Have you started planning your getaway activities on 2018? It won’t be long `til the dark clouds vanish from the sky and the sun beams steadily again. With that, here’s a quick suggestion for you — head north of the Philippines for a Baler Tour!
When we hear of Baler, there’s this activity that will come first into our minds…surfing! Definitely, the place offers an excellent surfing experience that everyone can enjoy. Yes, even for those who have yet to experience doing it. But there’s more than surfing Baler can offer. The municipality is culture rich, and nature has crafted areas to see. Let’s see some popular sites to explore when in Baler.
We lack time to prepare for the trip, that’s why we availed tour services. After browsing a few, and selecting the most affordable and reliable travel agent, we booked our trip. But in case you want to do a Do-It-Yourself, it’s also possible and here’s a short guide.
How to Go:
Ride a bus from Cubao. You can choose between these two:
- Joy bus. The more luxurious/comfortable one, starts at P750. Ride starts at 12 mn. Has a non-stop bus service with blankets and snacks being offered inside.
- Genesis bus. It offers cheaper fare that starts at P550. Travel starts at 3 am in the morning.
There are also buses from Cabanatuan namely: ABC Trans, Aurora Bus Line, D’ Liner and vans. You can also go from Baguio via D’ Liner, Lizardo Bus and Victory Liner.
- Tricycle. You can explore baler by hiring a tricycle for the whole day at around P800.
- Motorcycle. If you really want to explore by yourself, then riding a motorcycle is the way to go. Around P800
- Tour by van. There are travel agencies or drivers that can tour you around. Prices vary; ~P2500 whole van.
Getting around is cheap, just haggle with the drivers and you’ll get the best price. We spend around P20 per ride since our hotel is just around the center.
Where we stayed:
There are plenty of accommodations you can find online. Book in advance so you’ll get huge discounts. If you’re not used to it, you can ask help from travel agencies to book for you.
We stayed at Rochelle’s Travelers Inn as part of our tour package. It is located at Brgy. Suklayin, just a few minutes from the town proper and Sabang beach. It has a lounge and a common kitchen where guests can cook their own food. The rooms are neat and has the things you need. But what we liked most is the 3D landmark letters where you can take your selfies and tell everyone where you’re currently at.
Where to Eat:
- Chef Gerry’s Picnic Bay. Offers buffet for only P200. The foods are fresh and yummy. It is near the sea so expect to feel the fresh breeze.
- Restaurants at the town proper. There are plenty to choose from. You’ll find big ones where tour vans drop their visitors at.
- Rolling store. It is a series of carenderia’s at the town proper. We haven’t tried it but plenty of people seems enjoying their food when we passed by.
- Sabang beach. At night, you can’t surf anymore. Instead, there are numerous restaurants that offers a wide variety of foods to choose from. The crowd’s favorite is the Baler surfer grill. It has a fancy Volks bug wherein it’s engine bay is used in grilling. But beware of the long queue.
Giant Baler Balete Tree
Dubbed as the Millennium tree, it is said to be the oldest in Asia at more or less 600 years old. It stands 65 meters tall equivalent to a 5 story building. It is so wide that I had a hard time fitting and composing it to my camera’s mediocre kit lens. There are fresh buko juice and macapuno candies sold nearby. Comfort rooms are also ready for traveler’s needs.
There is a minimal fee you have to pay if you’re doing D-I-Y. Taking pictures is fun with its awesome root formations but be sure to choose off-peak dates so you won’t have to deal with lots of photo-bombers. The guides here can also take pictures for you, and they have plenty of pose ideas prepared already. Here’s an example of a photo taken by one of the guides/locals.
Trekking at Ditumabo Falls
After a sumptous breakfast, our vans reached our next destination, or maybe just another parking lot. Here, you will find restrooms where you can change your clothes and put your gears on for a long trek onto the Mother’s falls. After prepping up, you will need to ride a tricycle to reach the entry point. But I think the tricycle-ride part is just a way of helping locals’ livelihood as you can see plenty of private vehicles parked upon arrival at the muster area.
