6 Amazing Facts I Learned During The Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River is a truly unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in Puerto Princesa’s rich collection of natural attractions. It is known to both local and international travelers who consider it as one of the best places to see around the world. 

A boat entering the mouth of the Puerto Princesa Underground River
The Puerto Princesa Underground River

Formally known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, the underground river is located on the western side of the Saint Paul Mountain Range. It is definitely a must-see destination, one that you have to include in your travel bucket list because the experience of going inside the underground river is both surreal and breathtaking.

6 Amazing Facts I Learned During The Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour



    What to expect in the Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour


    The Puerto Princesa Underground River tour is great for adventure-seekers but it also caters to those who are looking for low-impact physical activities since there is no climbing, running, or swimming involved. You just need to be prepared for a moderately-long trek to get to the mouth of the underground river.


    A view of Honda Bay on the way to the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    View of Honda Bay

    If you are still not convinced, here are 6 amazing reasons why you should visit and see the Puerto Princesa Underground River for yourself:

    1. A visit here is a chance to commune with nature


    Boat ride going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Boat ride going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River

    Sure, communing with nature may not necessarily be your primary reason for going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. However, when you get there, you will realize that the beauty of the place will draw you. 

    You can take a leisurely stroll around the beach, take a sit under the trees, or just marvel at the rock formations around you. It's a good side activity that you can take advantage of at no extra cost to you (except if you are getting the mangrove forest tour).


    Enjoying the stunning scenery around us as we wait for out turn to go into the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Enjoying the beautiful scenery around the Puerto Princesa Underground River

    Since the Puerto Princesa Underground River is located in a protected area of St. Paul Mountain, a trip here, not just in the river itself but in the surrounding fields, is a wonderful opportunity to see nature in its pure, unadulterated glory. 

    Here, you will see stunning limestone cliffs as well as trees, birds, monkeys, and stretches of white-sand beaches. Speaking of monkeys, always be alert when they are around as they are naughty and notorious for snatching things like bags and food from tourists.

    2. You are visiting one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site


    In 2012, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was officially named as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The New 7 Wonders of Nature is a movement that aims to highlight awareness of natural wonders and preserve it so that generations to come will still get to see them for themselves.


    Marker going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    The Puerto Princesa Underground River marker

    From the 28 finalists all over the globe, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. 

    In addition to being one of the new seven wonders, the Puerto Princesa Underground River is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the world heritage site project seeks to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world that are considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. 

    The sites that are part of the World Heritage group belong to all people of the globe, notwithstanding the territory in which they are located. 


    The beach at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
    Breathtaking karst limestone formation

    It is not all the time that one may get the chance to travel to or explore a destination that has been confirmed the honor of being in the New Seven Wonders of Nature as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

    Thankfully, Puerto Princesa City is just a plane ride away from Metro Manila so it's easy to go to the Puerto Princesa Underground River whenever you would like to do so.

    3. This is a great opportunity to learn about mangroves


    The waiting time before tourists can enter the Puerto Princesa Underground River can be lengthy because of the sheer number of people waiting for their turn to go inside the cave.

    Sometimes, you may even have to kill four hours before your actual tour. It's a good thing that there are activities that you can take advantage of to pass the time and one of these is the Mangrove Forest Tour. What is it about? It’s a tour via paddle boat into a river that flows through a mangrove forest.


    Mangrove paddle boat tour at the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Mangroves

    During the Mangrove Forest Tour, we learned about the life cycle of mangroves as well as the differences between male and female trees. The local tour guides also explained that the dead mangrove tree trunks serve as home to the famous Palawan delicacy "tamilok."


    Mangrove forest tour at the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Mangrove paddleboat tour

    Tamilok is commonly known as woodworm or shipworm and is eaten raw as a local exotic dish. It is actually a shell-less mollusk and is related to oysters, hence the similarity in flavor. 

    Tamilok is served fresh and can be eaten straight after it has been dipped in spicy vinegar (alternatively, it can be marinated ahead in spicy vinegar). Our guides ended the mangrove forest tour with a local song.

    4. You are helping provide a livelihood to the locals


    waiting for our turn before the Puerto Princesa Underground River tour
    Photo souvenir before the mangrove paddleboat tour

    Similar to any other famous tourist destination around the Philippines (and the world, in fact), most of the activities and services in the Puerto Princesa Underground River are conducted by local tour guides.

    The Mangrove Forest Tour, we learned from our guide, is operated by a cooperative whose members benefit greatly from the tourism activities in the area. 

    One of the guides also shared that he was once unemployed but the tours and the influx of tourists provided them with income that is enough to support their families. In fact, he was able to send his children to school through his profession.

    5. This is a chance to gain a deeper knowledge about caves


    The actual Puerto Princesa Underground River tour is filled with facts and trivia about life inside the dark cave. 

    We were provided a recorded narrative of the history of how the underground river was discovered as well as how the different formations inside the cave have been shaped and molded over a long period of time, sometimes even spanning millennia. 

    We were warned never to touch any of these formations because the acidity of our skin would destroy these delicate natural sculptures.


    The cave wall of the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    The cave wall of the Puerto Princesa Underground River

    From time to time, we will be asked by our tour guides to pause the recorded narrative and then they will proceed to tell us stories about the large grouper fishes and other marine animals that lurk in the pitch darkness.

    6. This once-in-a-lifetime experience can be likened to traveling to a different world


    From outside the Puerto Princesa Underground River, it was really hard to tell what to expect inside. As such, when our boatman slowly paddled our way inside the pitch-black cave, we were quite taken aback and somehow a bit panicked because we couldn't see a thing. It was like venturing into a world that is completely not ours, a world that has never seen a single sunlight.


    Stalactites inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    Stalactites

    Of course, that odd feeling was soon replaced by awe as we soon saw, with the help of flashlights, the breathtaking formations around us. Throughout our journey, our guide would point out different shapes that are similar to vegetables, religious figures, sea creatures, and even human forms. 


    The cathedral inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River
    The Cathedral

    The highlight of the tour though was the “cathedral,” a portion of the cave that contained the highest ceiling. On our way out, our guide pointed out more oddly-shaped rock formations. The tour was indeed an experience of a lifetime and we did not regret seeing the Puerto Princesa Underground River

    Sample Puerto Princesa Underground River itinerary


    If you would like to go to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, you should allocate one whole day for it as you do not have control over the number of tourists waiting in line to go inside the cave. As such, you do not really need a full itinerary for it. 

    But just to give you an idea, here is how you can spend the day at the Puerto Princesa Underground River:

    • Van to Sabang Beach (8:00 AM to 10:00 AM)
    • Boat ride to Princesa Underground River (10:15 AM to 10:40 AM)
    • Mangrove Forest Tour (11:00 AM to 12:00 NN)
    • Lunch (12:00 NN to 1:00 PM)
    • Zipline – depending on availability (1:00 PM to 2:00 PM)
    • Princesa Underground River Tour (2:30 PM to 3:30 PM) - this is an ideal scenario wherein the line of tourists is not too long
    • Boat ride to the port/Sabang Beach (3:45 PM to 5:05 PM)
    • Van to the hotel (5:15 PM to 7:15 PM)

    PIN THIS ARTICLE
    Puerto Princesa Underground River travel guide

    Similar stories


    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you book or purchase anything through one of those links, we may earn a small commission but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are ours and we only promote products that we use.
    Like this:
    If you like to travel, you may have come across an opportunity to buy a timeshare at some point. If you decided to purchase a timeshare and found that you no longer want it, a timeshare exit through a company like Centerstone Group or Omni Ellis could be a good solution.