16 Top Things To Do in Baler + Food & Pasalubong Ideas (Updated Travel Guide)

March 25, 2021

Baler is a beautiful surfing destination that is easy to explore; find out in this guide the top things that you can do to maximize your trip.

Baler is a quaint surfing town that has a lot to offer to travelers in terms of the places to see and things to do. Its name, whenever mentioned, more often conjures images of surfing, a day at the beach, or an invigorating hike.

Huge waves in Diguisit Bay in Baler
Huge waves in Diguisit Bay

16 Top Things To Do in Baler + Food & Pasalubong Ideas (Updated Travel Guide)



    Undoubtedly, the town of Baler is one of the top surfing destinations in the Philippines. However, beyond surfing, Baler's historical destinations and natural attractions hold a lot of promise in terms of tourism value.

    What to expect in Baler


    Surfing season in Baler peaks during the winter monsoon months (locally known as amihan) which typically begins around November until the dry season of the following year.

    Town marker of Baler
    Baler town marker

    Baler, once a sleepy town in Aurora province some 230 km. northeast of Manila has become a favorite surfing and eco-tourism destination because of its proximity to the National Capital Region. Nonetheless, residents still remain unperturbed despite the huge daily influx of travelers.

    If you are thinking about bars, there is not much nightlife in Baler, save for a handful of restaurants along Sabang Beach. Most establishments are closed by 7:00 or 8:00 PM, thus getting a tricycle to take you back to your hotel may already prove to be a challenge around that time. And in most households, families are already preparing to go to bed by 9:00 PM.

    How to go to Baler


    Baler is just a few hours away from Metro Manila, as such, it can easily be reached by land. Air travel is an option but the flight schedule is not regular unless you charter a plane. Anyway, here are more details about your transportation options to reach Baler.

    Via Joy Bus


    The most comfortable way to travel to Baler is to take Joy Bus. If you are taking an early morning trip, you may sleep through it in Joy Bus’s comfortable La-Z Boy seats. It can get really cold inside so take with you a jacket or a thick cardigan.

    Joybus bound for Baler
    Joybus

    They do, however, provide coverlets but it would not be enough to combat the cold air. Good thing there is a restroom inside so you will not have to worry about getting a call from nature. Complimentary bottled water and biscuits are also available onboard. Joybus usually has no stopovers but if they do, it’s usually just a brief 10-15 minute rest.

    Inside Joybus bound for Baler
    Inside Joybus

    Travel tip: Upon reaching the Genesis bus terminal in Baler, reserve a return trip ticket already as the slots get fully-booked quite fast.

    Other bus options


    If you are on a tight budget, you may also opt to take a Genesis bus from Cubao to Baler, the earliest trip is at 6:00 AM while the latest is at 11:00 PM. Genesis has very few trips plying the Cubao-Baler route. But do confirm with them the schedules of their trips as they rarely update the calendar posted on their website.

    For options other than Joy Bus, you may take any bus bound for Cabanatuan City (Genesis, Five Star, Baliwag, or ES Transport) for less than Php 200. There are Cabanatuan City-bound buses that pass through either NLEX or SCTEX. You can take any of the two but it's best to choose the latter because it’s faster. 

    From Cabanatuan Central Transport terminal, take any bus or van going to Baler (fare is around Php 200). Try to be early, though, because trips are until 5:00 or 6:00 PM only.

    ***

    Genesis Transport, Inc.

    Address: G/F Genesis Transport Building 704 EDSA Corner New York St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109

    Telephone Numbers: 7090803/4211425

    Via Private Vehicle


    You may take either the old NLEX route or the SCTEX route:

    1. NLEX (Bulacan-Nueva Ecija route)


    • From Edsa, Balintawak, exit to the North Luzon Expressway. Make a turn to the Sta. Rita exit and take the highway passing through Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, Gapan, Sta. Rosa and Cabanatuan.

    2. SCTEX (Tarlac-Sta.Rosa-Cabanatuan route)


    • Drive through NLEX up to Clark Logistics Interchange. Enter SCTEX going to Tarlac. Exit at Amucao, Tarlac (End of SCTEX). Turn right to La Paz up to Sta. Rosa, NE. Turn left going to Cabanatuan.
    • From Cabanatuan City, there are two routes that lead to Baler, the Baler-Bongabon Road, and the longer Canili-Pantabangan Road.
    • The Baler-Bongabon road will take you through winding roads across the Sierra Madre. From Cabanatuan take the Maharlika Highway and turn right to the Nueva Ecija – Aurora Road where you will pass through Palayan City and Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. 
    • From Bongabon turn right to the road going to the Sierra Madre mountains. After two or three hours of the winding road, you will reach the municipality of San Luis and then Baler.
    • If you want to take the Canili-Pantabangan Route, here are the directions: from Cabanatuan take the Maharlika Highway going to Talavera, Nueva Ecija. Turn right to the road going to Rizal and Pantabangan. 
    • This road will take you to Canili, Maria Aurora, Aurora. The road will pass through the Sierra Madre until you reach the Poblacion of Maria Aurora. From Maria, Aurora you can then go straight to Baler.

    Via Air Transportation


    • There used to be commercial flights going to Aurora. Currently, Seair has seasonal and chartered flights to Baler. 
    • For private airplanes, there is an airstrip located at Brgy. San Isidro, San Luis, Aurora about 10 kilometers from the Baler town proper.

    How to get around Baler


    Getting around Baler is really easy. To see the most popular sights in Baler, you only need a day or two depending on where you are staying, the places you'd want to visit, and how long you intend to stay in one location. 

