Service by Puerto Princesa's Ellen's Travels Tours
Travel Period: February 25-27, 2010
Places Visited: Puerto Princesa (Day 1 City Tour, Day 2 Hunda Bay, Day 3 Underground River)
We booked our package with Ellen's Travel and Tours on February 18, 2010, during the PTAA Expo in SME (MOA). We met Ellen herself and got a good deal for 12 adults. After the initial Itenerary was drafted and their confirmation with our one special request that we be brought to the airport at 4PM on the 3rd day for the 6PM flight, we made our downpayment to close our deal. When we got to Puerto Princesa City, she also visited us at our hotel (which we booked ourselves) to collect the full payment. That was the last time we saw or even spoke with Ellen.
Everyday, a different licensed tourist guide by the local Tourism Office would pick us up from the hotel and that's the time we start our tour.
Day 1: The twelve of us rode a single 14 seater van (counting the Driver and Guide) for the city tour. I believe, with our group-size, there should have been two vans alloted to us.
Day 2: Drove to the pier for the Hunda Bay Tour. Two vans were used going to the pier since the food packed for us wouldn't fit if one van was used. However, coming home, there was just one van for everyone again. This time, the tourist guide didn't join us to free-up space.
Day 3: We asked Ellen's office if it's possible for us to have two vans for our trip to Sabang's Underground River. The trip is going to be far and bumpy. What Ellen's Tours and Travel planned was to get us to ride with another van with her different sets of tourists. By the way, these other groups of tourists delayed our tour further.
We had more concerns and just wanted to speak with Ellen herself. But Ellen never took our calls and left us to speak with a person from her office who couldn't make decisions.
What made things worse was that the Tourists Guide assigned to us was NEVER briefed about our flight schedules that afternoon. If we hadn't mentioned this concern to the guide, we would never have made it to the airport. Ellen should have briefed her Tourist Guides properly.
My overall assessment for Ellen's Travels and Tours Service is a failure.
Unique Suggestions: Speak with the Local Goverment Tour Guide assigned to the group on how you can make things better or help address your concerns. Remember, the tour operator was unreachable by this time. These guides are restricted at times to policies of their jobs, but they can actually suggest a solution.
Fun Alternatives: Prior to booking with any tour packages, ask for detailed Itenerary and if you can, pay only in-full when the tour is finished which ensures continuing service from the tour operator.
Travel agencies offer a Honda Bay tour for "just" 900 pesos but honestly we just spent about 500 pesos for the tour. The city tour you can skip that - nothing special that you can't do on your own. :)
Overpriced souvenirs - Your local guide will take you to the local market when you can buy cashew products, dried fish and souvenirs for the trip. There is a group of men who'd swarm you and they'd somehow harass you to buy their pearls,bracelets and necklace. I bought a few from them, then when we tried looking for a stall who sells these souvenirs by bulk, I realized that those men doubled the prices of the said souvenirs.
Unique Suggestions: POLITELY DECLINE!!!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
underground river - bat dung session
this place is really nice to look at but we found the smell of bat dung quite unbearable when you're outside waiting for your turn, the boat trips usually take 30mins. so that's how long you have to try and ignore the stench, ironically.. it doesn't stink as much when you're inside the cave
make sure you don't wear your fave shirt here unless you want to risk having bat dung on it - some bats wake up early
it was fun, but personally i wasn't really fascinated with the crystal formations, etc. in this cave - oh well maybe it's just me.. or maybe the bat dung got in the way ;P
Unique Suggestions: practice holding your breath for at least 10 mins, you get used to the stench after this..
or just get a mask of some sort, and bring good company
Fun Alternatives: you need to stop by Sabang beach before you ride a boat to the underground river - we stayed here and had lots of fun - read the details on my "things to do" pages
Puerto Princesa City Hotels
National Highway, Brgy. San Pedro Puerto Princesa City, Palawan 5300
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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