Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
added to the new 7 wonders of nature list by unesco world heritage sites in 1999.
This park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river. One of the river’s distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0
Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife. It is located in the south-western part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km southwest of Manila.
The property, comprising an area of approximately 22,202 ha, contains an 8.2km long underground river. The highlight of this subterranean river system is that it flows directly into the sea, with its brackish lower half subjected to tidal influence, distinguishing it as a significant natural global phenomenon. The river’s cavern presents remarkable, eye catching rock formations. The property contains a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem which provides significant habitat for biodiversity conservation and protects the most intact and noteworthy forests within the Palawan biogeographic province. Holding the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit, the park’s effective management system is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people to the protection and conservation of their natural heritage.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to plan a visit to Puerto Princesa is during its dry season, which is in November to May.The hottest months are from March to May, while its rainy season is from June to October.
So the best time to plan your trip to the Underground River is during the dry season, as the weather will be more favorable,sometimes because of rough weather there is a chance that your trip could be cancelled.
Always check with the local weather updates before booking
HOW TO GET THERE
To visit Puerto Princesa’s Underground River,first you must make your way to Puerto Princesa, most visitors arrive by plane, some come by ferry and of course for those who are already here in Puerto Princesa by land. Once you’re in Puerto Princesa, you have to travel to Sabang. It’s a small village north of Puerto Princesa. Below you will find some ways you can get to Sabang from Puerto Princesa.
Jeepney or Bus
From Puerto Princesa, make your way to San Jose Terminal, which is located in the San Jose New Market. Just passed Robinson’s Mall about 5 mins on Puerto Princesa’s North Road. At the terminal, you will see jeepneys and non-air conditioned buses to Sabang Port.
Recommendation to arrive in Sabang the day before you want to do the tour, and spend the night there.To beat the crowds that come in the afternoon, most of the tours from Puerto Princesa arrive in the afternoon so it is a lot busier So your tour can start in the morning and you have the whole day to yourself to enjoy. When you arrive in Sabang, don’t forget to book your bus back to Puerto Princesa as they can get filled up pretty quickly.
Hired Van or Private Car
You can ask your hotel to arrange a van for you or can search the web for van or car rentals or if you wish full service companies to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. It takes about two hours from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Port.
Before you Go, What you need to know!
Go to the Puerto Princesa Underground River Booking office in the building called“the City Coliseum” in Puerto Princesa City Proper.
You cannot book the permits online, you will have to go to the office in person.It is advisable to book it in advance one or two days.
They limited amount of visitors to the river and therefore a limited amount of permits to be issued to walk-ins, the rest is for the tour companies.
Have valid ID on you and then you will be asked to fill out a form, give your personal details and proceed to two different payment counters : one for the permits and one for the mandatory audio-guides.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – Booking Office
Ground Floor, City Coliseum
San Pedro, National Highway, Puerto Princesa City
Monday to Friday: 8AM to 4PM
Saturday & Sunday: 8AM to 12PM, 1PM to 5PM
+63484342509 / +63487230904
ARRIVING AT SABANG WHARF
With your permits you will now go to the office on Sabang pier to register. They open at 8:am and I would recommend that you get there before, so you can be one of the first persons to get on a boat.
Have your permits ready to submit, then you sit down, wait, and they will call your name, when your name is called you will have to pay the environmental fee to them and they will stamp your permits as a proof.
Go outside and show your permits to the guys organizing the boats. You will have to wait till they get 6 people to fill up the boat before they leave, there is a fee of about 185p per person, if you wait for them to put you on a boat with other people to share the costs.The underground river is accessible by foot by a 3 kms hike (which you have to pay 200 pesos per person now !) or by a 20 minutes boat ride.
The boatman will accompany you to the beach to get your helmet with your audio-guides and put you on a boat to start your adventure. Again, there will be a lot of people, so please be patient and wait your turn.Enjoy your surrounding area.
The tour takes about 1 hour. The guide paddles the boat and uses his searchlight to show you the stunning stalagmites and stalactites, rock formations, and its inhabitants (i.e., bats, birds, and reptiles). Listening to the audio-guide will assist you with lots of information. It is also very cool to remove your headphones to listen to the silence of the caves.
By doing the DYI choice it is a little bit cheaper but not much, when you include everything, but the main advantage is getting there early and beating the crowds and having the rest of the day to enjoy exploring.. You can also go to Sabang the day before and organize a tour with your accommodation there without doing the whole booking permits in Puerto Princesa. Either way you will not be disappointed
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Tips
1: Wear light and comfortable clothes that are okay to get wet and have a change of cloths as well or that are waterproof .
2: The proper footwear is very important also, reef shoes, slippers or any type of waterproof footwear is recommended.
3: Having a water proof bag to put your valuables (i..e. ID, money, wallets ) in to keep dry and safe.
4: Remember for those who sunburn easily and even for those who do not, to apply sun block before starting off.
5: Remember to bring along mosquito repellent to be applied before the tour.
6: Try to bring refillable btls for your beverages instead of plastic, what you bring in please bring back out.
7: When looking up, remember bat guano can drop down, so be advised accordingly
8: It’s prohibited to talk loudly inside the cave chambers to avoid disturbing the bats.
9: Guests are prohibited from touching the cave walls to prevent disturbing the ecosystem.
10: Flash photography is also strictly prohibited
11: It is required to wear the provided life vests and hard hats for your safety.