25 Puerto Princesa Underground River Facts: This Will Blow Your Mind!

Keerthana Ramasamy
Feb 13, 2023 By Keerthana Ramasamy
Originally Published on Mar 28, 2022
Edited by Pete Anderson
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Puerto Princesa is Philippines's Eco-tourism Center

Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the most beautiful and longest underground rivers in the world, managed by the Puerto Princesa city government since 1992.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, located in the south-western part of the Philippines, is one of the protected areas in the Philippines. It is 5.1 mi (8.2 km) long and winds through some of the most stunning limestone formations you'll ever see.

If you're looking for an amazing adventure, make sure to add this United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site to your list. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 mi (80 km) from the city of Puerto Princesa.

In these facts, we'll be sharing 25 fascinating facts about the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

History Of Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park

Puerto Princesa Underground River was listed in the 1999 UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted as the seven new wonders of nature in 2012. Learn the history of this heritage site.

  • On November 12, 1999, Puerto Underground River was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list for its cave system, limestone Karst landscapes, natural rock formations, forests, and distinctive wildlife.
  • In 2010, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was discovered to have second-floor small waterfalls inside the cave. A group of environmentalists and geologists discovered it.
  • The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is located in the province of Palawan in the Philippines.
  • The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River flows through a cave over 15 mi (24 km) long.
  • The cave comprises limestone formations that are millions of years old. Besides, the available rock formations are similar to images of cacao fruits, a mushroom, a horse, and the holy family.
  • The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is home to various plants and animals. And the tour is via a paddleboat into the river through the mangrove forest in order to avoid tidal influence. Besides, only up to 2.67 mi (4.3 km) of the entire length can be traveled by boats, and for the rest of the travel distance, 2.42 mi (3.9 km) tourists need a special permit.
  • On January 28, 2012, Puerto Princesa Underground River was officially listed for the 'New Seven Wonders of Nature.'

Geography Of Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is home to various plants and animals, many endemic to the area, especially in the forest canopy. Know its geographical features.

  • The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River has a limestone Karst mountain landscape with St. Paul's Underground River Cave 15 mi (24 km) long and Cabayugan River 5.1 mi (8.2 km) long.
  • The underground river flows directly into the West Philippine Sea, navigable to 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from the sea through a boat.
  • The cave has several large chambers, including an Italian Chamber which is 1,180 ft (360 m) long.
  • The lower part of the Subterranean River is over 3.7 mi (6 km) from the sea.
  • The forest formations in the Palawan Moist Forest recorded region and local endemism, known as the most valuable limestone of forest in Asia.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River flows through cave

Plants In Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park

The park is home to various ecosystems, including forests, mangroves, and caves. The area represents everything from mountain to the sea, including biodiversity conservation, rock formations, full of mountains, marine creatures, sea ecosystems, and Asia's most important forest formations.

Now that you know a bit about Puerto Princesa's Subterranean River, let's look at some facts about its flora and fauna.

  • The underground river is home to a variety of plant life. It includes everything from orchids and ferns to mangroves and dipterocarps. The variety of plant life is one of the things that makes this area so special.
  • The forest has 13 soil types, namely ultramafic soils, montane forest (forest over limestone soils), beach forest, tropical rainforest (lowland forest evergreen), freshwater swamp forest, mangrove forest, and riverine forest.
  • There are more than 800 species of plants from 300 genera and 100 families, including the 295 trees dominated by the dipterocarp species that live in the park.
  • The Palawan Moist Forest is recognized by the WWF's Global Report for its natural heritage with the largest cave rooms, cave dome, and richest tree flora.
  • The common trees in lowland evergreen forests are Apitong (Dipterocarpus gracilis), Ipil (Intsia bijuga), Amugis (Koordersiodendron pinnatum), Dao (Dracontomelon dao), and Dita (Alstonia scholaris).
  • Common species in the beach forest and other plant species are Erynthia Orientalis, Bitaog (Calophyllum inophyllum), Pongamia pinnata, Kamagong (Diospyros pulganensis), Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis), and Rattan (Calamus species).

Tourism In Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, and the local tour guides conduct many activities and services. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people see this natural wonder. Here are some exciting tourism facts.

  • Puerto Princesa is known as the Philippines's Eco-tourism Center. And the center of tourists attractions, the national park is a major contributor to the economy of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.
  • It is because it features a complex network of cave dome, large trees, important forests, and more river channels that flows directly into the South China Sea. The lower half of the rivers have more saltwater than fresh. Though underground river, even the lower portion is above the sea level.
  • Some of the popular fauna among the 252 species in the Palawan park are Palawan Hornbill, Hill Myna, Large Bats, Blue-naped Parrot, and White-breasted Sea Eagle. However, the only primate found in the area is the long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis).
  • The park is also home to the largest group of wildlife, including several endangered species such as the Philippine tarsier, Philippine Cockatoo, Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator), and Palawan Bearded Pig.
  • The underground river is located in a protected area known as the Saint Paul Mountain Range. It is also called 'The Subterranean River of Saint Paul' or 'Saint Paul's River' that the river channels flows through looks like a naked lady.
  • Another takeoff point of tourists of Subterranean River National Park is Sabang Beach.
  • The best time to visit the rivers and national park is between November and May, during the dry season. To visit the wet season, June to October is the best, and the warmest season is between March and May.


What is the Puerto Princesa Underground River known for?

A: Puerto Princesa Underground River is known for its cave formation, limestone cliffs, and pristine waters. The river is 5.09 mi (8.2 km) long; however, only 2.7 mi (4.3 km) is allowed for tourist exploration.

How do you go to the Underground River Palawan?

A: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River has located approximately 49.7 mi (80 km) from the main city, at the Sabang. The fastest route is from the airport, and there are various means of transport from the airport through a jeep or van.

How to get to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park?

A: Tourists can get to the national park through land, sea, or air. Once you reach the capital city Palawan, travel to Sabang, where the river is located. Sabang is a small village located north of the capital city.

Where to stay in Puerto Princesa?

A: There are many places to stay in the capital city Palawan. Some popular destinations are near El Nido, a 400 mi (643.7 km) long island located north of the main city.

How to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?

A: Puerto Princesa is 161.56 mi (260 km) away from El Nido. The journey takes between 5.5-8 hrs, and the mode of transport is van or bus. The fare starts at $8.50 (430 PHP). PHP is a Philippine Peso.

What to do in Puerto Princesa?

A: The best thing you can do while at Puerto Princesa is boating at the Puerto Princesa Underground River. 

Which is better, El Nido or Puerto Princesa?

A: El Nido has the best beaches and islands, and Puerto Princesa has great snorkeling and island tours. For natural day trips, Puerto Princesa is the best. If you are looking for a tropical experience, El Nido is the best place to stay.

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Written by Keerthana Ramasamy

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Keerthana Ramasamy picture

Keerthana RamasamyBachelor of Engineering specializing in Electrical and Electronics Engineering

With a background in electrical and electronics engineering from Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, Keerthana brings a unique blend of technical expertise and creative flair to her role as a content writer. Her natural curiosity and passion for exploring new career paths led her to the exciting world of content marketing, where she has honed her content optimization, SEO, and Google Analytics skills. Keerthana's experience as a Content Marketing Specialist at GetMyUni has provided her with hands-on experience in digital marketing and editing, allowing her to create engaging and impactful content.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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