Palawan is one of my dream destinations in the Philippines. Not only because it is known to have the best beaches in the world but it is also known as “The Last Frontier” of the Philippines with amazing gifts of nature.
It has picturesque terrains, untapped mountains, distinct vegetation and amazing bodies of water. Amongst the popular attractions is the Puerto Princesa Underground River which is listed in the impressive New7Wonders of Nature and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Puerto Princesa City to the Underground River
We booked for a tour that costs PHP 2,000 or USD 40 per person. We were in a van that traveled from Puerto Princesa City to Sabang Wharf which is approximately 80 kilometers away. Sabang Wharf is the starting point to the Underground River where you need to ride a boat for another 20 minutes. I was not aware of the travel time during the entire trip as I really enjoyed the scenic landscapes along the way.
The first stop of our tour is at Taratitat Store and Souvenir shop where I found a great view of the West Philippine Sea perfect for photo ops.
We also had a side trip at the Karst Mountain and Elephant Cave which became popular as it was one of the stopovers in the TV series ‘The Amazing Race Philippines’ which aired on 2012.
Finally, we reached Sabang Wharf and we boarded the ‘bangka’ or a wooden boat that will bring us to the Underground River. It was a smooth ride and we were thankful that weather is with us as they cancel trips if the climate is bad for safety reasons.
Wandering Around The Underground River Park
Being at the Puerto Princesa Underground River is an achievement for me as I have already visited two of the New7Wonders of Nature. I have been to Halong Bay in Vietnam for many times during the past years which is a privilege I had as a cruise employee.
The upkeep of the Underground River is impressive even it is a popular destination in the Philippines. The park is covered by forest which is home to several endemic species of plants and animals which you see up-close while inside the park.
Inside the Underground River by Boat
The subterranean river flows over to West Philippine Sea and is over 24 kilometers long and 8.2 kilometers underground section although only 4.3 kilometers of it is passable by boat. The allowable area for tourist is only 1.5 kilometers. However, researchers and experts usually obtain special permits to navigate extensively.
The underground river trip is entertaining as the boat paddler who is also the guide usually talks about the history of the river and its importance to the residence of the province. The guide also point out the different formations of stalactites and stalagmites using his powerful torch light. Virgin Mary statue, giant candle, dinosaur claw, big mushroom, the Holy Family on Nativity and some other interesting shapes in various sizes can be seen inside the cave.
We cruised gently along the river but we humans were not alone. There are reptiles and thousands of bats existing inside the caves. We were provided with helmets for protection from rocks, water drips and bat feces.
The Underground River tour took about 45 minutes and it was really worth it. The highlights that we have seen are spectacular and I am sure that there are more astounding mysteries inside that are yet to be sightseen. I hope that a lengthier part of the river will be opened to regular tourists someday.
It was certainly an exciting experience which made me value more the beauty of Mother Earth’s nature. Now that 2 of the 7 NewWonders of Nature have been checked from my list, I am very excited to plan my trips to the remaining 5; Komodo Island in Indonesia, Jeju Island in South Korea, Table Mountain in South Africa, Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil and the Amazon Forest and River in South America.
Where To Stay In Puerto Princesa
Booking a hotel nowadays is as easy as ABC and there is no trick to do that. If you want to get the cheapest hotel rates in Puerto Princesa and anywhere in the Philippines, I always suggest to use the booking apps in your mobile phone or online like Agoda to find the great hotel deals. Here are the top reviewed accommodations in Puerto Princesa as scored by Agoda users.
- Munting Paraiso Check Rates & Availability
- Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel Check Rates & Availability
- Villa Skanderbeg Guest House Check Rates & Availability
- Cleon Villas Pension Check Rates & Availability
- Paboreal Boutique Hotel Check Rates & Availability
Getting in to Puerto Princesa Underground River
– Fly to Puerto Princesa, Palawan
(Domestic flights from Manila, Cebu, Clark and Iloilo; International flights from Taipei-Taoyuan and Seoul-Incheon)
– Drive to Sabang Wharf
From Puerto Princesa, take a mini bus going to the “New Market” jeepney Terminal in San Jose. It takes about ten minutes and fare of approximately PHP 15 or USD 0.75. There are 4 trips from the San Jose Terminal to Sabang that run daily between 7AM and 2PM. The bus/jeepneys both cost around PHP 150 or USD 3 and the trip takes about 3 hours one way.
On a tour
Local tour agents in Puerto Princesa sell a full day trip package for PHP 2,000-2,500 or USD 40-50 where you are transported to Sabang via a minivan which includes a tour to Puerto Princesa Underground River inclusive of environmental fee and lunch buffet at the nearby resort.
You can also book a tour via Klook app or website. Here are the available tour options to Puerto Princesa Underground River and nearby attractions.
- Puerto Princesa Underground River Day Tour
- Puerto Princesa Underground River with ATV Jungle Track
- City Transfers between Puerto Princesa and Sabang
- 3-in-1 Puerto Princesa Sabang Adventure Package