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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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
*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.
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.
* 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.