Puerto Princesa Subterranean River :: Travel Guide

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Sabang (Palawan)

Sabang is a small village in Palawan, Philippines. It is used as an entry point to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. There’s not much in the village except services for those going to visit the river, but there is a beach and a chilled out atmosphere.

Get in

By bus/jeepney:

From Puerto Princesa, take a trike or jump in mini-bus going to the “New Market” Jeepney Terminal in San Jose. It takes about 10 minutes. Trike fare is about P80 and the mini-bus is about P12. Four trips from the San Jose Terminal to Sabang run daily between 7AM and 2PM. The bus/jeepneys costs roughly 150 pesos and takes about 3 hours.

Air-con minivans can also be hired from a number of tourist agencies in Puerto Princesa. They usually include a tour to the Underground River, and a lunch buffet at a beach resort.

By Boat:

All boats out of Sabang are subject to weather conditions.

There are about 45 Park Ferry Service boats registered for transporting tourist on a 5 km (20 minute) voyage from the Sabang Pier to the Underground River and back. These boats carry a maximum of 6 passengers. They are all about the same, so it doesn’t matter which one you go on. They are the perfect size for getting in and out of the rocky Sabang Pier. The cost for a round-trip boat ride to the Underground River, including the Park Entrance Fee is P300. These boats may also take tourist out in St. Paul Bay for: sightseeing, snorkeling and fishing, and they charge a minimum of P1,000 for 2-4 hours.

Only a few charter boats in Sabang are fully registered and insured to transport passengers for tourism from Sabang to Port Barton and El Nido. Some of the boats making these voyages are in poor condition, have small engines, bamboo balancers, and are not properly registered. These voyages are for the young and adventurous, and are not recommended for children.

Boats from Sabang to Port Barton are about P1,200 and take about 4 hours. Boats from Sabang to El Nido are about P2,200 and take 7-9 hours. These fares include a non-refundable 10% booking fee for the local commissioners. So, if your voyage is canceled due to weather, you can either re-schedule or loose 10%.

It seems that travelers are very budget minded these days, and they don’t take into consideration that safety regulations are not strictly followed in the Philippines. So, travelers most often opt for the cheapest possible fares without considering their own safety.

The voyage from Sabang to El Nido is very long and remote. The Weather often changes quickly in the afternoon, so it is highly recommended that you stop-over for night or two at Coconut Garden Island Resort or in Port Barton.

The voyage into El Nido is like nothing else. It’s an indescribable “once in a life time experience.” However, most people play it safe, and save a few pesos by taking a 9-hour bus ride. Then, they go on island hopping tours and have a great time. The choice is yours…

By car:

Ask in the village or at the Tourist Information & Assistance Centre (8AM-5PM) to hire a driver.

Get around

Sabang is very small so everything in the village is within walking distance. To get to the underground river you need to hire a boat from the pier, or walk along the jungle trail/monkey trail (about 5km and 1-2 hours).

See/Do

Underground river: this world heritage site is the main attraction in Sabang. There is a P200 entry fee which buys you a trip down the river. There are two ways to get to the entrance of the river from Sabang. The first is a boat (banka) and this costs P500-600 per boat (banka) from Sabang pier and is subject to weather conditions, and the second is a 1-2 hour walk through the jungle.

Jungle trail/monkey trail: an alternative way to get to the start of the underground river. Approximately 5km walk through the jungle which takes 1-2 hours.

Mangrove river cruise: a cruise along a nearby river surrounded by mangroves.

You should arrange your trip and buy tickets for the Underground River tour in the office in Puerto Princessa, as there is a limited amount of people allowed each day. If you just show up you may not get in. Sometimes they might be kind enough to sell a tickets for the same day.

Buy

Local handicrafts.

Eat

There are a number of restaurants around the village serving a mix of Asian and western dishes. Except for Daluyon Resort, food needs to be ordered a few hours in advance as restaurants do not stock up on food but only shop when they are sure the food will be sold.

Drink

There are a number of bars including a few with pool tables.