also really easy to go, even without a travel agent so you have time, I highly suggest you DIY. If not, please choose an agency with a good solid reputation. Have fun!


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