Palawan Underground River: A Subterranean Thrill


Known to many as the Palawan Underground River, this magnificent beauty found in Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines invites hundreds of tourists per day. With the more specific name of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, it is considered as one of the 28 finalists for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” competition. It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 4, 1999 similar to the Banaue Rice Terraces (in 1995).

The Palawan Underground River is a Subterranean Thrill with 8.2 kilometers of navigable river underneath a tunnel with stalactites and stalagmites. It is the world’s longest subterranean river located in Sito Sabang. Bats and insects live inside the tunnel creating some unpleasant smell during the cruise. A guide with a paddle-powered outrigger and a kerosene can take you to the Palawan Underground River. The local government offers prices depending on the outrigger and number of people that will ride it. Usually, a group of 4-6 people ride the paddle-powered outriggers going inside the Palawan Underground River. To avoid any accidents, a life vest and a helmet is provided to the guests. Flashlights are very useful during the trip so you can see what’s inside. There have been proposals to put electrical lightings inside the tunnel but the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Palawan did not agree to preserve the wonders and beauty of this Subterranean River.

Palawan Underground River

Palawan Underground River

Inside the Cave of the Subterranean River

Inside the Cave of the Subterranean River

Located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, the National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east.

The Puerto Princesa National Park was supervised by the City Government of Puerto Princesa since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is a short hike from the town of Sabang.

A recognizing characteristic of the Palawan Underground River is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly into the South China Sea located in the western part of the Philippines. Major formations of stalactites and stalagmites and large chambers are some of the beauty that the cave holds and this formation is comparable to Bukilat Cave in Camotes and Hinagdanan Cave in Panglao. The lower portion of this subterranean river is subject to big tidal waves coming from the open ocean.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) or better known as Palawan Underground River National Park can be toured one day on foot and a half-day if you go by “banca” (paddle-powered outrigger). The National Park Covers 50,000 square meters of well-preserved forest. One of the most distinguished biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines.

The government has been exerting a lot of effort in maintaining the National Park and the Palawan Underground River. The spectacular limestone formations as well as all the natural wonders are preserved to give peace and prosperity to the fauna.

The Park is open to the public the whole year round; however the best time to visit is from January to June when the weather is drier making it easier to get around.

Other activities which can be enjoyed in the National Park are jungle trekking, wildlife watching, mangrove paddleboat tour, and swimming/snorkeling in the white sand beaches. For more information, you can check Palawan Underground River’s official website at http://www.puerto-undergroundriver.com/. You can contact them at telephone number (+63)(48)434-2509 or email them at info@puerto-undergroundriver.com.

Vote For Puerto Princesa Underground River

To include for the Underground River of Puerto Princesa, Palawan as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, show your support by voting at http://www.new7wonders.com/n7w

Rates / Fee

General Entrance Fee
P 75.00 and P 50.00

Cave Entrance Fee*
21 – 59 yr. Old (P200.00)
17 – 20 yr. Old (P100.00)
13 – 16 yr. Old (P75.00)
6 – 12 yr. Old (P50.00)

Commercial Video Fee
P 3000.00

*Filipino Senior Citizens 60 yr. old and above, Children 5 years old and below, and the handicapped are exempted from paying entrance for the Underground River Tour.

Other Fees

Van Rental from the City Proper
P 3,500.00 – two way (average van rental price)

Boat to Underground River Beach
P700.00 for 6 persons – two way

How to get there

Puerto Princesa City is accessible by air with three airlines having daily flights from Manila, and twice weekly from Cebu City. Puerto Princesa City is also accessible by sea with voyages scheduled once a week from Manila and Iloilo City.

From Puerto Princesa City, the PPSRNP is accessible by land via a 75 km road. It takes around one and a half hours of travel over mostly paved road from the City to Sabang. It is served by public utility jeepneys and air-conditioned shuttle vans.

Accommodations and Park Entry

The Park does not operate any overnight facilities but there are a number of locally owned and managed resorts in the surrounding areas that offer modest accommodations and food at very reasonable prices. They cater both local and international cuisine

Management strictly enforces a “No permit, No entrance policy”. Visitor Entry Permits can be obtained at the Park’s Information and Booking Office located at the center of the City.

Park Entry Requirements

1. VISITOR ENTRY- All persons are required to secure a Visitor Entry Permit (VEP) at the Underground River Information and Booking Office before entering the PPSRNP. Permit forms should be accomplished clearly in writing indicating the name of visitor, place of visit, purpose of visit, date of visit;

2. PERMITS – Management strictly enforces a “No Permit, No Entry” policy. Permits shall be issued only upon payment of the necessary entrance fees. Permits issued shall indicate the details of visitor entry.

