With paradise-like beaches, incredible underwater visibility, and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature (Puerto Pricesa Subterranean River National Park), Palawan is definitely a must-go travel destination for nature-lovers. Especially for budget travelers, there are a wide range of resorts where you can enjoy astonishing ocean view as well as chilling at a beach without any cost.
There are a variety of tour packages that can guarantee you amazing island-hopping experiences. In this article, we will recommend you the best destinations in Palawan and offer you some useful tips to explore this virgin island in the Philippines.
Visit Subterranean River National Park
Since the Subterranean River National Park was nominated as the sixth of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011, it has attracted tourists from all over the world. The most impressive are the limestone karsts with the Caubayugan River cutting through, forming magnificent stalacitites and stalagmites landscape. The underground river, and the cave features ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem. This represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation.
Package tours for underground river are available online or through local travel agencies. The package includes transportation, entry fee, permits fee, audio guide, and buffet lunch, ranging from 35 dollars to 40 dollars. For budget travelers, there is an alternative that we offer you to do it yourself.
Step 1: Get your permit
To get your permit, first you need to get to “City Coliseum”. The City Coliseum is located in the city center of Puerto Princesa. It costs you roughly 20 cents by a tricycle from city center or from airport. We strongly advise you to get there early to avoid the crowd.
The office is open from 8am to 4pm with no lunch breaks on weekdays. On weekends, it opens from 8am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm. Although you can also get the permit in Sabang (where the national park actually is), we still recommend you to get the permit one day prior to your visit in Puerto Princesa since the vacancies are limited.
Step 2: Take a bus to Sabang or rent your scooter
To get to the national park, you can take a bus from the San Jose bus terminal (tricycles or jeepneys both take you from the city center to the bus terminal for less than 1 dollar), and just go with the bus from “Lexuss Terminal”.
Buses cost roughly 4 dollars (200PHP), leave every 2 hours from 7am until 5pm, and the travel time is about 2 to 3 hours. Get there before the bus leaves since you never want to miss it!
Alternatively, you can rent your scooter and ride to Sabang. Riding scooter makes your trip more flexible, and you can arrive before the crowd! Daily rental fee usually ranges from 8 dollars to 12 dollars.
Step 3: Head to the Subterranean River National Park tourist office in Sabang
Again, to avoid the crowd, we strongly recommend you to get there as early as possible, or else, you will spend plenty of time waiting. The tourist office opens at 8 am. Here you will pay for the total fee for visiting the national park:
Entrance Fee: 10 dollars (500PHP)
Environmental Fee: 3 dollars (150PHP)
Audio guide: 1.7 dollars (85PHP)
Boat fee: 3.6 dollars(187PHP/person)
Total: 18.3 dollars (922PHP)/person
Step 4: Enjoy your visit at the Subterranean River National Park
A motorized boat will take you to the beach. From there, you will take a Bangka to start your amazing exploration to the underground river! You will have your audio guide as well as a bangkero, the local tour guide. He will tell much more interesting stories with his hand shadow skills. The whole underground river is 24 kilometers long.
The boat tour will only cover 4 kilometers (2km each way) for 45 minutes in total. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting it!
What is after the visit…….
They will serve an “all-you-can-eat buffet” that cost you lower than 4 dollars (200PHP) for lunch. It is DELICIOUS! It is definitely worth staying for one more hour to enjoy your lunch! Some tips for visiting the Subterranean River National Park: