Road Trip: By land and Sea (RORO), from Manila – Visayas – Mindanao (Day 1)

If you are wondering how to get to Visayas and Mindanao by land, then this guide is for y’all.

RoRo trip starts from southern Luzon to points in the Visayas. Usually the route is from Manila >  Quezon Province > Camarines Sur > Albay (Bicol), and Sorsogon(this is where Matnog Ferry Terminal is located. You first ferry terminal from Luzon to Visayas).

The shortest land routes from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao are through these islands.

You can travel non-stop to your destination in Mindanao, but I would recommend you do it in 3-days adventure, giving you more time to enjoy and take pit-stops at the beautiful places along the way.

Route Details:

Day 1 (Souther Luzon): Manila to Matnog, Samar

  • If you are coming from the northern parts of Manila, go towards SLEX, and make an exit to Sto Tomas Star tollway (Batangas), continue until you reached the traffic light, then turn right. See pictures below:
  • Then follow the PAN-Philippine Highway (AH26) thru these towns:
    • Santo Tomas > San Pablo City > Tiaong (Quezon Province) > Candelaria > Lucena > Pagbilao > Atimonan > Calauag > Tagkawayan > Sipocot (Camarines Sur) > Naga > Legaspi (Albay) > Daraga > Sorsogon City (Sorsogon) > Casiguran > Irosin > Matnog (Ferry Terminal)
    • Estimated 540 Kilometers total — depends on where you are coming from Manila.
  • Take a RORO from Matnog Ferry Terminal to Allen, Samar (Visayas) — here you are crossing from Luzon to Visayas island. The trip took about 1.5 hour to reach Allen, Samar. There are three ports of destination to Samar you can choose from Matnog Ferry:
    • #1 Balwhartico Port (old port, as of this writing they are still operational)
    • #2 Santa Clara Shipping:
      • Facebook page
      • Tel #: (054) 477 7499
      • every 2-3 hrs interval @24 hours operation
    • #3 San Isidro (FastCat Ferry)
    • fastcat-philippines_new-route-matinog-sanisidro

RORO fee:

  • Lightweight vehicles (sedan, Pickup, SUV): P960.00 (as of January 2017)
  • Other fees include terminal fee (P129), passenger ticket (driver is free) P110, Environmental fee (P50). These are minimal fees only, usually ranges from 20, 50, 129, & 110. Total amount will depend on the number of persons — for two persons it’d cost P1,279 ONLY.

Map:

Documents to bring:

  • Vehicle’s OR / CR (or Sales Invoice if your vehicle do not have plate #) — it doesn’t have to be original, photocopies will do. Reproduce it at least 2 copies. The ports do not require a retaintion of these documents so be sure you get it back after you’ve paid everything.
  • Driver’s License — you can’t travel without it. You don’t know what will happen along the way.

 

Day 2: Road Trip: By land and Sea (RORO), from Manila – Visayas – Mindanao (Day 2)

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31 thoughts on “Road Trip: By land and Sea (RORO), from Manila – Visayas – Mindanao (Day 1)

  1. Hello

    Can I ask you some questions about your trip, as I am planning on making the same trip later this year.
    Can you give some idea of the road and traffic conditions? Was it all single lane highway the whole journey? Traffic was light or heavy congestion with some delays?
    Did you make any overnight stops? Any recommendations?

    Thanks for any feedback.
    Regards,
    David

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for asking.

      Where is your point of origin and destination?

      The road is pretty good except there were some parts of in the Visayas road (Samar-Leyte) that weren’t so smooth – but it was short distance only and usally potholes caused by heavy rain and trucks. There weren’t really major road blockage at all.

      The traffic was only when you reach a certain city/town, but that’s nothing compared to the traffic in Metro Manila. 🙂

      Depending on your destination, but ours was 1,500 KM, Manila – Bukidnon. If you drive non-stop , you sure will be at your destination after 24 hours at 90-100 km/h speed.

      I suggest you just savor every place, stop, take a picture of the scenary you’ll be passing by as there tons. Plan a 3 day trip, 500KM each day and you’ll surely enjoy everything.

      Enjoy!

      1. Thank you so much for your feedback, which is most valuable.
        We will drive from Manila to Davao City and our car is Ford Ranger Wildtrak, so I’m pretty sure it will handle the journey fine.
        We are planning to take 4 or 5 days, to stop and explore along the journey.
        One other point, did you feel that there are any security threats alongs the way, bandits etc or am I being paranoid?

        Best wishes
        David

  2. Nice to hear we are neighbors. Davao is only 2-4 hours drive from my place in Bukidnon. I’m glad you chance upon this blog.

    Your pickup will surely conquer those little potholes – they are nothing. I brought with me my Hilux too, last year.

    The people you see along the way are very friendly. If it’s your first time crossing the islands, dont travel at night (i.e. 7pm onwards), it doesn’t mean though there are bad people at night but it simply implies avoiding unprecedented scenario (flat tire, etc) to happen during night fall.

    Please do ask more questions, I’m glad to answer.

    Regards,

    Alfred

    1. Hi Alfred

      Yes we are not far apart at all, must arrange a get together once we are fully settled into our new home.
      Did you have to pre-book the ro-ro ferries, or it’s OK to just arrive and purchase tickets when you get there?

      Thanks,
      David

  3. Hi David,

    Agreed. Let’s meet up sooner than later. Send me an email alfred n roa at gmail dot com (no spaces in between my username).

