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 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.
QUICK FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT BALER
Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling in Baler, Aurora.
- The surfing season in Baler happens in September through March during the northeast monsoon.
- 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.
- The roads to Baler are well-paved. Going there during the rainy season of June to September may not be a hassle.
- There are only 2 ATMs in Baler located at the town proper. Have enough cash.
- Establishments accept credit and debit card but not a traveler’s check.
- All mobile network operators have a good signal strength in the area.
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.
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.
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.
MUSEO DE BALER
DOÑA AURORA HOUSE
BALER HANGING BRIDGE
DIGUISIT BEACH & ROCK FORMATIONS
BALER LIGHTHOUSE & ANIAO ISLETS
600-YEAR OLD BALETE TREE
DITUMABO MOTHER FALLS
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.
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.
Day 1: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.
|Depart to Baler||1:00AM||P750|
|Arrive in Baler||6:00AM|
|Early Check in||8:00AM|
|Museo de Baler||3:00PM||P35|
|Doña Aurora House||4:00PM||P30|
|Socials at Sabang beach||5:00PM|
Day 2: Tricycle tour is only half day for P500.
|Sunrise at Daguisit Beach||6:00AM|
|Socials at El Jardin Bar||8:00PM|
|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
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…
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:
- Pagudpud Budget Travel Guide
- Vigan DIY Budget Travel Guide
- Laoag Budget Travel Guide
- Sagada Budget Travel Guide
- Baguio Budget Travel Guide
- Palaui Island Budget Travel Guide
- Zambales Budget Travel Guide
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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