CORON PALAWAN ON A BUDGET
Coron is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Located in the Calamian Archipelago, its boasts different natural attractions from enchanting lakes and lagoons to picturesque white sand beaches. It was also listed as one of the most beautiful diving sites in the world.
The main industry in this town, apart from fishing, is tourism. Coron, along with El Nido, has been receiving a growing number of tourists coming from all over the world for the past years. This pushed the town to adjust to its growing number of visitors. Here are some tips on how to tour this paradise on a budget:
1. GET A PROMO FLIGHT
How to get there: The most convenient way to reach Coron is by booking a flight. Coron is located on the eastern side of Busuanga Island. From the airport, you need to ride a van/shuttle to Coron Town Proper for only P150/person.
If you’re a budget traveler, booking a promo flight is the way to go. A regular one-way fare to Busuanga (USU) ranges from a low of P4,000 to as high as P7,000. Promo rates may go down to P1,000 – P3,000 – for a round-trip ticket already!
- Concentrate on budget Airlines – Major airlines like Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Skyjet have direct flights to Busuanga (USU). Concentrate on budget airlines like Cebu Pacific and Skyjet as they offer promo fares more frequently than flag-carrier Philippine Airlines.
- Follow budget Airlines’ social media accounts – The first step is to know when there is a promo. Airlines usually announces promos on their social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. Following them on Twitter and liking their page on Facebook will give you an advantage.
- Automatically alert yourself on promo fares – After following their social media accounts turn on your phones’ notifications for new tweets and Facebook updates. On twitter, go to their specific account and turn on notifications for new tweets. On Facebook, go to their pages and make sure their posts are on SEE FIRST. In this way, their posts will automatically be on top of your news feed.
- If you’re flying on a weekend, try the day before/after your travel period – Airlines rarely put their promo fares on a weekend. Try booking on a Thursday afternoon instead of a Friday; or a Friday instead of a Saturday; or Monday morning if you plan to get back on a Sunday. You may get lucky and spot a promo ticket!
- Change the passenger number to only 1 – If you’re on a group try changing the passenger count to only 1 first. Some promo fares only appear when the passenger count is only 1. Book your tickets separately instead of booking it in groups. We’ve noticed this on promo flights offered by Skyjet.
- Fly on a weekday – Although difficult, scheduling your trip to Coron on a weekday will give you a better chance on getting that promo! Most airlines allot more promo seats during the weekdays.
- Get promos from Travel Expos – Major airlines regularly participate in travel expos. Here in Manila, there are usually travel expos on the start of the year. Airlines sometimes offer tickets way cheaper than what is posted online. Be careful though, and make sure you compare prices because some label their offers as promos but in reality it’s just priced similar to what is offered on their ticketing offices.
You may also check out 2Go Travel. They have ferry routes from MNL to Coron twice a week. Check their schedule here.
2. FIND AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATION
Coron Town is the main jump-off to the famous tourist spots like Coron Island and other famous beaches like Malcapuya Island and Banana Beach. Booking a room in Coron town-proper is best since you’ll avoid miscellaneous commuting expenses. There are hostels offering dorm rooms ranging from P250 – P500 per head, some even including breakfast. If you prefer air-conditioned rooms, there are also hotels and inns around town which have rates of P600 for two people up to P1500 – P2000+ for groups.
- Scout prices from online booking sites – Agoda.com and Booking.com features a number of hotels and inns in Coron. Prices displayed are usually discounted, so booking through these sites will help you save.
- But be careful of hidden charges – Some booking sites have hidden charges. Sometimes prices displayed excludes booking fee, credit card fee, etc. Make sure to consider these charges before booking the room. Sometimes booking through these sites may cost more than direct booking off the hotel’s website.
- Check out published rates of hotels – Direct booking can sometimes be cheaper than booking sites. Even though the published rate on the booking site is well within your budget, try calling the hotel first because sometimes they would offer the room on a cheaper price than the published rate. Or if you’re lucky, resorts will give you an upgraded room. This happened to us when we visited Coron, we got a room supposedly priced P2,000 + for only P1,200.
- Confirm that the hotel is in Coron town – If you’re visiting Coron Island, where Kayangan Lake is together with other famous tourist spots, make sure you book a room in Coron Town. If you search Coron in sites like Agoda.com and Booking.com, hotels located in Busuanga also appears. Remember that Busuanga is on the western part of Busuanga Island far from Coron Island on the eastern side.
- Lean Season – Most hotels give discounts during Coron’s lean season (May – September). Make sure the weather is good if you’re booking on these months.
- Haggle! – Yes, haggling is possible! Of course, you’ll not be able to do this in expensive hotels in town but it’s possible in small inns and hostels. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if they could give you a discount. On one of the hotels we walked-in, we asked if they can give us a discount, they offered us 10% off even if that was a long weekend.
3. CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOUR AND TOUR OPERATOR
The best way to check out Coron’s amazing natural attractions is to join tour operators. Joiner tours – where you’ll be grouped with other tourists – is probably the cheapest way to go especially if you’re not traveling in big groups. Most tour operators have offices scattered around town. You may check their prices and book the best one!
- Get flyers at the airport – Once you step outside the airport, there are booths by different tour operators. They have flyers with priced tour packages. This is probably the easiest way to find what suits your itinerary and budget best.
- If you’re a solo-traveler or a couple, join joiner tours – Tour operators have packages for joiners. You’ll be grouped with fellow tourists usually up to 10 per boat. Some packages already includes entrance fees, buffet lunch/packed meals, snacks and drinks.
- If you’re traveling in a big group, hire a private boat – Joiner tours are best for couples and solo travelers. If you’re a group of 8 and above it’s best to hire a private boat instead. Ask your tour operator how much their boat rental is then compare it to a joiner’s package. You’ll probably save more even though you have to shoulder the entrance fees and buy your own food.
- Joiner tours vs Private tours – Joiner tours are best for solo-travelers since you’ll get to share expenses with other tourists. One disadvantage of being in a joiner is you have to follow a certain itinerary. You also have to follow the time allotted for each destination usually from 40 minutes to more than an hour per stop. Private tours on the other hand is recommended for big groups. You’ll get to choose the destinations you want to visit and can freely map and schedule your own itinerary for the day.
- Avoid getting Coron Town Tour – Some tour operators offer a Coron Town tour, priced at around P550-650/head, which usually includes a visit in Mt. Tapyas, Maquinit Hot Spring and a visit to some souvenir shops. Avoid this! Mt. Tapyas is walk-able from Coron Town. Mt. Maquinit Hot Spring is located far from the city, around 30 mins trike ride. Just rent a trike, they usually offer this for P300 pesos only. As for the souvenir shops, going around the town is easy, trike fares are only P8-P10/person within Coron Town and P20/person outside town.
You should research first on the packages of tour operators. Usually they would package premier destinations like KayanganLlake with “so-so”destinations. Some tour operators have a package called CORON ISLAND ULTIMATE TOUR where they bundle different premier destinations around Coron Island.
We recommend getting JY Travel and Tours. We got them for both Coron Island (Private tour) and Beach Hopping of Malcapuya, Banana and Bulog Dos islands (Joiner tours). They have affordable joiner rates and cheap boat rentals if you plan on touring private. You will also be assigned a tour guide per boat. Their joiner tours also include lunch. When we visited, they served us grilled fish, lato, chicken-pork adobo, a veggie dish, rice, salad, bread, and fresh fruits – more than enough for the 10 of us who joined.
Choose the right destination, read 9 Must Visit Places in Coron Palawan.
4. AVOIDABLE EXPENSES AND WHERE TO EAT
- Bring snorkels and aqua shoes – Most tours exclude snorkeling gears like a mask and aqua shoes. If you have one, don’t forget to bring it. Mask with breather costs P150/day and aqua shoes costs P100/day. That’s P250/day immediate savings.
- Save your bottle – Having a handy water bottle with you will help you save on your budget. Just refill it at your hotel. Easily, that’s P20-P40/drink saved!
- Google Maps the place – If you’re going to a restaurant, do not instantly ride a tricycle. Coron Town is a very small town and most of the time, you can just walk to the place. Tricycle fares cost P8-P10/person within town proper and P20/ person outside town.
- Where to Eat – Finding affordable restaurants is easy in Coron. Though there are no big fast food chains in town, there are tons of local restaurants around. Do not concentrate on the restaurants along the main road. Some good restaurants are 2-3 mini blocks away from the national highway.
- DAY 1: Flight to Coron, Mt. Tapyas, Maquinit Hot Spring
- DAY 2: Coron Island Ultimate Tour (Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoon, Skeleton Wreck, Siete Pecados, CYC Beach)
- DAY 3: Beach Hopping Tour (Malcapuya Island, Bulog Dos and Banana Island)
- DAY 4: Souvenirs, Flight Back to Manila
Check out our 9 Must Visit Places in Coron Palawan.
Tours last the whole day so we recommend allotting two full days for it. Airlines usually overbook MNL-USU flights so getting the earliest one out is recommended. We do not recommend afternoon flights since your flight can get cancelled after sundown. Once you’re out of the airport, there are vans to Coron Town proper. Travel time is only 30 minutes.
PALAWAN BLOGS AND POSSIBLE SIDE-TRIPS:
- Kayangan Lake: Palawan’s Hidden Wonder
- Malcapuya Island: Powdery White Sand Island in Coron
- 9 Must Visit Places in Coron Palawan
- Long Beach San Vicente Palawan: The Longest White Sand Beach in the Philippines
- El Nido Palawan: A Budget Travel Guide