Smooth Sailing: How to Beat the Holy Week Traffic 

Ricky Publico

Ricky Publico

Last updated March 15, 2024

Planning to travel this Holy Week? Brace yourself for a rise in traffic volume. Major roads and highways such as the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) will be heavily congested.

To beat traffic congestion during the Holy Week break, know what to expect and how to prepare for it. Follow the tips below.

15 Ways to Beat the Holy Week Traffic Jam 

Everyone traveling out of Manila this coming long weekend wishes to survive the hours-long drive to various provinces in northern or southern parts of the country. But the Holy Week traffic might double that travel time.

Whether you’re a driver or a commuter, follow these tips to reduce stress while on the road. 

👉 Leave Early or the Night Before

The early bird catches the worm, and the early traveler arrives ahead of time. Nothing beats getting ahead of traffic, so leave earlier than planned to avoid the volume of cars traveling this Holy Week. 

If you’re planning to take a long drive to Baguio or La Union, leave before dawn, ideally around 3 to 4 a.m. Not only do the wee hours offer better traffic conditions, they’ll also save you from getting in queue during the day when the heat of the sun is at its peak.

If you can, take a vacation leave on Holy Wednesday (or even earlier) and start the drive from there. This way, you can avoid the rush of vehicles taking the same route. Plus, who doesn’t want an extra day of relaxation or two?

👉 Take Alternate Routes

holy week traffic - alternate routes

Photo: Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (Facebook)

There’s no one definitive route to take when you’re going somewhere. When planning your Holy Week trip, consider alternative roads and highways such as the TPLEX Pozorrubio Exit, Mabiga Interchange, and Barkadahan Bridge. This helps ease traffic and reduce travel time. 

Do some research on possible routes in advance to identify which one can take you to your destination the soonest.

🗺️ Manila to Baguio via TPLEX

A trip to North Luzon from Metro Manila will be a lot faster when you take the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). 

Spending Holy Week in Baguio? The fastest route to Baguio is via TPLEX. You can reach the city in only five hours, thanks to this toll road. The TPLEX exit going to Baguio is in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan. To shorten your trip, travel beyond peak hours from 12 midnight. 

Rather than passing through the MacArthur Highway/Manila North Road/Radial Road 9 or TPLEX Urdaneta exit, just go straight ahead to the Pozorrubio exit, which is the end of the highway. This will reduce your travel time to just 45 minutes from Tarlac to Pozorrubio, which otherwise can take two and a half hours. From the TPLEX Pozorrubio exit, it will take you another 45 minutes to get to Baguio.

🗺️ MacArthur Highway to SCTEX Subic/Tarlac via Mabiga Interchange

Heading out to and from Subic or Tarlac via the MacArthur Highway-SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) route is easier and safer through the SCTEX Mabiga Diamond Interchange in Mabalacat City, Pampanga. Note that the U-turn slot along the NLEX-SCTEX connection in Barangay Mabiga has been permanently closed to traffic.

If you’re going from MacArthur Highway to SCTEX Subic/Tarlac, simply take the new Mabiga northbound entry toll plaza. Take the new Mabiga southbound exit toll plaza on your way back to MacArthur Highway.

🗺️ Manila to Meycauayan via NLEX Libtong and Pandayan Exits

If you often traverse NLEX, you know how traffic can get bad at the Meycauayan Interchange. But no need to dread traveling to Meycauayan City anymore. You can avoid the congested Meycauayan Interchange and instead take the new NLEX exits in Barangays Libtong and Pandayan.

You can also use the Libtong exit for traveling to Manila via Sterling/Iba Road. Meanwhile, the Pandayan exit allows easier access to MacArthur Highway for motorists bound for Baguio.

🗺️ Quezon City or Caloocan to Manila, Pasay, NAIA, or SLEX via Radial Road 10

Traveling north to south and vice versa can be a pain in the neck, especially when people go on out-of-town trips. Escape that holiday commuting nightmare—take the Radial Road 10 (R-10) via Bonifacio Drive and Roxas Boulevard.