3. GROUP TOURS – Groups of more than forty (40) people are required to secure bookings at least three (3) days before the planned visit or may be refused entry to the Park.

4. NON-TRANSFERABLE – Permits are non-transferable and may be only used by the person whose name appears on the permit.

5. CONFIRMATION – Visitors are required to confirm tour by registering at Sabang Information Office not less than thirty (30) minutes prior to the schedule of tour indicated on the permit.  Failure to arrive on time may result in the cancellation of space reserved;

6. VISITOR ACCESS – Visitors shall have access only to areas and time indicated in the permit.  Proper arrangements should be made with Management for visits to additional places not indicated in permit or for visits beyond regular office hours;

7. REFUNDS – Permits paid for but not used on date as indicated may be refunded or rebooked to another date only upon payment of a 10% surcharge;

8. SUBJECT TO SEARCH – The Park reserves the right to search the visitor and his luggage for any prohibited materials or items;

9. LIABILITY – The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park will not be liable for any loss or damage to property or personal belongings of visitors, nor to the injury or death due to accidents that may be fall to visitors during their stay in the Park;

10. RECOGNITION- Proper acknowledgement shall be accorded to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park by any producer of film or video documentary conducted inside the Park.

Prohibited Acts

* Pursuant to R.A. 7586, the following acts are considered a crime and punishable by law.
* Hunting , destroying, disturbing or more possession of any plant or animal products derived there from without permit, specifically authorizing such activity;
* Dumping or otherwise disposing of any waste detrimental to the protected area or to the plants and animals or inhabitants therein;
* Use of any motorized equipment without permit;
* Mutilating, defacing or destroying objects of natural beauty, or burial grounds, religious sites, artifacts or other objects belonging to the cultural communities;
* Damaging and leaving roads and trails in damaged condition;
* Squatting, mineral exploration, or otherwise illegally occupying the land;
* Constructing or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosures and conducting business enterprise without a permit;
* Leaving in exposed or unsanitary condition, refuse or debris, or disposing wastes in bodies of water;
* Altering, removing destroying or defacing boundary marks or signs.

About the author

  1. Office Forms says:

    I came to Philippine yesterday for tourism, when i came online to study i came across this site, i was a great help to me. The videos are also great am writing to your sitting in Palawan Underground River. Thanks a lot for sharing

  2. ROYJEN says:

    Nicely done.

    After the Underground River Tour, you are invited to ride the ROYJEN Double-deck Charter Boat for a Sea Adventure from Sabang to El Nido. Includes: Bay Trolling, Island Hopping, Snorkeling and freshly caught seafood meals.

  3. Grace Lucas says:

    hi mark,

    i saw you post regarding kuya dodong for bohol trip.. do you have another “kuya dodong” who can accomodate us for palawan trip…

    btw, best trip tip you can give , we want to visit bohol & palawan by January next year with my cousins from belgium,…kuya dodong’s package seems to be the best deal.. another one for palawan pls.

    thanks

    • Mark Maranga says:

      Grace,

      You’re welcome!

      I will send you an email regarding the best person you can contact for the Palawan Tour Package.

    • sajo says:

      hello mark,

      i also want to know who’s the best person you can recommend for palawan tour package? btw, thanks for the article re: bohol/kuya dodong, we availed kuya dodong services last november 2010 our trip was a blast :) thanks to your help, more power!

    • Sajo,

      You’re welcome! I haven’t been to Palawan yet. I just made this article for the sole purpose of guiding me when I go there. My wife, baby and I are going to Palawan this December. I’ll update this post and recommend a reliable person to you and all the other readers.

      Or maybe, if you’ll be in Palawan ahead of me, please reply to this thread and suggest a tour guide & itinerary.

  4. desiree says:

    will u also send me the contact person for the palawan tour…. please… my malaysian friend will visit me, she wants to see palawan, wala din kasi akong idea to that place… thank u.

    • Mark Maranga says:

      Desiree,

      I don’t have any idea who is the contact person of the Palawan Underground River or its Tour Package.

      Just drop an email at info@puerto-undergroundriver.com or phone them at (+63)(48)434-2509 for more information.

    • jemai says:

      hi there! i been to palawan last july, and i must say it was really fun and memorable! try to contact 09176123947 and look for manny. he was the one who arranged our 3d/2n tour and ok nmn ang lahat. hope it will help!

  5. che says:

    very informative, thanks! i am planning a puerto princesa trip for 2 as i type this. i have questions though which i hope you may help me with:

    1. i came across this article where one has to pay P150 underground river tour fee at SABANG PORT; in your article, you mentioned P75/50 general entrance fee & P200 cave entrance fee, do i have to pay both? if not, where would you suggest that i pay, in puerto princesa or in sabang?

