The Perfect 10 Day Palawan Itinerary
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Tucked away in South East Asia is a magical, emerald archipelago known as the Philippines. This heavenly paradise is a chain of over 7,000 islands and islets featuring dramatic scenery and thousands of species of animals, some still being discovered by scientists.
In recent years, the Philippines has become a top tourist destination for all types of globetrotters, especially for those looking for cheap places to travel in Asia.
Pristine beaches, colorful coral reefs, and majestic rainforests and mountains are all waiting to be discovered. While many locations in the area cater to tourists, there are also some untouched places to find some quiet time.
If you're unsure where to begin, this 10 day Palawan itinerary will give you the real island experience, visiting off-the-beaten-path spots mixed with some famous tourist attractions. Continue reading to learn more!
10-Day Palawan Itinerary
- Coron Mainland
- Coron Island
- El Nido
- El Nido Tour A
- More of El Nido
- Port Barton
Port Barton Island Hopping Tour
- Puerto Princesa
- Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour
- Lipuun Point Reservation
- Palawan Travel Tips - Common Questions
Palawan 10-Day Itinerary Video
Check out our highlights video of the stops covered in this Palawan itinerary.
Palawan 10-Day Itinerary Map
A map of Palawan. Use the map to explore all the days and stops.
Your Palawan trip will begin in Coron by flying into Francisco B. Reyes Airport. Once you arrive, you can spend a couple of days exploring the town, along with Coron Island, before continuing to El Nido.
You can, of course, start your first day in Palawan in Puerto Princesa if this is where you land. Just change the days of this Palawan travel itinerary around to suit your schedule!
During your day looking around Coron's mainland, you can go to Maquinit Hot Spring, hike to the Mount Tapyas Viewing Deck, and then go back to town to check out the local shops and businesses.
While you can do these things alone, joining a guided Coron Town tour is a great idea. This tour goes to all mentioned attractions and landmarks like Lualhai Park and St. Augustine Church.
Maquinit Hot Spring
Located about 30 minutes from central Coron, Maquinit Hot Spring is a scenic place to unwind and relax. You can go to the hot spring at any time of the day, but it's generally the least busy early in the morning.
It's also a nice place to go for sunset if your schedule allows it. During a visit, you can swim and take in the breathtaking views. Don't forget to snap some photos as well!
Mount Tapyas Viewing Deck and Coron Sign
On the way back from Maquinit Hot Spring to Coron Town, you can spend a couple of hours (there and back) hiking to the Mount Tapyas Viewing Deck. As you get close to the viewing deck, you'll also see the Coron Sign.
The hike up Mount Tapyas consists of 700 steps. While these steps are not particularly steep, the time it takes you to reach the top depends on your fitness level. Once at the top, you can snap photos of the Coron Sign and admire panoramic vistas.
If you're exploring alone and not on a tour, you could also do this hike first before carrying on to Maquinit Hot Spring. Then make your way back to Coron Town, picking up any other landmarks you want to see along the way.
After a fun first day exploring Coron, you can head back to the central part of Coron Town to visit some more attractions and head to one of the local bars and restaurants for dinner and drinks. As there are many great bars, you could also have a fun evening bar hopping at spots popular with both tourists and locals.
There are many top Palawan tourist spots to go to during your day of exploration on Coron Island. One of the most well-known sites to see is a collection of Japanese WWII shipwrecks.
These wrecks can be seen via dive and snorkeling tours and are surrounded by colorful marine life. Shipwrecks to see include Akitsushima, a seaplane tender, and Olympia Maru, a freighter ship. You can also simply sunbathe on the sand or snorkel in the clear, warm water.
As with other places in Palawan, some tours are available. Taking one of these tours is a great option and will allow you to see all the top sites. One of the best tours to take is a Coron Island boat tour, which is covered on this day of the itinerary in more detail.
Another tour option is booking a lagoon and lake hopping tour. On this excursion, you will visit Kayangan Lake, CYC Beach, and the Twin Lagoon, among other attractions. All tours include lunch and transportation to and from the mainland.
Skeleton Wreck is one of the WWII shipwrecks to see on Coron Island, and it's also the first stop on your island tour. As this wreck is located near the water's surface, you can snorkel around it.
While snorkeling, you'll be able to see the wreckage and many tropical fish. If you want to get a more in-depth look at all the shipwrecks, book a separate scuba diving tour.
