All you need to know to visit this Micronesian paradise cheaply (including cheap accommodation, transportation, food, etc.)…so you can spend more swimming in the Jellyfish Lake, diving, discovering WWII relics, and exploring the local culture. Palau is hard to get info about — so let us know if you have any questions!
Hi there. So, you want to travel to Palau cheaply, right? Well, here I’ll give you all that you need to know to visit this Micronesian gem the cheapest way possible! But, just so you know, Palau is NOT a cheap place for tourists…. and I think they want to keep it that way. However, while there are some costs that simply can’t be avoided, there are others (which you can read about below) that can be cut significantly.
Note: We divided our time in Palau between 3 of the islands: Koror (home of the largest city), Peleliu (a smaller island to the south famous for its WWII relics) and Babeldaob (the largest island, home of the airport, and connected to Koror by a bridge).
Okay, we’ll start the bad stuff that you can’t avoid (but don’t let that scare you off!), Palau may as well be called the land of the fees! It seems like there’s a fee for everything in this country. Just for being there, you’ll have to pay two fees upon departure in the airport: $30.00 for a “green” fee and a $20.00 departure tax. So, just that is $50.00. Besides this, it looks like the fees will increase in October 2016 to a combined $120.00!!!!
If you are going to Palau, you’ll likely want to swim in Jellyfish Lake. Well, there’s another little fee of $100 to visit the Rock Islands where you’ll find Jellyfish Lake (besides the cost of the tours themselves). In other words, if you go to Palau and just do the minimum, that’s already $150.00 in fees.
If you want to explore the WWII artifacts in Peleliu that’ll be another $15.00 “land permit” fee.
And to finish, the country’s most famous waterfall, $10.00.
Despite all of these irritating fees, we still found our trip to Palau to be worth every penny.
Being an island in the middle of the Pacific, don’t expect to find lots of cheap accommodation…. there isn’t much!
There are many hotels but there is only ONE hostel which at the moment it costs US$ 35.00 per night in a dorm…. that’s Scandinavian country prices! But if you are traveling alone and want to stay somewhere decent, this is your best bet.
There are also a few hotels under US$ 100.00 per night that wouldn’t end up being much more expensive than the hostel if you are traveling in a pair or a group.
Now, if you REALLY want to save on accommodation, the best option is Airbnb. It was here that we found our accommodation both in Koror as well as Peleliu by renting rooms from a place called MAML Divers. To be honest, especially in Koror, the place was downright unpleasant…. calling it “basic” would be a nice way to put it! But I’ll leave the photos here and let you decide if you can handle it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can also rent a tent for them and sleep in their front yard for $10.00 per night…. likely the cheapest option on the whole island!
In Peleliu, although the room didn’t have air-conditioning, there was a fan and it was right next to the “port” with decent bathrooms (especially when compared to the place in Koror). So, I’d recommend it. As of March 2016, the room in Koror was $37.00 per night and the room in Peleliu was $19.00 per night. If you’d like to learn more about Airbnb and get a free $25.00 credit towards your reservation, just click here.
While Couchsurfing would be the most economical option, we were unable to find a host.
There are a few different ways to save money on transportation in Palau. Here they are:
Palau isn’t really a cheap place to fly to. You can fly to Palau via Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, or China. But none of these options will be less than $400 besides the cost of getting to these countries. And if you want to buy a flight leaving from Europe, the Americas, Africa or Oceania, it’ll be difficult to find something under 2,000 dollars!
But there’s hope! If you are already in Asia, you can fly to Palau for very few miles! This is possible with several mileage programs. If you read about how I got my flight to Palau in this article, you saw that for just 15,000 miles from the United (Star Alliance) mileage program, I could fly from South Korea to Palau and then from Palau to Lijiang, China for another 15,000 miles…. in other words, for a bargain! With Delta’s (Skyteam) mileage program, it’s 17,500 miles each way.
In summary, if you want to save on your flight to Palau, find a cheap flight to any destination in Eastern Asia and from there use miles to get to Palau.
To help you save on buying your tickets to Asia, you can read our article with 16 tips to save on flights.
This is a good idea if you want to avoid the US $15.00 per person taxi fee from the airport to Koror. You can rent the car in the airport and deliver it in the city. And, like us, you can also use it to explore Babeldaob Island as well as Koror. The cheapest option to rent is IA Rental. I asked them and their best price was US$18.00 per day with insurance. It’s just that you’ll have to call beforehand to make your reservation. The phone number is +(680) 488-5011. We tried to email them but had no luck with answers. Just make sure they know what time your flight arrives (because the flights often arrive at very inconvenient times) to make sure that someone is at the stand when you get there or ask what time they open.
In this case, our page with The 5 Best and Cheapest Websites to Compare and Rent Cars Around the World won’t help you much since it’s cheaper to rent a car with the local companies in Palau than online.
If you are moving around Koror or Peleliu and you want to save, this has got to be one of the easiest countries to hitchhike in. The people are really great and it never took us more than a minute or two to get picked up. In general, they won’t ask for anything, but when we were trying to hitch a ride to the airport, a local family offered to take us in exchange for some “gas money.” So, we gave $10.00 when we arrived at our destination because the ride was about 20 minutes and we had a lot of luggage… still a third of the price of what a taxi would have been for the two of us! But if you are just going close areas around the island, getting free rides is really easy.
