Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a while, the Puerto Princesa Underground River shot to tourism fame only after it was announced as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
We wanted to see the subterranean river before it was completely overrun. A sad reality happening to many of the natural wonders of the country.
We availed of the Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour as part of a package we bought on a group buying site. Upon confirming our travel dates, the agency also worked on reserving slots for our tour.
Our Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour package included:
- Transportation to/from Puerto Princesa Underground River
- All entrance and environmental fees
- Guided boat tour
- Buffet lunch
If you plan on going the DIY route, you would need to first obtain a permit from the Puerto Princesa Underground River Booking Office at the City Coliseum. I suggest doing this a few days ahead, as there is a limit to the number of people allowed to visit per day.
It took us approximately two hours to get to Sabang Boat Terminal from the city center. It’s quite a picturesque drive, especially as you reach Sabang.
A 10 to 15 minute boat ride from the terminal will take you to a beautiful beach leading to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Keep an eye out for sea turtles!
On our drive back to the city proper, we had a stop over to marvel at the many towering karst cliffs that dominate the landscape.
Monkeys welcomed us as we walked the short trail through the forest. The unassuming entry to the cave, set against the emerald green water and stark gray cliff, is a complete contrast to what awaits inside.
From caverns that can fit the Eiffel Tower to enormous, glittering stone formations and innumerable, tiny bats, it’s hard not to be awed by the beauty and scale of the Puerto Princesa Underground River. This is despite what little light we brought with us.
Every boat comes with one guide who also paddles the boat. You may either request for a recorded tour or have your guide do the commentary. I didn’t know then that we had this option. Unfortunately, we went with the latter.
If anything, this part of the tour almost ruined the experience for me. I appreciate the occassional jokes about what a certain rock formation looks like, but it quickly becomes tiresome when the entire duration of the tour becomes all about identifying the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites as mundane objects. Some peace and quiet would have been much appreciated.
The tour included buffet lunch at one of the many restaurants around Sabang Boat Terminal. Food is okay as long as you manage expectations.
It’s not a Palawan trip if you didn’t eat Tamilok, right? So we ordered a small bowl.
Despite its worm-like appearance, Tamilok is actually a mollusk. It was like eating uncooked squid tentacles. My travel buddy enjoyed it. I only had a small piece.
It’s great that the local government, despite the demand, limits the number of visitors to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. The well organized tours also ensure that the area doesn’t get overcrowded at any given time.
I hope that the guides will be better trained to share information that is relevant to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Likening its many beautiful natural wonders to unremarkable objects is a discredit to one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. A title the Puerto Princesa Underground River truly deserve.