The Manila to Dumaguete – The Ultimate Road Trip

The Western Nautical Route is the super-highway which takes you to Dumaguete from Manila. This route connects Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao through a network of Roll-On and Roll-Off (RORO) vessels.

As the quote says: “Traveling is not about the destination, it is about the journey to the destination.“. The world is becoming smaller every day because of technology and very affordable airfares. People tend not to be familiar anymore with their own country. A good getaway, in our opinion, is to explore the country by car.

Did you know that you can drive your car from Manila to Dumaguete? This Manila to Dumaguete road trip took us 36 hours (non-stop) to complete. It was tiring but rewarding because you get to appreciate the beauty of the countryside. Each island has its own unique and stunning views.

In this article, we will show you how you can drive to Dumaguete from Manila via the Philippine West Nautical Route.

Preparation

Being well-prepared for any travel is key to a successful journey. You want this to be an enjoyable trip and not a travel burden. We have prepared a simple checklist below for your guidance.

  1. Have Your Car Checked. You don’t want your vehicle stalled in the middle of nowhere. Ensure you have your car checked by your trusted casa or mechanic.
  2. Driver’s License and Your Car’s Registration Papers. This might seem common sense but people tend to forget these. Never ever drive your vehicle without your driver’s license. Moreover, a photocopy of your vehicle’s OR and CR documents is required before boarding the RORO vessels. Bring enough copies just in case.
  3. Bring Food and Plenty of Drinks. When traveling you might tend not to eat or drink much fluid. One study suggests that driving dehydrated has similar effects as drunk driving.
  4. Fill Up Your Tank. Although there are plenty of petrol stations, there is nothing wrong filling up your tank rather having to handle the stress driving your vehicle with your gauge almost empty.
  5. Check Local Weather and Watch Out for Gale Warnings. Check local news for the weather forecast. Coast Guards at the ports won’t allow sailing during rough weather conditions. We recommend checking the local PAGASA website for weather forecast and gale warnings.
  6. Check RORO Schedule. Depending on the shipping lines you are planning to take, it is still advisable to check or even call the shipping companies on their sailing schedule. Sailing Schedule in the Philippines often change without prior notice and can vary day by day.
    1. FastCat Website
    2. Montenegro Shipping Facebook Page
  7. Book Hotels for Layovers. Rest when doing long drives is quite important and we do not recommend driving on unfamiliar roads at night. You can check out the links below for the best hotel deals.
    1. Hotels near Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro
    2. Boracay Island and nearby Caticlan
    3. Iloilo City
    4. Bacolod City
    5. Dumaguete City
  8. Download Waze or Google Maps. Don’t rely on Philippine road signage, download navigation apps instead. Both apps are available on iOS and Android devices. These apps also give you real-time traffic updates which can give you a better idea of your estimated time of arrival.
    1. Waze – Download for IOS or Android
    2. Google Maps – Download for iOS or Android

1) Manila to Batangas Port to Calapan City, Mindoro

The Batangas Port is easily accessible via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway). In Metro Manila, the SLEX is accessible via the Magallanes interchange, Osmeña Highway, or the Skyway. You may check the traffic conditions of the Skyway and SLEX using Google Maps, or Waze (Available for both Android or iOS devices)

You’ll have to pay your toll fare trice. Assuming you are coming from the Skyway.

Skyway to Calamba Toll Plaza: PHP 260.00 (If entering SLEX, PHP 214.00)

Calamba to Sto. Tomas: PHP 25.00

Sto. Tomas to Batangas: PHP 95.00

TOTAL: PHP 380.00 (Skyway) / PHP 334.00

(The above rates are Class 1 rates as of May 7, 2018)

Get an RFID for a faster journey.

We suggest you take the Fastcat RORO to Calapan City in Mindoro if you want a seamless trip. The trip takes 1 ½ hours to Calapan City.

Below is Fastcat’s Schedule from Batangas to Calapan:

  • 12:00 AM
  • 01:30 AM
  • 06:00 AM
  • 09:00 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 02:30 PM
  • 06:00 PM
  • 08:00 PM

You may also check out their website for any schedule update.