    2. i plan to take the monkey trail (atleast one-way) to the underground, is it safe to take this trail even without a guide? is the trail open in the early hours of the morning, say 6AM?

    3. what is the earliest underground river tour?/ when does the underground river tour begins? (i plan to avoid the long line of day tour tourists) :) thank you in advance

  6. medley mabayo says:

    thanks for posting mark! great post! is there any blog about other tourist spots in palawan that you made?

  7. charmaine says:

    Hi, I was able to find cheap palawan tour package. 2700each for a group of 7. That include city tour, hondabay, and underground plus 3d 2n accomodation. Mura na compare sa 4500 na inooffer ng agency. Try to contact Caele Suarez cp#09199910747. Di ko pa natry ung service nila kc s jan2011 pa flight namin. Just give me a feedback if ever na iavail myo ung service nya. =) Hope this help…

  8. Avaglez C. Pirote says:

    Inquiry: Do u have wheelchair services for Senior Citizens? How much?

  9. Arnold Familaran says:

    Try to contact this number. 09178497545 (Kuya Jeron). I tried his tour service twice now and will be back again this year.

    He offers the cheapest tour in Puerto Princesa.
    3,000 for minimum of 2 pax
    Inclusions:
    3 days 2nights accomodations with daily breakfast
    City tour (w/ snacks) & Underground river tour (w/ buffet lunch)
    Roundtrip and transfer (port-hotel-port)
    Accredited tour guide

    hope this comment will help!

  10. Janelle Padrones says:

    Hi! Can we book online ?We are group of 8. How much are we going to pay?February 13th and 14th is it peak season?Thank you.

  11. Abie Malabad says:

    Hi there!!!we’re planning to go to PP this holy week with our 1yr old baby.. I just want to know if she’s allowed on underground river tour and island hopping??? I already bought my baby her own life vest.. Thank you so much

    • Hi Abie,

      I also have a 1-year old baby boy and I’m planning to bring him to the underground river together with my wife soon but until today, I do no have a concrete information if they allow you to bring an infant or not. You can go there and ask the tour guides to allow you to bring your child and just provide them a waiver (which you prepare before going there) that if anything happens to your child, they won’t be liable. Another option is you experience the underground river first and let your husband or friend stay in the docking area and carry your child; and vice versa.

      Regards,

      Mark M.

  12. daisy says:

    HI. i HOPE YOU CAN HELP ME. dO I NEED TO GET PERMIT FOR MY 3 AND 4 YEARS OLD SON FOR THE THE UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR?

  13. fe san miguel says:

    hi.. last year we went to bohol and bcoz of your blog na meet namin si kuya dodong and super enjoy na package tour niya sa bohol.. do you have another “kuya dodong” in palawan ? or any suggestion about best palawan tour package.. it really big help for me.. thanks in advance…

  14. Lucian says:

    The biggest scam in the world, besides being ugly. The pinoys have not seen much around the world, despite their large part of the population working abroad. So they believe the underground crap is beautiful.

    Actually, it might be – but you don’t see it. Everywhere is advertised the length of the subterranean river, but nowhere do they tell you that you only go about 1km inside. And not much to see, there are no lights here and there, except for the torch in the boat, manned by a tourist in the front (and you know half of the Filipinos can’t tell left from right; jump in a taxi if you don’t believe me). If it would be beautiful, the organisers would keep you around for a bit longer, but you’re in the tunnel for 30 minutes (so 15 min one way). Beautiful caves? they have no idea.

    The beautiful part in their eyes is the 7 hours they keep you waiting, taking you to the local shops, killing time, to the zipline (hehehe, the fastest they say; i think they mean the shortest), eating crap food (worse than average pinoy food, and you know how that is :) ), and waiting more, moving between waiting places (it’s fantastic how bad organisers they are; or maybe how good :)). The guide even says ‘now we have to kill some time’. They love it! I’ve seen tons of blogs – they love it! Wait, kill time, buy nuts, wait, take photos of the ‘West Philippines Sea’ (they like that name they invented), wait more, then more ‘picture taking po’ (with the road signs – they like that aswell; forget the landscapes, must ‘do picture taking with the names of the places'; maybe nobody believes they’ve been there otherwise), more waiting … about 5 hours of absolute waiting, 2 hours of ‘active’ waiting (in car or boat, not just sitting in the heat like an idiot).

    Enjoy the river ! The best place in the Philippines (I’m afraid it is true, I’ve tried the others aswell).

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