I never thought I will be doing a DIY Underground River tour. Well, at first, me and my friend consider availing tour packages offered by the hotel and some friends. I've been contacting my sister's friend and is very helpful too. The plan actually is to go to El Nido, Underground River, Honda Bay, and City Tour. Given that we booked 5 days and 4 nights at Palawan.
Week before the trip I manage to plot down our itinerary, I already have these tourists spots we're going to visit. But then again, plans don't go that well all the time. Since its just the two of us, I am anticipating a costly out of town trip, expenses will be divided just by two. And if you know me by now, I am not really fan of spending much.
One of our contact offers 1,300 for Underground River tour, 1,400 for Honday Bay, and 2,800 for El Nido. All in. From picking us at our hotel to buffet during lunch and all environmental fees and whatever you can think of.
Our hotel who offers a package tour is almost the same mentioned above.
I really wanted to go to El Nido and visit those lagoon but there are so many hindrances, my friend also thinks that if we're going to stay at least one night at El Nido and we are fully booked for 4 nights already at our hotel, and refund is not allowed. Another point is suddenly, one of the roads going to El Nido has been wrecked and our travel will take more than the 6 hours ride from puerto princesa. My friend, who happens to be so suspicious says its as if chance won't let us go there and will have to visit it some other time with my other friends. Point taken.
I am really bothered by the amount they offered us. HAHA Masyado akong matipid. And besides, aside from that we are going to be group to other tourist. I know its fun in some other aspects but we're not really fond of joining others that time. HAHA
My researching power lights up and luckily, the pension where we are staying offers a fast wifi! Yay! I believe that you can always have DIY on your any trip! For most of my out of town its DIY! Underground River has requirements than the other tourist spots, mainly because it became one of the 7 Wonders of the World, so securing a permit is a must first before going there. I convince my friend that we'll be doing DIY because its another chance to explore the city too since we are going to their municipality to get the permit. He agrees.
Here are the steps to do for your DIY Underground River Tour
1. Secure the permit at City Coliseum. From where we stay, we ride a tricycle going there. Usually they charge minimum fare, but if they notice that you are a tourist they charge twice to thrice the price. But 40 pesos is fine with us. Just tell the driver to take you at City Coliseum. He will stop at the entrance of the building.
2. Once inside the building (okay, I'm bad at this, though you can actually see a signage saying for permit for UR) or you can ask a police on the right side when you enter (tourist assitance helpdesk)
3. Outside the room, you have to get a number and then wait inside for your number to be called. Honestly, it doesn't take us an hour to get permit. In just 15 minutes our number was called. The counter will gave you a piece of paper where you are going to list all the names joining the tour. ID is required for each of the tourist. You're going to include also the date of your tour. Once it is done you're going to have to pay at the cashier 175 each (local) for foreigners its 250 pesos.
4. That's it. Since we are rooting the DIY trip. I asked the policewomen at the helpdesk regarding some information about the place. Especially the fair going to Underground and Honda Bay.
The Day of the Tour
1. Underground River is far from the city proper. From our hotel, we ride a tricycle going to San Jose Terminal, it took us 20 minutes. You can also take a multi-cab but it is not yet available early morning. From what the helpdesk told us fair should be around 10-20 pesos but the driver asked for 100 pesos.
2. At the terminal, look for Lexus Van, or you can ask there the van going to Sabang or Underground River. The fair is 140 each and the time travel is 2 hours. What we did, is we woke up early in the morning to catch the first trip. Little did we know that you can actually pre-book the day before because when we got there (take note of this) they will have your name on the list to secure your seat, but to our surprise there are already names written there to think that we are the firs one to arrive. The first trip leaves at 7:30 am, we are at the terminal at 6:30 am sharp.
(photo credits to the owner)
3. Arriving at Underground River port, you have to secure first your Lexus Van trip back home. Same proces, you're going to list your name and choose what time. We chose 2 pm. Earliest is 1 pm. But we alot an hour just in case we wanted to explore more of the place or eat a lot.
4. Go to the office and pay for the environmental fees. You have to show your permit too. Environmental fee is 40 pesos. After giving the receipt go to the Dispatching area, you will be asked if you're part of the group. Whereas us, we choose to rent the whole boat. It costs 700 pesos only and can accommodate up to 6 persons. Once they go through your permit they will give you your number and wait for it to be called.
5. Once your number was called, you are going to ride one of the boat going to underground river. It takes less than 30 minutes going there. Once there, the boatman will assist you to the dispatching area going to underground river. And will wait for you when you've finish the tour.
6. Since we are just two, we were grouped to other tourist because they are maximizing the boat they are using. The boatman says there are only 18 boats used and there are hundreds to thousands of visitors coming.
7. Enjoy going inside the river! Be sure to listen to the boatmans stories. Lucky if your boatman is as fun as what we had.
I suggest you go into groups. Minimum of six will be fine. From my experience, we were grouped with people who don't know how to follow instructions. Really. It is dark inside, obvioulsy. The person at front (if you're in a group you have to volunteer for this task, holding the flashlight!) will be the one holding the flashlight and will be following the boatman's order. Our seat happens to be at the back, they were 6 and we're the two people who will complete the team. Seating at the back has an advantage too, for we get to ask a lot of questions to the boatman.
Breakdown of Expenses
Tricycle Fair - 100 php (50php ea)
Van to Sabang - 140 php ea
Boat - 700 php (350 php ea)
Food - 200 ea (we ate at a buffet restaurant since we didn't have breakfast that time)
Van to Puerto - 140 php ea
Tricycle Fair - 100 php
Total - 1860 php or 930 each.
See? From 1300 pesos to 930 each! We save 370 pesos. You may save up to 500 pesos. But since we ate at a buffet and its 200 ea. There are a lot of karinderya there where you can dine at a affordable price.
And that's it. If you have more questions, you can leave at the comment section or message me at my facebook page.
This is an entry to my 80 before 30 challenge. Palawan, off the list.