Port Barton is half way between Puerto Princesa and El Nido. It takes 2,5 hours to reach Port Barton in a van or 3,5 hours by bus, which is more adventures and more attractive. Renting a motorbike is a whole different story. Do not miss the opportunity.
Port Barton is 146 km away from Puerto Princesa. The first 120 km are on a national highway, a newly built road which leads straight to El Nido. The road goes through small settlements and winds up and down through the hills. It is picturesque but maybe dangerous as the curves can be sharp, downhills steep and the drivers reckless or drunk and the dogs oblivious of the danger they pose. There is, however not much traffic (except for the initial part in Puerto, and some villages on the way), so with some caution the road is nice to drive on. The remaining 23 km from the San Jose junction to Port Barton are a bit more difficult as the road construction has not been finished yet. It’s mainly concrete but there are dirt parts that become muddy or dusty depending on the season. There is also heavy duty machinery on the road and some sections are one lane. This part of the road is a cut through the jungle and, if it is your first tropical vacation, you will be really awed.
By bus or van
To reach Port Barton you can take a bus, go on a van or rent a motorbike.
All buses and vans leave from San Jose Bus Terminal which is about 5 km from Puerto and on the way to Port Barton. Take a tricycle or a multicab to get to the bus terminal. Tricycle will be maximum 100 Peso for two people and a bag from all the places in Puerto and the multicab will be 18 Peso per person (bag travels free). Some vans go from the airport. When you leave arrivals look for a stand with a “Unified Transport” logo on it and ask when is the next van leaving. Avoid fixers. You may end up at the junction 23 km away from Port Barton (see below).
|1 person fare from the terminal||1 person fare from the airport||Trip time||Airconditioning|
|Bus||PHP250/pp||No service||3,5 h||No, but the windows are open and there is a lot of room and air|
|Van||PHP350/pp||PHP500/pp||2,5 h||Yes, but the windows are closed and there is no room and little air.|
The major difference between the bus and the van is that the bus is fun and adventure and the van is just another 2,5 hours in a tin. Ask the bus staff if it is ok to climb the bus roof. Climb the roof when the bus makes the first or second stop after it leaves Puerto. Put a lot of sunscreen and a cap. You could sunburn yourself in just 30 minutes. Keep your camera ready to take pictures of the bus staff carrying 50-kilo sacks of rice to the bus roof or of magnificent views.
SBE is the only reputable transportation firm to use. It operates buses, jeepnies and vans. Here you will find timetables for direct trips Puerto-Port-Barton-Puerto. If a fixer in the San Jose bus terminal talks you into taking a bus/van that is not on our schedule, it is most likely the El Nido or Roxas service that will drop you off at San Jose junction just 23 km before Port Barton. Only then, will you be told to wait for another bus or van going to Port Barton and if it is after 6 p.m. you will end up getting a tricycle as there are no more bus/van services.
A motorbike ride is a completely another experience and getting one in Puerto Princesa is easy and cheap. Most rental shops are located on Rizal Street between the main junction (Junction no. 1) and the old airport.
The rental will be 350 to 800 Peso per day depending on the kind (manual, semi-automatic, automatic), the horse power, season (high and low) and the rental’s length (you can negotiate up to 50% discount for a 2 weeks’ rental). In Port Barton renting a motorbike is around 500 Peso per day and in a high season motorbikes are difficult to find
Be sure you read the contract before you sign it. Majority of vehicles are not insured and you have full liability for damages. The shop owners will retain your passport to make sure that they can get the money if you return damaged bike. Check all the parts and functions. Write down any malfunction anywhere on the contract. Make photos of existing scratches. Contracts are important when something goes wrong, not when everything is fine so write two copies: one for the owner and one for you.
In a week proceeding writing this paragraph I met in Port Barton 6 different people who had motorbike/scooter accidents. None of them were speeding. Two girls did not manage to make a curve going just 35 km per hour (three people injured, one burn of a 2nd degree, one dislocated knee with tendons shuttered, one minor burn), an experienced motorbike driver hit a dog and rolled over with the motorbike (just a lot of big and painful wounds) and one guy skidded on a wet road covered with sand and small gravel (huge wound on a leg).
Do not rent even a scooter if you have no experience. If you still believe you are fit for it take a less powerful one and first practice a bit in a quiet area.
Always wear a helmet, full shoes, long sleeves, and long pants. Putting on a helmet saves your life and covering your body protects you from most wounds.
If you follow basic safety you will enjoy a lot.
If you have a lot of baggage go to San Jose bus terminal and ask the SBE dispatcher to take it to Port Barton. After arrival to Port Barton go to their offices in Ballesteros Street (oposite the Iglesia Nichristo Church) to collect your baggage. This will cost you 50 Peso per bag.