BALER BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with itinerary, top attractions, tips and how to get there)

Summary: This blog details a budget travel guide for Baler which includes an itinerary good for 3 to 5 days, top tourist attractions, options on how to get there and a list of accommodations to stay. Further, this Baler blog is intended for budget travelers either solo, family or group travelers.

BALER AT A GLANCE

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.
  • 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.

Klook.com

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.

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

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

Ermita Hill
The drawn out steps to the Cross at the top of 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 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 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 Rock Formation
Diguisit Rock Formation during sunset.

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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.

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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 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
Ditumabo Mother falls
One of the small overflows from 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.
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.

ActivityTimeBudget
Depart to Baler1:00AMP750
Arrive in Baler6:00AM
Breakfast7:00AMP100
Early Check in8:00AM
Tour9:00AMP250
Ditumabo FallsP30
Balete TreeP15
Lunch12:00PMP200
Continue Tour1:00PM
Hanging Bridge
Ermita HillP15
Museo de Baler3:00PMP35
Doña Aurora House4:00PMP30
Socials at Sabang beach5:00PM
Dinner6:00PMP200
Lights Out!9:00PM
Diguisit Beach
The rough sea swells at Diguisit beach before sunset.

Klook.com

Look for discounted deals from Klook from the major destinations in Asia, including the Philippines.

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

ActivityTimeBudget
Tour5:00AMP250
Sunrise at Daguisit Beach6:00AM
Breakfast7:00AMP100
Continue Tour9:00AM
Daguisit Falls
Lukso-Lukso IsletsP10
Baler Lighthouse
Aniao Islets
Lunch12:00PMP200
Socials1:00PMP200
Surf!3:00PMP350
Freshen Up5:00PM
Dinner6:00PMP200
Socials at El Jardin Bar8:00PM

DAY THREE

ActivityTimeBudget
Breakfast7:00AMP100
Surf9:00AMP350
Freshen Up11:00AM
Lunch12:00PMP200
Check Out1:00PM
Depart to Manila2:00PMP750

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

Bay’s Inn at forefront area at Sabang Beach. Click the photo for rate and availability.

Here are budget to posh accommodations in Baler:

Near Sabang beach

Aura Marina Sands Beach Resort. The hotel offers good access to Baler’s top attractions. Click the photo for rate and availability.

Near Daguisit beach

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…

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…

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

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

San Vicente Palawan is four hours away from Puerto Princesa. Check out the San Vicente Budget Travel Guide which includes a travel itinerary to Port Barton, its most visited barangay, and learn few things about this laidback municipality. And oh, did I mention that San Vicente has the longest beach in the Philippines? Just look at the photo.
After Puerto Princesa, El Nido is always the next stop over. Check out this El Nido Budget Travel Guide to know more about this top tourist destination.
Balabac Travel guide with top things to do, travel itinerary and sample expenses.
How about extending your trip to Balabac at the southmost part of Palawan. Personally, Balabac group of islands is the best place Palawan can offer. Plus, it’s not touristy. Check out this link for details: Balabac budget travel guide.
Tour around the city of Puerto Princesa on a budget tour. Click the link for details.

Other good places to visit in Luzon.

Or visit other countries in Asia using these budget travel guides:

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