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Travel Palau on a Budget

Updated January 2021 Travel Palau on a Budget was originally written in October 2017

Spoiler alertPalau is not a cheap destination! However, there are ways to keep costs down and visit Palau on a budget.

Getting To Palau

By flight is obviously the most common option. Unless you own a sailboat or yacht, etc.

Flights arrive to Koror, the capital from Guam, the Philippines, China, Japan, and South Korea. Most of these flights roundtrip will cost $400-600.


Start shopping flights to Palau here!


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Depending on what flight network you belong to you can sometimes take one of these flights from East Asia or Guam for as little as 15,000 miles if your airline or a partner fly there.


Click here to learn how I actually get cheap flights


Keep an eye out for Palau flight deals. When I visited Palau in November 2016, the word on the islands was that the country wanted to diversify its tourism and entice more Europeans and North Americans to visit (Palau’s tourism is almost entirely catered toward China).

In 2016 a deal was ran offering tickets round trip Amsterdam-Koror for €250. This isn’t a frequent occurrence but it does happen.


Going to the Philippines? Start planning your visit to El Nido


Accommodation

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Yet again, most accommodation in Palau is catered to the tastes of Chinese package tourists with big budgets. If you look and are willing to sacrifice, it is possible to find accommodation for those who want to travel Palau on a budget.

Where To Stay In Koror

Budget
Lehn’s Hotel & Apartments
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Palau 8090 Dreamhouse
Booking.com |

Palau Hotel
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Midrange
Palau Central Hotel
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Garden Palace Downtown Koror
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Splurge
Palau Pacific Resort
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Ngellil Nature Island Resort
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Where To Stay In Peleliu

Midrange
Adventures Inn Peleliu
Hotels.com |

Where To Stay On Carp Island

Midrange
Carp Island Resort
$95/night, dbl (including boat transfer from Koror)

Other Ways To Stay In Palau

  • Couchsurfing is a great option for those trying to stretch their budget as far as possible, but hosts in Palau can be few and far between.
  • Another good option to check out is AirBnb

Getting Around

Koror and Melekeok

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The two main islands are connected by a bridge. It is possible to rent a car and self-drive around the islands. For the cheapest prices book in advance. Also, know that most flights do arrive very late at night so give flight details to your rental company so that they do have someone there at their counter when you arrive.

Peleliu

The best way to get around Peleliu is by bicycle. Plan to pay around $10 per day.

Getting Between Islands

Getting on the plane to fly over Palau

Flights

Flights can be arranged between Koror and Peleliu with Pacific Mission Aviation. They also connect Yap and other islands of Micronesia with Palau. Not looking to go anywhere? You can also take a scenic flight over the Rock Islands.

Government Boats

This is the cheapest way to travel inter-island in Palau. Prices range from $30-40 roundtrip but are subject to change. Always contact the state office to confirm. Here are the most up-to-date departure schedules I could find:

Koror (Malakal) To Peleliu ($30 roundtrip, $1 per bag)

  • Mondays 2:00 pm
  • Tuesdays: 2:00 pm
  • Wednesdays: 3:00 pm
  • Fridays: 2:00 pm

Peleliu To Koror (Malakal)

  • Tuesdays: 6:00 am
  • Wednesdays: 7:30 am
  • Thursdays: 10:00 am
  • Sundays: 12:00 pm

Koror (Malakal) – Angaur ($40 rt, $1 per bag)

  • Mondays: 12:00 pm
  • Fridays: 12:00 pm

Anaguar To Koror (Malakal)

  • Thursdays: 10:00 am
  • Sundays: 12:00 pm

Koror (T-Dock) – Kayangel ($40 roundtrip, and an additional $8 “tourist” fee)

Departures are every two weeks

  • Friday: 9:00 am

Kayangel To Koror (T-Dock)

Departures are every two weeks

  • Sunday: 1:00 pm

Boat Charter

It’s possible to charter a boat or search for a diving boat that’s headed in the direction you would like to go. This will be much more expensive but quicker than the government boats.

Activities

Palau has a lot to see for how little land makes up the islands. Note that Palau is the land of fees, which drive up costs more. 

Update: Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake is once again open to swimming and snorkeling! (as of December 2018).

After the extreme drought Palau suffered in 2015 & 2016 most of the plankton that the oddly evolved stinger-free jellies eat died off, resulting in a mass death of the jellyfish. There were very few left alive in later 2016, and it was decided to close the lake to swimming and snorkeling until the population had a chance to bounce back (I visited in December 2016, so no jellyfish lake for me).

