Picture by: Palawan Council for Sustaina
|1999||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
Another World Heritage Site that become a New Seven Wonders of Nature I have visited this year, the heavily advertised underground river of Puerto Princesa on the beautiful island of Palawan which at present claimed to be the most desired tourist destination in the Philippines at least in the eyes of Filipinos. I began my trip at the airport of Puerto Princesa which is the capital of Palawan, after almost two hours drive on the almost perfect concrete road passed many beautiful bays and forest; I finally arrived at the small beach village of Sabang which located on the different side of the island. It is important to note that after the Underground River become world famous, the park authorities started to limit the number of visitor per days, so it is necessary to book the time slot in advance especially in the high season. So the best advice is to deal with travel agent or hotel to arrange all permit and transportation before you decided to visit.
After relax in my hotel, my guide took me to the port where I realized that the place is really popular for locals, I saw hundreds of Filipinos were waiting for their queue to be on boat in the large tent. Looking at locals was quite interesting, as most of them already worn the souvenir T-shirt with catching phrases liked Iíve been to Underground River, Underground River Conqueror, even before they actual visit the site! After waiting for an hour, I finally able to be on boat, the ride took around 30 minutes along the coastline of pretty Karsts Mountain and forest before mooring in the small lovely bay. Then I walked into the forest until I reached the small lagoon which is the Underground Riverís entrance. Here I saw another large crowd waiting for another boat trip to go inside the Underground River, this place seem to be less organized than at the port, tourists have to wait and sit in the forest or on the beach and let their guide to fight for the boat queue (another reason to have guide)! I waited in the forest about 20 minutes then my guide gave me helmet and life jacket and took me the boat. Each boat can carry 8-10 persons including boatman. On my boat, there were Filipinos and two Japanese, but the boatman welcomed us with English, Korean, Japanese then local language. The boatman paddled us into the cave and warned us about bat shit which sometime dropped like a shower rain inside the cave!
The cave inside was so dark, the boatman and person who sat on the front row had to work together to light the way. There were many nice dripstones and strange shape rock formations. It is very interesting to hear what locals imagined and named those bizarre rocks, and the Christian Filipino did their best to suit their faith, so I saw rocks looked like Virgin Mary, Nativity, biblical places etc. and the biggest chamber called the Cathedral. Some stones named normally like mushroom, corn etc, but some got strange name like Sharon Stone because it looked like sexy lady! The boatman took me back to the entrance but the different port, before back to Sabang by boat. The tour was surprisingly enjoyable, the cave and the underground river were very interesting, and the locals on the boat always praised the wonder of the cave as godís genius creation. For Filipino, the cave is a real wonder by god, but for me this is not the first time I saw subterranean river, I saw the similar ones at Gunung Mulu in nearby Malaysia which is not developed as tourist attraction at all and Wulingyuan National Park in China which dammed the subterranean river to high enough for boat riding! However, the one in Philippine is in the middle, they developed the place for tourist industry while keep the cave pristine as much as they can, and that really nice for preservation. In my opinion, Puerto Princesaís underground river is not a world wonder, but a really nice World Heritage Site.
Date posted: December 2012 bernard Joseph Guerrero (The Philippines):
I really enjoyed this place a lot. After all, in general, Palawan as whole is truly a pristine paradise. Getting to the site is already an experience in itself as one would pass by the beautiful karst formations - both on land and sea - towards the underground river's opening.
Tours going to the site are almost offered everywhere in Puerto Princesa City, but I would suggest that you take the service of Jas at email@example.com - he is a freelancing licensed tour guide and he knows how to maximize the trip well.
In hindsight, It has to be known that the underground river was also nominated earlier in 1993 but was eventually abandoned by the nominating party. Eventually, however, it got inscribed in 1999 (together with Vigan). Just this year, furthermore, the park was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature via popular voting (I still think that the WHS title is still a more important achievement as it is based on - at least in theory - merits). The national park consists of 8 known forest formations, containing rich collections of flora and fauna. It is normal to see monitor lizards roaming around, as well as local monkeys and frequent migratory and endemic birds. The tour inside the underground river takes around 45 minutes to cover the first 1.5 kilometers inward -- the deeper parts of the cave are only reserved for scientific studies and are, therefore, inaccessible for tourists. Nevertheless, the trip inside is worth it and the guide should be able to explain different stalagmite/stalactite formations and the creative images they represent (eg., head of a lion, the holy family, the banana blossom, the dragon, etc.). The trip is fun in a way that it tests your creativity and playfulness in deciphering formations. This place should work well for kids with wide imaginations.
Within the inscribed site is also a mangrove forest wherein some locals offer "tilamok", an edible worm thriving in mangroves. It's a must try! I was thinking if there are still ways wherein they can improve the "tourism experience and value" of the site, but I believe it is better that they maintain current practices that are considerably low-impact and generally sustainable. Key to appreciating this site is to have to good guide who can explain everything well; otherwise, it will just be one ordinary cave trip like others elsewhere. While the time inside the cave is limited, one can take a longer time at Sabang beach that is also within the inscribed area.
Also, I'm reminded that there were proposals before of making a separate category for karst formations to the listing options. Any update on that?
Lastly, my guess is that: this karst formation site may be related to the other mainland Asian WHS karst formations(Ha Long, Southern China Karst Forests, etc.) as, geologically speaking, Palawan island is one of the two islands (the other being Mindoro, which is home to the tentative site of Iglit-Baco National Park) in the Philippines that are not within the Philippine plate; rather, they are an extension of the mainland plate. Again, it's just my hypothesis (for the record, I think I'm the first to posit this idea though :p).
Date posted: October 2012 Boj (Philippines & China):
To avoid hassles, most travelers join the tour group to the Underground River. For 1500PHP /person (standard price), tour companies will secure permit to the natural park, provide lunch, provide transportation to and from Puerto Princesa City and Sabang, the motorboat ride from the Sabang port to the park/cave entrance and finally, the boat trip inside the cave. Independent travel to the park is still an option; but considering the difficulty to get to the place itself, joining the tour group isn°Įt a bad choice.
Originally, I was afraid the place would turn out to be like Disneyland; but all in all, the site is properly managed. Sure, crowds swell at the entrance of the underground river but this is only because of the limited number of boatmen. Our tour guide also says the number of visitors per day is also being monitored within manageable level
The cave tour is a rewarding experience perhaps even for those who have joined cave explorations in the past. PPSNP did not install any colorful lighting inside and requests visitors to remain quiet. An eerie but unforgettable experience.
Date posted: March 2011 HOPE F. SIGUA (CANADA):
Our visit to the Underground river in Sabang Pto. Princesa City was one of the most exciting part of our vacation in May-Sept. 2009. We stayed there for 3 days. We enjoyed the beautiful sceneries going to the underground river because we went there hiking through the monkey trail. My husband and me were with my sister Gem's family with three young kids aged 7,9,11. We thought they will be a problem for us but to our amazement they were still full of energy when we finished our three hour hike!! We specially enjoyed the untouched forest and beautiful flowers and the amazing construction of the stairs going up the mountain and the beautiful stones laid on the trails. We are also thankful to our guides who went with us, Mar and his son. We had stop overs in some station were we enjoyed seeing a molitor lizard, I believe the biggest I have ever seen. At first I thought is was a komodo dragon. We also saw small turtles, in a small pond in one of the stations, and also some monkeys and birds and pass small white beaches on the way. I encouraged visitors to go through the trails. It's very chalenging but worth the effort!! We took the boat going back to our cottage. We would want to back there again since we ran out of battery for our videos. Thank you and MABUHAY PHILIPPINES!!!!
