Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park: A World Wonder in Palawan, Philippines

Our original plan was to take Casa Linda’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Tour with buffer lunch at P1600 per person. However, the tricycle driver we met (Kuya Ding, 09186620495) referred to us a travel agency that offered the same tour with buffet lunch at a lower price — P1300/pax. We grabbed it.

Kuya Ding gave us the number and we contacted them right away. The woman on the other side collected our names because they said they needed it for tourist registration, which should be completed ahead of time. We agreed that they would pick us up at 7am the next day. After our brief talk over the phone we had dinner at Ka Lui Restaurant and slept tight that night.

Getting There

The next morning, Day 2, we woke up early and had a swift breakfast at Casa Linda Restaurant. When we went out, a tour van was waiting for us already and we were greeted by our tour guide. We climbed into the van and found a group of pretty women from Manila already excited about the tour. Apparently, there would be 3 groups sharing the van; 12 people total excluding the driver and the tour guide. It was OK though because the van was too big for all of us.

We drove to another hotel to pick up 2 middle-aged Korean men who would be joining us. We were seated at the far end of the van while the 5 girls occupied the front seats so the Koreans had no choice but to sit in the middle. (Somehow, this reminds me of Rebecca Black’s Friday, LOL).

Going to Sabang Beach took around 2 hours. But it wasn’t an excruciating ride because:

  • Our tour guide was very talkative, sharing experiences and information with us. We liked her.
  • The other groups in the van were very funny and energetic. They would share jokes and anecdotes.
  • There was a stop over somewhere in the middle.

At the stop over, there was a store and a small eatery. There was also a small wild boar. And a monkey. Entertaining.

When we finally reached Sabang Beach, we still had to take a boat ride to the Subterranean River. The ride takes a few minutes but the view was FANTASTIC. We could see limestone cliffs everywhere and there were also some pockets of white beaches.

We finally reached the national park a bit later.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

As soon as we hopped off of our boat, we just stood there and tried to take it all in — the gorgeous view, the pretty beach, the idea that we are at a world wonder. And then, camwhoring!

There were huts where tourists could stay. The new restrooms were also impressive. Around the area, you’ll find cute mischievous monkeys, who would steal anything that looks like food. And to these monkeys, plastic bags = food containers. So just a tip, DON’T put your valuables in a plastic bag because there’s a big chance you’ll find yourself playing tug-o-war with the monkeys. Always secure your possessions because the monkeys, fast as hell, will snatch them. But they’re cute. LOL

You’ll also find monitor lizards crawling around the site.

Limestone cliffs fronting the entrance.
Limestone cliffs fronting the entrance.
Monkeys doing their thing.
Monkeys doing their thing.
One of the monitor lizards roaming around
Restrooms at the site

We proceeded to the river and fell in line. While waiting, we put on our live vests and helmets. These are required for all tourists.

The cave looked mysterious and we got really excited just looking at it. When they called our names, we hopped onto a boat along with other tourists and our boatman started paddling into the cave.

It was amazing that these boatmen were trained. Although hardly fluent, they can communicate in English and answer tourists’ questions confidently. I think it’s how they were trained. It’s comforting to know that they were given reliable jobs by the government and help in the promotion of the province’s natural treasures. The boatman spoke with humor. (If you have been to this place more than once, you’ll notice that they follow a script. Regardless, it was still funny.)

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is said to be the world’s longest navigable underground river. It is extremely dark inside. If you’re sitting in the front seat, you will be tasked to hold the flashlight as the boatman-slash-tour guide will be busy paddline. He will show you the different rock formations inside the cave and add some interesting facts about the place. The cave also houses numerous species of bats, birds and reptiles. But no, there are no crocodiles.

Tourists on the way out of the cave while we were going in
The candle rock formation.
The highway rock formation. Photo by Astrid Alvarez
The view on the way out of the cave.

The entire trip inside the cave lasts for a bit over 30 minutes. Medyo bitin, yes, but you will need to have a special permit to go any farther.

After our trip inside, we then proceeded to a white beach surrounded by limestone cliffs on the way back. We wanted to go swimming there but it’s prohibited. All we could do was take pics.

How to get there: Group tours are available at the city center of Puerto Princesa. The Underground River Tour will take you to the Subterranean River National Park and Sabang Beach. Most of these tours also include buffet lunch. The tour usually costs P1300 to as high as P2500 depending on the tour operator.

PUERTO PRINCESA GUIDE


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Comments

  1. kwin says:

    hi..! may i know your total expenses for that 3days trip..?.. lahat2x na po including food, entrance fees, accomodation.. thanks.. 🙂

  2. Honeylee Guillen says:

    sabi nung tour guide namin nung pumunta kami sa underground river. may nakuhanan daw ng cp gawa nga nung mga monkey. kaya make sure daw na may load lagi yung fone para matxt nyo yung kumuha at makareply sya..hehe..=)

  3. Rhea Asuncion Agpalasin says:

    tour guides always mention the said statement to threaten or should i say to stop tourist from bringing plastic bags because there is a chance that we might just throw/scatter those plastics within the area.

  4. True po. Last feb andun kami while waiting for our boat going sa cave..yung monkey kinuha yung baby wipes sa isang girl..plastic kc yun wrapper akala food ang nasa loob.

  5. Mae Ajoc says:

    we were warned too about that by the boatman. Lucky me, there werent any monkey when we were there last March. my cam and things safe in ziploc =)

  6. sendo says:

    whew, im really thankful of this post kasi very recent. palawan kami this sunday at sa monday ang underground river namin…nice one, kokontakin ko na si kuya ding haha

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m preparing my Philippine bucket list and this surely is included. I’ll bring along Niagara’s Inniskillin ice wine to pair with giant crab harvest in Gubat, Sorsogon’s Rizal Beach.

  8. Bettina says:

    Hi! How long did the tour take? And about how long were you able to stay at the Sabang beach? We are going there in 2 weeks and I still don’t have a plan. Would you mind giving me the contact number of the travel agency you booked the Underground river tour with? Thank you! 🙂

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      The whole tour (Underground River + Sabang + travel time) took us 7-8 hours. 😀

      Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the name of the agency. It was referred to us by Kuya Ding, the tricycle driver. 😀

  9. maicapot says:

    May I know the contact number of the agency that offers cheap package for Underground River? Please. Thanks

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi Maicapot! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it. I’m sure there are others who offer similar rates. Ask the tricycle driver who will drive you. 🙂

  10. Affa good place ken. The whole trip out there abd the wait at the mouth was fantastic. Nae to mention the monkeys.

  11. Grace Dela Cruz Zagler says:

    I did this tour two weeks ago, it is advisable that one brings her/his own flashlight so you will have the freedom to have a closer look in areas that would interest you more . It is a 1.5 tour only will take 45 mins in total to and fro.

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      That’s a great tip, Grace! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Mornie says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for a very informative post. Me and my friends are planning to travel to Peurto Princesa and El Nido for 6 days. Do you think that Kuya Ding’s number is still active? I am currently out of the country so I can’t try to call him. Did you stay at the Casa Linda all the time? Or did you take other hotels than that?

    Can I have your e-mail address? I really want your advice and help about this trip. Thank you in advance!

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Hi Mornie, you can email me at admin (at) thepoortraveler.net or use the contact form on the Contact Me page. 🙂

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