Apparently, there’s no longer any place to rent bicycles in Koror but, in Peleliu, it’s a great option to explore the island cheaply if you don’t want to do a tour by car. We paid $10.00 per bicycle per day from Dolphin Bay Resort. A few other resorts rent them as well but this one let us return the bicycles the latest. If you stay with the MAML Airbnb on Peleliu that we mentioned in the accommodation section, you can ask the nice lady who works there to reserve the bicycles and drive you there (it’s a long walk). Then, you can just hitchhike back to your accommodation after dropping off the bicycles. Just keep in mind: Peleliu is hot and humid so you have to be in the shape necessary to cover the 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) of the island.
This is the cheapest way to move between the islands of Koror, Peleliu, Angaur, and Kayangel alongside some beautiful views! I talk all about these boats along with the schedule, days of operation, and prices on this page.
You can also use private boats from dive shops to travel between the islands (as they are often going that way anyway), though they will be more expensive than the official state boats… however, sometimes they are quicker and have better schedules. If you’re interested, talk directly with the diving centers. If you are staying with the MAML Divers Airbnb in either Koror or Peleliu, you can talk to them.
To read more tips about saving money on local transportation during your trips, take a look at our page here.
These are something worth spending money on in Palau! Palau is an incredible place and it wouldn’t make any sense at all to miss out on the main attractions just to save some money.
The first and most unique is the Jellyfish Lake. This magic place lets you swim surrounded by thousands of sting-less jellyfish. After much research, the best option that I found was the package for a day from Impac Tours. The tour we did specifically with them was called the Jellyfish Lake and Rock Island Kayaking Tour. For this tour, you’ll pay US$100 for the tour (plus $100 for the government permit) and the day will include a visit to the Milky Way to bathe in medicinal clay, kayaking around the Rock Islands, a stop on an island for lunch, a visit to Jellyfish Lake, and one last snorkeling among a coral reef. In other words, an incredible day that alone would make your visit to Palau worth it.
Well, for this price don’t expect exclusivity. The groups on Impac tours are not small but the places you’ll go are so awesome that you can forget about the crowds.
If you’re into diving, Palau can’t be missed. Unsurprisingly, it’s not a cheap place to dive. To have an idea, a day of diving with 2 tanks is about 160 dollars besides the rental equipment. So be prepared to shop around for prices in dive shops as well as to see where they’ll be diving for the dates you want to go.
If you want to dive, don’t forget to buy a travel insurance that covers diving. A good option is WorldNomads that includes several adventurous activities as well as diving up to 50 meters for a good price. To know more about other options for travel insurance, take a look at our special page about the 3 best and cheapest travel insurances.
Finally, for those interested in the Battle of Peleliu, one of the bloodiest WWII battles of the Pacific, you’ll find plenty to do. If you are really into WWII history, I recommend you find a local guide to take you around the jungle to hear the stories and find the places with tanks, cannons, machine guns, planes (the Japanese Zeroes) and lots of bunkers…. all abandoned! Plus, you’ll have all of the caves as well as the museum (though you’ll need to have the $15.00 government land permit if you want to visit it).
Unfortunately, there weren’t enough tourists to do a tour so we rented bicycles and explored on our own. If you want to find out how to do the same, soon we’ll be posting an article explaining everything including a detailed map… so keep an eye out!
The island is quite nice so it’s worth spending a few days if you can. If you’re short on time but really want to see the island, you also have the option of doing a fairly expensive day tour to Peleliu leaving from Koror.
We have good news here! It’s actually quite easy to save on food in Koror. It’s really not that expensive to eat in local restaurants (even the ones in downtown Koror) or buy things in the supermarket. You also have the option of “Bento Boxes” which are fresh (prepared on the morning of) and tasty pre-packaged meals that you can find at any gas station.
The prices of the supermarkets are slightly higher than that of the United States but are nothing crazy.
In the restaurants that we ate in, you can eat quite well for 5-6 dollars. And those “Bento Boxes” (aka our best friends) were around 2-3 dollars.
Unfortunately, in Peleliu, things are much more limited. There are basically no local restaurants outside of the resorts and there’s not much selection in the stores. The best idea would be to bring lots of food with you from Koror.
One more note…. the tap water in Palau is not drinkable so you’ll have to buy your own from the supermarket.
If you want to learn more about how to save on food and drink while traveling, this article will give you some ideas.
Well, that’s it. Hopefully, this article will help you explore this unique little country without going bankrupt.
And stay tuned! As we mentioned above, we’ll be adding more articles about Palau soon. One will about Palau’s main attractions that you shouldn’t miss while there and the other will be about how to explore the WWII relics and abandoned weaponry that was left behind on Peleliu island, including a map and an explanation of how to find them!
UPDATE: As promised, we have now added our article about 8 Reasons to Visit Palau, so don’t miss out!
If you have any questions or comments about what was covered above or anything else related to Palau not mentioned, just use the comments area below and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
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