Date posted: October 2009 EDWARD FAVILA (Philippines):
I'll always ready to delineate the PPSR-NP for those who have not yet gone and visited it. I proudly to say this is an amazing formation of rocks and natural creature. You'll not miss it.So, Let us support the PPSR-NP for making it no. 1 at 7wonders of nature.We should deserve it...
Date posted: July 2009 Maria Liza Diaz (Philippines):
I visited the underground river when I had my seminar in Puerto Princesa last November 2008.All I can say is that, its very impressive, how amazing the place is.With all the wonderful rock formation, the bats, the green surrounding and the cool water.The tour guides are also commendable since they are well equipped with information regarding the place.Its really a great experience visiting that place despite despite the bad weather. There was a heavy down pour of rain when we reached the river and I thought it would hinder us to see the beauty of the river.Anyway, its all worthed after seeing all those amazing stone structures. I hope i could go back with my family to visit other sceneries in the province.
Date posted: July 2009 MARICEL CANTAL (Cebu, Philippines):
I have visited Underground River last August 2008 (Our Company Outing). I was so impressed by the length, the rock formation of that Underground River.I was so breathtaking inside the cave, cool breeze... scary although, but nice adventure experience,really..
One of the most 7 wonders in the world..WOW PHILIPPINES..
I hope someday i can bring my family there..
Date posted: June 2009 JULIET REPORSADO DOLAR (ISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES):
I visited my husband, who is assigned in Espanola, Palawan last April 2008, that time the PALARONG PAMBANSA 2008 was held in the City in the forest-the PUERTO PRONCESA CITY. he took me to different tourist spots, and of course to the Subterranean Underground River, it really surprised and exalted me, wow! it was the breathtaking underground river! I thought I was dreaming that I was boating in an enchanted cave,to realize that it was a dream comes true, the place or spot that everybody dreams to visit. It is my pervent hope to visit it again THE 1ST WONDER OF THE WORLD!
Date posted: June 2009 Alvin D. Royeras (Bulacan, Philippines):
Wonderful...That is how I described my personal experience when I visited the subterranean river last October 2008. With hugh formations of stalagmites and stalactites, this is probably the best ecological wonder of the world. Love to come back and experience it all over again!!!
Date posted: April 2009 ERWIN B. FAVILA of Espanola, Palwan (Philippines):
It is better to know all the wonders of PPSR IF EVERYBODY could visit the underground river in Palawan.Especially the Palawenos people.............Its my memorable experience when the day I have been in this wonderful natures as I can't seen before. It is last febraury 24, 2009,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Date posted: April 2009 michael (iloilo philippines):
wow i was so impress for the stone structure in the underground river in palawan,it is very good... i want to come back next time..
Date posted: December 2008 matet (philippines):
we have a field trip in palawan this last sem break and one of the places we visit is the subterranean river.its one of the best and amazing spots in palawan and one of the best places ive ever seen in my whole entire life.i really love the place, and i hope someday i can bring my family there and i know they will also appreciate it alot..
Date posted: November 2008 Yellowbelle Duaqui (Philippines):
Very special river...always reminds me of my early spiritual education in Christianity..it tugs at me always even though I am now getting exposed to another culture and spiritual ethics teaching something that Catholic churches in the Philippines did not really emphasize but I am sure is found within Catholic doctrines. This cave of mystery resembles the mystery of life's journey as well. This cave is something that Filipinos should be proud of and shared to the world. The cave was the form that ensconced a message that will unfold in the heart of the person who dared travel it. The cave is better experienced, narrating about it is very limited to capture everything that it can impart to a traveler of life.
Date posted: November 2008 Marco M. Mendoza (Tarlac City, Philippines):
This Longest Navigable Underground River deserves to be at the top of the Worlds New Wonders...The People of this City (Puerto Princesa) From the Mayor ..Edward Hagedorn..to the Vice Mayor & City Council..the tourism Officials...Tour Guides..to the Boatmen...and plain ordinary Puerto Princesan are all contributory factors on why it should be included. This is One Existing wonder that is INTERACTIVE.
