• Palawan- getting here and away
• El Nido- getting here and away
• Expedition Departure...Meeting place and Check-in
• Safety and Security in the Region
• Cultural etiquette, locals and the villages
• Malaria mosquitos and sandflies
• Traveling with Children
• Snorkeling & Swimming Advice
• Diving Options
• Toilet and Shower
• Travel Agency booking
• Sleeping Arrangements
• Food and Diet Requirements
• Alcohol and Drinking on onboard
First, you will need to book your international flights to Manila, Philippines. International flights to Cebu are also available.
From Manila you will have to travel at least the day prior to the expedition to Palawan, El Nido or Busuanga [Coron]. You can fly to Puerto Princesa from Cebu but not to Busuanga [Coron].
For local flight assistance, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Always make sure that you schedule your flight in/out of Manila at least a day before/after your expedition.
Connection between El Nido and Coron
There are several Bangka ferry company that services Coron- EL Nido vice versa- 4 - 5 times a week.
Bangka ferry can take up to 7-10 hour journey. Booking can be done only when you are in Coron or El Nido. The journey can be slow and rough if the wind is strong.
MANILA - BUSUNGA [CORON] – daily flight from CEBU PACIFIC and PAL EXPRESS
CEBU - BUSUANGA [CORON] – daily flight from CEBU PACIFIC
MANILA to CORON – Once a week FERRY (12-14 hours) - 2GO.COM
If you are joining us from Coron, look for a flight to Busuanga Airport (Coron). There are regular flights (3 to 4 times a day) with Cebu Pacific or PAL Express. From Busuanga airport it's a 40 minute transfer ride to Coron town. There are shuttle vans operating outside the terminal and cost P150.00 PHP per person. Our Office in Coron is in Don Pedro St. Centre of town. It’s easy to find us - just ask the drivers for directions.
There are many accommodation options in town if you are just staying for one night. If you are staying longer, there are resorts in the islands which will arrange transportation to and from the town.
If you will be finishing your expedition in Coron then you will need to book a flight from Busuanga the following day. The expeditions arrive in Coron at around 5PM to 6PM. This is too late to catch a flight out, however not too late to transfer to an island resort. Just inform the resort that you will arrive in Coron with Tao by 5pm at the Tao office. If you are travelling on a Private Expedition then you can arrange to be dropped off at resorts en-route. This can be arranged when you check-in or register before your expedition start.
El Nido - Getting Here and Away
There are two options:
- The direct flight (ITI)
- The cheaper but not direct (Puerto Princesa to El Nido)
- DIRECT FLIGHTS TO AND FROM EL NIDO - A 40 seater plane that is difficult to book during holidays. They are available with charter planes from the private airport owned by El Nido Resort. ITI is the company that service the charter. 6,500 to 7,500 pesos per person.
EL Nido to Manila flights - Contact El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe elnidoboutiqueandartcafe.com
Manila to EL Nido flights - Contact Island Transvoyager , Inc. (ITI) www.itiair.com
- FLY TO PUERTO PRINCESA - Puerto Princesa is approximately 250km south of El Nido and requires a 5 to 6 hour van ride or 7 hour public bus ride. CHERRY BUS AND RORO BUS is the name of the company that is most reliable with hourly service from 8am up to 10pm. Vans and buses leave from the bus station in San Jose. Flights to Puerto Princesa:
MANILA, CEBU, ILOILO or DAVAO - PUERTO PRINCESA – daily flights from CEBU PACIFIC and PAL EXPRESS
MANILA - PUERTO PRINCESA – daily flights from TIGER AIRWAYS and AIR ASIA
TAO CORON OFFICE: Don Pedro St. Centre of town.
Both of our offices are easy to find and both of the town is not that big that you cannot find us.
When you arrive in Coron, please drop by our office first to register and buy your necessary packing list and alcohol so we can pick you up in ALFARO/SANGAT without any worry that you are not ready or lost during the expedition. You will also miss the important group briefing so make sure you remind the expedition leader if there is any important information you need to know.
We find that people who are not in the group briefing have more questions and don’t have the complete understanding of the trip. We have the patience to inform you about what you missed out, but the problem is the time to do it all over again as your expedition leader will be busy- so go with the flow and please asks fellow travellers about important info.
Also ask ALFARO/SANGAT to phone us the night before pick up/expedition.
Our Bangkas are designed with 2 outriggers with no deep keel, this design is unique to the Philippines and other smaller neighbouring island kingdoms. This is perfect to navigate the many islands with scattered shallow reefs. The design has evolved from dug out canoes, then the sails came up capturing the power of the wind going farther populating the islands, the arrival of engines and fuel after the war slowly killed the sailing culture.
