This gorgeous underground paradise is a place that you can actually visit. What’s commonly known as the Puerto Princesa Underground River is an 8.2-km (5.1-mile) section of the 24-km (15-mile) St. Paul Underground River Cave. It ends directly at the West Philippine Sea. The huge cave mouth at the end of the river also serves as its access point. From there, small boats can enter up to 4.5 km (2.7 miles) into the river to see its caves, rock format
ions, and unique marine life. Special permits can give you access to all 8.2 km of the underground river, but you’ll have to be willing to swim in the tight, dark recesses of the cave. We can tell you right now that it’s worth it. If you’re not afraid of getting wet, you’ll get to see some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful handiwork.
How to get to Puerto Princesa from Manila/Cebu?
We’ve previously covered how to get to Palawan province from Manila in our ’El Nido Travel Guide 2017 | Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan’ post. Luckily enough, there are regular flights from either Metro Manila or Cebu that head directly to the city of Puerto Princesa. The flight itself takes just 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can catch flights scheduled either in the morning or in the afternoon; there are usually no evening flights. One of the local airlines that has daily flights to Puerto Princesa is Philippine Airlines. On their local destination page, Philippine Airlines describes Puerto Princesaas one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the Nature’ and how it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How to secure a permit to get inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River?
Since 2017, permits to explore the underground river are now available online. Check out the. It’s part of the government’s efforts to control the number of tourists that visit the protected area, under the authority of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Here are the prices for booking advanced permits:
Underground River Tour Rates
- PHP 2200 / Adult (7 years old and above)
- PHP 1500 / Child (3 years old to 7)
- FREE for Children below 3 years old
For groups above 12 please contact us directly thru firstname.lastname@example.org
How to get to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park from Puerto Princesa City?
The above fees include almost everything you need for a day at the underground river. This includes the two-hour air-conditioned van ride to the National Park, pick-up from wherever you’re staying in Puerto Princesa, boat transportation, helmets and life jackets, tour guide services, all entrance and terminal fees, and even a buffet lunch. The boat ride on the river itself lasts for just 45 minutes.
Remember to have some extra cash on you as you might need to pay other fees, like the environmental fee, or the cost for individual audio guides – as Rough Guides reports.
If you’re on a tighter budget, you can commute to the National Park yourself. This will allow you to get there in time to fall in line for permits at the National Park’s Booking Office in the “City Coliseum” building. Here are the prices for walk-in permits:
Underground River Entrance Rates
- PHP 250 / Adult (7 years old and above)
- PHP 150 / Child (3 years old to 7)
- PHP 175 / Local
- PHP 100 / Senior Citizens/Disabled
- PHP 100 / 3 to 12 years old
The entrance fee includes the paddle boat fee, hard hats and life vests
Just note that this walk-in option might entail waiting for a day or two in Puerto Princesa until you can be issued a permit. Priority is given to those who book their permits online. However, cheaper tour rates await you if you get your permit by showing up at the booking office. You can also take this time to find out what else this gorgeous city has to offer.
When your permit’s ready, look for San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa. There, you’ll find air-conditioned vans and buses that go straight to Sabang Port, which is where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located. The two-hour ride costs 150 php for local tourists and 200 php for foreigners. Larger tour groups can rent vans that do round trips from Puerto Princesa to Sabang Port.