Looking for a budget travel guide to Coron, Palawan? Look no further than this one.
Last November, I headed alone to Coron, Palawan. This place is mesmerizing and I fell in love with it. In fact, it’s probably my best travel for this year. To our foreign readers, if you only have a week or somehow a limited schedule in your visit in the Philippines, I suggest going to Coron.
Aside from the beautiful sights, another thing I like about Coron is that it’s budget-friendly even for solo travelers like I was. Even though tour rates aren’t standardized compared to El Nido, the prices for accommodation and tours are still reasonable. In fact, if you’re going to ask me, I like Coron way, way better than El Nido although the latter is more popular worldwide.
Anyway, here’s our budget-friendly travel guide to Coron, Palawan!
How to get here
Manila to Busuanga
Take a local flight to Busuanga Airport. Cebu Pacific offers the cheapest year-round fares.
2Go has weekly trips from Manila to Coron. The port is located in Pier 4 in Tondo, Manila. Travel time is 11 hours, fare is about P1100+ per person depending on which accommodation you’ll get.
Busuanga to Coron
From the airport, there will be vans waiting that can take you to Coron (P150, 30-40 minutes). If you’re in a group, you can also hire the entire van (P1500).
To get around the town proper in Coron, you can simply walk or hail a tricycle.
When to visit
Like every other vacation spots in the Philippines, the best time to go here is during summer where there is guaranteed good weather.
However, going during off-peak season has its perks too. You can avoid the huge summer crowd and even get discounted rates. Moreover, even during typhoon season, Palawan is rarely affected with the typhoons so chances are low that you’ll miss going out on tours..
What to do in Coron
There are so many things to do in Coron! You can island hop, trek, tour around the town or visit nearby attractions. I recommend staying at least 5-7 days to visit all the must-see destinations here.
Island hopping tours
Stopovers may differ depending on the agency, but for joiner tours these are the island hopping tours:
- Coron Island Tour (Tour A)
Places to see: Las Islas de Coral, CYC Beach, Atwayan/Sunset beach, Quin Reef, Green Lagoon, Kayangan Lake
- Coron Island Tour (Tour B)
Places to see: Barracuda Lake, Smith Beach, Skeleton Wreck, Reef Garden, Twin Lagoon
- Island Escapade Tour (Tour C)
Places to see: Bulog Dos Island, Banana Island, Malcapuya Island
- Reefs and Wrecks (Tour D)
Places to see: East Tangat, Pass Island, Coral Garden, Lusong Gunboat
There’s also a tour called Coron Island Ultimate Tour, which covers the best island hopping spots.
- Coron Island Ultimate Tour
– Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Smith Beach, Skeleton Wreck, Las Islas de Coral, CYC Beach
If you go on a joiner tour, take that note lunch and entrance/miscellaneous fees are already included in the published rates.
During island hopping, you can rent a snorkel and pair of aqua shoes for P150 each. If you’re going to be in Coron for a few days, I suggest buying your own snorkel. There are cheap ones for P700-850 and better-fitting snorkels for P1500.
Budget tip: Currently, there’s a lot of cheap packages which offer all-in inclusions (accommodations and tours). However, if you’re solo or in two’s, it’s cheaper to get the island hopping tours and accommodations separately. Joiner tours for island hopping start at P750-P1200, and accommodation for solo travelers can be availed at P400-800 per night.
Hiring a private boat is recommended if you’re in a group. For private boat tours, you may need to buy your own food in the market for cooking during the tour. The good thing about getting a private boat is you can indicate which islands to visit first, which is useful if you want to escape the crowds. Moreover, you can stop over islands that are not included in the island hopping tours.
Tip: Visit Kayangan Lake during lunch time and at sunset, which is when there are the least tourists.
Looking where to hire a private boat? Travel agencies also offer boats for private use. Alternately, you can head to one of the ports in Coron and talk to some of the local boatmen. Most of them hire out their boats for P1500-2000, excluding food and entrance fees. There’s a port beside Sea Dive restaurant.
Other activities in Coron
Aside from island hopping, there are tours to nearby attractions that you can avail.
- Calauit Safari
Places to see: Calauit Safari Sanctuary, Black Island, Lusong Coral Garden, Lusong Gunboat
- Culion Island Tour
- Inland Tour
The inland tour is actually doable on your own. You only need to commute via tricycle with P10 minimum fare. Town sights include souvenir shops, cashew shops, Coron Baywalk, Mount Tapyas and Maquinit Hot Spring.
If you’re going to Maquinit Hot Spring, a private tricycle costs P300 good for 4 people; the driver will wait for you.
Travel agencies with joiner tours
There are various travel agencies offering similar rates. Just walk around Coron town proper and you can easily spot them. Here are some travel agencies in Coron that provide joiner tours:
- JY Travel and Tours: Kuya Wilfredo: 0920 627 7779/ Facebook page
- Coron Galeri: 0919 992 6766 or 0917 552 6766/ Official website
For island hopping services, I went with JY Travel and Tours. Kuya Henerson is hands down the best tour guide here.
