3/28/12

RORO to El Nido

An oncoming RORO bus swirls up a cloud of dust on the unpaved section between Taytay and El Nido

In a country beset with tourist infrastructure woes, it's good to know of some positive changes. Let's look at El Nido for instance. For a long time it's been one of those destinations that seem difficult to get to. It's either one gets on an expensive flight from Manila or, like most everyone else starting from Puerto Princesa (the capital city of the island province), take the longer route via a partially paved road on a 5-8 hour dusty, bone-jarring ordeal.

An El Nido-bound Eulen Joy Liner takes a mega-load of cargo, including a wooden bed
Vans bound for different parts of Palawan

Let's take the longer route, shall we? Up until last month, visitors had to take either the old stalwarts like (A) Sweety Transport and Eulen Joy Liner or (B) any of the shuttle vans like Fortwally and Lexus. I toyed with those options, the buses cost only PHP 350 but takes longer, between 6-8 hours with frequent stops. The airconditioned vans, meanwhile, cost PHP 700, takes only 5 hours but is awfully cramped.

Backpackers will rejoice at the better leg room

Enter RORO Bus in the picture. I honestly didn't know about this one until the morning I left Puerto Pension. The tricycle driver I hired for the transfer to the bus terminal in San Jose casually mentioned this new bus service. They only started operating last February 14. When I saw how big, how clean, how new Roro bus is compared to the competition, I knew right away this will be a more tolerable ride to El Nido.

A rooster hitches a ride
Baby backpacker on board (from Germany)

There are both airconditioned (PHP 485)  and non-aircon (PHP 350) buses leaving at different times between 4:00 AM and 10:00 PM. As of now, these are the schedules of RORO buses originating from both Puerto Princesa and El Nido with stops in Roxas and Taytay:
4:00 AM
6:00 AM - airconditioned
8:00 AM
10:00 AM - airconditioned
12:00 PM
2:00 PM - airconditioned
4:00 PM
6:00 PM -
airconditioned
10:00 PM - airconditioned
    Road improvement makes it way to northern Palawan
    Tinola in Taytay

    I arrived at San Jose at 7AM which meant  the next bus leaving was a non-aircon. I got in, found a window seat in this 2 x 3 seating arrangement.  It promptly left as scheduled at 8 AM, stopping by Roxas and Taytay for food/bathroom breaks. After the last stop, the road got rough and really dusty. Pavement is currently being done so things should improve in the next several months.

    RORO bus terminal in El Nido
    The concrete road seamlessly enters the jungle

    On the way back to Puerto Princesa, I tried the airconditioned bus service. It's worth noting that seats can actually be reserved the day before at the terminal  which should be useful during peak season. Like the non-aircon buses, it picks up passengers and allow disembarkation even in the middle of nowhere (a good portion of the road is still through a jungle!). I really didn't mind as the trip still clocked at 6 hours both ways.

    By the time the road finally gets paved completely, El Nido will finally be accessed more easily, more quickly. Let's just hope El Nido doesn't go the way of Boracay.

    29 comments:

    1. waiting for this RORO sked. thank you dennis. sana abutan ko yung aircon para wlang alikabok for 6-8 hours =)

      ReplyDelete
    2. i remember when you first mentioned about roro which surprised me as i only know roro refers to the roll on roll off boat.

      this is a great add.

      i like that shot of the little baby backpacker smiling back at your camera.

      ReplyDelete
    3. I like bus trips :) but not unpaved roads :)

      Are you back stateside?

      ReplyDelete
    4. Your capture of the baby backpacker made my day.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Chyng,
      I'm sure maabutan mo yung AC buses sa San Jose terminal coming straight from the airport in Puerto if that's your plan.

      Vacation Rental Makati,
      Thanks for the visit!

      dong ho,
      There's actually a plan to bring the buses all the way to Manila via ferry! I'm just concerned about the impact of mass tourism when that happens :(

      Photo Cache,
      Yes, I'm back in NYC.
      In a few more months, I do hope they're done paving the road.

      bertN,
      well, you could still make one for yourself te-he-he!

      ReplyDelete
    6. Wow, that's great you can access the El Nido by bus, How many hours is the driving? The baby picture is so cute.

      ReplyDelete
    7. Travelentz,
      It's 6 hours on the bus.

      ReplyDelete
    8. while reading this post and looking at the photos, i am imagining you with the nikon strap on your neck and the half of your body outside the windows taking "buwis-buhay" stunning shots!

      'maryosep, idolo talaga kita! magawa nga iyan, minsan! hahaha!

      ang kulit ng baby and rooster photos!