The next stop on your Corron Island tour is Barracuda Lake. This beautiful emerald lake is a combination of freshwater and saltwater and features cooler water and areas that are hot spring-like. At the lake, you can swim or do some more snorkeling, all while taking in the stunning greenery-covered cliffs that tower above the water.
After lunch and before heading back to the Coron mainland, you'll go to the popular Twin Lagoon. As the name suggests, this site is comprised of two lagoons that sit next to each other.
They both feature breathtaking crystal blue water that's perfect for cooling off with a swim. You can also spot marine life by doing some more snorkeling.
El Nido is not only an adventurer's paradise where you can explore by land, sea, or sky, but it is also a popular destination among couples. There are plenty of things to do in El Nido, both thrilling and relaxing.
You can ride the ferry from El Nido to Coron and vice-versa at an affordable rate. If you decide to skip seeing Coron, you can fly into El Nido from Manilla. You can also fly direct from Coron to El Nido, which takes around 40 minutes.
Once you arrive, you'll spend your first day in El Nido exploring a local market and visiting a waterfall. You can also visit a few beaches if you have time, with the option to go to either or both Nacpan Beach and Las Cabanas Beach.
El Nido Public Market
Start the day bright and early with the locals by visiting El Nido Public Market. The market opens every day at 5.30 AM, not that you have to be up that early as the marketplace remains open into the evening.
At the market, you can find a variety of colorful, local fruits and vegetables and other treats, like freshly baked bread and homemade sweets. The local market is also the perfect place to stock up on goodies for your adventurous day ahead.
No matter what time you go, you will surely find something to tantalize your tastebuds! Additionally, you can find handmade trinkets to bring home for your family and friends or as a souvenir for yourself to remember your Philippines trip.
Nacpan Beach is an optional stop to go to before your next stop, Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. Another option is visiting the waterfall first and then going to the beach before returning to central El Nido. The beach and waterfall are about a 15-minute drive apart.
At Nacpan Beach, you can sunbathe or take a tranquil coastal walk. The water is also ideal for swimming, and there's a beachside restaurant if you want to stop for refreshments.
A can't-miss activity to add to your Palawan island itinerary is swimming at a waterfall. When in El Nido, you can go to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. This reasonably popular swimming spot can be reached after a short hike.
The walk will take you through a thick, lush forest and over small streams, ultimately ending at two waterfalls with a refreshing pool to swim in.
Las Cabanas Beach
After the waterfall and Nacpan Beach, head back towards where you were earlier, but a bit further south, to reach Las Cabanas Beach.
While you can relax on the sand, one of the more exciting things to do here is to zipline between the islands. The zipline runs from Las Cabanas Beach to Depeldet Island.
After ziplining, soak up the sun on the sandy beach. You can relax with some local beer or tasty local treats. You could also spend the whole day at Nacpan Beach instead of visiting this attraction, before returning to the main part of town in the evening.
El Nido Tour A
The lagoons dotted around El Nido are best experienced by booking a tour. A popular option is joining the El Nido Island Hopping Tour A. Everything, including lunch, is taken care of for you, which lets you sit back, relax, and enjoy the magical atmosphere of El Nido's mystical lagoons.
If you want to explore inside the lagoons, you will need to hire a kayak. They are usually pretty cheap and can be found near the entrances of most of the lagoons, which is also where your tour boat will drop you off for a set amount of time.
You can also snorkel in the lagoons, with snorkeling equipment available to rent, or you can bring your own gear. Just bring some extra cash for rental fees, as payment by card generally won't be accepted.
While not included on this tour, the Small Lagoon is also popular with tourists. If interested in visiting that attraction, you can go on a hidden beaches and lagoons tour, which includes a stop at the Small Lagoon and many other natural attractions.
The Secret Lagoon is the first stop on your lagoon-hopping tour. To get to the attraction, you will have to walk along the reef and across a small beach through a small opening in the limestone.
As it is a popular tourist spot, it does get crowded, though this shouldn't deter you from visiting. You should definitely wear some form of water shoes to help you walk in the spikier areas.
The lagoon is protected by majestic limestone cliffs that shoot up into the sky. These cliffs also protect the clusters of bright green trees growing from them, which creates a beautiful contrasting backdrop, perfect for Instagram photos!
Shimizu Island is the next magical stop on this lagoon tour. The island, originally named after a Japanese diver, is definitely a place to include on your Palawan trip itinerary.
Shimizu does not fall short of views reminiscent of the previous Palawan islands you have already explored. There are hundreds of colorful tropical fish to see when snorkeling, coral reefs to swim through, and tranquil, warm water to float around in.
