72 hours in Baler

Located 230 kilometers northeast of Manila, Baler is a place of thrill and chill in the eastern seaboard of Luzon. Situated between the deep blue Pacific Ocean and the lush green forests of the Sierra Madre mountain range, it is now a must-see travel destinations for both local and foreign tourists.

 

But getting inside Baler is not as easy as other destinations like Baguio, Ilocos, or Bataan. The long, winding road going through the mountains is no easy feat. But once you get to the destination, all the dizziness and the long travel pays off.

 

The Aurora House – the ancestral house of the Aragon Family – is where Mrs. Aurora Quezon used to live. It shows how simple Mrs. Quezon’s life was as a child. Photo by Mosh Magbanua

Before getting lost between the green and blue, here are a few reminders about this small town.

  1. Being a part of Central Luzon and formerly of the Southern Tagalog Region, Tagalog is the main language here. There are, however, a minority of Ilocano speakers. As in most of the Philippines, people in Baler are fluent in English.
  2. Make sure to bring enough cash before hitting this destination. There are only a few ATMs in the Poblacion so bringing hard cash is the best option.

 

GETTING THERE

The easiest option to go Baler is by bus. There are direct buses available from Cubao, Quezon City. There are two options:

  • Genesis Bus: This regular air conditioned bus is the cheaper but slower option. It has several bus stops along the way. For P488 pesos, travel time may be around 6-7 hours.
  • JoyBus: This Genesis Bus subsidiary offers a more comfortable option and a faster trip. Making no stops, travel only takes 5-6 hours. Fares range between P650 to P730 pesos.

 

PLACES TO STAY

There are many resorts and hotels situated in Sitio Labasin in Brgy. Sabang, where the best Baler beaches are. Suit yourself with some affordable options like the Balai Surf Inn at P2,000 a night good for a room for six people. If you really want quality amenities and you got cash to burn, Costa Pacifica is the place to be. Staying here will cost you around P6,500 per night.

 

PLACES TO GO

Three days of stay in Baler is enough to see all the amazing sights hidden in this quiet town. But before we go, let me remind you that you are set to cover kilometers of trail, so walking may not be the best option.

 

You can choose from the following options to go around Baler comfortably:

  1. Tricycle. A full-day tour with a trike will cost you P800 pesos, and P400 if you’re only renting half a day. You may think it’s costly but these tricycle drivers double as your tour guides, and sometimes, property custodians. This option is highly recommended if you are traveling in groups of three.
  2. Bicycle. Mountain bike rental costs P35 per hour and P300 per day. So if you are up for a heavy cardio workout, this is a must-try.
  3. By skateboard. Yes, a skateboard is a means of transportation here, though only for a shorter distance in and around the town.
  4. Motorcycle. Locally called habal-habal by the locals, this is an option when going through rocky trails. The cheapest, according to locals, is P800.

 

SAMPLE SCHEDULE

Day 1. Stepping out to the beach

2:30 A.M. – Departure from Cubao (via Joybus)

9:30 A.M. – Arrival and breakfast

10:00 A.M. – Arrival at Baler, travel via tricycle to your resort

10:15 A.M. – Early check-in or baggage drop

10:30 A.M. – Sabang Beach, try surfing (P300 for a one-hour session)

Ampere Beach in Dipaculao is unlike any of the beaches in Aurora. Instead of sand, smooth rocks dominate the area. Photo by Mosh Magbanua

11:30 A.M. – Lunch at Crash Pad

1:00 P.M. – Check in. Rest.

1:30 P.M. – Start tricycle half-day tour (P400)

2:00 P.M. – Arrive at the Zabali Hanging Bridge

2:45 P.M. – Climb Ermita Hill (P15 per head)

3:45 P.M. – Diguisit Falls

 

4:15 P.M. – Aniao and Lukso-lukso Islets at Diguisit Beach (P30 per head)

5:30 P.M. – Travel back to town

6:00 P.M. – Freshen-up at hotel

7:00 P.M. – Dinner at Yellow Fin Grill

 

Day 2. In and out of Baler

At 600 years old, the Millenium Tree surely has withstood the test of time. This banyan tree is huge enough to cater to tourists inside of it. Photo by Mosh Magbanua

7:00 A.M. – Breakfast at the Hungry Surfer Grill

8:00 A.M. – Full-day tricycle tour (P800)

8:15 A.M. – Museo de Baler

8:45 A.M. – Dona Aurora House

9:30 A.M. – Ditumabo Mother Falls (P30 per person, P200 tour guide)

12:00 P.M. – Lunch at Ditumabo

12:45 P.M. – Balete Park (P15 per head)

2:00 P.M. – Roundabout at other destinations

4:30 P.M. – Swimming at Sabang Beach

6:00 P.M. – Dinner at The Good Food

 

Day 3. Ampere Beach

7:00 A.M. – Half-day tricycle tour (P400)

8:00 A.M. – Ampere beach

10:30 A.M. – Travel back to hotel, freshen-up

11:00 A.M. – Check-out at hotel

11:30 P.M. – Lunch at Mr. Kimbob

12:30 P.M. – Departure from hotel to Genesis Terminal

1:00 P.M. – Departure to Manila

 

REMINDERS

  1. Eat at cheaper eateries. Though it is a rarity in the beachfront, the Poblacion area and other towns have much cheaper options. P70-P100 is enough for a good meal.
  2. Wrap your tour early enough so you can catch the bus going back to Manila. The last trip is 3:30 P.M. on JoyBus, and at 2:00 P.M. for the Regular Aircon.
  3. Whenever possible, give tips to the locals, especially to the tour guides and tricycle drivers. Tour guides also double as your photographers.

 

Baler is a quiet town that can give you an unforgettable experience. Make sure to save some back-up battery packs, plan your tour carefully, bring enough money, and enjoy the calm surrender of Baler.

 

#LetsG to the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines!

 

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