12-hour Road Trip: Manila to San Mateo, Isabela

Our friend recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and we decided to visit her and her baby. We traveled from Manila to San Mateo, Isabela. It was a long and tiring bus, van and tricycle ride. Here are my travel notes:

Manila to San Mateo, Isabela

  • The journey started in Victory Liner Bus Terminal Pasay-Edsa
  • Bus was bound to Tuguegarao
  • Bus left Manila at exactly 9:00 PM
  • Aircon bus fare was Php463 one way per person
  • We failed to reserve seats so we were forced to do the “standing ovation” for half an hour until the bus conductor gave us improvised chairs
  • We seated in the bus isle until 5:00 AM then some passengers hopped off and that was the only time we were able to sit properly
  • My friend and I was able to take short naps during the trip
  • Good thing we brought food because the journey was really long
  • I regret not bringing a thicker jacket because it was really cold inside the bus
  • The bus passed through Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya
  • There are several bus stops where passengers were given 5 minutes to use the comfort room or buy food
  • We arrived at Santiago City at 8:00 AM then half an hour van ride to San Mateo (Php50) and finally 10-minute tricycle ride (Php20) to our friend’s house

Photos along the way from Manila to San Mateo, Isabela

Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Bus stop Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Manila to San Mateo Isabela
Look! A body of water! I want to swim! But we were stuck inside the bus …
Manila to San Mateo Isabela
Lush Green Mountains. You won’t see the mountainous view if you opt for the night trip.

Due to time constraints and work schedule, we can only stay in Isabela Province for less than 24 hours. We arrived at our friend’s house at 9:00 AM then we had to leave the following day at 5:00 AM. What did we do in Isabela? We just ate lots of food and chatted all day until mid-night!

We also went to a nearby cemetery for a short tour. For some reason, cemeteries are nice to visit. I went with my siblings to Batangas and Cebu and we also visited a cemetery even if we don’t have loved ones buried there. Are we weird? 😀

We wanted to visit Magat Dam but since our friend just gave birth, we decided to do it next time.

San Mateo, Isabela to Manila

  • Wake up at 3:30 AM
  • Preparations, breakfast and goodbyes
  • Victory Liner bound to Sampaloc, Manila left at exactly 6:00 AM
  • Bus fare was the same Php463 per person
  • Since it’s a day-trip, I was able to take photos and videos while on the road 🙂
  • Bus arrived in Sampaloc terminal at 4:30 PM or after 10 hours and thirty minutes


Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
View from Bus Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Where are we? Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Manila to San Mateo Isabela
Endless rice fields are stunning in the morning.
Manila to San Mateo, Isabela
Bus ride Manila to San Mateo, Isabela

My friend’s mother wanted us to bring 25 kilos of rice each plus 5 kilos of monggo beans. We begged off but they insisted so it was decided that we will bring 12 kilos or rice and 3 kilos of monggo each. Of course we love FREEBIES but we’re not physically strong to carry it all the way to Manila!

Another reason why we accepted the gift is because people in the province are really like that. They want to be the good host and they really want to take care of their guests. Part of their hospitality means you will be asked every hour if you want to eat and you will be offered lots of local goods before you leave. You are expected to accept the gifts so you avoid offending them 🙂

Expenses Report:

Bus fare round trip Php926
Snacks on the road Php330
Van fare Php50
Tricycle Php20
Total: Php1326

Final thoughts:

I’m an introvert and I treasure my few intimate friends. I am thankful for the meaningful friendships that I have. I may have very few friends but I don’t need a lot. It suffocates me when there are too many people in my circle. Anyway, we plan to visit Baguio soon! Exciting!



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