How to plan a Underground River Trip

Underground River: Plan your trip

Explore the natural wonder of the Underground River with our ultimate travel guide. Discover the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, and what to expect on your journey through the mesmerizing subterranean river system. Plan your unforgettable adventure today!

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When to Visit Underground River:

Discover the best time to visit Puerto Princesa’s Underground River, Palawan, and plan your trip accordingly. Learn about the high and low seasons, as well as weather patterns to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

Puerto Princesa’s Underground River,, Palawan is a year-round destination, but the ideal time to visit depends on your preferences and travel plans. Here is a guide to help you decide when to visit:

High Season

The Underground River is open for visitors year-round, but it’s helpful to know the best times to go.

November to early June is the high season, with Christmas, New Year, and Easter being popular holidays. Due to limited hotel options in Sabang, it’s best to book ahead.

Low Season

The low season is from June to September, which is also the wet season, but the Underground River is not typically affected by typhoons. However, bad weather, such as strong winds, rough seas, or heavy rain, can cause temporary closures.

Attractions You Should Consider Visiting:

Classic Underground River Tour Options:

Entrance of Underground River, Puerto Princesa Palawan

This UNESCO World Heritage site and New 7 Wonders of Nature is a must-visit for any traveler. Marvel at the limestone karst formations and crystal-clear waters as you navigate the underground river.

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Experience a thrilling 2-day adventure exploring the Underground River, including a cruise through the breathtaking Mangrove Forest and the Monkey Trail. Relax on the stunning Sabang Beach before settling in for a restful night at the beach resort in Sabang. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable opportunity to discover the natural beauty of the Philippines.

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Discovering Puerto Princesa and Underground River in 4 days

Day 1: Arrival in Puerto Princesa – Explore the City
Upon arriving in Puerto Princesa, take some time to explore the city and immerse yourself in the local culture. Visit historical landmarks such as the Plaza Cuartel or the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, or stroll around the Puerto Princesa Baywalk to enjoy the scenic view of the sea.

Day 2: Discover the Underground River
Embark on an exciting adventure to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Marvel at the stunning limestone formations, and witness the diverse ecosystem that thrives within the cave’s chambers.

Day 3: Island Hopping at Honda Bay
Indulge in a fun-filled day of island hopping at Honda Bay, located just a short distance away from the city center. Visit picturesque islands like Starfish Island and Cowrie Island, where you can swim, snorkel, or simply relax on the pristine white sand beaches.

Day 4: Departure from Puerto Princesa
After a memorable stay in Puerto Princesa, it’s time to say goodbye and head back home. Take with you unforgettable memories of the city’s rich history, natural wonders, and warm hospitality.

Where to stay:

Aerial view of Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort

When considering accommodation options in Puerto Princesa, there are several great options to choose from. If you prefer to stay in the city center and be close to restaurants, bars, and shopping malls, then the best hotels for you are those located near Rizal Avenue. However, if you’re looking to explore the Underground River area, then staying in accommodations along Sabang Beach would be your best bet. Sabang Beach is a beautiful, unspoiled beach that’s perfect for a relaxing getaway.

If you’re traveling with your family and looking for a resort that has something for everyone, then the Astoria Palawan is a great choice. It’s located in San Rafael, which is a bit far from the city center, but the resort has its own waterpark that’s perfect for entertaining kids after a day of touring. Overall, there are many excellent accommodation options in Puerto Princesa that can cater to any type of traveler.

If you’re looking for a luxurious and peaceful retreat on Sabang Beach, Four Points by Sheraton Palawan Puerto Princesa is a great choice. Situated right on the beachfront, the resort offers spacious and air-conditioned rooms with private balconies overlooking the pool, garden or mountains. The rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, minibar, personal safe, and en suite bathrooms with either a bathtub or shower. One of the resort’s main attractions is the 340-ft-long signature swimming pool, the largest of its kind in Palawan.

Another great option is the eco-friendly 4-star Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, offering luxurious beachfront cabanas. These cabanas feature contemporary native designs and are strategically designed to maximize natural light and airflow. With direct beach access, each cabana has its own private balcony, offering stunning views of Sabang Beach and the crystal-clear waters of the West Philippine Sea.