Our motorised Bangkas are designed to take travellers in the remote islands with basic amenities. We have a toilet and a kitchen on board, a dry place to put bags. We are packed for fuel and our supply of food and drinking water.
There are different sizes from 12 capacity to 24 person boat. We have a couple of boat we built from scratch but most are converted fishing vessels stuck in villages after the fishing industry slowed down. This kind of bangka requires a lot of wood and repairs that we prefer to refurbish already build ones and rent it from families who cannot afford to run it for fishing.
Our Paraw Sailing is a revival of the old big boats design that cruises around the Philippines mostly cargos and fishing.
Our Speed Boat is our emergency response high powered engine boat. This boats are expensive to keep(more than our big bangkas) and needs to be in constant use, so we rather use it for shorter private expeditions but still always alert for emergencies.
We strongly recommend you follow these suggestions to prepare for your trip. Below is a list of essentials you will need to pack in a DRYBAG [approx. 25 – 35 Liters]. If you are unsure of exactly what a DRYBAG is then Google it. It is not the same as a rain cover on your backpack.
You have access to this bag during the day and take it down to the base-camps at night. The rest of your stuff will be packed out of the way in the hold of the boat and can be accessed every now and again to replenish your day pack.
To make things simple we recommend that you pack these two bags the night before you depart to ensure a swift departure. In your waterproof day pack you will need:
- Sun hat or cap, sunscreen, and sun glasses.
- Sarong (for boys and girls...All around use - day towel, sun protection, beach loungers)
- A refillable water bottle (it’s important to keep hydrated)
- A small towel, shower gel, tooth brush. [WE DO NOT PROVIDE TOWELS]
- Flashlight or Head torch (to find your way around in the dark)
- Change of clothes, shorts and t shirts/vests for the day.
- Swimwear during the days because you will be in and out of the water.
- A rash guard for sun protection and guard against jellyfish stings [optional- but very advisable]
- In the evening you can shower and put on some very light weight trousers and a long sleeve top or shirt to minimize insect bites.
- Insect Repellent.
- Sandals or reef shoes.
- Camera, a good book, ipod.
- A lightweight, very thin Rain Jacket - just in case you get a rainy day!
• You will not need jumpers and warm clothing.
For sale in our offices and nearby shops : KwanLoong oil repellant, Tao rash guard, Tao T shirt, Aqua shoes, Drybags, Water refillable, mask and snorkel.
The baggage will be kept dry at all times, however if you are traveling with a laptop we suggest to store it in a waterproof dry bag to avoid accidents.
Electricity and Charging Batteries
Emergency Contact Number
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS: +63 908 874 9075 OR +63 998 411 3576
Please also consider the time difference as midnight or very early morning calls are definitely unacceptable.
All regular enquiries can be sent and answered by e-mail. E-mails can take up to 5 days to answer so please be patient. Electricity and internet is not always available from the islands.
Try not to take on too much destination as traveling in the Philippine islands takes time. You don’t want to spend half your trip on a bus or waiting in an airport as most destinations will take a day journey. If you would like to visit several provinces, try to plan to spend a week in each place. This is enough time to take it all in, and at the same time get as much as possible out of your trip.
On Open Expeditions, we tend to stay away from these destinations altogether. So if you have few days available on either side of the Tao trip, we recommend that you see these places in smaller island hopping boats available for hire in town.
Our bigger expedition boats can be too large to take to these often crowded areas and we prefer to head straight out into the remote islands where no other tourists go. In a small group/boat (for example), we can take you into the Big lagoon just after sunrise and you will have the place to yourselves before the day-trippers start hording in from 9am onwards.
On a Private Expedition you can help plan your route so you can visit the tourist highlights of both towns if you like.
It does not matter, both are special. From EL Nido going north the underwater gets better and better. From Coron going south, the islands and beaches gets more stunning every destination. Just depends on your travel plans, if you want to relax after the trip then end in EL Nido. If you want to go diving after the trip, then end in Coron.
Cash and Payments
Tao unfortunately does not accept credit card payments (Visa and MasterCard charges 7-9% in Palawan) in our office and access to cash is limited in Palawan. The banking infrastructure is still developing as it is one of the most remote part of the Philippines.
We require a 50% deposit to confirm your reservation. This is payable by PayPal or Bank Transfer. Please be advised that there is a 4.4% charge for PayPal payments. You do not need to be registered with PayPal to pay your deposit. Instructions on how to pay can be found in your booking e-mail.
Your remaining 50% balance is due 1 week before your scheduled trip. You can use the link provided in the confirmation email that we have sent you when you paid for your deposit . Please be advised that there are only cash machines in Puerto Princesa and Coron, but not in El Nido.