The R-10 spans from Delpan Bridge in Tondo, Manila to C-4 Road in Navotas City. The wide road can accommodate motorists who are looking for an alternate route to EDSA and C-5.

🗺️ Taytay to Bicutan via Laguna Lake Highway and Barkadahan Bridge

If you’ll drive from Taytay, Rizal to Bicutan, Taguig, avoid passing the congested EDSA and C-5 Road. Take the faster route—as fast as 30 minutes—via the Barkadahan Bridge in Taytay and the widened Laguna Lake Highway.

Formerly known as the C-6 Road, the Laguna Lake Highway has two additional lanes, which make travel faster between Taytay and Bicutan by 50%. What’s so cool about this new highway is its three-meter biking and jogging lane, the first of its kind in Metro Manila.

Aside from Taytay and Bicutan, using the Barkadahan Bridge also provides convenient travel to and from other cities and towns of Rizal, Quezon City, and Marikina, as well as NAIA and SLEX.

🗺️ SLEX or Skyway to NAIA via NAIAX

Need to get to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) faster for your holiday vacation? Take the NAIA Expressway (NAIAX).

NAIAX connects the Skyway, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), CAVITEX, and Diosdado Macapagal Avenue to all NAIA terminals. Cut down your commute from one hour to just 20 minutes.

🗺️ Cavite to Laguna and Muntinlupa via MCX

If you’re from Cavite going to Muntinlupa or Laguna, the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) can easily take you to Alabang and San Pedro and other places in both directions. You can also use this route if you’re going to Cavite from Muntinlupa and Laguna. 

🗺️ Laguna and Manila to Tagaytay via CALAX

Traveling to Tagaytay from Manila via Aguinaldo Highway is challenging because of traffic jams. The same goes for Laguna denizens who use Tagaytay-Silang Road. To circumvent this, you can take the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).[1] This toll road is accessible via SLEX’s Greenfield City/Unilab (Mamplasan) exit. 

👉 Top Up Your RFIDs in Advance 

Get through toll gates without any hassles by making sure to load your Autosweep or Easytrip cards beforehand. You can do so via digital wallet, mobile banking app, and even convenience stores—so you don’t have any excuses. 

Read more: Plan Your Next Trip: Toll Fees in the Philippines for 2024

👉 Use Travel Apps

holy week traffic - apps

Photo: Easytrip Services Corporation (Facebook)

Gone are the days when you needed to bring an NLEX/SCTEX/TPLEX map when traveling. Traffic and navigation apps are now readily available to show you the way. Some apps can even provide you with alternate routes and traffic updates. 

Use driving apps such as Waze and Google Maps to determine the latest traffic conditions and monitor accidents, police locations, and other possible road obstacles. Apart from helping you reduce travel time, these apps also allow you to track other vehicles on the road, which is perfect for convoys. 

Download DriveHub[2] from Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) as well. This app gives real-time traffic updates and offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance. Moreover, you can use this app to manage your RFID account. 

You can use this app when you travel via MPTC’s roads, such as NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, CALAX, and CCLEX. 

Tips for Using Travel Apps 

However, take note that some factors affect the performance of these apps. You should also know how to use these apps while driving to reduce the hassles and risks of getting lost:

  • Information may not be accurate when the internet connection is weak. Waze, for instance, may point you in a different direction if your data connection is unstable. Check Google Maps before leaving to get familiar with landmarks and roads just in case Waze fails during your trip. 
  • Don't rely on just one app. Download two or more navigation apps for backup in case one app fails. Make sure you have enough time to learn how the app works before driving off.
  • Fully charge your mobile phone. The battery life of your gadget may run out unexpectedly, so bring a charger and a fully charged power bank on your trip.   
  • Use a cellphone holder or mount. Don’t hold your mobile phone while using the steering wheel. Buy a sturdy, easy-to-use, and good-quality phone holder to install in your car.  

👉 Stay Updated on the Latest News

holy week traffic - stay updated

Will it rain on the day of your trip? Are there social events that will affect traffic? Are there roads that are flooded or closed for excavation? Stay updated to avoid possible roadblocks and create a backup vacation plan.

