BALER BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with itinerary, expenses and top attractions)

UNDERSTANDING BALER


At the eastern part of central Luzon, 5 hours away from Manila on a land trip, lies the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines – BALER. This small town, which has been the capital of Aurora province, is conceivably the cradle of the first surfing community that started in 1970s when it was made as a film location of the American epic war movie Apocalypse Now. Rumor has it that the film crews left behind their surfboards for the locals to try on. Thereafter, the surfing culture spread out and flourished to what it is today.

Surfing in Baler

My second surfing experience. First was in Siargao, this time in Baler. 😉

Surfing is what makes Baler tick. But that’s only looking at it on the surface. Baler gets more interesting as you dig deep into its past and explore further into its underrated attractions. Its story of how 6 families out from a thousand survived from a humongous tidal wave that hit its coast back in 1735, of how the Filipino revolutionaries emerged victorious against the Spanish colonizers during the siege of Baler in 1899 – are two highlights of its rich history that are definitely worth uncovering. Not to mention, Baler is endowed with an array of natural wonders riveting with composites of beautiful rock formations and sweeping landscapes. Truly, it is a destination worth going for.

A replica of the surviving family from the 1735 tidal wave that hit the coast of Baler.

A replica of the surviving family from the 1735 tidal wave that hit the coast of Baler.

QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT BALER


Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling in Baler, Aurora.

  1. The surfing season in Baler happens in September through March during the northeast monsoon.
  2. During the summer months of March through May, the surfing areas and top attractions in Baler can get too crowded and may not be suitable for relaxation. Waves are also small, but still suitable for surfing.
  3. The roads to Baler are well-paved. Going there during the rainy season of June to September may not be a hassle.
  4. There are only 2 ATMs in Baler located at the town proper. Have enough cash.
  5. Establishments accept credit and debit card but not a traveler’s check.
  6. All mobile network operators have a good signal strength in the area.
Lukso-lukso islets

The rocky shore of Lukso-Lukso islets.

HOW TO GET TO BALER


There are no flights going directly to Baler, Aurora. For now, the only means is to go on a land trip.

Via Manila

The total travel time from Manila to Baler is roughly 5 hours, depending on the traffic. To get there, head out to Cubao Bus terminal and choose any of the two (2) Genesis Transport service buses below which go directly to Baler.

  • Joy Bus, an executive bus type which offers free wi-fi, snacks, blanket and pillow if you feel like sleeping on the trip. Bus schedule are as follows: 12:30AM, 1:00AM, 1:30AM, 2:30AM and 5:30AM. Bus fare is P650 or P730 depending on the schedule. Reservation is a must through iwantseats.com. You may also visit their Facebook page at @GenesisTransportInc or contact them at +63 995 196 7436, +63 998 868 6131.
  • Regular aircon bus for a fare of P450. The bus departs hourly from 2:00AM to 8:00AM.

Alternatively, if your travel schedule doesn’t match with the bus’, take the Manila-Cabanatuan-Baler route. Go to the bus terminals in Manila at Cubao, Caloocan and Pasay. Take any bus that goes to Cabanatuan city. Daily trip is in an hourly basis. Bus fare is P200, travel time is 3 hours. At Cabanatuan Central terminal, take another bus or van to Baler.  Fare is around P230, travel time is another 3 hours.

Daguisit Rock Formation

The rock formation of Daguisit at sundown.

Via Clark

From the airport, take the shuttle service to Dau terminal. Fare is P100, travel time is roughly 20 minutes. At the terminal, ride a bus to Cabanatuan City. Travel time is close to 2 hours, bus fare is around P400. Arrive at Cabanatuan Central terminal and take another bus or van to Baler. Fare amounts to P230, travel time is 3 hours.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BALER


Here are 11 top tourist destinations that you can cover in a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days while in Baler, Aurora.

SABANG BEACH

Sabang Beach of Baler

Sabang beach is where all surfing happens in Baler. It’s a vast beach of fine, gray sand that casts a mirage display of clouds and the near mountains on its sea on a bright day. The water is shallow but comes with big swells, while the seabed is sandy which makes the beach a more suitable place to swim and to learn surfing for beginners than in any place in Baler. Alongside the beach are a lineup of resorts from budget to luxury, restaurants and cafes and other forms of social entertainment. While here, frolic around and feel the vibrant sense of community among tourists and locals.
Rating: 4/5

MUSEO DE BALER

Museo de Baler

Museo de Baler comes off with an intricately eloquent facade. Pay a visit for an entrance fee of P35 on any day of the week (except Sunday) from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, and discover the roots and hispanic heritage of Baler through its display of paintings, sculptures and works of art.
Rating: 3/5