You will need to withdraw sufficient cash to travel through Palawan. You need to pay your balance before you come to Palawan through PayPal or bank transfer, this will also help you avoid bringing lots of cash when you travel.
For card security reasons PayPal can sometimes block payments if you are travelling. International bank transfers can take up to 5 days to appear in our account. Some businesses offer cash advances at a charge or 8% - 10%. You can change foreign currencies in El Nido and Coron (USD, GBP, EUR) but the exchange rate in Palawan is significantly lower than that of international currency sites.
There are 151 countries that may enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for a maximum of thirty (30) days, provided they are holders of a passport valid at least six (6) months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines, and present a return or outward bound ticket to their country of origin or to a next country of destination. For the 151 countries, visit https://www.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/site-administrator/visa-information
Please contact the Philippine Embassy in your country if you plan to stay more than 30 days in the country. An extension is available in Immigration Offices in Manila, Cebu, Puerto Princesa. 60 to 90 days extension cost 3,000 PHP – 4,000 PHP (up to 6,500 pesos if you do it with agencies). Don’t turn up with flip flops, shorts or vest. Make sure you dress up appropriately to see immigration officers.
Health and Safety
We are an adventure company traveling in a very remote area of the Philippines so we do as much as we can to avoid accidents. Most of our crew are trained to response on emergency situation and look out for dangers but no matter how much we take care, it is still up to our travelers incentives to look after themselves and avoid mishaps.
You will be shown the location of life preserving equipment onboard [such as lifevests, buoyancy aids, life rafts and medical kit] that we must carry as part of the stringent Marina Requirements.
All travelers must have their own Travel Insurance.
Safety and Security in the Region
We often get questions regarding safety in the islands, kidnapping, trouble from militants, pirates and other concern that you might have researched before flying into a foreign third world country.
Some areas of the Philippines have a red mark for many Government Travel Foreign Offices advice because of the separatist problem of the extreme south. But Palawan, Luzon, Visayas and the rest of the northern islands are far away from the southern Mindanao region. Unfortunately the Philippines government, unlike other Asian tourist destinations, have no say or control over these red warnings.
The story of the islands with 'pirates' is as old as the Ming dynasty merchant sailing this part of the world.
We work in partnership with the communities all along our route. They know what we do, who is travelling on board and they provide us with more security more than the Coastguard or Navy who are always present in the area (securing the Shell/Chevron gas/oil platform rigs).
We may ask ' how safe is your hometown/city?' which often puts into perspective the perceived risks of exploring less familiar parts of the world.
Cultural etiquette, locals and the villages
Throughout the trip you will be meeting locals who work with us, communities that keeps our base camps, villages where we buy supplies like fish/seafood, veg, rums, ice etc. One thing we don’t do is to tour you around the villages just for the sake of it. We highly respect the communities in our route and plan the season well so we don’t exhaust the villages with our visit.
Our many crew are from these villages and we are welcome there and we make sure we have a reason to visit checking the Tao schools and projects or just passing by to get supply but never just to show our travelers around. As an individual you are welcome to go around village and talk and meet locals but don’t expect your guide to gather the group for a tour walk as this is not a genuine Tao experience. We do not visit indigenous tribal villages.
A lot of people have a romantic idea of getting into the villages and expect something much more but they oversee the fact that the crew on board and all the people in our base camps are the islanders, as we keep on saying 'we are
not a tour'. Filipinos like their photos taken but our guideline is to make sure you start a conversation first then ask for photos, show them the pictures too!
Malaria, Mosquitos and Sandflies
Up to date and accurate information about all aspects of malaria, including risks and prevention, is readily available to you from travel health clinics, travel healthiness and via the web. Because it is a complex and rapidly changing issue, we do not want to recommend whether or not to take malaria medication.
Northern Palawan is generally a low risk area. Occasionally it comes in small outbreaks and consequentially the local health office will have warning, we will be advised and pass on the warning to our travelers. It is not that very common for an outbreak during our season November to end of May. Be more cautious on Dengue fever which is more common and can be contracted anywhere in southeast Asia, especially in town and cities. There are no medicine to prevent catching Dengue so be always cautious.
It is advised to minimize the risk of Malaria and Dengue through bit avoidance. Bring lots of mosquito repellant and long sleeve clothing, it also advisable that when with children, in town it is better to get Aircon rooms because mosquito are most active early in the morning/ late afternoon.
Town and larger population have more disease carrying mosquitos than those of small islands and villages.
Our sleeping in the islands are set up near the beach where we get a breeze thus reduce mosquitos, we always have nets setup for sleeping.