FastCat’s rate for an SUV or Sedan Vehicle is PHP 2,160.00. However, if you have companions with you, you must pay them separately as passengers. You need to take note that only the driver is free.

Here are the passenger rates as of May 7, 2018:

SEAT CLASSIFICATION

FULL FARE

STUDENTS

SENIOR CITIZENS / PWDS

(WITH VALID ID’S)

CHILDREN (3-7 YEARS OLD)

CHILDREN (BELOW 3 YEARS OLD)

BUSINESS CLASS

P 335

P 268

P 240

P 168

FREE

PREMIUM ECONOMY

P 290

P 232

P 207

P 145

FREE

ECONOMY

P 240

P 192

P 171

P 120

FREE

No need to get off your car, everything can be done (except for security checks) from the comforts of your car.

2) Calapan City to Bulalacao, Mindoro

Now that you are well rested and in Calapan City in the province of Oriental Mindoro, get yourself to Bulalacao in the same province. People might suggest you got to Roxas Port, however, FastCat route to Caticlan runs from Bulalacao. Some may suggest going to Roxas Port, however, FastCat operates from the Bulalacao port. Google Maps and Waze are very useful apps to get you there. Roads are well paved so you shouldn’t worry too much about the road conditions.

It should take you around 3 ½ hours to get you to Bulalacao RORO Port. We were surprised and stunned by the natural beauty of Mindoro since it was our first time traveling through Oriental Mindoro.

Finally, you have now arrived at the Bulalacao RORO port. This was your first long drive. Tired already? Don’t worry you can now relax again on the FastCat ship. The trip to Caticlan takes around 3 hours to get there.

Do note, however, that FastCat is sailing to Caticlan only twice a day. Be sure you plan your entire trip ahead.

  • 10:00 AM
  • 10:00 PM

Hence, make sure you plan your drive carefully. You don’t want to wait several hours at the Bulalacao Port.

The passenger rates are a bit more expensive because of the distance between Bulalacao and Caticlan. Here is the fare matrix.

SEAT CLASSIFICATION

FULL FARE

STUDENTS

SENIOR CITIZENS / PWDS

(WITH VALID ID’S)

CHILDREN (3-7 YEARS OLD)

CHILDREN (BELOW 3 YEARS OLD)

BUSINESS CLASS

P 600

P 480

P 429

P 300

FREE

PREMIUM ECONOMY

P 540

P 432

P 386

P 270

FREE

ECONOMY

P 460

P 368

P 329

P 230

FREE

Car and SUV rates are also more expensive at PHP 4,140.

The Bulalacao to Caticlan crossing will be your longest crossing. Meanwhile, relax and enjoy the trip. Before arriving at Caticlan Jetty Port, be sure to get to go outside and enjoy the view of the beautiful Boracay Island.

3) Caticlan, Aklan to Iloilo City

Welcome to the Visayas! You now crossed Luzon to the Visayas. Now relax some more because we suggest you take a rest overnight at either Boracay Island or Caticlan. You will need the energy for the next long drive to Iloilo City. If you don’t have a hotel or resort yet, you can Click Here for the Best Deals.

There are plenty of parking spaces available in Caticlan in case you do decide to rest overnight in Boracay or Caticlan. These private parking lots are found just outside of the Caticlan Jetty Port which cost between PHP 150 – 200 for every 24 hours. Most of the parking lots are only open until 10:00 PM. Make sure you get the contact details of the parking attendant in case you decide to leave late or very early in the morning.

Now that you are well rested, you’ll now need to get to Iloilo City. Set your navigator to the FastCat pier in Iloilo City.

This drive will take you approximately 4 hours. We highly suggest traveling early in the morning to avoid the rush hour traffic (Yes, roads going to Iloilo can get quite busy).

But before heading to Iloilo, check your Gas Gauge if you still have enough for the next 230 km. Plenty of gas stations are available along the road, just in case you miscalculated.

