The subterranean river two hours drive north of Puerto Princesa downtown has really placed the island on the global stage after it has included in the Seven Wonders of Nature last 2011. The “Best Island in the World” has one the best-listed nature wonder – might be sounding redundant but is true. Palawan Island has become one of the icons of Philippine tourism even before the announcement of the seven wonders.
Not only that, listed as a UNESCO Heritage site. This attainment of fame and standard is one of the fruits of the government effort and strong public support too. From the recent Familiarization Tour last June 13-17, 2017 sponsored by Philippine Airlines and City Government of Puerto Princesa, Mayor Luis Marcaida III shared the Community Based Sustainable Tourism approach, government and locals working hand in hand to maintain these tourism gems of the “Best Island in the world”.
Even though the photographs of this river is too mainstream in different media channels, being there and seeing it raw is a different story. As a traveller, this one should be ticked off and promoted of. This what makes the Philippines really proud. You should see it yourself.
Visiting the underground river is not daunting. Even travelling on a DIY approach, once you stepped out from the airport and seaports of Puerto Princesa, there are lots of travel agencies and freelance public transport drivers who would offer you and majority in the standard prize set. You can either avail a tour package or harness the public transportation to get the feel of being a local.
HOW TO GO DIY- STYLE TO PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER?
From your hotel or lodge, you can take a multi-cab ride or tricycle ride to San Jose Terminal, then take bus, jeeps or vans bound for Sabang. Once in Sabang, you can have the option to take a boat ride to bring you to the entrance of the underground river or take the two-hour hiking trail for more adventure memories. There are public vans that ply the same route and are actually faster. The road to Sabang is winding and undulating and van drivers really drive fast – so be ready with motion sickness medicines if you are prone. Despite the winding road, the view is amazing and you would encounter mostly dense forest on both sides.
Also, if you know how to drive, you can rent a car drive yourself to the Sabang – cheaper if you come in a group. You can choose from big vans, SUVs or sedans. Let your GPS-enabled mobile applications assist you or better, deal with locals along the way. Anyways, there is a marker that is hard to miss once there.
HATE THE HASSLE OF COMMUTE?
There are many agencies that offer tour packages to the underground river, and provide options for your convenience, though comes with a hefty price tag. Actually once in downtown, these tour operators are ubiquitous. The majority of hotels and lodges make these packages available for their guests to reserve at the comfort of their rooms or respective lobbies/reception area.
WHAT TO EXPECT ONCE IN SABANG?
You would arrive in Sabang Wharf, where you need to ride a boat that would transport you to the shores near the entrance of the underground. You have to pay and get a boat number. You have to wait for your boat number to be called before boarding. The boat ride would be approximately less than an hour. Once you arrive at the beach, you would register yourself to get another smaller boat to get the actual tour inside the cave. Before boarding the board, you would be provided with a device that plays pre-recorded voice guide you would listen throughout the cave tour. Since you are visiting a cave, expect the strong smell of guano, or simply, bat-poop. Should your nose be sensitive in this type of smell, packed yourself with masks. Please do listen and follow the rules set by your tour guide and boat paddler for your safety and respect of the cave environment.
THE SUBTERRANEAN RIVER TOUR
The Underground River tour would last for about 45 minutes where you would seat and be paddled calmly through stunning and amazing rock formations. If you like cave exploration without the actual spelunking or walking, this one is for you as you would sit relax on a boat while being paddle around. Be ready to be amazed at the amazing sights inside the cave carved by nature for millions of years.
DIRECT FLIGHTS TO PUERTO PRINCESA FROM CLARK and CEBU CITY
As Philippine Airlines opened direct flights from Puerto Princesa to Clark and Cebu, the people of Northern and Central Luzon and Central Visayas can conveniently fly and visit this paradise island and experience the heartfelt service from the Heart of the Filipino – PHILIPPINE AIRLINES
Want more of Palawan? Go Down South and see BALABAC