Western Samar Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

Located southeast of Luzon, in the Visayas Region, Samar is the 3rd largest island in the Philippines. The name Samar was taken from the local word “samad”. Legends say that when the Spaniards arrived in the island, they saw a wounded man and asked the name of the place. Because of the language barrier, thinking he was being asked what happened to him, he simply answered “samad” which means “cut or wound”. The word samad was used as the name of the place and altered the “d” to “r”. Samareños or Samarnons speak the Waray dialect. The province has 24 municipalities and 2 cities, with Catbalogan as its capital. The iconic San Juanico Bridge connects the province of Samar to Leyte.

Where to go in Western Samar

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Bangon Falls

Barangay San Joaquin Calbayog City, Western Samar, Eastern Visayas, 6710, Philippines

Canyawa Cave

Barangay Camlongan Calbiga, Western Samar, Eastern Visayas, 6715, Philippines

How to Get Here

Getting Here
By air: There are 2 existing airports in the province, the Calbayog Airport, located in Barangay Trinidad in Calbayog City and the Catbalogan Airport in Barangay Cabugawan. Last March 2018, the domestic airline Air Juan launched commercial flights between Cebu and Catbalogan City.

The Calbayog Airport serves commercial flights of Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines from Manila.

By land: A combination of land and air travel is also another option to go to Samar’s capital. Take a flight to Tacloban City from either Manila or Cebu via Cebu Pacific. From the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, go to Abucay Terminal and from there, take a bus going to Catbalogan City. Travel time is around 2 to 2.5 hours.

There are a number of bus companies plying the route of Manila-Catbalogan City; it include the 2-hour ferry ride from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Northern Samar with fare that starts from Php 1,200.00 (ferry fares not included):
· Philtranco
Silver Star
CUL Transport
Goldline Tours
Eagle Star Transit

By sea: From Cebu, there are 2 options to reach Samar Province. 1st, take a 2GO Supercat or Oceanjet going to Ormoc. From there, get a ride to Tacloban City and transfer to another ride going to Catbalogan City. 2nd option is to take the Seacat Ferry with the route Calbayog-Cebu-Calbayog for a fare that starts with Pho 1,000.00. Travel time is roughly 4-5 hours.

Popular Food

Tahong or mussels are everywhere in the streets of Catbalogan. It is sold as street food and cooked in different and interesting way like tahong barbecue, tahong fritters or tahong lumpia.

(c) @jayveejovi /

A crepe-like delicacy, salukara uses tuba or young coconut that acts as a baking powder to this rice crepe. It looks like hot cake but it tastes like puto or bibingka. Usually served hot during breakfast or snack.

(c) @whenkatwanders_ /

A fluffy, flower-shaped buttery cake, Sama’s torta is a delicious baked product always present on every special occasion in the Visayas Region. It is said that torta is the “Visayans’ answer to ensaymada”.

(c) @sipseechew /

Queseo or kesong puti is made from fresh carabao or water buffalo milk. A delicacy in Gandara, Calbayog City, queseo is made in thin rounds, served warm and paired with pandesal or eaten with hot rice.

(c) @raizeleanor /

A very unique dish wrapped in banana leaves, Samar’s tamalos or tamales is unlike the other tamales version in the country. Tamalos is a bit spicy, nutty and sticky, with very tender pork liempo in it and covered with thick orange sauce and eaten with rice.

(c) @tcrbeachresort /

Best Time to Go

Samar Province, in the months of February to June, is a pleasant time to discover its beauty. Although the weather is humid, it is still great to be in the outdoors to check out the beaches and other scenic spots of the province.

Formerly called as Western Samar, the province is open to northeast monsoon especially its areas in the eastern coast while the northwestern part has an evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year.

The province’s capital, Catbalogan has an annual month-long celebration called “The Manaragat Festival”. It is a festival that gives tribute to the province’s fishermen. Also in the same month, another colorful and merry festival is being held, the “Kaadlawan Han Samar” or Samar Day celebrated in August 11.

When exploring the province, its best to wear tropical clothing and wear sunscreen. Samarnons are friendly and warm people, so one will not have a hard time asking for directions or help in going around the different towns and municipalities.

What to Do

Chase waterfalls
Samar prides itself for several beautiful waterfalls scattered all over its area. With some located in remote areas, Calbayog has earned the moniker “City of Waterfalls” because of the numbers of waterfalls found in its environs.
Beach bum
Frolic under the sun, get some tan and enjoy the warm weather in any of the province’s gorgeous beaches and islands – there’s the Daram Island, the Payao Beach and majestic Marabut Island, to name a few.
Do a city tour
The City of Catbalogan has interesting landmarks for its visitors. One of these is the unique statue of Dr. Jose Rizal – a bust of the national hero on topped of his 2 famous novels and carried by 3 naked men. The sculpture was made by Miguel Alcazar, a native of Catbalogan.

Other notable landmarks are the Imelda Park, Samar Provincial Capitol, Pieta Park and the Church of St. Bartholomew.
Explore the province’s caves
Known as the “Caving Capital of the Philippines”, Samar is the best place to practice one’s caving and spelunking skills.

Estimated Costs

Estimated Cost per Person
Getting Around
There are vans and buses for long travel or for going to another municipality. The main means of transportation around Catbalogan is the colorful pedal-powered tricycle called rickshaws. There are also motorized tricycles for longer travel within the city area. Minimum fare is Php 5.00.

There is also a bike rental in the city for those who want to explore the locality on their own. Rental fee is Php 250.00 a day.

Affordable accommodation in Catbalogan starts at Php 750.00 per night for a 2-star hotel; while a 3-star hotel accommodation starts at P1, 200.00 – Php 2,000.00 a night.

Php 80.00 – Php 120.00 per meal

Tourist attraction entrance fee
Starts at Php 20.00

Average price per day
Php 1,350.00 – Php 1,500.00