4) Iloilo City to Bacolod City

You’re almost there, just one more RORO hop. Your next crossing will be to Bacolod City. Travel time for this crossing is like that of Batangas to Calapan which takes 1 ½ hours.

FastCat leaves Iloilo City daily on the following schedule:

  • 02:00 AM
  • 08:00 AM
  • 02:00 PM
  • 08:00 PM

Passenger Rates are the following:

SEAT CLASSIFICATION

FULL FARE

STUDENTS

SENIOR CITIZENS / PWDS

(WITH VALID ID’S)

CHILDREN (3-7 YEARS OLD)

CHILDREN (BELOW 3 YEARS OLD)

BUSINESS CLASS

P 335

P 268

P 240

P 168

FREE

PREMIUM ECONOMY

P 290

P 232

P 207

P 145

FREE

ECONOMY

P 240

P 192

P 171

P 120

FREE

Sedan or SUV crossing rate is PHP 2,160.

5) Bacolod City to Dumaguete City

FastCat will bring you to the Banago Wharf which is just north of BREDCO Port.

We again would suggest you rest in Bacolod in case you arrive late in the afternoon because of the roads in Mabinay. The roads in Mabinay are passing through the Curenos de Negros with lots of blind curves and unpaved roads. Driving at night can be challenging.

If you decided to stay a night in Bacolod, we suggest you take the opportunity to visit some of the things you can do in the city.

  1. Chicken Inasal Dinner. Bacolod is famous for their Chicken Inasal. Inasal is a kind of roast chicken served on skewers. Grab this opportunity while you are there.
  2. The Ruins. The Ruins are in the nearby Talisay City and was the ancestral home of the prominent Lacson Family. This Italian inspired architecture, sometimes referred as the “Taj Mahal of Negros”, it was built in honor of Don Mariano Lacson’s wife.
  3. Jojo Vito Designs Gallery. Bacolod is famous for its Masskara Festival. Although only celebrated every October, you can celebrate it all-year round at Jojo Vito’s Gallery.
  4. Mambukal Mountain Resort. This resort is located in Murcia just outside of Bacolod City. We highly suggest you visit this hot spring resort if you have enough time to do a side trip. Check out Adrenaline Romance Blog for more information.
  5. Campuestohan Highland Resort. Located in Talisay City, is a colorful resort with statues of famous superhero characters such as Superman, Batman, Incredible Hulk, etc. perfect for your selfies. Check The Happy Trip Blog for more information.

Don’t have a hotel yet? Click here for the best rates in Bacolod.

Finally, you are on your way to Dumaguete City. We recommend that you travel early in the morning to avoid rush hour in Bacolod. It takes 5 hours to get to Dumaguete from Bacolod in good traffic conditions.

Head south towards Kabankalan City along Araneta Ave.

In Kabankalan City, turn left towards Mabinay at the Aquiles – Zayco Ave junction just in front of the Kabankalan Catholic College.

You will be crossing through the Cuernos de Negros Mountain Range. At the end of the twists and turns, the Tańon Straight separating Negros and Cebu will welcome you. You will also be able to overlook the Manjuyod Sandbar. At the Tamisu Junction near the Universal Robina Sugar Milling Corp. in Bais City, turn right and head south to Dumaguete. This last section should only take you 45 minutes to get to Dumaguete.

Click here for Hotels within Dumaguete City

Click here for Beach Resorts near Dumaguete City

Summary

The Manila to Dumaguete road trip can be completed in 36 hours or 3 days depending on your preferred pace. We do highly suggest doing this in a slower and safer pace and enjoy the wonderful countryside of the Philippines.

Depending on the number of persons traveling with you, expect a total RORO and Toll cost of at least PHP 8840. This excludes petrol, terminal fees, passenger fare, hotel, and food expenses. We recommend preparing at least PHP 20,000 for this trip and tag along more friends who can help you split the total expenses. Make sure you get enough rest in between long drives.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on our own experience on how we did our own Manila to Dumaguete road trip. myDumaguete.info is not affiliated with any of the mentioned companies and cannot guarantee the accuracy of this article. Hence, use this information at your own risk. We suggest you do your own due diligence.)

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