Your ultimate guide to driving on NLEX & SLEX Philippines

If you have been traveling to and from Manila, you surely have passed through an expressway. 

Expressways are thoroughfares that were built to aid the long-term road congestion issue by having arterial high standards of highways with interchanges and without traffic lights.

Read along to know everything you need to know about the Expressway.


Expressways in the Philippines include facilities that collect toll fees to allow passage and have standard features which include the following:

CCTVs, guard rails, pavement markings, rest areas, road signs, rumble strips, service areas, solid wall fences, speed radars, and toll plazas.

Speed Limits:

There are speed limits that every motorist should follow, inside or outside the expressway, to ensure road safety. Failure to comply with the rules will result in being penalized under Republic Act 4136.

For those who will traverse NAIA Expressway (NAIAx), motorists should keep their speed at 60 kph.


Expressways connect Metro Manila to various provinces by bypassing cities and roads. There are several expressways you can pass through depending on the place you want to go.

1.    North Luzon Expressways (NLEX) –

NLEX links Metro Manila to the northern provinces of Central Luzon such as Bulacan and Pampanga.

2. South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) 

SLEX consists of two expressways that link Metro Manila to the CALABARZON region:

  1. Expressway Route 2 (E2)
  2. Radial Road 3 (R3) of Manila’s arterial road network

3. Manila Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX)

VAVITEX links Manila to the southern province of Cavite. At its north end, it feeds into and from Roxas Boulevard, Parañaque, and splits into two termini at its south end. The first terminus in the south feeds into the intersection of Tirona Highway and Antero Soriano Highway, while the second is at the intersection of Tirona Highway and Antero Soriano Highway.

4.    Metro Manila Skyway

Metro Manila Skyway is the first fully grade-separated highway in the Philippines. This skyway helps relieve heavy traffic in SLEX and other major thoroughfares.

5.    NAIA Expressway (NAIAX)

NAIAX is an elevated expressway that runs through Pasay and Paranaque, linking the Metro Manila Skyway, the Entertainment City, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

6. Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway)

Stretching from the intersection of Maharlika Highway and SLEX in Santo Tomas, this expressway then runs south near Diversion Road to Batangas International Port. This road then traverses through Malvar, Lipa, and Ibaan.

7. Subic-Tipo Expressway – STiPex

This expressway begins its route at Rizal Highway going towards Argonaut Highway. The road continuously goes up as it enters the Bataan National Park.

8. Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX)

Known as the longest expressway, with 93.77 kilometers (58.27 mi) of road length. This is the most direct link to numerous areas such as Subic Bay Special Economic Zone and Freeport Zone in Zambales, as well as the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, and the Luisita Industrial Park in Tarlac.

9. Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)

The TPLEX was built to reduce the travel time for the destinations located in the North Luzon region. It is an 89.21-kilometer 4-lane expressway that connects the Central Luzon region with the Ilocos Region.

10. Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX)

MCX begins at the T-interchange with SLEX near Susana Heights and ends at a roundabout with Daang Hari and Daang Reyna, Cavite. Known as the shortest expressway, It is a 4-kilometer expressway that connects the southern part of Cavite to Muntinlupa City.


The toll fees are determined by the class of vehicles; the higher the class, the higher the toll charge will be. It is because the bigger vehicles have a bigger chance of damaging the road.

For updated rates, you can check here the updated Toll fees. NLEX-SCTEX – Toll Regulatory Board (

To date, some expressways still accept cash transactions, but the goal is to eventually go cashless in all expressways. Apply for an Easytrip RFID or Autosweep RFID to go cashless and prevent inconveniences and long lines. 

Vehicle Classification

Know your vehicle classification upon entering or prior to exiting the expressway.

Class 1

Vehicles under this classification are those with two axles and an overall height of up to 7.5 feet. This is the most common vehicle classification, not unless you are driving a large vehicle like a bus or RV.

Class 2

Large vehicles like buses and trucks belong in this class even though they have 2 axles just like the previous classification. Class 2 vehicles have a height of more than 7.5 feet.

If your vehicle is classified as Class 1, but you will be attaching a trailer to it, then your vehicle will now be considered Class 2.

Class 3

This class is for large trucks with at least six wheels and a height greater than 7.5 feet. 

Few Reminders for driving on the expressway

  1. Observe the proper speed limit.

Stay in the middle of the speedometer; not too fast or not too slow either. Not only will you achieve better speed momentum, but you will also avoid the dangers of committing a speed-related violation.

2. Stay in your lane.  

Switching lanes, when done with caution, aren’t really an issue along the expressway. This, as long as you are not endangering yourself and others.

3. Always check your mirrors

Check your side mirrors every so often. Ideally, you should glance at your front, side, and rearview mirror every 5 seconds. On a road where everyone is speeding up, check your mirrors to scan your surroundings

4. Activate your turn signals when necessary.

If you deem it necessary to change lanes, activate your turn signals first before you do. Make this a precautionary habit while driving on all roads to caution drivers behind you of your plan to change lanes.

5. Know your lanes.

Be familiar with the lane that you are on. Stay on the middle lane and steer away from the fast lane or the passing lane since this lane is actually meant for overtaking.

6. Focus.

There is an Anti-Distracted Driving Act that is meant to remind drivers to stay focused. Avoid extremely loud music, and using smartphones while on the road. There are rest areas along the expressway where you can pause for a while and attend to your calls or important messages.

7. Avoid tailgaiting. 

Distance your vehicle to the one in front of you by about one car away in order to avoid any potential accident, especially because all the other cars are driving within speed limits.

8. Prepare.

Check your blowbagets  before leaving, and enjoy a less hassle trip by preparing your toll fee in advance. Have a spare change ready or attach an RFID sticker to your vehicle.

There’s just so many things to learn and keep in mind to be a responsible driver in the Philippines, more so in cities where vehicles have been a major sign of development, and a source of both convenience and congestion.

Drivesafe PH provides a theoretical driving course that helps you understand the basics of driving in comprehensive detail. Drivesafe PH is the 1st LTO Accredited Online Theoretical Driving Course Provider, a social learning platform that provides accessibility to Defensive Driving Education to future Filipino drivers who would like to take the first step in Road Safety.

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