Seven Commandos Beach
Seven Commandos Beach is the next place you'll stop on El Nido Tour A. The gorgeous coconut tree-lined white sand beach is the ideal place to sunbathe, go for a tranquil walk, and snap some fantastic photos. You can also hop in the warm, clear water to swim and snorkel.
Do note that this natural attraction is only accessible by boat, and tourists can generally only get to it when on a tour. Therefore, if you're on the fence about booking a tour but definitely want to see Seven Commandos Beach, opting for an excursion is the best choice.
The Big Lagoon
The Big Lagoon is your last stop of the day and, arguably, the most beautiful place to visit on the tour. The Big Lagoon can also only be reached by kayak, but don't let that discourage you from exploring this stunning lagoon.
The lagoon is so big that despite the crowds, you can find caves and crevices amongst the sheer limestone cliffs to explore on your own. The Big Lagoon is also home to beautiful coral and fish; sometimes, you can even spot sea turtles!
More of El Nido
Honestly, you need more than a few days in El Nido to experience all it has to offer. If you can spare an extra day, you'll get to see even more attractions. On a third day in El Nido, you can discover the Secret Beach and the Matinloc Shrine on Matinloc Island.
Matinloc Island is usually included in 'Tour C' packages from El Nido, a full-day tour. However, as you already did a full-day, island-hopping tour yesterday, partnering up with a few other travelers and hiring a private boat for a half-day or full-day tour can be a fun and different way to explore some other islands.
This can be relatively inexpensive, depending on how many other people you find, and allows you the flexibility to visit some of the more hidden secret areas. You can also visit the more popular locations at less busy times.
On the way back to the main town, you can go to Dilumacad Island before spending an evening relaxing at the stylish SAVA Beach Bar.
"Secret Beach" on Matinloc Island
Matinloc Island is known for its "Secret Beach." Secret Beach, or Hidden Beach, is a small white sand beach hidden away amongst karst cliffs that can only be accessed by swimming through a bit of tunnel between cliffs.
The water and reefs surrounding the island are ideal for snorkeling and swimming. The clear and tranquil water makes it easy for you to swim amongst the vibrant fish and colorful coral.
You could book a guided tour to visit Secret Beach. You'll be taken to other popular places as well, like Tapiutan Beach and Matinloc Shrine.
The Matinloc Shrine was built in the 1980s. Its proper name is the Shrine of Our Lady of Matinloc. It has mostly been left to the elements, making it a beautifully eerie place to visit and take photos.
There is also a small gazebo part where you can walk around and learn a little more about the abandoned shrine and Matinloc Island.
This island looks like a helicopter from afar, thus adopting the nickname 'Helicopter Island.' Dilumacad Island is lined with lush and mountainous jungles and is surrounded by tranquil waters and a pristine sandy shoreline.
Experienced divers can check out an underwater tunnel that lies nearly 40 feet under the sea. The tunnel is home to an array of fascinating sea creatures, including the moray eel, ringed pipefish, and the electric oyster.
If you're not a diver, snorkeling is a great alternative. Of course, you can also relax on the beach with a good book, and staying for the sunset is recommended.
SAVA Beach Bar
One of the more popular beachfront bars amongst tourists is the SAVA Beach Bar. It offers drinks and cocktails, dancing, music, and bar snacks, as well as a relaxing ambiance.
If you want to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere, head on over during the early evening. However, if you want to experience El Nido nightlife, wait a few hours and go over later in the night for music, dancing, and drink specials.
Port Barton is not typically at the top of a tourist's "what to do in Palawan" list, making it much more special. This quaint part of Palawan is laid back and tranquil - a true hidden gem.
To get here, you can take a shuttle bus from El Nido for 4-5 hours. If you like the sound of Port Barton, you could also skip day five of this perfect Palawan itinerary and instead spend three full days in Port Barton. However, two days will generally be enough to see what this area offers.
During your first day in the area, you can take a relaxing hike to the scenic Pamuayan Falls. You can then spend the afternoon relaxing at the beach. The beaches here are the perfect place to unwind after a few busy days visiting the top tourist spots in Palawan.
Not far from the city center, you'll discover a lush and vibrant jungle with a small but refreshing waterfall, Pamuayan Falls. If you decide to hike from Port Barton, it can take 3 hours total there and back. Depending on what time of the year you visit, it will have a varying amount of water falling over its edge.
The pool at the edge of the falls is cool and revitalizing; as the hike there can get hot and humid, taking a dip will be very refreshing! Don't forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen for your adventure.
