We took a van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa for 500php each, it was a 6 hours drive to the south, give or take. The van was full. We only stopped once on the way for a 10 minute break (where I didn’t know how to go the toilet – it was so low – below my calves!). The van left us at the hotel we had booked – very close to the airport – Blue lagoon Inn & suits – we had decided to spoil ourselves a little for our two nights in Puerto Princesa.
We got bad news when we arrived though – we had booked the underground river tour through the agency at the hotel – and they informed us that we couldn’t do it because all the places had been booked already. They only allow 680 persons to do the underground river tour per day, and the only tickets they could give was to people who were actually having a flight out of Puerto Princesa the same day as the tour, and we had it next day at 15. We got very disappointed since we had booked it 2 days ago, and they didn’t tell us until we arrived. Which was the whole point of why we were going to Puerto Princesa.
The rooms were very clean and nice though, and they had a swimming pool there. The shower was great, we had AC and TV and everything. The beds were super and the pillows too.. but we were still quite annoyed and moody… I had still problems with my stomach, diarrhea and gases making me vomit etc.. So I didn’t really feel like doing the town either. We went out for dinner in the area (well, Duilio ate mostly). The town is nice, quite big, lot’s of people and stores, but still not crazy like a big town, there are plenty of trees and it’s quite relaxed.
Then around 9pm I get a text from the staff at the hotel, asking us if we really want to do the underground river tour. Yes we say. And they say ”because we would need to change your flight date..” hehehe. So we e-mailed them our boarding pass and they changed the date for us, so we could do the tour. So we were happy again – but we didn’t dare to have many expectations we actually sat in the boat on our way in! Haha.
Next morning a van picked me and Duilio and six Vietnamese guys up from the hotel and drove to Sabang, about 2 hours away – 80 km to the north. We all fell asleep. Haha. Once in Sabang we had to wait about 1 hour until it was our turn to take a boat to where the underground river starts.
We had a very sweet boat captain, who told us about the rules ”no smoking, no littering, no bathing”, and who later we saw at the beach picking up rubbish that was coming in from the sea. Super cute. He left us at this other place where we had to wait there again for about 1 hour more because it was so crowded. Luckily our tour guide at this place somehow arranged so that we could do the tour just after 20 or 30 minutes. We got some audio guide things and then we boarded a rowing boat taking us to the underground river. Now we were actually ”yay!!! We ARE going to see the underground river!!” :)
It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999 and in the end of 2011, Puerto Princesa Underground River was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The underground river cave is more than 24 km long and contains a 8,2 km long underground section of the Cabayugan River. It’s is navigable by boat up to 4.3 km from the sea.
We were not allowed to speak inside the cave, we all had earphones with audio guide and the boat-guide who where paddling the boat used his flash head to point the things the audio guide talked about.
It was quite breath taking! It has many formations of limestone, and several large chambers and cave, one up to 65 m high, and the rock formations are quite unique. One formation sort of look like Jesus, then another like an angel, another like a woman, another like an eggplant etc. You can really use your imagination there.
And there were sooooo many bats there! Everywhere. We had to wear helmets and was told to keep our mouths closed, because we can either get bat-shit in our mouths but the limestone rocks are dripping and can be toxic. It was over all a cool experience, all though the tour only lasted for about 30-45 minutes or so.
Then we took the boat back to Sabang where we had lunch in a local restaurant our tour guide had arranged for us, and that was included in the tour. They had a buffét there, and even made me a own plate of vegetables for being vegetarian, so sweet. Then they had a live band, it was called ”The disables musicians”, and we tipped them 100 pesos. They played and sang nice songs, with Bob Marley, UB40 etc.
Then we started our journey back. We weren’t back until 16.30, and our plane was supposed to leave 15.20, so yeah, I’m glad we didn’t have the flight the same day!
We enjoyed the afternoon in the pool, which was hotter than the air, I was reading the book in the pool and feeling relaxed (all though with still with some stomach issues). We had dinner there at the hotel too and some drinks :)
Next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then again some pool before packing our bags. Since I’m a genius member at booking.com, we have 2 extra hours for check out, so instead of checking out at 11, we could check out at 13. :) Perfect! We paid in the end of our stay, so for 2 people and for 2 nights at this nice hotel with pool, 2 breakfasts each, 1 dinner each, some snacks and drinks and 2 underground river tour with lunch, we paid a total of 7260 php (150 usd/euro). A little bit of a splurge, but quite ok! :)
We got a free ride from the hotel to the airport, about 3 minutes away, paid the airport tax, bought our first Philippinean souvenir, and then flew from Puerto Princesa to Cebu on the other side of the Philippines, took about 1,5 hours. Duilio wasn’t as happy with this airline (Cebu pacific airlines) as with the one from Manila to Coron (Philippine airlines) – because we didn’t get any free snack on the plane, haha.