DOÑA AURORA HOUSE

Doña Aurora House

Fronting Museo de Baler, across the street, is the well-preserved Doña Aurora house. It is a small, simple, wooden house but quite a large offering for people who loves history. It showcases the traditional Filipino way of living, and the life of President Manuel Quezon’s wife, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon on her devotion to charities and humanitarian causes. The house opens to guests daily from 8:00AM to 5:00PM. Entrance fee is P30.
Rating: 3/5

BALER HANGING BRIDGE

Hanging Bridge of Baler

Feel the bridge shaking on your every step, Baler Hanging Bridge is definitely not one for the faint-hearted. This steel-cable foot bridge jumps over the shallow water of Sabang River that dries out a third of its areas on a low tide. At the end points of the bridge are souvenir shops which offer the cheapest price in all of Baler, better buy your items here.
Rating: 2/5

ERMITA HILL

The 30-feet cross at the top of Ermita Hill.

The 30-feet cross at the top of Ermita Hill.

Ermita Hill

The drawn out steps to the Cross at the top of Ermita Hill.

Ermita Hill

The very place where the only surviving families ran to escape the enormous tidal wave that hit Baler back in 1735. At the foot of the hill are life-sized statues of the surviving families in recollection of the saddening catastrophe. To reach the top, guests will have to climb into the 250 drawn out steps before reaching the 30-feet cross placed at the farthest part of the hill. There are also viewing decks in some areas where you can check out Baler in 360-degree view.  Entrance fee is P15, parking fee is P10.
Rating: 3/5

DIGUISIT BEACH & ROCK FORMATIONS

Diguisit Rock Formation

Diguisit Rock Formation

Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation

The rock formations nestled along the shores of Diguisit is a photographer’s dream. During sunrise, the light peaks through the mountains, while during sunset, hues of golden blue and yellow bend at the back of two boulders that make an aisle for the flickering sea water to pass. It’s gripping and astonishingly beautiful. The shore is creamy white with coarse sandy seabed. Access to the rock formations can be through any beach resorts. Entrance can range from P20-P50.
Rating: 3.5/5

DIGUISIT FALLS

Diguisit Falls

The waterfall is small with a catch basin good for 10 people at most. It’s beside the road and climbing up to it would only require 2 to 3 minutes. Careful on your way as some parts to the waterfall are slippery. No entrance fee.
Rating: 3/5

LUKSO-LUKSO ISLETS

The rocky seabed leading to the islets. It’s not the only way though so don’t fret! 😉

Lukso-lukso islets

Lukso-lukso islets are three beautiful rock formations at the coast of Diguisit. The distance among the islets is only a hop away. Thus, its name “Lukso-lukso” or hop in the local dialect. During low tide, the shore at this section of Baler seems like a desert with rocks rough on its surface. Entrance fee is P10.
Rating: 3.5/5

BALER LIGHTHOUSE & ANIAO ISLETS

Baler Lighthouse

The scenic view at the hill where the lighthouse is installed.

Baler Lighthouse

Baler lighthouse is one of the most scenic places in Baler. To get to the lighthouse, embark on a 15-minute trek from the main road to the hill where it is installed. Get some help with the locals who usually await for guests, in exchange of a certain fee. At the top of the lighthouse is a fascinating view of the Ania islets fronting a cove with a backdrop forming a beautiful lush terrain.
Rating: 4/5

600-YEAR OLD BALETE TREE

The back part of the tree.

The back part of Balete tree.

Millennium Balete Tree

The millennium Balete tree in Baler is by far the grandest in scale that you can find in all Balete tree attractions in the Philippines. It’s hanging roots strangle to form a cave where you can freely go inside; it’s sturdy and makes for a perfect climbing wall to reach at least the midpoint of the tree. Entrance fee is P15 (another P10 if you will go inside the tree), parking fee is P10.
Rating: 3/5

DITUMABO MOTHER FALLS

Ditumabo Mother falls

One of the small overflows from Ditumabo Mother falls.

Ditumabo Falls

Arguably, the biggest waterfall in the province of Aurora – Ditumabo Mother falls is towering with all her might at the town of San Luis, 40-minute drive away from Sabang beach. It possesses a strong cascade that drops 140 feet to its cold, emerald-green catch basin. Going to the waterfalls is relatively easy which requires a 30-minute trek over rocks and streams. It is rewarding with all the scenic views and the refreshing waters of the waterfall. Entrance fee is P30, parking fee is P30, and tour guide fee (which is a requirement) is P200 per guide.
Rating: 4/5

TOP THINGS TO DO IN BALER


Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in Baler, Aurora.

