A new Seven Wonders of Nature, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Puerto Princesa Underground River flows through a limestone cave system before spilling into the South China Sea. A paddle through this eerie ecosystem, filled with otherworldly cave formations and chattering bats, is one of the Philippines’ most unforgettable experiences.
The Underground River, situated within Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park on Palawan, is an easy day trip from the city of Puerto Princesa. Take a guided boat ride along one of the world’s longest underground rivers, beginning at Sabang Wharf near the mouth of the cave. The rock formations within, considered among the most complex in the world, are illuminated only by flashlight beams. Some tours also include a stop at Ugong Rock for optional ziplining or spelunking.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Underground River is a must for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Day trips from Puerto Princesa last eight to 11 hours, depending on the option chosen.
- You’ll get wet on this tour. Bring a waterproof case for your camera and phone, wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet, and if you’re wearing socks, bring an extra pair.
- Most tours include pickup and drop-off in Puerto Princesa.
How to Get There
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is 90 minutes away from the city of Puerto Princesa by road. It’s a 15-minute boat ride from Sabang village to reach the entrance of the cave. Most visitors arrive by guided tour; alternatively several public buses run from the San Jose bus terminal to Sabang.
When to Get There
Boat trips can be cancelled due to rain and poor weather, so it’s best to visit the cave system during the dry season (January to April). This natural wonder is one of Palawan’s most popular attractions, so it’s a good idea to arrange your tour before arriving on the island, particularly during the peak season (December to May).
Biodiversity in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
While the river is the area’s star attraction, the surrounding national park supports impressive biodiversity, including some 800 plant species, 195 bird species, 19 reptile species, and 30 mammal species. While some of these critters are hard to spot, visitors commonly see some of the eight species of bat living within the park and its cave system.