After we finished climbing up and ziplining down Ugong Rock, we made our way to the Underground River (more specifically known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park). The river is a UNESCO Heritage Site in Sabang, about an hour or so drive from Puerto Princesa City. Established in 1999 and confirmed as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World in 2012, this site has been a huge tourist spot and economic boost for Palawan.
You can visit the Underground River on one of the many tours that are offered, almost always starting or ending with a visit to Ugong Rock. It is a full day tour with a lunch buffet included and costs around 1500 PHP or $40 CDN . There is a set number of visitors (900 to be exact) allowed in the Underground River each day. Though this may seem like a lot, depending on the time of your visit, you might want to book your tour a few days ahead of time just in case.
In order to get to the Underground River, you must travel by “boat” (I’m using that term lightly). Cross your fingers in hopes of calm waters, otherwise be prepared to have the waves crash into you constantly for about 15 minutes. After a potential harrowing experience on the water, you’ll arrive on shore to find what seems like hundreds of other “boats” cluttered around and far too many tourists in bright orange life jackets. You’ll probably get wet getting onto shore, so you should highly consider wearing the shortest shorts you own.
The area surrounding the Underground River is breath-taking. Limestone cliffs surround you on the beach and a green-blue pond of water awaits you before the entrance. The river is almost 25 km long, but unfortunately tourists can only go a few kilometers into the cave (you spend about 20 or so minutes inside). If you’re interested in going further down the river, you must apply for a government permit and give plenty of notice. From talking with the staff who have traveled down the river, they all said it gets much more beautiful as you get further and further in – there are waterfalls, and interesting rock formations (on the tour inside the river our tour guide pointed out at least 15 different ones, including Virgin Mary) and colors.