For instance, you need to stay updated regarding this year's number coding for Holy Week. As of this writing, there aren't any announcements yet, but make sure to keep your eyes peeled. 

Catch the latest news on TV or online through news websites and their social media pages before leaving. Tune in to your car radio from time to time for more updates. 

Read more: Vehicle Coding Exemptions in the Philippines That Motorists Should Know

👉 Book Your Tickets in Advance 

One of the best Holy Week travel tips is to book your bus or ferry tickets in advance. The traffic jam already takes a lot of your precious time—you don’t want to lose more by having to fall in line at the ticket booth.

If you already have travel plans for the Holy Week, get your tickets days or weeks ahead. Some companies allow you to buy tickets online. 

👉 Keep Your Vehicle in Top Condition

holy week traffic - keep vehicle in top condition

It goes without saying that before taking a trip, you need a fully functional car. For a safe and fluid trip, ensure that your vehicle is in excellent condition. Follow the PNP-HPG’s time-tested BLOWBAGETS checklist before your trip: Battery, Light, Oil, Water, Brakes, Air, Gas, Engine, Tools, and Self. 

👉 Prepare for Unforeseen Events  

Maybe you’re so used to driving that you don’t realize that the unexpected can still happen to you. Case in point: your tire may blow out or the car engine can suddenly die. You inadvertently worsen the Holy Week traffic this way. 

Anticipate common traffic troubles by bringing a car emergency kit, which should include the following:

  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cable 
  • Heavy-duty gloves 
  • Reflective triangle
  • Duct tape
  • First aid kit

👉 Get Car Insurance   

In addition to the previous tip, another way to deal with road uncertainties is to get car insurance

Road congestions, such as Holy Week traffic jams, increase the odds of hitting or getting hit by another vehicle. Sometimes accidents happen even on clear, open roads. 

Protect yourself financially from these troubles by getting the right car insurance policy. Some packages also offer roadside assistance. 

Explore your car insurance options through Moneymax. Compare policies from some of the country’s leading insurers: 

Car Insurance Company Maximum Total Sum Insured CTPL Coverage Own Damage & Theft Coverage Acts of Nature Coverage Death / Disablement Coverage
FPG Insurance
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₱4 million
Malayan Insurance
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₱7.5 million
The Mercantile Insurance Corporation
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₱5 million
OONA Insurance (formerly MAPFRE)
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₱5 million
PGA Insurance
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₱3 million
SGI Philippines
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₱5 million
Standard Insurance
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₱5 million
Stronghold Insurance
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₱3 million

👉 Follow Traffic Rules

It sucks that you have to deal with heavy traffic. But you know what’s worse? Being the cause of traffic. 

So it’s self-explanatory: Don’t cause a traffic jam. Stay in your lane no matter how congested the road is. 

Follow traffic lights, take note of speed limits, and be respectful to traffic enforcers. Always maintain a calm composure and be considerate of other drivers who are stuck in traffic. Remember that driver discipline and kindness always pay on the road.

Read more:

👉 Keep Yourself Full and Hydrated

holy week traffic - keep yourself full

Always prepare yourself, physically and mentally, before any trip. Pack enough food and water for you and your companions to prevent anyone, especially children, from getting hungry or dehydrated. 

Grab a quick bite before leaving or pack snacks you can easily eat while driving. You can also make quick stops at restaurants along the way.

👉 Know Your Pit Stops

Rest is important for both drivers and passengers. When a driver’s mind and body are well-rested, they can focus on the road better. As such, it’s important that travel plans also include stopovers. 

Where should you stay on an expressway in the Philippines to catch a breath? If you’re traveling via one of the popular controlled-access highways, keep these pit stops in mind: 

Pit Stops Along NLEX

Northbound Southbound 
Petron Lakeshore in Mexico, Pampanga  NLEX Drive&Dine 
Petron Marilao Petron Bocaue
Shell Burol in Balagtas, Bulacan Shell of Asia 
Petron Plaridel  Caltex Mega Station
Total NLEX Shell NLEX Southbound 

Pit Stops Along SLEX

Northbound Southbound 
Shell SLEX Northbound   Shell Magallanes
Total SLEX Shell SLEX Southbound 
Caltex SLEX Northbound Petron SLEX Southbound in San Pedro 
Petron Northbound in Calamba Caltex SLEX Southbound
  Petron SLEX Southbound in Calamba

👉 Take Turns Driving

Driving through the Holy Week traffic can be mentally and physically draining. If your traveling group has another licensed driver, ask them for help. 