Located at Brgy. Ditumabo, San Luis, Baler, tourists flock their way for a 1.3 kilometer, 30 to 40-minute trek en-route to a large waterfall named after the barangay, Ditumabo or commonly called Mother’s falls. On the way, you will walk on different paths: wet soil, large rocks, grass, small rivers and even man-made pipes so be sure to wear a very comfortable footwear that can handle those ordeals. Take note that most ladders are made of wood so it won’t hurt if you’ll be extra careful when crossing them. Anyway, those made the journey more fun and exciting, specially when you succeed on crossing those tricky and very slippery areas.
After passing-by a couple of baby falls, you’ll be mesmerized with the sight and sound of the biggest one — the Mother falls! The place can be crowded as people swim, take pictures and sometimes jump at the foot of the falls. The water is irresistibly cold, and you can smell and taste its freshness and cleanliness. We had fun dipping in the shallow areas, and our tour buddies even the seniors enjoyed also for sure.
Surfing at Sabang Beach
Even though we are not good swimmers, we can’t help but to experience the main attraction Baler caters to its visitors. Surfing is so much fun in Baler! It was a sunny afternoon and the sea is filled with surfers. The waves are just enough that even beginners like us can handle. Plus, the depth is noob-friendly too, as you can reach the sand floor for a couple of meters away from the shore. That explains why plenty of people I saw already know how to surf. It’s easy learning it here.
The surfing lesson costs P350 per hour. But since we just wanted to try it, we split the tutorial to 30 minutes each. The instructor we had is young and friendly as well. First, he demonstrated us the basics in the shore. Then, he took it to the sea and guided us so we can also ride the waves and take our souvenir pictures while standing on the surfing board. It was so fun and challenging as well. I have balancing problems so I failed a couple of times but managed to ride the waves for a few seconds. Haha.
The hill holds stories way back 17th century as giant tidal waves devastated Baler. Only six families survived as they found safety atop this hill. Locals treat this place highly and they even trace their bloodline with those six families.
The Ermita hill, also called Ermita park currently has picnic areas, restrooms and viewing decks where visitors can enjoy the marvel of Pacific Ocean, Sabang beach and other beaches surrounding Baler. During our visit, the rain was pouring which made it hard for us to appreciate the place.
The park’s schedule is from 7 am to 6 pm.
For an affordable entrance fee of P30, you can explore the rich history and culture of Baler. Be transported in time with the antiques, artifacts and pictures you can see and touch. The paintings at the second floor are nice, some intriguing. You can also spot sections inspired by the movie Baler, starred by Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales.
What we like most is the Instagrammable design of the museums front. It’s like a 3D poster made of bronze. You can also spot vintage cars of the late President Manuel L. Quezon.
Aurora Quezon’s House and Church of Baler
A couple of steps away from the museum, you can find Donya Aurora’s house. Although it was a rebuilt version, it still gives a glimpse of the life of the former president and her wife, Aurora. You will find a mini library, old kitchenware, iron which uses coal, portraits and many cool items that will take you back in time. It’s just interesting to know that a prominent people from that time lived this simple. I hope it still applies today.
Baler church maybe small but packs rich history. It was the last fort used by the Spaniards during the siege of Baler. The exterior and interior design is so simple but looks just right. The photos in front of it is picturesque as well.
Other tourist spots:
- Dicasalarin cove
- Diguisit Rock Formations
- Baler Hanging Bridge
- Cunayan and Diguisit Falls
- Plenty other beaches
Where to Buy Souvenirs?
You can buy delicacies of Baler in their public market. For souvenir shirts and items, there are stalls near the municipal hall across the plaza. We bought some shirts with nice surfing designs. There are also other items such as keychains, bags, shoes, home decors, and more.
- There are only few ATMS. One is located near the minicipal hall. You can ask tricycle drivers where others are located.
- Don’t forget your sandals/trekking shoes. Also you rush guard and sunblocks. You don’t want to miss surfing. It’s really worth trying.
- Visit Sabang beach for dinner. There are cool restaurants around.