Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Cave in Sabang
Image by Michael Runkel / robertharding / Getty Images
Image by Michael Runkel / robertharding / Getty Images

At 8km in length, Sabang's famous underground river is one of the longest navigable river-traversed caves in the world and draws scores of tourists. Trips aboard unmotorised paddle boats proceed about 1.5km upstream into the cave (45 minutes return) and now include audioguide headsets. Book a bangka through the Sabang Information Office (P1120 for up to six people, 15 minutes) to get you from the wharf to the cave entrance, or walk 5km via the Jungle Trail.

Crab-eating monkeys and monitor lizards roam the area around the cave entrance. When looking up, keep your mouth shut: bats and swiftlets flutter above and are responsible for the guano that ‘perfumes’ the cave.

Important note: if travelling independently, you must secure your park permit in advance from a tour operator or the Subterranean National Park Office in Puerto Princesa. However, if you are sleeping in Sabang, or if you are coming direct from El Nido or points north, you can purchase your permit on the spot at the Sabang Information Office provided you can show an environmental fee receipt from El Nido or Port Barton; an accommodation receipt may also work.

Of course, you can do what most people do and visit the park on an all-inclusive tour out of Puerto Princesa (about P2150 per person including transportation, lunch and all fees). Unless you are pressed for time, we don't recommend these as they herd you in and out of the park and preclude you from exploring Sabang's rich coastal rainforest.

It’s possible to proceed 4.3km into the underground river with a permit from the Subterranean National Park Office in Puerto Princesa (P1000, four hours return), secured at least two days in advance.

Officials often close the park due to excessive rain or rough seas, so when there’s inclement weather, we suggest contacting the Sabang Information Office in advance to save you a disappointing trip.