Traveling in South Palawan needs extra precaution any time of the year.
There are 2 seasons in the Philippines. The Dry season is the high season for tourism and runs from Oct/Nov to May/Jun. The Monsoon season is the low season and runs from Jun/July to Sept/Oct.
Just to be sure we suggest packing a light rain jacket. This will protect you from wind-chill and keep you warm if there is any rain during your expedition.
Our expeditions put you close to nature, this includes the tropical weather.
Snorkeling & Swimming
Swimming and snorkeling area big part of Tao Expeditions. To make the most of your Tao experience it is recommended that you feel comfortable in water. If you are not a strong swimmer then tell us and we will make sure the guide takes extra care of you and we have swimming buoyancy aids onboard. There will lots of opportunities to explore the pristine reefs we have discovered throughout the islands. Snorkels and masks are provided on all of our boats. You can bring your own equipment if you wish. If you are a keen snorkeler and plan to spend lots of time in the water, it is a good idea to bring a long-sleeved rash-guard to protect you from the strong tropical sun and annoying jellyfish stings.
Toilet and Shower
The boats have basic toilets and we keep it clean- we use bucket flush. Our base camps have toilets but no plumbing in the islands so we only use bucket flush. It is always kept clean and we have toilet papers which we advice not to flush but put it in the trash.The toilet bowls are always clean but no toilet seats- this is more hygienic if using bucket flush.
We cannot book any travelers who do not have an email correspondence with us. We need to know what kind of travel experience they want and if our trips suit them. We don't want a problem in the middle of the remote islands so even before the trips we have a briefing and may ask questions. Unfortunately we cannot book travel agents who have not experienced our trips.
If you are arranging your Philippine visit with an agent then email us first to know that you understand our trips and bookings will be done by agents with and let them know that we do not do special request like airport pickups and accommodation bookings.
We definitely do not do commission basis bookings.
Our sleeping arrangements is mostly camping in open native beach huts . Each night we find a safe anchorage for the boat and spend the night on an island. We have 15 different base-camps throughout the islands, all are in different types of locations. Some are on their own private island, or within a traditional village or a secluded beach. At the base-camp you can shower with fresh water, grill some fish for supper and enjoy a few rums around a fire.
Our menu is based on traditional filipino cooking using Fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit and rice. The seafood in Palawan is first class and we serve lots of it onboard Tao. We buy our fish direct from the fisherman as we travel through the islands. You can also fish from the boat to catch your own supper! We do not generally serve meat because we use ice boxes and we do not have refrigeration for storage on the boats. Sometimes we will buy livestock in the islands such as chickens or pigs. We stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables before we leave port. Vegetarians will enjoy the numerous healthy dishes cooked up onboard. For any other diet requirements please inform us when you check in.
Alcohol is not included in the price of the Open Expeditions or Safaris so if you wish to bring something to drink, we have ice boxes to keep it cold. Alcohol, [spirits and beer] and mixers are included in the price of the Bespoke Expeditions. The only products available locally are various rhums and San Miguel beer, and mixers of coke, sprite or pineapple juice or tonic water. If you prefer something specific then its a good idea to pick up a bottle when you pass through duty free on your flight here.
Party/ Drinking onboard
We are not a booze cruise and we re also not detox/rehab/yoga/meditation retreat boat!
On an open group expedition- most of the people that book with us are well traveled, well mannered and well informed.. It is a holiday break so they are allowed to party and socialize.. if you want to join- you can, if not then there is so much space to chill, explore or enjoy nature. We have several base camps where you can join a karaoke in the village and some camps that we have to respect our neighbors or the natural surrounding. As a free flowing trip, we want people to enjoy themselves but we are not shy to let you know about getting a little too excited with the drinks. There s always seems to be a good sociable atmosphere when travelers get together on a boat roaming paradise islands and we encourage people just to do what they want out of their trip as long as they respect other people who want to do other things too. We want our groups to be socially aware respecting each other, the crew and the local.
Mid-century modern architecture house in Makati City, BnB with 4 bedrooms, swimming pool and patios.
Price from: 2,200pesos to 3,500pesos per room includes breakfast.
Z HOSTEL MANILA
Sangat Island Dive Resort (09192050198)- Located on its own island of the same name, Sangat is 45min from town. Its one of the few places you can stay in the Coron area with its own white beach. Its the perfect place to spend a few days before the expedition or after to rest and recouperate. They also have a dive shop on-site so you can enjoy the world class diving around the Coron area.
For general information about El Nido
SHUTTLE VAN for EL NIDO to PUERTO PRINCESA to UNDERGROUND RIVER
For inquiries and trip reservation, please contact Mac Baldos