Sabang is a small village in Palawan, Philippines. It is used as an entry point to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. There's not much in the village except services for those going to visit the river, but there is a beach and a chilled out atmosphere.
From Puerto Princesa, take a trike or jump in mini-bus going to the "New Market" Jeepney Terminal in San Jose. It takes about 10 minutes. Trike fare is about P80 and the mini-bus is about P12. Four trips from the San Jose Terminal to Sabang run daily between 7AM and 2PM. The bus/jeepneys costs roughly 150 pesos and takes about 3 hours.
A number of tourist agencies in Puerto Princesa run day trips in minivans which include a tour to the Underground River and a lunch buffet at a beach resort.
To El Nido there are a few jeepneys a day to Puerto Princesa, starting at 7pm. And a bus at 2:30pm (although it can start at 2pm). You get off at Salvation, on a bus it's P100. And from that you can get a bus to El Nido. If you catch the 2pm/2:30pm bus from Sabang, you can catch the 4pm Roro Bus to El Nido, which costs P200.
If you are heading to El Nido, you can catch a A/C Van in Sabang near the pier, which costs P900.
All boats out of Sabang are subject to weather conditions.
There are about 45 Park Ferry Service boats registered for transporting tourist on a 5 km (20 minute) voyage from the Sabang Pier to the Underground River and back. These boats carry a maximum of 6 passengers. They are all about the same, so it doesn't matter which one you go on. They are the perfect size for getting in and out of the rocky Sabang Pier. The cost for a round-trip boat ride to the Underground River, including the Park Entrance Fee is P300. These boats may also take tourist out in St. Paul Bay for: sight seeing, snorkeling and fishing, and they charge a minimum of P1,000 for 2-4 hours.
Only a few charter boats in Sabang are fully registered and insured to transport passengers for tourism from Sabang to Port Barton and El Nido. Some of the boats making these voyages are in poor condition, have small engines, bamboo balancers, and are not properly registered. These voyages are for the young and adventurous, and are not recommended for children.
Boats from Sabang to Port Barton are about P1,200 and take about 4 hours. Boats from Sabang to El Nido are about P2,200 and take 7-9 hours. These fares include a non-refundable 10% booking fee for the local commissioners. So, if your voyage is canceled due to weather, you can either re-schedule or lose 10%.
The voyage from Sabang to El Nido is very long and remote. The weather often changes quickly in the afternoon, so consider a stopover for a night or two in Port Barton.
The voyage into El Nido is like nothing else. It's an indescribable "once in a life time experience."
Ask in the village or at the Tourist Information & Assistance Centre (8AM-5PM) to hire a driver.
Sabang is very small so everything in the village is within walking distance. To get to the underground river you need to hire a boat from the pier, or walk along the jungle trail/monkey trail (about 5km and 1-2 hours). Don't forget to pick up your permit to the underground river from P.P. before arriving in Sabang.
Underground river: this world heritage site is the main attraction in Sabang. There is a P250 entry fee which buys you a trip down the river. Plus, a extra P40 fee. Alternatively, you can buy a P1200-1500 tour from any travel agency in the area.
If you decide to go solo, you can only buy tickets for the Underground River tour in their office in Puerto Princesa as that is the only place to get a permit. There is a limited amount of people allowed each day and booking office is more interested in selling tickets to tour agencies, so make your reservation at least 2-3 days in advance but it can be booked out a month in advanced during holiday seasons.
There are two ways to get to the entrance of the river from Sabang. The first is a boat (banka) and this costs P500-600 per boat (banka) from Sabang pier and is subject to weather conditions, and the second is a 1-2 hour walk through the jungle.
When you get to the cave entrance, you have to wait for another boat to take you down the underground river (included in the ticket price). Be sure to register and obtain your "boat number" the moment you arrive there. The whole process is much tailored to groups arriving on package tours, i.e. nobody will call you when your boat number is about to depart, so be active and ask local staff about the current number every 10 minutes or so.
Jungle trail/monkey trail: an alternative way to get to the start of the underground river. Approximately 5km walk through the jungle which takes 1-2 hours. You can walk up to Central station without a permit, but no further.
Mangrove river cruise: a cruise along a nearby river surrounded by mangroves.
Play basketball with locals: Locals are crazy about basketball, they play everyday. Walk on the trail on the right side of the pier, you will find them playing. They welcome everyone.
There are a number of restaurants around the village serving a mix of Asian and western dishes. Except for Daluyon Resort, food needs to be ordered a few hours in advance as restaurants do not stock up on food but only shop when they are sure the food will be sold.
There are a number of bars including a few with pool tables. Be sure to check the temperature of the beer when buying from local shops as electricity is only available in the evening.
If you are traveling on a budget:
Water: Cooling Station for water refill (P5/liter)
Eat: several eateries for P50-P60 a meal, including rice and meat/fish
Sleep: Blue Bamboo Cottages for basic rooms with no fan, for P250