What happened before?
Last year (2014), I had a flight departure at 7:20 AM from Puerto Princesa to Manila. My plan was simple, ride the RORO Night Bus from El Nido that leaves at 10PM. Arrive at Puerto Princesa at 3AM and wait for the check-in time at the airport at 5:20 AM. Fly at 7:20 AM. Simple plan but the small details were the ones that made that night miserable.
Here’s what really happened. I rode the bus. The bus arrives at Puerto Princesa around 3AM. Tricycle drivers fought for my attention. Rode an overpriced tricycle ride to Chowking. Spent the remaining time drinking coffee because I was alone in a public place and I am afraid that my bags would be stolen. 5AM rode a tricycle to the airport. Check-in for my flight. Went on a coffee drinking spree again at the predeparture area for me not to sleep so I would not miss my boarding announcement. Personally experienced that coffee is a diuretic 30,000 feet above sea level.
I told myself that I would never ride the night bus again, unless I really need to.
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What happened with Cherry Bus?
Last June 6, I had a flight from Puerto Princesa with the same departure time, 7:20 AM. And since I was really enjoying my time with friends I decided to just catch the night bus of Cherry Bus which leaves at 9PM and do what I did again. The benefit of having quality time with your friends really outweighs the risk of taking in liquids that enhances the movement of body fluids. Right? Right?
My mind was ready and I was hoping my bladder was ready too.
While waiting for the departure time of the bus I had the chance to chat up with the lady I am sitting with. Turns out she’s a regular on Cherry Bus night buses and I decided to tell my plan for the morning to the total stranger.
I told her about how mentally prepared I am for the coffee marathon that I have to do once the bus arrives at Puerto Princesa. Surprisingly, she answered “Why don’t you just stay and sleep on the bus and wait until sunrise?”
Wait. What? I could do that? Apparently, with Cherry Bus I could.
I decided to try it. When the bus arrived at 3:37 AM in Puerto Princesa (more than 6 hours travel time) I forced myself not to give in the urge of going down the bus even if the majority of passengers are all going down to be faced by competitive tricycle drivers who goes in front of the bus and tries to pull passengers to their tricycle for a price of 150 Pesos/tricycle.
I really wanted to go down since it would only take less than 2 hours of waiting time in Chowking but I really needed to get some sleep before I push forward. So I just sat there at the bus.
The bus moved with a few passengers on board with the same plan. Sleep on the bus and wait for daybreak. I asked the conductor where are we going and he said that the buses are not allowed to stay at the terminal so we will be staying at their bus compound.
Their bus compound had a concrete fence with guards roaming around the area. At least I feel more secure sleeping here than spending my time in Chowking.
They turned off the aircon and turned of the lights and I slept.
At 4:45 AM I decided that I needed to go out and head to the town proper where I could get some breakfast. Luckily, there was a tricycle waiting at the gate. I talked to the driver and we agreed that I would pay 100 Pesos for him to take me to Chowking (24 hours open) in Rizal Ave. I did not mind the rate since it was still early in the morning and most likely there’s a very low probability that he will be getting another passenger on his way back to the bus compound.
At 5:09 AM, I was having breakfast at Jollibee (24 hours open). Then headed to the airport and waited for my boarding announcement.
I rode the plane with a restful mind and an unabused bladder.
I would highly recommend that travelers ride Cherry Bus because they allow their night passengers to sleep after they arrive at Puerto Princesa, rather than make sleepy passengers wait at a publicly accessible place until morning which is a high security problem for passengers. This shows that they go the extra mile to take care of their passengers.
Though it is fairly safe to sleep inside the bus, it is still good to make precautionary measures. When I slept I made sure that when someone moves my bags I would be able to feel it.
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From the countless times I rode with Cherry Bus, they have a travel time of around 7-8 hours from Puerto Princesa to El Nido during day time. And 6-7 hours during night time. This is the same travel time from El Nido to Puerto Princesa. This is due to their maximum speed limitation and the number of stops they have to make to pick-up and drop-off passengers.
I’m not sure if RORO Bus also allows their passengers to sleep on their buses when they arrive around 3AM in El Nido or Puerto Princesa. I do hope they do too. I’ll have to find out.
Cherry Bus Details
You can ride a Cherry Bus at San Jose Terminal. This is near the new market of Puerto Princesa City.
To get to San Jose Terminal from the airport, you can ride tricycles at the airport. Some would offer 150 Pesos/tricycle but you can haggle this down. Travel time is around 20 minutes.
You can also walk out of the airport and flag down a tricycle passing by to take you to Jollibee Rizal Ave (10 Pesos/person, 5 minutes travel time). Then ride a jeep/multicab going to New Market. Tell the driver of the jeep to drop you off at San Jose Terminal (13 Pesos/person, 20-30 minutes travel time).
You can ride a Cherry Bus at the Land Transportation Terminal of El Nido. Or popularly known as the ‘Terminal’.
From the town proper of El Nido ride a tricycle and tell the driver that you are heading to the terminal. The rate is 50 Pesos/tricycle. Travel time is around 5 minutes.
If you want to reserve or inquire to Cherry Bus you may contact the numbers below.
- Aircon Bus: 480 Pesos/person (one-way)*
- Non-Aircon Bus: 380 Pesos/person (one-way)*
This is also their schedule for Puerto Princesa to El Nido.
* Details may change without prior notice.
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