It’s no secret that Palawan – known as the Philippines’ ‘final frontier’ – is home to some pretty special scenery. In fact, while you’re traveling around it – whether by the coast or exploring the interior – it can seem as if there are marvels everywhere you look. Perhaps most spectacular of all, however, is the Subterranean River National Park.
This river runs for over eight kilometers, and all of it is underground. Think about how big that is, for a moment; it’s incredible! Its place as one of the planet’s greatest wonders was certified when it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s believed to be one of the longest underground rivers in the whole world (some even claim it to be the longest). There are large parts of the network that haven’t even been explored yet, simply because it’s too dangerous.
And the best thing of all? You can go there!
Getting to the Subterranean River National Park is a piece of cake. The biggest nearby settlement is Puerto Princesa, so we’d recommend making that your launching point. There are plenty of tour agencies there, so pop along to one of those, hand over a few pesos, and they’ll sort everything out for you (including the permit you need to visit).
After taking a minibus from Puerto Princesa, you’ll arrive at the small village of Sabang. There, you’ll board your boat, and enjoy a scenic 20 minute journey across the water (look out for the monkeys on the way!), before you reach the entrance to the river. Most tours only take in the first half or so of the river, but it’s possibly to arrange a visit that encompasses the whole thing.
At long last you’ll reach the entrance, and head into the darkness. That’s when the magic truly begins. You’ll sail through vast caverns and pass by fascinating limestone formations, all the time accompanied by the sounds of the bats which roost above.
Visiting the Subterranean River National Park is an otherworldly experience, and one that simply must be undertaken by any visitor to Palawan.