Astoria Palawan is a great option for visiting the Underground River, despite being about an hour’s drive away. The resort offers a serene and picturesque location surrounded by lush greenery and pristine beaches. The resort features a variety of accommodation options ranging from elegant rooms to spacious suites and villas, all tastefully designed with modern amenities and contemporary furnishings.

What to bring along:

To help ensure a great trip to the Underground River, we’ve put together a helpful packing list of essentials to bring along.

Useful information:

Choosing Your Underground River Adventure: Group vs Private Tours

If you’re trying to decide whether to book a private or a group tour to the Underground River, there are some factors to consider.

Group tours are a popular choice because they offer an affordable way to explore the Underground River with other travelers. By sharing a van, boat and canoe with other passengers, you’ll get to meet new people and potentially make some new friends. 

On the other hand, private tours offer more flexibility and customization, as you can set your own pace and itinerary.  Private tours are also ideal for those who value privacy, as you won’t have to share a van or boat with strangers. However, private tours are generally more expensive than group tours, and may not be a feasible option for budget-conscious travelers. 

If you arrive at the Puerto Princesa airport in the morning and want to head straight to the river, a private tour may be the best choice for you.

The park-operated canoe is the only way to explore the Underground River, and takes visitors up to 4.3 km (2.7 mi) from the sea. For environmental and regulatory purposes, the canoe is always shared with other travelers, and cannot be reserved for private use. Sharing the canoe ensures that the number of visitors to the river is regulated, minimizing the impact of tourism on the delicate ecosystem of the river and its surroundings.

A cruise into the cave

Long Queues at the Underground River

The Underground River is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Philippines, and with popularity comes long queues. During peak season, visitors can wait up to 4 hours at Sabang wharf for their turn to take the boat to the park entrance, and then there’s another 30-minute queue to enter the cave.

Unfortunately, there is no way to skip the queue, even with VIP access. However, booking a private tour and starting your trip early in the morning can help you avoid the long wait.  This way, you can enter the park before the crowds arrive and make the most of your time exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Boats docked outside the Underground River

Travel to El Nido after the tour

After your Underground River Tour, you can continue your adventure by traveling to El Nido. One option is to hire a private vehicle from Sabang, which is the most convenient way.

If you’re on a budget, you can take the shuttle van Lexxus from Sabang to El Nido. It’s a bit more time-consuming, but it’s a great way to save money while still experiencing the beauty of El Nido.

Entry Permit

To ensure that the carrying capacity of the Underground River is not exceeded, the Management strictly enforces a “No Permit, No Entry” policy. Therefore, all visitors must obtain an Entry Permit through a tour operator or at the booking office in Puerto Princesa. It is mandatory for visitors to present valid identification cards and register individually before the tour. This policy ensures that the park is not overcrowded, preserving the natural beauty of the Underground River.

Itinerary

A trip to the Underground River is a full-day affair starting with a scenic 2-hour ride from Puerto Princesa to Sabang. Upon arrival, visitors will take a short boat ride to Sabang Beach, the entrance to the Underground River, before proceeding with the boat ride inside the cave.

Visitors will be assigned a boatman who will navigate a paddle boat equipped with a searchlight. The boatman will also serve as a tour guide, providing essential details about the cave’s stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Inside the cave, visitors may also encounter bats and swiftlets flying overhead and making sounds. A must-see is the Cathedral, an area that reaches up to 800 meters in height.

The river cruise lasts approximately 45 minutes, and after the tour, visitors can enjoy a sumptuous lunch at Sabang Beach or visit the nearby Mangrove Forest. After lunch, vistors can from several options to continue their adventure.

One option is to travel to El Nido, which is about a 5-hour drive from Sabang. Private vehicles or shared shuttle vans can be arranged to take visitors to El Nido.

Another option is to visit Uging Rock, located in Sabang, and experience the zipline. The zipline offers a stunning view of the mountains and green landscape.

Lastly, visitors can return to Puerto Princesa to explore other tourist destinations or stay overnight before departing to their next destination.

A green lagoon at the Underground River