We stayed and visited from May 24-27, 2008 and my first visit proved to be life-changing...the longer you stayed, the more you understood the people, the place and the wonder.
Puerto Princesa may not be a city catering to "sophistications" which we have in many tourist destinations in Asia but I believe that its impact on ones Environmental Awareness not only for the surroundings but moreso of the kind of people that inhabit this city is one for the books.
Date posted: May 2008 rae (Philippines):
AMAZING! It conretizes God's majestic power as creator; definitely nobody can equal Him. This underground river showcases wonderful rock formations proclaiming that God is the undoubtedly the GREATEST SCULPTOR.
There are lots to see in this underground river, but what amazes me most during our tour is the "Cathedral" part of it.There are rock formations like holy family - mother Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus. There also stands a large candle with the three kings above it, angel holding holy water, nativity etc.
It takes pages to describe the amazement it brings, so visit to this place and you have them all!
Date posted: May 2008 hans (denmark):
i love it... i encourage you all adventorous to visit this planet earth wonders.. the philippine underground river, the longest underground river in the world..
Date posted: May 2008 frances (philippines):
ooh. the puerto princesa subterranean river national park? i've been there last summer and it's really great. especially the rock formations, they're really amazing. they've said that the whole river was not visited. it is the longest underground river not only in the country but also in the world. it also has a natural chapel inside because of the rock-form called holy family which portrays mother mary, jesus and His foster father, joseph together with a large rock for candle with the three kings above it. there are lots of rock forms inside and you will also see different creatures such as bats, monitor lizards and many more. the 45-minute tour past so fast that you would want to go back again and explore the wonders inside the underground river. the fee for such tour is very much worth it.
Date posted: May 2008 casinao a. navarro (philippines):
Spectacularly magnificent! that is Puerto Princesa's underground river some 50 kilometers northwest of the island's capital. the 40-minute or so boat-ride inside that amazing cave that is populated by bats of all sizes and swallows flying in the dark and many reptiles foraging along its banks, is not enough for all who love to witness the wonders of God's creation. It has to be kept the way it is - unadulterated and kept in their natural state - for the next generations to enjoy. Soon, I can see that reaching the place would be much easier, at the pace the roads and other infrastructures are rising and are being kept at a distance from this heritage. Going there now is, by itself, an adventure. Traversing the canopy of a real virgin forest and witnessing some scared wildlife either crossing the streets or flying above you, will sure surely linger in your memory for a lifetime. my one day experience was not enough. I vow that in the near future, I will return with my wife, children and children and grandchildren because this, to me, is an ultimate tourist destination. I have been to so many tourist destinations in so many country and have read lots about them, but this one is outstanding. you will love it, i tell you.
Date posted: May 2008 Daizy Llano (Philippines):
Last April 26, 08, I went to Puerto-Princesa with my boyfriend's family. Of course the trip wont be complete without the trip to the Subterranean River National Park. It is like 2-3 hrs from the city to Sabang.
It is very special for me because it was the first time I went out with my boyfriend's mom and dad and of course with my beloved. On the way to Sabang, it's like cloudy as it is about to rain but it didnt change our determination to go there. It is worthy, way beyond. You'll see the forest along the road, and when we reach the port you will see the beautiful beach.. You need to ride a boat to go the main island going to the river itself and on the way there you will see the amazing rock formations.. In the main island are different animals including small monkeys (tsonggo) and birds.
Breathtaking, amazing, great! These are the words you will commonly hear. Especially inside the cave, the very cold water that will occasionaly fall into your face, the amazing rock formations like fruits, veges and even the Holy Family at the cathedral. It's the part of the cave that they called it as such because of the rock formations that look like the Virgin Mary, Angels and other.
