Saturday, June 18, 2011

Underground River at Puerto Princesa 2011

The other weekend was my second time to see the Puerto Princesa's Underground River, but it was the kids' first time who are with us on this family trip. For Php 3,000 whole day rental, I hired a van to bring us to Sabang wharf, the takeoff point of the boats going to the Underground River. 

The van's owner also got the Underground River tour permit for us prior to our arrival, at Php 150/adult and Php 30 for my kids aged 6-12 years old. My youngest son at 3 years old has waived permit fee, as well as in boat fare, if 5 years old and below.

It took us less than 1.5 hours to get to Sabang this time, unlike our 2009 trip on the same place here, which took us almost 3 hours via a public jeepney from San Jose New market. The road condition is also much better now, since the city government expects more tourists to see the subterranean river due to ongoing votes for New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Upon arriving at Sabang wharf, we registered at the tourism office there, then paid Php 700 to Sabang Ferry Cooperative office at the back, for the motor boat which will take us to the Underground River. We also paid Php 15 as parking fee of the van, and Php 3/person as terminal fee before boarding the boat. Good thing that the rain had stopped a few minutes after we arrived at Sabang.

Arriving at the target area, we registered on the tourism kiosk after the beach, and also voted for the 8.2 km Underground River on the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Then, we proceeded to the paddle boat area to get the next slot in going inside the cave river. My kids are quite disappointed for not being able to see monkeys along the trail, due to the rain an hour ago.

As expected, the Underground River is a marvel to see. Despite the strong smell of bats' dung inside (and even outside) the cave, you cannot help but be amazed by the large chambers, high ceilings, stalactite, and stalagmite formations inside the cave. Too bad that our Point-and-Shoot camera does not give justice to the photos, because of the poor lighting and movement of the paddle boat.

The stalactite and stalagmite formations look like vegetables, fruits, human figures, and religious images. These formations took millions of years to take shape!

In last month's news, a group of European cave explorers found a 5-kilometer parallel virtual crystal cave forest on top of the underground river, and the fossilized remain of a vertebrate that dates back 20 million years ago. This gives us a reason to return to the Underground River for the third time, once the crystal cave is open for tourists!

Thanks to airlines' promo fares, as they allow us to travel more often and in big groups. I was able to book the whole family on Air Phils.' P88 promo for a total of only Php 1,498 round trip fare for the 7 seven of us on this trip.

Here is the owner of our rented van Mr. Dudz Valencia. He can be reached at (63) 929-8684500, (63) 917-5902001, or

Below is a map of Puerto Princesa, with the arrow showing the distance from city downtown to Sabang wharf. Along the way, you will pass the barangays of Santa Monica (site of Bakers' Hill and Mitra's Ranch) and Santa Lourdes with the eastward road to Honda Bay pier. If you will enlarge the map, you will see the location of Honda Bay islands, Buenavista viewdeck, Tres Marias islands, and Ugong Rock as well.

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  1. siya din kinuha namin last year pero di ko siya na meet, iba nagdrive sa min.

  2. Hi, Michi. On our second day to Honda Bay, he assigned another van and driver (Mang Boy?), and he's equally helpful though less talkative, hehe.

    Thanks for visiting the blog.

  3. Hi! would you recommend going to this place on your own or availing of package tours would be a better choice?

  4. If you are a group of at least 4 people, then you could contact a van to take you there, for a few savings and you have complete control of your time, itinerary, and meals. If there are only 3 of you or less, better take package tour for less hassle.

    But if you are the adventurous type willing to research and do everything on your own, then you can refer to my first post about UG River last year.

  5. the underground river is the popular spot of Puerto Princesa, everyone who go to Puerto Princesa doesn't want to miss the Underground River.


    trivias | tourist spots in the philippines


  7. Only adults (12 years old and above) need to pay the full amount of the permit to Underground River. The kids have to be registered indicating their age, but I think they are either free or will pay half the registration amount.

    I learned from a local travel forum site that the April slots for UG River is almost filled up. So if you have plans to visit it, ask your contact at Puerto Princesa to register slots in advance for your group.

  8. bata pa pala si dudz. kala ko mga 40's nA. we will be availing his service for the firefly. and maybe sa city tour. btw, how much ang food pag ganito na di pala package ang kinuha nyo? and how much is the tip kay dudz or to whoever na magda-drive samin? thanks

  9. Hi, Gracey. For food prior to Underground River, we just drove-thru Jollibee, since we'll be late for lunch at Sabang, and to ensure that we arrive on time for our schedule at UG River. In Honda Bay tour, we bought steamed rice on a carinderia, and raw seafoods for cooking at Snake island.

    I usually give 5-10% tip on the driver, plus free meals. If I'm satisfied with their service, posting them here on my blog is a more valuable tip for their future business.

  10. A repost from a query by Sean on another blog post about UG River:

    Let's compute the total cost for 4 pax in the UG River DIY tour:

    Van rental with 200 tip 3,200
    Permit for 4 Pinoy adults 600
    Parking fee 15
    Terminal fee for 4 pax 12
    Boat fee 700
    Tips to boatmen 100
    Lunch at Sabang for 4 pax 1,000

    TOTAL 5,627

    Divide by 4 pax = 1,407 per person

    If the same above rates apply now, we can conclude that we can save money for DIY UR tour if there are at least 4 persons in your group. The vans can accommodate 10 persons, and the motorboat can seat 6 adults plus perhaps 2 kids.

    So you save more money, if you can maximize the capacities of the van and boats. Plus you have more control of your itinerary should you want to try zipline at Ugong Rock, mangrove paddle boat tour, View Deck, and other places along the way.

    If commuting by jeepney, total cost is less than P 900 per person, if there are at least 5 tourists sharing the cost of motorboat, and even if a buffet lunch meal is Php 250. Jeepney fares will cost less than Php 300 roundtrip from city proper, via San Jose market terminal. Mas mahaba lang ang biyahe, pero enjoy naman kung cowboy kayo or in tight budget.

    In fact, pwede pa rin ma-avoid ang motorboat fee, if you can hike for 3+ hours (round trip) to UG River via the monkey trail. For mountaineers and trail runners, this is no problem, hehe.

  11. hi sir, thank u for posting this very informative ideas to our kababayan, im from Puerto Princesa, i visited UR thrice, i really amazed of this place, made me cried (tears of joy/that there is place like this, which its seems like so amazing that it really exist), anyway, im a nurse, unemployed, but choose to have van rental services in our city. if u like you can try also our van services, same as the rate above.

    I also like to recommend to you to visit elnido. Ive been there last May 2012 only. We are about 10 pax,with my family. its my first time went to elnido. very far from puerto to travel about 6-7hrs. but despite of it. i have no regrets, its really like paradise, you can see secret lagoon, small lagoon & big lagoons, a lot more. for me its very amazing experienced. i can share you more about my trip. you can reach me here. 0927-898-1400. tnx. may

  12. Hi, May. Your place is really awesome, driving tourists from around the world to Palawan. I also plan to take my family in El Nido, but perhaps when all my kids get older to snorkel. I hope that the airport in San Vicente become operational soon, to reduce the long land travel. I will share your contact number as one of the options when friends look for van rental in PPC.