Scenic Rock Islands Flight

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The German Channel

My personal favorite! Mind you, this is coming from someone who has still not completed their PADI certificate.

This was the highlight of my time in Palau. Personally, if I was going to splurge anywhere when traveling Palau on a budget, this would be it! And no need to worry divers, the planes don’t fly higher than 1,000 feet.

Contact Pacific Mission Aviation to book. A 45 minute scenic flight will run $180 per seat.

Diving The Blue Corner

Most who come to Palau go for the diving. The Blue Corner is as good as it gets from what diver friends tell me.

Looks pretty cool from the air too. Check out diving tours here.

Diving The Drop Off

Another world-class diving site. Yours truly has snorkeled here and can attest that it’s an amazing spot from what limited areas I could reach. Check out diving tours here.

The Battle of Peleliu

The Battle of Peleliu was one of bloodiest and battles of the Pacific Theater. Hire a local guide to bring you to all the sites or go at it on your own.

Rock Islands Boat/Kayaking Tour

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Plan to pay $100-150 per person to take a day trip south of Koror around the Rock Islands. And here’s where one of those pesky fees comes in… a Rock Island Permit will set you back an additional $100 per person.

Check out this Rock Islands and Jellyfish Lake tour, or this Rock Islands kayaking & snorkeling tour.

Carp Island Resort

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Beautiful Carp Island

Want a peaceful place to kick back and enjoy some of Palau’s finest beaches? Look no further than Carp Island. An overnight on the island including your boat transfer will set you back $95.

You can purchase meals at the cafeteria or buy snacks at the shop on the island. Otherwise, plan to bring your own food out and cook for yourself.

Diving trips can be arranged during your Carp Island stay. Kayaks are also on rental.

Jellyfish Lake

The unique Jellyfish Lake has reopened to swimmers and snorkelers in December 2018! After Palau suffered a mass drought in 2015 & 2016 Jellyfish Lake was closed in an effort to let the jellies re-populate.

The majority of the jellyfish had died off by late 2016 because their food supply (plankton) had been devastated by the drought. Their population apparently is back to a good level enough for Palau to decide to re-open.

The jellyfish have evolved to not have stingers, giving the unique ability to swim among jellyfish.

Visit Jellyfish Lake on this Jellyfish Lake & Rock Islands Tour. Note that you cannot dive in Jellyfish Lake.

For divers, there is a trip that combines 3 days of diving and a visit to Jellyfish Lake for a chance to swim and snorkel with them. Check out the tour here.

Exploring Palau’s Hidden Temples & Historical Sites

There are a number of historical WWII sites in Palau, as well as traditional homes to visit and on Carp Island, you can even see stone money (it’s huge!). For anyone interested in seeing the Palauan jungle, seeing historical and traditional sites, and more, check out this 4×4 adventure tour.

Food

Koror

Supermarket prices are just slightly higher than those in the USA, so food prices won’t shock you coming from western countries. Eating out isn’t much higher than in the US either. My friend living in Palau usually ate Bento Boxes every day as you can pick them up for $2-3 which is a dirt-cheap meal.

Restaurants To Try In Koror

  • Mog Mog
  • Tori Tori
  • Drop Off Bar & Grill
  • Pho You Pho Me
  • Taj
  • Jasmine Thai

Then There’s Peleliu…

Peleliu doesn’t have much in the way of options. Your best bet to save is to purchase provisions in Koror and bring them with you. Otherwise, your options are very limited in stores or pricey resort restaurants.

Note: Tap water in Palau is not safe to drink. You will need bottled water or to bring a purifier with you.

But Wait! There’s More! Fees

Remember earlier when I had said Palau was land of the fee? Don’t forget to factor these in when your planning to travel Palau on a budget. Well here it goes… the pesky fees:

When departing Palau

  • $20 Departure tax
  • $30 Green fee

Rock Islands Permit

  • $100

Peleliu Land Permit

  • $15

Ngardmau Waterfall

  • $10

Ngarchelong Beach

  • $10

*Note: these are the fees I encountered. There may possibly be more for other sites.

Explore Palau Without Breaking The Bank

Hopefully, this will help you visit Palau without making as big of a dent in your savings as it could.

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Have Any Questions About How To Travel Palau On A Budget?

Ask your Palau on a budget questions in the comments below!

Need Travel Insurance for Palau?

Start shopping plans over at battleface, my go-to travel insurance choice, or over at World Nomads.

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