Here are the rates for joiner tours offered by JY Travel and Tours (updated 2017):
- Coron Island (Tour A) – P750 per person
- Coron Island (Tour B) – P950
- Island Escapade Tour (Tour C) – P1200
- Reefs and Wrecks (Tour D) – P1200
- Coron Island Ultimate Tour – P1500
- Calauit Safari – P2400
- Culion Island Tour – P1800
- Inland Tour – P700
Where to eat
There seems to be a misconception that food is expensive in Coron. This isn’t true. There are the usual carienderia in Coron where you can buy meals for P60-100.
For restaurants, here are the most recommended ones:
- Kawayanan Grill – reasonable seafood platters
- Santino’s Grill – famous for their baby backribs
- Sea Dive Restaurant or La Sirenetta – popular spot for sunset viewing
I recommend La Sirenetta which has good ambiance and food.
Where to stay
There’s actually a lot of budget accommodations in Coron, and these are just a few of them.
I stayed in Seahorse Guesthouse, which offers dormitory-type rooms with 2 double-decked beds, good for 4 people. I was with my Chinese roommate Xiao, whom I’ve first met on tour. Staying in the dormitory room wasn’t awkward at all, and even though it wasn’t spacious it was comfortable. There are other lodgings with the same price, but at least this one was airconditioned with hot/cold shower. There’s a thick comforter for the night and a locker for securing items.
Breakfast is free on the fourth floor, which also has a nice view of the town and the sea. I also love the playlist in the mornings, some feel-good jazz or indie songs. Plus, the Seahorse Guesthouse is at the heart of Coron town — it’s about a 5-10 minute walk to the port and market and surrounded with souvenir shops.
Here are some of the recommended budget accommodations in Coron, Palawan:
– P600 per person
– Dormitory type, air-conditioned with hot and cold shower, with free breakfast
– 0927 4977 559;
– Check current room rates here
Luis Bay Travellers Lodge
– P500 per person
– Fan room, with own toilet
– Check current room rates here
Coron Backpacker GuestHouse
– P500 per 2 persons
– Double bed, fan room, shared toilet
– 0916 4004 871/ 0919 3886 028, Official website
RB Transient House
– P315 per person, dormitory / P550 per 2 persons, double room or twin room
– Check current room rates here
Coron Paradise Bed & Breakfast
– P800-900 per 2 persons
– Twin room or double room, fan
– Check current room rates here
Didn’t see what you’re looking? Check out other accommodations in Coron here.
5 Days itinerary to Coron
Here’s a 5 day itinerary to Coron, Palawan. Take it as a rough guide. If you only have a few days here, you might want to go for the Coron Island Ultimate Tour and then spend the rest of the days on Calauit Safari or Cuyo Island. If you have a week, you can visit all of these.
Day 0 – Flight from Manila to Busuanga, check in at accommodation
Day 1 – Tour A (optional: sunset trek to Mount Tapyas)
Day 2– Tour B + Maquinit hot spring
Day 3– Tour C
Day 4– Tour D
Day 5 – Buy souvenir and tour around town; flight back to Manila
Island hopping tours normally begin at 9AM or later, especially for joiner tours. If your flight will be arriving in Busuanga airport at 7:30AM or earlier, you can still make it to a tour on the same day. This is what I did. Seahorse Guesthouse doesn’t allow early check-ins but it’s possible to leave your bag in the reception area
For the tours, most likely the agency will ask a service to fetch you from your accommodation to the port. Similarly, on the day of your flight back, you can ask your lodging receptionist to schedule a van pickup to the airport.
My favorite stops in island hopping
So from the itinerary above, here are my favorite stops:: the viewdeck in Kayangan Lake (which is also the most photographed spot in Coron), Green Lagoon, Twin Lagoon and the Barracuda Lake.
There’s also a lot of snorkeling spots in Coron.
Most people overlook CYC Beach because they stay in the shore; try to go a bit far on the beach and snorkel. It has one of the best coral and marine life I’ve seen during my stay here. The Reef Garden and Malcapuya Island are also great choices, and you can actually swim with numerous — perhaps hundreds at a time — of fishes.
On the other hand, I was looking forward to the Coral Garden, which is different from Reef Garden above. Friends have gushed about it. I was a bit disappointed with it. First, our tour here was rushed. There was no time to stop and admire the corals underneath. Instead, we were dropped off in the ocean and had to continuously paddle to another point where the boat would pick us up. The underwater scenery wasn’t that colorful and I was told there was a lot of damage from a past typhoon. There’s a chance here to see turtles, although at that time I didn’t see any.
Budget and other expenses
Aside from the island hopping tours, here are my other expenses for the itinerary above:
- Van from airport to Coron, vice versa: P150 x 2
- Private tricycle to Maquinit hot spring + entrance: P300 + P200
- Dinner: P500
As a solo traveler, I spent about P8000 for the necessities in my 5-day stay in Coron.
P.S. Heading to Palawan soon?
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Did you find this budget travel guide to Coron, Palawan, helpful? Any other suggestions to future travelers?
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