      ReplyDelete
    9. yup manila to palawan via abra and san jose occidental mindoro. open na ang roro pier sa san jose connecting coron and taytay palawan. sinesemento na rin ang highway ng occidental mindoro para sa pagdaan ng mga bus na bibiyaheng palawan at visayas pagkaraan ng mahabang taon ng pagtitiis. sigurado dadagsa ang mga turista pati lokal tourist di lang palawan ang mabibiyayaan pati na rin ang occidental mindoro.

      ReplyDelete
    10. docgelo,
      I was nagged by my thoughts "if I don't get this shot, I'll regret it", never mind the risks I took haha!

      occmdo,
      wow, that's really some fast development there. Ang akala ko, this will take some more years pa. A whole lot of backpacking travelers will surely take advantage of this. Salamat sa info!

      ReplyDelete
    11. Anonymous5:01:00 AM

      wala akong nakikitang roro ship galing palawan papuntang san jose. anyway it should be advertised para malaman ng madlang pipol

      ReplyDelete
    12. When was this updated?

      ReplyDelete
    13. conde,
      you mean the bus schedule? I was on this trip only last month.

      ReplyDelete
    14. Anonymous6:24:00 AM

      thanks po sa info need po b mgpareserve ng seat kpg airconditioned bus like sa 10 pm?

      ReplyDelete
    15. Anonymous7:14:00 AM

      hndi pa magbubukas ang roro pier sa san jose occidental mindoro that will serve as direct link between palawan and mindoro. my problema
      ang daan, masasagasaan ang residential area. di kaya nila naisip un bago simulan ang construction? medyo mahbang usapin pa ang bagay na ito. sayang kasi, tapos na ang pier di lang pwde mag operate kasi walang daan.. parang walang common sense ang gumawa ng proyektong roro port sa san jose mindoro. cguro kapg bnayaran nila ang mga tao n masasagasaan ang mga concrete houses na milyon ang halaga bka pumayag pa. walang isip, sabagay tapos n ang project, nakuha n nila ang tinatawag na SOP o comission kaya hinayaan na ang pier n ipinagawaga kaya hinayaan na na nakatiwangwang.. tsk!tsk! sayang ang pera ng gobyerno

      ReplyDelete
    16. Anonymous7:24:00 AM

      with regards to the national hiway sa occidental mindoro, it will take more than a year pa bgo masemento lhat. mga pulitikong mtgal ng nakapwesto inuuna pa ang magpayawan. kawawa talaga ang mga taga occidental mindoro pumapayag n lukohin ng mga pulitiko. nagkaroon ng goberndorang magnanakaw, mahusay mang uto ng mga tangang taga occ. mindoro

      ReplyDelete
    17. Anonymous8:28:00 PM

      mayron po ba kyong cel # ng roro bus

      ReplyDelete
    18. Anonymous8:32:00 PM

      cel number po ng roro bus galing puerto papunta po kc akong taytay gusto ko po kc mag pa schedule

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. eto yung mga numbers na binigay sa akin:
        0915 307 7133
        0908 920 2568
        0922 889 7013

        Delete
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      ReplyDelete
    20. Hello! Question lng. Kapag galing el nido, saan sasakay pabalik ng PPS?Thanks! :)

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Nasa public market mismo ng El Nido ang terminal ng RORO bus (2nd picture from the bottom). Alam lahat ng tricycle drivers yun.

        Delete
    21. Anonymous10:17:00 AM

      hi. yung roro bus ba, dumadaan sa sabang yung gateway to PPUR??? saka from PPUR pwede ka ba magtake ng RORO Bus going to El Nido? lastly need ba magpa reserve sa Roro Bus? thanks

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Di sya dumadaan ng Sabang. Marami namang transport choices available, mostly vans, going to Sabang at the bus terminal in PP. Same for El Nido.

        Delete
    22. same question, kelangan ko ba ng reservation?
      Nov1 punta ko eh, very peak season. hehe

      ReplyDelete
    23. Chyng,
      I suggest you call them. Got a photo of their terminal in PP with tarpaulin ad "For Bookings & Reservations" which I assume pwede mong gawin. Eto yung phone numbers:
      0915 307 7133
      0908 920 2568
      0922 889 7013

      ReplyDelete
    24. Anonymous5:25:00 AM

      ask lng poh...
      ano ba mga schedule ng roro
      bus na hndi aircon
      from puerto to el nido?...

      ReplyDelete
    25. Anonymous10:03:00 AM

      Hello roro transport... may byahe po kayo dito sa manila papunta na puerto princesa city? Thanks.

      ReplyDelete

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