  • Surf! Baler is the best place to learn this water activity. It’s definitely worth an experience.
  • Go around and check out the beautiful rock formations in most of its beaches and islets.
  • Learn the roots of Baler and the different highlights of its history that transformed the beautiful coastal town.
  • Feel the vibe and hang around with locals. Baler is a happy community.
Sabang Beach

At Sabang beach, about to surf for one more time.

BALER  SAMPLE ITINERARY


The best way to get around Baler is to charter a tricycle or a van for a day tour. The attractions are far from each other and going by yourself would be time-consuming, unless you have at least 5 days to spend. Here is a sample itinerary good for 3 days which assumes a party of two and will set back a budget of P4,335.00+ per person, excluding expenses for accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.

Things to consider for this Baler itinerary: 

  • Surfboard rental costs around P200 per hour, P350 if with instructor.
  • Most tricycle drivers double as tour guide. Tricycle tour would cover all of the attractions cited in the Top Attractions list for P500 for half-day and P800 for whole day. A day tour on a van costs P2,500 good for 10 persons.
  • Genesis bus bound for Manila leaves at 2:00PM. Finish up your itinerary before the time to avoid hassle.
On the way to Ditumabo falls.

The view on the way to Ditumabo falls.

DAY ONE: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.

Activity Time Budget
Depart to Baler 1:00AM P750
Arrive in Baler 6:00AM
Breakfast 7:00AM P100
Early Check in 8:00AM
Tour 9:00AM P250
Ditumabo Falls P30
Balete Tree P15
Lunch 12:00PM P200
Continue Tour 1:00PM
Hanging Bridge
Ermita Hill P15
Museo de Baler 3:00PM P35
Doña Aurora House 4:00PM P30
Socials at Sabang beach 5:00PM
Dinner 6:00PM P200
Lights Out! 9:00PM
Diguisit Beach

The rough sea swells at Diguisit beach before sunset.

DAY TWO: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.

Activity Time Budget
Tour 5:00AM P250
Sunrise at Daguisit Beach 6:00AM
Breakfast 7:00AM P100
Continue Tour 9:00AM
Daguisit Falls
Lukso-Lukso Islets P10
Baler Lighthouse
Aniao Islets
Lunch 12:00PM P200
Socials 1:00PM P200
Surf! 3:00PM P350
Freshen Up 5:00PM
Dinner 6:00PM P200
Socials at El Jardin Bar 8:00PM

DAY THREE

Activity Time Budget
Breakfast 7:00AM P100
Surf 9:00AM P350
Freshen Up 11:00AM
Lunch 12:00PM P200
Check Out 1:00PM
Depart to Manila 2:00PM P750

If your choice of transport to get around Baler is bicycle or motorbike, head out to Pajaroja lodge. Rent for bicycle is P300 per day, for motorbike is P500 to P800 per day.

WHERE TO STAY IN BALER


Here are budget to posh accommodations in Baler:

Near Sabang beach

  • Jam and Jen’s Lodge – ideal for backpackers +63 921 598 3588, +63 916 200 1731
  • June Samano Homestay – ideal for group travelers +63 929 716 3292, +63 908 104 2043
  • Bay’s Inn (047) 252 9978
  • Saltwater Lodge Baler +63 927 727 0192
  • Desiree’s +63 920 480 0978
  • Aliya Surf Camp and Resort +63 939 939 0929
  • Amco Beach Resort  +63 921 411 7671
  • Bayler View Hotel +63 919 286 3105, +63 927 363 8735
  • Costa Pacifica +632 519 4249
  • Cocohut Lodge +6342 209 4341

Near Daguisit beach

  • Aura Marina Sands Beach Resort +63 977 219 5934
  • Dela Torre Beach Resort +63 949 608 7053
  • Seasta Beach Resort +63 919 529 9751
Climbing up the Balete tree.

Climbing up the Balete tree.

USEFUL PHRASES


English is widely understood in Baler. But in case you want to speak the local tongue, here are phrases from 2 different main languages in Baler that proved to be useful.

English to Ilocano
Thank You – Agyamanak
Good Morning – Naimbag a bigat
Good Afternoon – Naimbag a malem
Good Evening – Naimbag a rabii
How Much? – Sagmamano daytoy?
Where is… – Sadino ti…

Ermita Hill

The foot of Ermita Hill where the life-sized statues are installed.

English to Tagalog
Thank You – Salamat
Good Morning – Magandang umaga
Good Afternoon – Magandang hapon
Good Evening – Magandang gabi
How Much? – Magkano?
Where is… – Saan ang…

BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER


Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome! 😉

EXTEND YOUR TRIP


Visit other top places in Luzon:

Or, go to Visayas and visit these fascinating islands:

Or, try surfing at Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines. Budget Travel Guide here

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