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Experience Puerto Princesa Underground River: Your Ultimate Travel Guide

Everything You Need to Know About the Underwater River Tour in Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa Underground River | Photo by Rommel Carbonell

Puerto Princesa Underground River Travel Guide covers everything you need to know fully enjoy  one of the seven wonders of the world!

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

Everything You Need to Know About the Underwater River Tour in Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa Underground River | Photo by Rommel Carbonell

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 Underground River

It’s a must-see when you’re in Puerto Princesa, but don’t just wing it. Here are some tips that will make your trip a breeze, and maybe even add a dash of fun to it.

First off, you gotta rent a van to get there. Unless you wanna go all Katniss and trek through the wilderness, of course. But let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that. The van will pick you up from your hotel in the wee hours of the morning, so make sure you’re not a zombie when you climb aboard. And here’s a pro-tip: go in a group. It’s cheaper, and you might even make some new friends. Who knows, maybe you’ll even start a karaoke session in the van.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can stay at Sabang beach the night before. It’s a beautiful area with lots of cool stuff to do, like hiking and sunbathing. And hey, you’ll avoid the early morning rush, too. Check out the resorts in the area – we recommend the Daluyon or Sheridan. They’re the cream of the crop.

Now, if you’re feeling really bold, you can even come from El Nido. But be warned, it’s a long ride. Like, “are we there yet?” levels of long. You’ll have to leave before the crack of dawn, but it’s doable. And who knows, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of some nocturnal creatures on the way.

Just make sure you have a flight out of Puerto Princesa that night, or you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere. But if you play your cards right, you can go straight to El Nido from the river, and arrive just in time for some sunset cocktails.

So there you have it, folks. The Underground River awaits. Just remember to pack your sense of humor and adventure, and you’ll have a blast, and don’t forget to book your tour here for a smooth and fun tour at Puerto Princesa Underground river.

What are included in your Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour

Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour
book your tour here

What to expect from your Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour

Get ready to explore the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a.k.a. the Puerto Princesa Underground River, located 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa in the Saint Paul Mountain Range. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a “mountain to sea” ecosystem with some of the most intact old-growth forests in Asia, including a jaw-dropping limestone karst landscape and a habitat that’s globally significant for biodiversity conservation and threatened species of wildlife.

This park is home to not just one, not two, but eight intact forest formations, including beach forest, freshwater swamp forest, mangrove forest, and more! The Palawan Moist Forest in this area is even recognized by the WWF’s Global Report for its outstanding biodiversity, rich tree flora, and high levels of regional and local endemism.

But wait, there’s more! A day tour of this magnificent location will take you on a boat ride to the Palawan Underground River, which isn’t just the access point to the river, but also a famous birdwatching site and a sanctuary for a plethora of plant species and endemic wildlife in the Philippines.

The cherry on top of this tour is the guided paddle boat ride through the spectacular cave system of the underground river. You’ll be in awe of the natural beauty of rock formations, from stalagmites and stalactites shaped like veggies, dinosaurs, and even Jesus (yes, you read that right!), to the thousands of swallows and bats flying around the tunnels.

And if that’s not enough, you’ll also get to enjoy a delicious picnic or packed lunch at Sabang Wharf before being brought back to your hotel, with the satisfaction of having explored one of the seven new wonders of the world!

How to get to Puerto Princesa from Manila/Cebu?

We’ve previously covered how to get to Palawan province from Manila in our 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 Princesa as 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?

You don’t have to go through this process if you book a tour since everything is included in the tour.

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

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

  • Local Filipino Adult – Php175
  • Local Minors (13-20yo) – Php100
  • International Adult – Php250
  • International Minor (13-20yo) – Php150

So for example you’re an International Adult your fees will be breakdown as:

Php 250 – Permit/Entrance Fee

Php 85 – Audio Device

Php 40 – Envi Fee

Php 184 – Motorized Boat

TOTAL: Php 560.00

The entrance fee includes the paddle boat fee, hard hats and life vests

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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