[This post supersedes my previous Underground River travel guide]
1 | Getting a permit
You have to get a permit at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Protected Area Management Office. It has transferred to Mendoza Park – about 2.7 km from its previous office at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum. At the airport entrance, you can just ride a jeepney plying the Rizal Street to get there.
Alternatively, you may get a permit at their Sabang Office, which is also the jump-off point for the Underground River tour. However, this might cause a delay in your tour, considering the surge of tourists at the Sabang Office. I suggest, from the airport, you head to the main office to secure a permit right away.
2 | Permit and fees
The total amount of fees and permits you have to pay is PHP 925. Here’s the breakdown:
|Audio device rental||85|
|Boat fee (joiners – 1,100/6 people)||184|
|Boat docking fee||5|
|Total amount (PHP)||924|
3 | Schedules
The Underground River Tour starts at 8 am and until 3 pm, so be there at the Sabang Office earlier than that – if you want to be first in line.
4 | Getting there
How to get to Sabang? After getting your permit, head to San Jose Terminal. From there, take a van ride to Sabang.
Tip: Choose to ride a jeepney plying the North Road and alight at the junction where you can see a Shell Gas Station – you may ask around where’s the terminal located. The fare is just 18 pesos from Rizal Avenue (Mendoza Park area) compared to a tricycle ride that can cost you 50 pesos per head. A van ride to Sabang costs 200 pesos.
5 | The boat ride to the Underground River
The afternoon boat ride to the Underground River can be rough as winds tend to blow harder during this time, generating big waves. If you are not a fan of big waves, take your tour in the morning.
6 | When you arrive at the Underground River
Once there, your guide will lead you to the starting point, where you will transfer to another boat that takes you into the cave and back. They will provide you a helmet and the audio device.
7 | Audio device acts as tour guide
The audio device you pay will explain things you will see inside as you navigate the dark passages of the Subterranean River.
8 | Tour duration
The journey through the dark passages under massive caverns will take about 40 minutes, give or take.
9 | The whole Subterranean River tour duration (excluding side trip)
Expect to spend about two hours on the journey to the Subterranean River from the port and back. If you start at 8 am, you will be back at the jump-off around 10 am.
10 | Transportation back to Puerto Princesa (or El Nido)
There are passenger vehicles available in Sabang that can take you back to Puerto Princesa for 200 pesos only. Or, if you choose to continue your travel to El Nido, vehicles are also available, albeit with limited schedules and can cost a bit higher – they charge 850 pesos vs 400-peso bus ride from Puerto Princesa. However, the latter takes longer to reach your destination.
11 | Total budget for DIY Underground River Tour
|All permits and fees||924|
|Jeepney fare (Rizal to San Jose Terminal and back)||36|
|San Jose Terminal to Sabang and back||400|
|Total budget for Underground River Tour||1561|
12 | Some snapshots I have taken
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