    No, pre-booking is not necessary. Just book right after you arrived at the ferry terminal.

    Regards,

    Alfred

  4. Nice blog. Bookmarked it for later. Been wanting to do this for the longest time, but they say it’s not worth the trouble. I’ve always wanted to do a solo drive from Manila to CDO (and maybe some soul searching along the way LOL). Do you recommend it?

    1. Soul searching huh! Don’t go any farther, they will just come. 🙂

      The beautiful people and places you get to meet along the way is always worth it. I dont recommend driving alone though,

  5. Hi Alfred,

    We’re planning to tour the whole Mindanao province via land and sea. We plan to start in Bicol passing through Samar and Leyte and then to Surigao. We want to visit all the provinces as much as possible. On return back to Manila, we want to try the long route from Dapitan to Visayas then to Manila. Considering the situation in Marawi, is it safe to do this travel by November of this year. Is there any place in Mindanao that is not passable or safe to visit? Hope you can give me idea on other places to visit in Mindanao. Thanks.

    1. Hi Haidee,

      Great to hear we have the same list on our bucket at least for road-trips. I want to try the long route too, I had been crossing Luzon-Mindanao for like 4th time already…but I always start in Bicol due to road familiarity.

      Anyway, is it safe to do the long route at this time specifally Martial is on-going? Yes! The more it is safe there because of the military troops visible anywhere in everyplace. The down side though is, heavy traffic due to military check points.

      If you got a chance, shot me an email so I can provide some more details.

      Alfred

  6. Hello Alfred,

    Im really glad you posted this blog as Ive been searching for info regarding the road conditions from Allen to Tacloban. Im planning to travel from Manila to Davao this year – sometime November and I’m concerned about the road conditions from Allen to Tacloban. The last time I passed there was in 2010, and cars would have a hard time getting through because the roads were really bad and some were under construction. I didn’t have a problem then as I was driving a pick-up. Now I plan to travel from Manila to Mindanao again but I will be bringing a family van – Chrysler Town and Country. Given that the van has a lower ground clearance, will I be able to pass through from Allen to Tacloban ? May I also know what route you took, was it via Catbalogan /Calbayog?

    The road from Tacloban onward to Mindanao was good in 2010, has it changed? I know the road from Surigao to Davao and to most areas in Mindanao is good as I often travel around Mindanao. Thanks in advance for the info.

    Cheers,

    Rene

    1. Hi Rene,

      You should still be able to cross just fine. Last year, I’m seeing a lot of Sedan crossing the islands too and they were OK.

      Thanks,

      Alfred

    1. Hi Eduardo

      I have just completed the journey from Manila to Davao. We took it easy and made the trip in 5 days. No issues, roads a bit rough in places due to ongoing road repairs.
      To answer your question, I think it will depend a lot on what type of motorcycle you will ride and how experienced you are with long distance riding.
      There are a lot of trucks on the road, who don’t show a lot of respect to motorcycles, so I wouldn’t want to do the ride on a small capacity bike. Also the road surface in lots of places is a bit rough, so you will need a bike with good suspension.
      Other than that I see no reason why you shouldn’t make the journey on a motorcycle.

      Cheers
      David

  7. Hi Alfred

    Yes we arrived in Davao safe and sound. Only there for 2 days then had to fly back to Dubai. We will move across full time at the end of December.

    Cheers
    David

    1. Hi Ralph,

      We drove all the way crossing the Luzon to Visayas on our 1st day. We spent our 1st night at the Balwharteco port in Allen, Samar. Inside the port just right after you alight the RORO and it is beside the Exit gate, there is an INN (i forgot the name) — that’s where we stayed.

      Mind you, the INN is not a fancy one, but enough to take a rest. Please do take note as well, that you couldn’t do some much in Allen, make sure you’ve got everything you need.

      Still, I’d suggest if you’re with Family… spend your night in Legaspi, Albay. There are a lot of hotels you can choose from.

      Alfred

  8. Hi Ralph
    We stayed in 4 different hotels as we made the journey over 5 days. The hotels were adequate but not luxurious. Basic but clean, and not expensive. Good luck on your journey.

    Regards,
    David

  9. Hi Ralph,
    Do you have any update about the road from samar to matnog is it passable due to typhoon urduja?please if you have any update coz my partner will travel this coming wednesday from manila to matnog ferry..thanks a lot…

  10. Hi,

    is the road from manila to matnog still passable? i am worried because we are scheduled to drive home in mindanao through pick up truck this 27th of December. thanks a lot

  11. Hi David,

    Warm greeting!
    Im planning to bring my car for a 2weeks family gathering in Butuan City, Would you recommend bringing the car there by landtrip & roro is cheaper than have it freight all the way from MNL TO BXU by 2Go ship? Coz if by 1st option, ill be traveling with my 4yo child plus a driver only. Is it worth spending 2days on the road? Than taking our flight and car by cargo with the driver on ship. What you think is more expensive?

    Appreciate so much your inputs. Im quiet confused ☺️

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Sheena

  12. Hi Sheena,

    My own opinion, if shipping the car via 2go, since I’ve tried this already CDO – Manila. I think you are looking into spending 10K more than driving it all the way to Butuan. Plus, the cost of your plane ticket. Apparently, landtrip is cheaper in this case.

    If is it worth it? It depends!

    You can also travel by plane and avail the rent-a-car services in Butuan.

    Thanks,

    Alfred

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