How We Obtained the Permit to Enter the Puerto Princesa Underground River

I was asked to choose between Honda Bay tour and Underground River tour when I was booking the promo at Cash CashPinoy. I chose the Honday Bay tour because I believed that I will not see anything grand in an underground river. It will just be darkness and stalactites and bats, which are boring.

Well, I was wrong because I realized that our Puerto Princesa trip will never be complete without a visit to the underground river. So we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to the Underground River. The big question, however, is how can we go there.

We’re fortunate that we found a tour company that was willing to arrange an Underground River tour for us even though we didn’t inform them in advance. So, in the early morning of our second day in Puerto Princesa we found ourselves in the Subterranean River National Park Booking Office.

Puerto Princesa Underground River - queueing ticket
Yeah! We're 18th in the queue.

I read in from Cito Beltran that only 900 people are allowed to visit the cave per day. We’re fortunate again because the underground river tour was not fully booked and there were few people in the Booking Office. It really pays to be an early bird.

Puerto Princesa Underground River Booking Office

Getting a permit to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River is quite easy because all you have to do is to ask your hotel to arrange the tour for you. The hotel (through a tour agency) will secure the permit for you, and arrange your transportation, food, and the banca that you will use to reach the underground river.

Walk-in applicants, like me and My Beloved Wife Lei, had to go the harder process of securing the permit personally.

Walk-in applicants should bring a valid ID or passport and money a payment for the admission fee.

The following are the admission fees to the Puerto Princesa Underground River:

Admission fees to Puerto Princesa Underground River

The admission fee to Puerto Princesa Underground River Park is different to the fee when entering the cave. The park actually covers the beach and the forest outside of the cave. This means that if you’re an adult foreigner who wanted to enter the cave you have to pay 150 pesos to enter the park and 250 pesos for the cave.

Me and My Beloved Wife paid the Booking Office 275 pesos each to enter the underground river (cave).

Puerto Princesa Underground River - transaction ticket dispenser

Steps in Obtaining the Underground River Permit

1. The first thing that we did is get a transaction number. The queue ticket dispenser is located near the entrance of the Booking Office.

2. We then provided our IDs and other tour information to the clerk.

3. We were then directed to Table 1 for the assessment of the fees that we had to pay.

4. The last part is the payment of the assessed fees and then obtaining the visitor’s entry permit (VEP).

It took around 15 minutes to get the permit. There were few people in the Booking Office so our transaction was quick. I bet that the queue will be long in the late morning and afternoon. Our tour guide, who I will call “Gemma”, accompanied and guided us throughout the transaction. She is very helpful, especially to the foreigners (we had two Norwegians in our group).

Waiting for our transaction ticket in the Puerto Princesa Underground River booking office

Tips for Obtaining Permits for Walk-in Visitors to the Underground River

1. Get a reliable tour agency (or tour guide) that will help you obtain the permits. Tour guides know how the system works and have friends in the Booking Office.

2. Be a very early bird. This means that you should be at Booking Office right on the opening time of 8 AM. This will guarantee that you will be first in the queue and get the permit immediately. Take note that it’s 2 to 3 hours travel from the city to Sabang wharf. Also, the waiting time to ride the banca to the underground river is quite long. Getting the permit early means getting to the underground cave early.

3. Do not forget your ID or passport. This will be a big hassle (not only to you but also to your tour mates) if you forgot your ID or passport in your hotel.

4. Personal appearance is important. This means that you have to get the permit personally. This is required to prevent scalping.

I think that Lady Luck is smiling at us that day because we got the permit in the quickest way possible. We’re very thankful to God that our visit to the world famous Puerto Princesa Underground River will finally come true.

Underground River, HERE WE COME!

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  1. Gee!!! That must be so exciting. Can't wait to see your post on that.

  2. Weeeh post na agad agad ahaha! Parang okay naman sa Underground River ah :P gusto ko din mapuntahan yun.

  3. Di naman agad agad. :-) Actually, January pa itong trip namin na ito.

    I hope you visit the Underground River in the future. It's worth your money.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

  4. Hello.. we are planning to get there by January nextyear and we are thinking to have DIY instead of availing tour packages. My question is, can we get a permit prior to our target dates without going personally to the office? Or is there an agency that can process it? I mean the permit alone. No van transfer, etc...

    1. Based on what I read in other blogs, there's no sure way of getting the permit other than going to the PPUR office personally. Unfortunately, the Online booking at the Underground River official website is not working.

      Rhea on her blog said that she got her permit through a kakilala in Puerto Princesa. That was in 2013 and I'm not sure if what she did is still applicable. The booking office requires that walk-in client secure their permits personally.

      The best (and easiest) way to get a permit is through your hotel or travel agency because they have reserved slots for the Underground River tour. I'm not sure, though, if the travel agency will obtain a permit without you joining their tour.

      My suggestion is that you find a kakilala to help you secure a permit or ask the help of your hotel.


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