More commonly known as the Puerto Princessa Underground River, it channels its way through caverns and flows directly underneath the St. Paul Mountain Range.
It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is known for its amazing limestone karst mountain landscape and cave system.
Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and several large chambers in the park never fail to keep tourists in awe. The cave system stretches to a total of 24km underneath the mountains, and the river itself winds its way through 8.2km of its entirety.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was known to be the world’s longest underground river until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Nonetheless, the National Park has a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia. In fact, it has a range of forest formations representing eight of the thirteen forest types found in tropical Asia.
There are about more than 800 plant species found in the national park. It is also home to a lot of bird species most of them are endemic to the site. There are also quite a number of mammal species that have been recorded in the area, as well as reptiles, bats, frogs, and sea cows among others. Regular tours allow tourists to enjoy until the 4-kilometer mark of the river. Beyond that point, a special permit has to be pre-arranged for the guests to continue the more challenging part of the journey where guests need to swim to be able to pass through the narrow spaces between the rock walls.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a protected area of the Philippines.
In 1999, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2012, it became a Ramsar Wetland Site. A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established by UNESCO.
In the same year, it made to the list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, an initiative started in 2007 to create a list of seven natural wonders chosen by people through a global poll. In June 2019, PPUR was celebrated with a Google Doodle, a special temporary alteration of the Google logo to commemorate special events and notable historical figures.
To reach the Underground River, you must travel to Puerto Princesa first, which is accessible by air if you are coming from Manila, Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, or Davao, or by sea if your point of origin is Manila, Coron, or Iloilo.
Once in Puerto Princesa, make your way to the San Jose Terminal, located in San Jose New Market, and ride on a jeepney or bus plying to the port of Sabang, a small town that serves as the jump-off point for the Underground River Tours. While they are scheduled to leave at 7:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 12:00 NN, and 2:00PM, drivers usually make sure that all seats are filled up before leaving. Travel time is approximately 3 hours, including stopovers. For a faster travel time of around 2 hours, opt to ride a van from the same terminal going to Sabang.
Once you are in Sabang port, you will then need to ride a boat to Sabang Beach, the underground cave’s entry point.
There are mandatory fees to be able to enter the Puerto Princesa Underground River, and there is a slight difference for local and foreigner visitors. Adults (21 years old and above), whether local or foreigner, will pay an entrance fee, audio device fee, environmental fee, and a terminal fee. Minors from foreign countries will pay an entrance fee and environmental fee, while local minors will pay a different price for entrance and environmental fees, respectively. Audio device fee and terminal fee remain the same for both foreign and local minors.
You will have the option to book an entire boat for yourself or your group and pay for the entire quoted price, or join a group to lessen your personal expense.
As with the rest of the Philippines, Puerto Princesa has both dry and wet seasons. The peak dry months are from March to May, considered the summer months in the country, but November to February are also still regarded as dry periods. These months mentioned are the best times to consider visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River as the waters are much calmer, and there is also less chance for bad or rainy weather, which occurs during June all the way to October. However, expect to see a large crowd of tourists during this peak season.
It is always recommended to check weather updates from time to time, and before proceeding with your travel plans.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River’s operating hours are between 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM, and it is best to get there early before the rush of visitors during mid-day.