👉 Prepare a Road Trip Playlist

Make your trip more bearable while stuck in Holy Week traffic by preparing the ultimate music playlist. If you don’t have the time, ask a friend or relative to compile some great tunes on Spotify.

Music will keep you focused and alert while your eyes are on the road. It can also make the drive more lively and entertaining for you and your family. Just make sure not to pick overly relaxing songs to avoid dozing off.

👉 Be a Helpful Passenger 

holy week traffic - be a helpful passenger

As mentioned, driving is hard work during this time of the year. So if you’re a passenger, the best you can do is offer help and avoid being a backseat driver. The latter is especially necessary, as giving unwanted advice and heckling annoys drivers and makes them anxious. 

Here are some tips for being a kind passenger: 

  • Make sure your seatbelt is on before the trip. 
  • Offer to navigate the roads. When pointing out signs the driver might have missed, always do so without judgment. 
  • If the driver needs to enter a new route into the navigation app, offer your help. That way, they won’t have to fiddle with their smartphone themselves. 
  • Manage the dashboard controls for air conditioning and radio so the driver doesn’t have to. 
  • In case the driver exhibits distracted driving[3] behaviors like texting, taking pictures, and looking elsewhere for an extended period, gently point out that they need to keep their attention on the road.
  • Don’t show the driver your phone. While the meme you found online might be funny, showing it to the driver will just distract them. 
  • If the driver is concentrating on navigating tricky roads, be quiet or lower the music volume. 
  • Avoid reacting excessively when you see something on the road. This triggers the driver to take their eyes off the road. 
  • Calling shotgun? Sit still and minimize your movements. That way, you won’t block the window and the sideview mirror. 
  • If you’re traveling overnight, keep the driver from falling asleep by talking to them. Keep conversations light and fun. Avoid topics that may make them passionate and aggressive, as this may distract them from driving. 

What to Expect During Your Holy Week Trip

holy week traffic - what to expect

Stoked to travel to the best tourist spots or see relatives in the province? Remember that some local festivities also coincide with the Holy Week. Here are a few things you should anticipate during your Holy Week trip:

  • Your trip might be slowed down by processions. If you want to beat traffic, try a different route or know what time the procession will start.
  • Churches might be crowded due to Visita Iglesia, a Catholic tradition of visiting at least seven churches on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Some areas will be crowded with cars and pedestrians heading to the churches, especially at dawn. 
  • You’ll pass by penitents imitating the suffering of Christ, which may draw spectators on the roads. From flagellation to crucifixion, the rites involve the whipping of oneself to draw blood. 
  • Catholics abstain from meat during Holy Week as a form of sacrifice. So expect most restaurants to serve little to no meat. Suppress your meat cravings and prepare to choose from a meatless menu. On the fun side, you'll be acquainted with different local delicacies, which are also popular during Holy Week. 

Final Thoughts

The Holy Week traffic will test your patience. But after all this fuss, you’ll have the entire holiday for fun activities with your loved ones. 

Consider this your motivation for going through the trouble of making all these travel preparations. Plan your trip thoroughly, check your vehicle, and keep yourself in tip-top shape to ensure a Holy Week vacation like no other. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license and vehicle registration with you! 

Get a free car insurance quote


Ricky is the zaniest Product Marketing Manager at Moneymax, with over six years of writing experience in the digital marketing industry. He had written for SEO, cybersecurity, and other related industries prior to joining Moneymax. He also specializes in content writing, copywriting, and email marketing. He is a huge fan of pro-wrestling, One Piece, and smartphones in general. Follow Ricky on LinkedIn.


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