Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Princesa Underground River

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Prior to our trip, I did a lot of research on the best way to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River. And I mean, a lot.

“Should we join a guided tour or D.I.Y our own trip? How much will a guided tour cost? Will a D.I.Y trip be cheaper? Are we going to spend the entire day at Sabang or will we be stopping by just for the Underground River and then head elsewhere?”

We weighed each of these considerations in when deciding the best option for the both of us. In the end, we decided to customise our own trip to the Puerto Princesa Underground River due to several factors which I will elaborate below.

For your reading convenience, I’ve sectioned this entire guide into 5 main sections: my itinerary, how to get there, the registration process, the actual experience, and a summary of everything. Within this comprehensive guide, I’ve also included important information on costs, car rental process, comparison with a guided tour, and what the registration entails.

If you’re planning a trip or thinking of visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River, then read on to find out all that you need to know beforehand!


Itinerary Overview

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Puerto Princesa Underground River Itinerary


Getting there

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The Car Rental

After doing some research online, we’ve decided to go with Rey’s Car Rental. Our choice is mainly derived from comparing prices, car options, user reviews and practicability of all the available car rental places in Puerto Princesa. According to our experience with Rey’s, this is how I would rate them:

Price: Very reasonable. We rented an automatic Toyota Vios for one whole day and it cost us 1800Php/US$34.76, excluding gas.
Car options: Rey’s has more options compared to other car rental places we’ve found. You can check out their list of vehicles available here.
Communication: Calling them directly on the phone worked much better than reserving a vehicle through their online chat. We called the night before and we were booked in immediately.
Location: If I’m not wrong, there are two locations. We went to the address listed on Google, at the gas station. There’s another one at the airport, which makes returning and renting cars convenient.
Car rental process: Fast and efficient. We chose our ride, signed our rental lease at the Head Office, and were ready to go within 20 minutes. We were asked to provide IDs as well.
Car return process: Just like the rental process, the return was easy and over in 2 minutes. We dropped the car off at the same location, they checked the car for any damage and/or scratches, and we were done.
Things to note: They will provide one bar of gas for you and you’ll have to fill up the rest yourself. Also, you’ll have to pay in cash up front since they don’t accept cards.
Overall experience: Fast, efficient and pleasant. The guy we dealt with was really friendly and upfront about everything. No hidden fees, no hidden clauses that weren’t in the contract. The car was in excellent condition even though we rode through a lot of dirt tracks, bumps and uphills. Overall, everything was smooth and fuss free.

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The Drive to Sabang

The drive took about 1.5 hours from the car rental place to Sabang, where the Puerto Princesa Underground River is located. An important thing to note is that the way to Sabang involves a lot of ascending and descending hilly roads, going through bumpy dirt roads and winding through narrow roads. That’s why it’s crucial that you go there by car or bus, since tricycles or motorcycles would potentially be very dangerous.

There are not a lot of stop options along the way as well, so if you need to, prepare your snacks/meals and drinks beforehand.


The Registration Process

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Registration and Fees

When we arrived in Sabang, it didn’t take us long to find the registration office. The centre of Sabang is the size of a big parking lot, and it literally is a parking lot.

Next to the car park is the wharf, where the registration office is located. We basically went in and told them that we wanted to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River, and we were told to register and pay for the tour. Here is a breakdown of the fees:

All the prices listed are per person
Entrance fee: 500 Php
Audio device: 85 Php
Terminal fee: 5 Php
Environmental fee: 150 Php (**We paid for ours the day before since we went on the Honda Bay island hopping tour. You need only pay once for both Honda Bay and the Puerto Princesa Underground River**)
Boat rate: 180 Php (for a 7-passenger boat)
TOTAL: 920*2 = 1840 Php (US$35.55)

The registration took a few minutes to complete. It basically involved showing proof of ID and completing a couple of forms asking for basic information.

**Please note that all the fees stated above, including the audio device and environmental fee are compulsory, whether you’re doing your own D.I.Y trip or you’re going with a tour.**

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The Wait

After the registration process, we headed over to the wharf right in front, to pay for the boat rate. The registration office will hand you the receipt, or proof of payment, which you will show to the booth at the wharf. We had to wait for a few more people to fill up our boat of seven. That took only a couple of minutes and we were then given a waiting number. Our boat arrived within 20 minutes and the seven of us were off.


The Puerto Princesa Underground River

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Boat ride ⇾ Walk ⇾ Preparation

The boat ride took us about 20 minutes. It was actually a pretty scenic and peaceful ride, save for the loud rat-ta-tat of the motor. Perfect opportunity to take some pictures of the rock cliffs and sea.

Upon arriving at the island, we were guided along a long pathway into the forest. There are signs at the beginning of the pathway stating that we should be careful of monkeys in this area. So if you brought along some food with you, keep them safe in your bags.

After 10 minutes or so, we arrived at the river. We were asked to strap on our life vests and safety helmet. The helmet is actually a protection against bat droppings (more on that later). We then waited with our group for our boat and at this time, we were given our audio guides.

**Please note that since you’ll be waiting in the forest, there will be a lot of bugs and mosquitoes. Prepare accordingly.**

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The Underground River Experience

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Without spoiling too much, the whole experience was surreal. There were parts of the visit that we did not really like, such as the high humidity, heat and darkness of the cave. Then there were parts such as being in the midst of a natural wonder that probably existed since pre-historic times.

The audio guide turned out to be a valuable investment because the explanation and narrative really allowed us to understand what we were perceiving and it deepened our entire experience at the Underground River.

The helmet also turned out to be a great help because there are hundreds if not thousands of bats flying above our heads during the tour. We didn’t get any of the droppings on us, but we could hear the bat droppings hitting the water next to us throughout the tour. Yikes! So remember to keep your mouths closed the entire time.

As a brief summary, the tour lasted for 45-50 minutes in total.
The cave can be extremely humid, dark and oppressing at times (even for a cave), so if you have any medical conditions, please take note of this.
Wear comfortable clothing since you’ll be wading in water to get unto the boat and do not bring expensive camera equipments or electronics with you. If you do, keep them in a waterproof bag.



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Total Cost Breakdown

Car rental = 1800 Php
Gas (round trip to and from Sabang) = 500 Php
Underground River fees = 1840 Php
TOTAL COST = 4140 Php/US$80 for both of us

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D.I.Y Trip vs. Guided Tour

Overall, we were really glad that we’ve decided to D.I.Y our trip to the Puerto Princesa Underground River rather than join a tour. Our D.I.Y trip cost a bit more than a regular day tour, but we preferred it since we had full flexibility in terms of itinerary and schedule. We also had the chance to explore Sabang beach after the tour and we really enjoyed the small road trip on the way to and back from Sabang.

Create your own D.I.Y trip if you…
√ Prefer your schedule and itinerary to be flexible
√ Want to explore Sabang or other areas nearby
√ Enjoy a mini road trip
√ Will be traveling in a group since the car rental fee will be cheaper if shared between a large group

Go with a guided tour if you…
√ Want everything scheduled and organised for you
√ Do not mind following fixed itineraries
√ Would like to meet other travellers and make friends
√ Are travelling alone so a guided tour will be the cheaper option

Well, there you go! Everything you need to know about the Puerto Princesa Underground River experience. This was actually one of the highlights of our Puerto Princesa trip and there is much more to do and visit at PP. That’s why to save you the hassle and hours of researching online, you can take a look at all my free travel guides on Puerto Princesa here!

If you’re interested in booking a tour, Klook actually runs a pretty good guided tour for a very affordable price. You can check it out here.

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  1. 4 July 2019 / 9 h 42 min

    I am from the Philippines but I have never been to Puerto Princesa. I am actually planning to visit there next month. This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Miriam
      5 July 2019 / 3 h 24 min

      My pleasure, Fae!

  2. 4 July 2019 / 13 h 06 min

    What a trip! The underground river sounds amazing! Great photos!

  3. 4 July 2019 / 14 h 09 min

    This sounds like you had an amazing experience! That underground river experience looks gorgeous!

    • Miriam
      5 July 2019 / 3 h 23 min

      It really was! Thank you for dropping by, Crystal.

  4. 4 July 2019 / 15 h 05 min

    UNDERGROUND river?! OMG! I want more photos!!!! I need to google this now because it sounds mystifying!

  5. 4 July 2019 / 15 h 30 min

    I really enjoyed reading the detailed account of the trip. It’s very useful to know what the options and prices are when planning to visit the underground river.

  6. 4 July 2019 / 16 h 53 min

    An underground river!!! That is something i would love to see for sure…What an amazing place wow.

  7. 4 July 2019 / 17 h 08 min

    Thanks for sharing so much more about Puerto Princesa Underground River, which looks fun to be with family and kids for a fabulous summer weekend outing..

  8. 4 July 2019 / 21 h 10 min

    This post gives lot of good info. I’ll keep it in mind, if I ever find myself to travel there.

  9. 5 July 2019 / 18 h 05 min

    It does look like an amazing journey. And that’s so good you were able to do all that research ahead of time to make it a pleasant journey out there. I do like the flexibility of discovering things on your own. I think it makes trips better for the most part.

  10. Bindu Thomas
    6 July 2019 / 14 h 07 min

    Very exhaustive information. You have it all covered. Thanks for sharing.

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