Arriving past dinner time at Puerto Princesa airport, we immediately headed to the van with our sturdy backpacks and sneakers. The four-hour land travel traversing zigzag roads made us quite dizzy but the driver’s speed enabled us to reach the destination earlier than expected. Light-headed and exhausted, we looked forward comfortably settling at the inn for a much-needed rest. Balay Paragua was what we called our home away from home in El Nido for four days.
Choosing a place to stay for three nights in El Nido, Palawan was quite a feat. There were too many viable options in the vicinity brimming with tourists. With our length of stay, we sticked to our primary considerations: affordability, accessibility and convenience. We had to consider the water and electricity, space, peace in the surroundings and accessibility to tours. Having these in mind, we found Balay Paragua as our best pick. The reviews generated in travel sites for this hotel are generally satisfactory that it piqued our interest.
In the early days, the mainland Palawan is called Paragua which translates to umbrella in Spanish. The archipelago resembles the shape of it. Balay, on the other hand means house. Combining the names Balay Paragua formed the idea of a native house, a homey abode in El Nido.
The place is entirely wood in material, more like reminding you of a resthouse in the remote province. Before entering the premises, you are requested to take off your shoes like in any typical Filipino home.
After leaving our footwear at the ground floor, we were ushered to our small purple room at the second floor. The standard space for all rooms is 15 sqm; too small to move around but just enough for us to maintain the upkeep of the place.
Fresh towels and mini toiletries are provided in each room. Daily housekeeping may be requested at the reception. The bathroom is also too small to fit in a pail, shower, and sink but I’m after the hot and cold shower. Most bathrooms in El Nido at the same price bracket have no warm water so Balay Paragua has the edge over them all.
The hallway of Balay Paragua was my favorite place. It was converted to a chill-out area where guests can sit, rest, and lounge. There’s also an unlimited supply of complimentary coffee! ♥♥♥
This is where we usually stay every morning to drink coffee, charge our phones or browse the net. This is where we normally hang out after every island tour to rest, while waiting for our turn in the bathroom.
It’s also my go-to place when I wanted to be alone. The wind blows against the chimes creating a beautiful sound. The rain makes you enjoy your cup noodles more.
Before, both the ceilings and walls are made of sawali (woven split bamboo mats used in the Philippines to construct walls.) But the owner changed it later on to make the house more sound proof.
The ground floor also has a small dining/ chill-out area. Wi-Fi connection is available but the speed fluctuates from time to time. You may also need to bear with the occasional brown-outs in the place, still one of the things to be improved in El Nido.
What I also liked about Balay Paragua is that it offers island tours and airport transfers at discounted rates. We thought that there is no van available after 7 PM but when I spoke with the owner, Sir Weng, he managed to arrange the transportation for us. Afterwhich, we were also able to book the island tours through his help. He had been receptive to our inquiries and requests. His staff are also friendly, nice and accommodating.
My friends and I are very satisfied with our stay at Balay Paragua. We did not encounter any problem at all. If I’ll go back to El Nido, I’d stay here again. The good reviews online are indeed justifiable. It’s a 10-minute walk from the beach and very much accessible to restaurants, drugstores, bars, stores and bazaars. If you are looking for a comfy-yet-affordable inn to stay, Balay Paragua might be the one you are searching for.
Lisang Street, Brgy Maligaya,Palawan
El Nido, Palawan 5313
Contact: 0933 864 1880