All in all, the experience is great because of the beautiful sceneries and of course the fact that I'm now close to my boyfriend's family.
Hopefully, they can preserve this very beautiful gift from our creator.
Date posted: May 2008 ():
My girlfriend and I visited Sabang last May, and it was an amazing experience for both of us. It is, without doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever been. The karst forests look like the landscape of another world. The hike up the Jungle Trail was surprisingly difficult, although Claire made it look easy (and made me look old and flabby). The Underground River passes through some hauntingly beautiful caverns, and Claire and I made the most of the dark by holding hands. (Ok, we're old-fashioned, so what!?) The brown-sugar sand on the beaches is soft and spongy, and very comfortable to walk through. The water is bathtub-warm, especially during the spring and summer months. Overall it was a great experience for Claire and I, and we both look forward to coming back soon.
For the love of all that is holy, please don't turn this area into the next Boracay (as suggested below). Please preserve it the way it is (and if possible, protect it further) and keep the tourism to a minimum or at least really push responsible tourism in the area. Boracay's coral reefs are now dying slowly and the water is getting dirtier with trash, algae and fuel from boats thanks to irresponsible tourism. If all you want to do is party and eat then don't go here. If you want to truly appreciate true natural beauty and a slower pace, then do come here. It's definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to in my life and it would break my heart if we lose it for want of a new party island.
annievev galupo (canada):
it was realle awesome.. the creativity of God is really evident. how i wish it would be preserved for the next generation to come. all the natural beauty and the untouched ecosystem is really breathtaking..
it was an ethereal communion with nature if you see this place..
if i were to travel again, i would rather return to puerto princesa. the last frontier here in our country. when we went there, it's quite a pack, a jungle trekking, bird watching, fishing, swimming, wading, and ofcourse navigating the st. paul's cathedral underground river. what an experience, very thrilling yet somehow scaring. the atmosphere is quite eerie since we are just using a hallogen there and the water that drips feels like a water coming from the fridge. i do really recommend this place for you to try and enjoy, you won't regret it, i do swear.
I have just visited Palawan with my family for my annual holiday we stayed in Puerta Princessa but spent a night at a small resrt called roberts resort in Sabang, right on the beach front. The shops there in Sabang were perfect, and unexpensive. While in Sabang we sailed through the underground river, it was a very enjoyable experiance, as was the jungle trck to get to the mouth of the river, where we saw Dragon Lizards and Monkeys, something you are never likly to come across in England. I would certainly recommend this experiance to anyone visiting the Philippines.
Elayne (New York):
The Cave is really cool. Other than that...everything sucks. It's still the same as it was 5 years ago. I think the PAMB should move to another level of strategy in pushing ecotourism in the Subterranean River National Park. The idea of Kayaking/Mangrove tour is a blast! Something like this is what the PAMB or whatever is the right authority in the management should think about. More camp site, trails, maybe a rock climbing wall would be fun. Anything that would keep the guests longer in the area will advance its income from tourism.
