in our childhood days, we were told that "guffa mein mat jao sher aa jaayega". The same thought is still in my mind until i did the underground river tour in Philippines.
In the morning, we took a flight from Cebu city to Puerto Princessa. Our plan was to stay there for a day, visit the underground river and leave for El Nido in the night but our plan was dashed as the underground river is far from Puerto Princessa. So, we decided to take a break and relax for a day. The accommodation was very cheap here.In the night, we took LaZboy bus to El Nido. The ride was very comfortable and smooth. We arrived in El Nido at around 2 am in the night. The hills on the side and the starlit sky was an overwhelming treat to the eyes. It took us some time to find our hotel, and we dozed off as soon as we reached there.
Itinerary: Cebu – Bohol – Puerto Princesa – El Nido – Coron – Boracay – ManilaReaching Puerto Princesa from Cebu: You get direct flights from Cebu to Puerto Princesa. Upon reaching Puerto Princesa airport you can take tricycle/cab to reach your hotel. If it’s evening time Jomar Chavez (+63 910 884 1892) can drive you to your hotel at a reasonable price. Try giving him a call once you reach the airport.Where to stay: We stayed in Rizal Avenue, which is about 10 minutes walking distance from city bay walk. The area also has many restaurants, popular pubs and discs, and SM Mall.One of the options: Teofila PensionCommute: It is easy to travel in Puero Princesa City. You can take jeepney, tricycle or rent a bike.Things to do:1.) Go spelunking in Puerto Princesa Subterranean National Park (Underground River): A UNESCO World Heritage site, considered among new 7 wonders of the world. The unique stalactite and stalagmite formations, flora and fauna of Puerto Princesa Subterranean National Park makes it a geological and ecological marvel. It has the second longest underground river in the world. Currently, the longest underground river is in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.Getting there: You need to reach Sabang Port, which is approximately 2 hours (80 km) by car from Puerto Princesa. From there it’s another 20-25 minutes ride by boat to Sabang Beach which is also the entrance to the Underground River. After reaching the National Park you will take a small paddle boat to go inside the cave.We booked a group tour with TravelPALAWAN. The charges were Php 2150 per person. Apart from this we paid additional Php 150 per person towards environmental fee. The travel agency took care of the permits required to visit the National Park.External factors for tour cancellation: This tour can get cancelled due to bad weather conditions leading to high tides at Sabang Beach or entrance of Underground River (both of which open in to South China Sea).2.) Honda Bay Island Hopping: This consisted of visiting three main islands Star Fish, Luli (Lulubog Lilitaw) and Cowrie with shallow reefs lined by unspoilt beaches.Activities: Snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing, relaxing, photography- Star Fish Island: Shallow reef with plenty of corals making it a good place for snorkelling. We were lucky to be with a boatman who made us hold a float-tube and took us in to deeper areas around the reef where we could see best of the marine life hidden.- Luli (Lulubog Lilitaw) Island: Good place for snorkelling, here you get to see diverse fishes in large number. Although not advisable, see what happens when you drop a piece of bread while snorkelling. Here also, the boatman took us to the deeper parts of the reef.- Cowrie Island: A beautiful island good for taking picturesque photos, swimming and relaxingWe booked a group tour with TravelPALAWAN. The charges were Php 1407 per person.3.) Puerto Princesa City Tour: Although, this was not part of the plan, however due to underground river tour cancellation we had a chance to roam around the city. Major tourist attractions are:- Baker’s Hill: A theme park with amazing landscapes, perfect for taking pictures.- Crocodile Farm: Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, where you get to tour a crocodile breeding center and see 14-16 ft long crocodiles.- Butterfly eco-garden and Tribal Village: Houses traditional Palawan dwelling. Here you can witness music and sharp hunting skills of Palawan aborigines and also shop handicrafts by them.- City Bay Walk: The bay walk is lined with many restaurants serving delicious food and drinks- Few more: Viewpoint and zip-lining at Mitra’s Ranch, Puerto Princesa Cathedral, Plaza CuartelYou may contact Mario (+63 926 908 8767), he will take you around the city in his tricycle. He charged us Php 600 for taking us to all above places. This does not include entrance fee paid at Crocodile Farm and Butterfly eco-garden.4.) Other: Head out to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park for diving. This UNESCO World Heritage site has the dive season running from mid-March until mid-June. It is considered to be one of the remotest diving destinations in the Philippines. We could not do it because we went to the Philippines in the month of November. For more information check the page Girls that Scuba. Note that there are many more diving sites in the Philippines other than the ones in aforementioned article, a simple Google search will get you to portals of dive operators.How to reach Tubbataha: Dive operators usually transport their guests from the Puerto Princesa airport to the pier, just minutes away, where their boat awaits. It takes around 10 hours to get to the Park from Puerto Princesa. Most dive boats leave after dinner and arrive in Tubbataha early the next morning. Some slower vessels leave the wharf earlier in order to arrive at Tubbataha by first light.Time of visit: November 2017
Though the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) has a lot to offer visitors, most people make the trip from Puerto Princesa only to see the underground river, which is heavily celebrated as one of the new seven wonders of the natural world. Also part of UNESCO history, the river is now a huge source of pride to the Philippines. The subterranean river system is 8.2km long and has several large chambers, up to 120m wide and 60m high. It flows underground almost the entire length, and empties into the ocean, so the lower part of the river is brackish (a mix of fresh and salt water) and subject to tidal influence, which makes it a natural phenomenon. When the sun is shining, the brackish water is known to turn an eye-popping bright blue-green (more green than blue). The river isn’t the only attraction of the PPSRNP though, as the beach by the mouth of the cave features an impressive karst landscape, and the old-growth forest that fills the park is full of exotic flora and fauna. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a handful of large monitor lizards crawling around, forked tongues darting about! Since the river was given the honor of being one of the new seven wonders of nature, there was a huge jump in the amount of daily visitors, so much that a cap has been put into law for preservation reasons, which allows only 900 tourists a day into the subterranean river… but that seems to be largely flexible depending on the clout and amount of pesos you hold.
This place is best known for its famous underground river. The 8.2-kilometer river, said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, winds its way underneath a mountain range, through the St. Paul Underground River Cave, and then goes out into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system alone is 24 kilometers long. It is listed on one of the new natural wonders of the world.