Port Barton Beach
After enjoying the waterfall, you can head back to Port Barton Town to relax on Port Barton Beach. The beautiful attraction has white sand shores and warm waters to swim in.
If you want to explore a little, you'll find many shops and excellent bars and eateries around Port Barton Beach to check out. You can unwind with a meal and some tropical drinks while taking in the incredible views.
Port Barton Island Hopping Tour
Your second day in Port Barton will be spent exploring some of the islands around the area. There are multiple tour operators to choose from offering different excursions; however, most take you to similar locations, including German Island (Inaladelan Island) and Exotic Island (Cayoya Island).
Depending on which tour you pick, other places you may visit include Aquarium Reef, Paradise Island, Twin Reef, and Bigaho Waterfalls. At each location, you can take in the breathtaking scenery, swim and snorkel in the clear water, and relax on the beach. When in the water, you'll likely spot lots of marine life, including sea turtles.
These excursions generally take seven to 10 hours to complete. Therefore, if you are traveling later in the day to Puerto Princesa, it may be worth switching the first day in Port Barton with day two. If you have a full day in the area on your second day, an island hopping tour works perfectly to fill your time.
When back on the mainland in the evening, you can spend the rest of your time in Port Barton relaxing at the local bars and restaurants or watching the sunset from the shore.
After enjoying Port Barton, you will then head to Puerto Princesa (Port of the Princess), the energetic capital city of Palawan. This tropical destination is about three to three-and-a-half hours from Port Barton.
The city is known to be the cleanest and greenest of all the cities in the Philipines, with exceptional food and nightlife. It's even home to a famous underground river system, which you'll get to explore on your second day in the city.
On your first day in Puerto Princesa, you can take an informative city tour, which can include a relaxing massage. Then, in the evening, hop aboard a boat to sail along the river that's illuminated with fireflies!
Puerto Princesa City Tour
Taking a Puerto Princesa city tour offers the perfect way to get to know the area. Your knowledgeable guide will take you to a range of landmarks and provide you with lots of information on their history and importance to the city. Places to visit include the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, and Puerto Princesa City Baywalk Park.
You'll even get to see animals at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center and stop at Baker's Hill for some local sweet treats, including hopia. Lastly, you can go to shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts, like the Binuatan Creations Weaving Center, where products are made on-site.
You can book this half-day activity to begin in the morning, around 7 AM, or in the afternoon, around 1 PM. If you opt for just the city tour, you can choose a private or group option, which takes four to five hours.
Travelers that want to unwind a little after their busy days of exploring Palawan can also add a massage and spa session, which extends the tour by one to two hours.
Firefly-Watching Dinner Cruise
While you can enjoy the nightlife in central Puerto Princesa, going on a firefly-watching dinner cruise is also an excellent idea! On this excursion, you'll hop aboard a boat to take you down the mangrove-lined river.
As you sail along, you'll be amazed by the hundreds of fireflies that light up the area. In addition, you'll likely see stars in the night sky and may spot bioluminescent algae in the water.
Keep in mind that the dinner cruise generally begins at 5.30 PM. Therefore, it's unlikely that you'll be able to participate in this activity if you opt for the city tour starting in the afternoon. Although, if you opt for the shortest four-hour tour, you can make both activities work.
Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour
Your second day in Puerto Princesa will be exciting as you visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Subterranean River National Park. During a day-long tour of the park, your guide will take you along the underground river, and you'll learn a lot about the landmark's history and formation.
Adventure activity lovers can also combine a trip to Ugong Rock Adventures with the underground river tour. At this attraction, you can go ziplining and caving, among other activities. Finally, head back to town to dine at a traditional eatery, Kalui Seafood Restaurant.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
As mentioned before, Puerto Princesa is world-famous for its underground river system. Visiting the Subterranean River National Park is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Palawan, Philippines. The park has also been named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
The entrance to the river system is in a small town called Sabang. From there, you can take a boat ride to the entrance or hike there. You can also join a guided tour of Subterranean River National Park, which includes transport to and from Puerto Princesa
You'll begin your underground river tour in a pitch-black cave with a pre-recorded audio clip. No, it's not the beginning of a horror movie! Instead, the recording talks about the history of the park and interesting facts about the natural landmark's formation.
Next, you'll get to explore the river system, which comprises waterfalls, caves, and several different river channels. The water is also home to marine sea creatures, and you can see bats on the cave walls and roof.
Do note that this excursion takes between eight and 10 hours from start to finish. Therefore, if you opt to join the tour, you may not be able to do all the remaining activities. However, you could always extend your stay in Puerto Princesa to enjoy more activities!
Ugong Rock Adventures
Many people make a pit stop at the Ugong Rock Adventures on the way to or from Subterranean River National Park. You can pick from several experiences at the attraction, including ziplining and caving. If you have time, you can do multiple activities for the most thrilling adventure.
When booking the Subterranean River National Park tour mentioned above, you can include a stop at Ugong Rock Adventures. However, if going to this attraction doesn't work on your second day in Puerto Princesa, you could go to Ugong Rock Adventures on your first day instead of the city tour.
Kalui Seafood Restaurant
After a day spent underground, retreat back to Puerta Princesa to experience its vibrant nightlife. One of the best ways to start your night is with tasty Filipino cuisine at the trendy Kalui Seafood Restaurant on Rizal Street. While dining, you can admire the artwork that decorates the restaurant, all of which is created by local artists.
Because this place is so popular, there is typically a long line waiting for a table, so make sure to queue early or book a reservation in advance. Do note that before entering, you'll be asked to remove your shoes, which is also a traditional way of entering a home in the Philippines.
Lipuun Point Reservation
After another long car ride of around three hours from Puerto Princesa, you will be rewarded with the beautiful Lipuun Point Reservation. The reservation is made up of over 200 caves that are shrouded in dense jungle and surrounded by shimmering turquoise water.
Only 29 of the more than 200 caves have been studied and explored, and seven are open to the public. While it is not a top tourist site, it is a semi-secret sight to behold and should be on everyone's Palawan itinerary!
Philippines' Cradle of Civilization
The Tabon Caves, or the Philippines' Cradle of Civilization, can only be reached by boat, booked through the Tabon Caves Museum. The caves are protected due to their archeological and historical significance.
When the caves were studied and explored in the 1960s, archaeologists discovered many significant artifacts that shed light on the entire human history of the area. One of the most noteworthy discoveries was that of the Tabon Man, later deemed to be a woman.
These bones, as well as other fragments found within the caves, have been dated to be over 50,000 years old! Besides bones and burial sites, the caves have been hiding burial jars, jewelry, ornaments, and stone tools, for thousands of years.
A tour of this Asian landmark takes you through a similar route as the original archaeologists took and will allow you to marvel at the caves' beauty and learn more about their history.
Sidanao Island and Nasirik Island
These uninhabited islands are charming and alluring with their white sand beaches and soothing waters. When you hire a boat for the Tabon Caves, you should also ask to stop at a few of the islets around them.
Boat owners will happily take you exploring for a small extra cost. Sidanao Island and Nasirik Island are some of the top places to visit. Here, you can relax on the beaches or snorkel in the clear, shallow waters.
Palawan Travel Tips - Common Questions
Now that you have the perfect 10-day Palawan itinerary covering all the places you must visit, you may want to know if there's anything else you need to know when traveling in the area. The following are some top things to keep in mind before you set off to the Philippines.
What things do you need to buy for your Palawan trip?
Firstly, note that some of the best parts of Palawan can be found under the sea, so you might feel like you are spending more time in the water than on dry land. Therefore, before your trip, purchasing swim fins, a snorkel set, and a thin wetsuit top or rashguard to protect your skin from the sun is a good idea.
You'll also want to stock up on reef-safe sunscreen. Moreover, you might want to invest in an underwater phone case or disposable underwater camera. The snorkeling here is indescribable, and photos will never do it justice; however, taking a few photos will preserve your memories (and make your friends jealous back at home)!
Can you use a card to pay in Palawan?
Many of these islands make their money from tourism, so there might be some unexpected small costs. Most places don't take credit cards or have ATMs, so make sure you carry cash in small bills.
What visa do you need for the Philippines?
It's relatively easy to get holiday visas for foreigners. After reading this detailed Palawan itinerary, you should have realized that Palawan is not short of beautiful locations to visit.
Conveniently, if you need more time in Palawan, the Philippines has long-term visa options, which allow you to take your time and enjoy the sights for even longer.
Palawan is one of the most naturally beautiful and serene places on Earth. The calm waters, soft sand beaches, and vibrant colors above and below the water will bring your soul back to life, and who doesn't want that?
This itinerary is a great outline to follow to ensure you see all of Palawan's most incredible places in around ten days. You could also complete the travel guide in reverse order, beginning in Puerto Princesa and heading north to El Nido. Now all you need to do is plan your trip and set off on an adventure!
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