Date posted: August 2006 Evangelina S. Ella (Philippines):
I visited Puerto Princesa for the first time only last weekend. I stayed in the Legend Hotel where checked-in visitors were given a city tour (courtesy of the Department of Tourism) to visit Ihawig Penal Colony, Crocodile Farm, Baker's Hill, Mitra Ranch, and Butterfly Farm. Then I joined a smaller group in a tour to the Mt. St. Paul underground river in barangay Sabang. It took us 2.5 hours one way because of the rough road going to barangay Sabang where the river is located. By the time we reached Sabang, rain poured hard and we waited for almost an hour and good enough the rain stopped. We had two boat rides, the first was from the main port in Sabang going to the entrance of the underground river where we took another boat ride (boatman also served as our guide) to tour the cave with underground river. I really enjoyed our guide's company, his sense of humor and ability to establish good rapport among his passengers. He had associated some stories with the rock formation inside the cave. It was my first time to see a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river. According to our guide, this river stretches 8+ kms but the tour allowed us to travel only 1.3 kms. I consider this river a special one because of its distinguishing feature, that it emerges directly into the sea, the South China Sea, while its lower portion is subject to tidal influences making its waters brackish. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation for it has a full 'mountain-to-sea' ecosystem that houses a variety of plant and animal species, among which I saw bats of different sizes and birds of different kinds. I told to myself, though I felt so tired and got wet, had to buy extra shirt to keep myself dry (I got wet for a few hours before I was able to buy shirt to keep me warm), the experience is worth it. Now that I am back home in Los Banos, Laguna and though I felt bit feverish because I had colds, I still strongly recommend to the visitors of Puerto Princesa to allocate time to tour the area. I really enjoyed my brief stay in Puerto Princesa-the beautiful mainland, the limestone karst landscape with an underground river, and the many beaches in its shoreline coupled with the courteousness and hospitality of Palawenos. I am looking forward to being there once again, hopefully with my immediate family and other relatives.
Date posted: May 2006 France (Philippnes):
1. Amazing rock formations.
2. Adventure caving and trekking.
3. The scene was breathtaking.
4. The water is clear... as in crystal clear.
5. Pls. develop the spot near Sabang beach... its a nice spot for restos and bars... make it tourist friendly like Boracay.
6. Its even more beatiful to compare to Boracay if the place has full of stores and resort... like in Boracay.
7. The place is superb...
8. Be back there this summer.
9. WOW Underground River...
Ivan ManDy (Philippines):
My most vivid remembrance of this river is this:
1. Huge and spectacular salt(?) rock formations.
2. Water was a perfect tropical green.
3. Bats fluttering around.
4. The guides repeating that guests should not put their hands in the water lest you get bitten by huge water snakes!
I never liked the sea but when we sailed off from Sabang to the underground river, the beautiful color of the sea that blends well with the clouds, the sky, the wet and dry sand of the beach - a magnificent work of a Master artist... how can I not like the sea?
The St. Paul Subterranean River National Park is the best place to go in Puerto Princesa. I wish that:
1. the road leading to this famous park is improved to lessen the travel time. Someone said that rough road is part of the adventure (duh!). We wanted to enjoy the place more and talk about it after but we were all shook up during the trip.
2. the person holding the flashlight should be a trained person. One we had kept on moving the light. It was another dyzzying spell cast on us.
3. Yes, Monkeys should not be fed. The forest vegetation takes care of them. When they start becoming friendly, they become demanding and grabs anything you have. Monkeys normally go away when there are people.
I am going again end of January. I'll update.
Grace P. Sapuay (Philippines):
I have been to the Pueto Princesa Subterranean River National Park just last week, Aug. 11, 2004. It was an exciting day for me. My husband and my companions braved the rain just to get there. The sea was swollen and murky so it was a little bit scary. But excitement at seeing the world-famous underground river got the better of us. I was most impressed by the length of that underground river. It was amazing nature at its best! I've seen many rivers big and small, but underneath the earth? I thought this was one of a kind. You gotta see it too! Especially during the rainy season! 'Cause that makes it even more exciting!
However, I'd like to let the PCSD know that people should be warned not to eat at the park because it is affecting the monkeys there. They get attracted to people's food and would therefore try to snatch the food. Aside from affecting their behavior, they might also get diseases from people like colds and other viruses that are food-borne. We know how deadly viruses become when they mutate as a result of the combination of human and animal virus interaction. So please...ban eating at the park! thank you.
Doris M. Tabulao (USA):
I've been to Underground River many times (I lost count!) In fact, I recently went back there this last Holy Week of 2004. Before I moved to California in 2000, I used to live in Puerto Princesa, Palawan... the city where Underground River is located at. It's still breathtaking no matter how many times I've seen the rock formations inside the cave! You guys should check it out!!!!
Have you been to Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park? Share your experiences!