Asia Philippines

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Although it is called Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, it is actually around 76 kilometers away from Puerto Princesa airport and about 37 kilometers away from Salvacion junction. The cave is near the town of Sabang on the west coast of Palawan. Travel by van from the city of Puerto Princesa to Sabang is about 2 hours.
I found out that those who stay in Sabang can get permits on the day. A permit is needed to get inside the cave. I visited Sabang in 2011 and did not get to see the Underground Cave and River as we did not book like 2 weeks in advance to get permits. The lady in the Balay-balay Travel Lodge organized the permits for us. It cost Php580 (US$14) for both of us. We have to pay a separate fee for a boat hire which cost Php700 (US$16) for the whole boat. We shared a boat to go to the Cave with a couple from Denmark who was also staying at the Balay-balay. The total cost per person (for our group of 4) to see the cave was Php465 (US$11).

The beach at Sabang

It took about 20 minutes for the boat to travel the calm seas to the river. Other times the seas can be so rough it takes an hour to reach the river. The distance from the pier of Sabang to the beach of the underground river is about 5.2 kilometers.

From the beach where the motor boats dock, there is a 150 meter walk through the forest to the place where the boats for the river cruise stop. We were warned not to carry plastic bags as there are monkeys (macaques) who will grab your plastic bag as they think it contains snacks (they have learnt that usually people carry food in plastic bags).

We then get into this small boat with two outriggers, paddled by a guy that also serves as a tour guide. We also shared the outrigger boat with the couple from Denmark.
The entrance to the cave. The area has a limestone karst mountain landscape.

It was very dark inside the cave. The boat has a big flashlight that illuminates areas in the cave that the guide points out. Other than that single beam of light, the rest of the cave is in complete darkness, which was almost eerie.
I have seen caves before but this one is so worth the visit.
Some related posts about Palawan:
PUERTO PRINCESA –overnight accommodations
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park —> You are here
Text & Photos by Alicia Davis

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