We stayed in Puerto Princesa for 3 days and 2 nights. We got there late morning Thursday, September 23 so we decided to start the tours the next day. We then opted to go around the city in the afternoon and check some shops and attractions in the downtown area. City tour is an option you can have and your resort/ hotel will be happy to help you out on that. Since we are here for the nature trip, we decided not to avail of it which costs 600 php per person. If you have no intention of seeing Iwahig penal colony, I would suggest you go to the city on a D.I.Y basis. I will publish a related post soon but for now, allow me to start with our much awaited underground river tour as it is one of the reasons why we were excited to fly here.
One thing I like about Puerto Prinsesa is that they are very systematic with their tours. If you have plans to travel here, the only thing you need to do is to decide what to see then find a good hotel/ resort. As I said, your resort will take care of the tour. if you have worries about the tour rates, don't, the fees are standard. They will not overcharge you, some even offer discounts on groups. Ms Sheryl of Dangkalan resort did.
Puerto Prinsesa is such a vast city. the airport and downtown area is located in the west facing Sulu Sea. Our resort shares the coastline with the airport and Microtel Suites. I was surpresed to know that it takes 2 hours to Sabang where the underground river is.
It all starts in Sabang. It's on the other side, facing South China Sea.Located 80 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Sabang is comprised of a small fishing community that provides banca transportation to and from the Underground River.Guides will ask for your id's here to register. Sabang is also famous for it's white sand beach. Some high end resorts are located here, notably Daluyon Beach and Mountain resort which no doubt one of the best in the area.
I though of getting a room in Daluyon for 1 night upon knowing that the underground river is far from the city center. Good thing I didn't. The whole shuttle ride from Dangkalan is already an adventure in itself. One more thing, HONDA BAY is just minutes away from the city center so it is still more convenient to stay downtown or near the area.
The guide will give insightful information along the way so be sure to listen carefully. I mentioned that they are systematic ayt? I found out that the guides are from travel agencies. So if you go here alone or on a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend, don't worry, the resort will find other tourists to go with you on the tour in coordination with the travel agencies in the area. 6 is the minimum number for the underground river and 10 for Honda bay.
We waited in line for only 5 minutes or so, that gave us a lot of time to take pictures of the area. The boats are in good condition so there is no need to worry about safety. Aside from the driver , there is an assistant who will look after you. That on top of the individual life vests which you are required to wear. Your tour guides will also accompany you all the way--- except inside the underground river.
It takes approximately 10 minutes to the underground river. The view along the way is very good so be sure to keep those cameras ready. I love the tall mountains and the karst all lining up the view as well as white sand coves.
After lunch, we decided to see the mangrove forest which is just a few meters from the tip of the main beach of Sabang. This is a separate tour and most tourists miss it as it is not part of the package. You have to pay separate entrance fee here. This is a must see place as it will make you appreciate the significance of mangroves in the sustainability of biodiversity in our seas.
I will be posting specifically on the mangrove forest here in the days to come and I will just link it as soon as it's made available.
1, 100 php ---Honda bay Island hopping
1, 500 php--- Sabang and Underground river
600 php --- city tour
200 php --- mangrove forest
That's per head basis. All tours start early in the morning. 7 or 8am are the usual call time so when your flight arrives 9:30 am onwards as we had, better start your underground river or honda bay tours the next day---unless you are a group of 6. lesser than that, you still have to pay for an exclusive tour if you insist on going after the call time since the boats has to be paid for their capacity. Tour fees cover everything---tour guides, shuttle transfer, boat, and lunch. All you have to do is relax and enjoy.
This was our first day tour in Puerto Princesa and we were all satisfied with it. In my case, I set my expectations low so it went beyond that. After the underground river experience, I started wondering why this part of Palawan is under rated. Honda Bay will be next, another jewel in the capital of the Philippines' last frontier.