    Also, the best way to get around Baler is via tricycle. The standard tricycle rate for a day of roaming is P800. We were very fortunate to have met a driver who was very professional and who was conversant with the different tourist spots in Baler. He is Kuya Boyet Gomez and his number is 09381127335.

    Top Things to Do in Baler


    Aside from surfing, Baler also takes pride in its rich culture and heritage. Stories about the town's famous landmarks abound and we were lucky because our driver/tour guide was very knowledgeable about the places that we visited. 

    Here are the top things to do in Baler:

    1. Head out to Ermita Hill


    Located in Barangay Zabali, Ermita Hill is around five kilometers from the town proper of Baler. To reach the top of the hill, we had to pass by a steep slope surrounded by trees. 

    When we got to the top, we were greeted by the breathtaking sight of the Pacific Ocean. Apart from the expansive view of the Pacific from this vantage point, there wasn’t really much to see on top except for a small park.

    Statues depicting the residents of Baler going up Ermita Hill to escape a tsunami
    Statues depicting the residents of Baler climbing Ermita Hill to escape a tsunami

    At the foot of the hill, sculptures were depicting how the people of Baler fled the great tsunami that ravaged the town in the 1700s.

    2. Marvel at Diguisit Bay and Rock Formations


    From Ermita hill, our guide brought us southward to Diguisit Bay. We stopped by the roadside to have a bird’s eye view of the bay and, from where we were standing, we saw the Dimadimalangat and Aniao Islets, a cluster of rock formations protruding from the sea. These groups of small islands are collectively called Diguisit Rock Formations.

    A bus at the entrance of Amco Beach Resort in Baler
    A bus that has been converted to a store

    Afterward, we drove further down to Amco Beach Resort to see the islets up close. Amco Beach resort charges a minimal entrance fee of Php20 per person.

    The resort is a quaint strip of property standing on cream-colored sand with a generous sprinkling of pebbles and crushed shells. It also offers accommodation for tourists who want to spend the night here.

    The rock formations were very near the shore and it was low tide so we were able to go near. The rocks were very sharp and can be slippery so one has to be extra careful, especially when having your photos taken.

    Dimadimalangat Islets


    Diguisit Bay rock formations in Baler
    Diguisit Bay rock formations

    These are rocky formations jutting out of the sea and shaped by the pounding Pacific Ocean waves.

    Aniao Islets


    These are small islands near the Dimadimalangat Islets and characterized by lush shrubberies growing on top.

    Watching the waves



    Huge waves at Diguisit Bay in Baler
    Huge waves

    We spent a few more minutes at Amco Beach Resort, hoping to get dramatic shots of heart-stopping waves. The waves did not disappoint because they were huge and pounding!

    3. Climb the hanging bridge


    After we visited Diguisit Bay, we drove back to Zabali Road and made a right turn when we reached the end of the highway. We passed through a rough road with thick foliage by the roadside until we reached a small clearing with a few houses. 

    Hanging bridge in Baler
    Hanging bridge

    There, we saw the hanging bridge. It was not really a tourist destination per se but it provides a nice view of the Sabang River emptying to the Pacific Ocean. Our driver Kuya Boyet told us that the bridge connects the two Barangays of Tibang and Sabang.

    4. Walk back in history inside the Aurora Aragon House


    Aurora Aragon House in Baler
    Aurora Aragon house

    Our next stop was the replica of the ancestral house and birthplace of former first lady Aurora Aragon-Quezon, who was a well-loved humanitarian and served as the first chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. 

    Inside the Aurora Aragon house in Baler
    Inside Aurora Aragon house

    Mrs. Quezon was assassinated together with her daughter five years after the death of President Manuel L. Quezon while they were on their way to the inauguration of a hospital. The province of Aurora was named after Mrs. Quezon.

    The house retained the details of the original one, as well as the old furniture and utensils. It had a library that also served as a gallery of antique photos.

    5. Don’t forget to see President Quezon’s old car


    The presidential car of Manuel L. Quezon in Baler
    President Manuel L. Quezon's car

    While you are at the Aurora Aragon House, don’t miss seeing the vintage car, the actual presidential car used by Mr. Manuel Quezon. It’s on display outside at the side of the house, perfectly preserved in pristine condition.

    6. Visit the Baler Church


    Baler church
    Baler Church

    Just across the Aurora Aragon house is the Baler Church, the site of the Siege of Baler, a turning point in the history of Baler when locals rose against Spanish colonizers. In the end, the Filipino troop emerged victoriously.

    7. Learn about the town's history at Museo de Baler


    Facade of Museo de Baler
    Museo de Baler

    The Museo de Baler provides an account of Baler's rich history as well as works by local artists. The entrance fee is a minimal Php60 per head.

    8. Have your photo taken beside the bronze statue of President Manuel L. Quezon


    Life-size bronze statue of President Manuel L. Quezon in Baler
    President Quezon's statue

    Just outside Museo de Baler, located in a garden, is a life-size bronze statue of President Quezon while seated on a chair. It’s open to the public and you can even have your photo taken beside it.

    9. Have quirky photos of you taken at Balete Park


    We drove to the nearby town of San Luis to see another attraction -- a 600-year-old Balete Tree standing proudly in the middle of a park. Before proceeding to have your photos taken, you have to pay a minimal entrance fee of Php10 per head.

    Giant Balete tree in Baler
    Giant Balete tree

    There are persons inside the park who can assist you in taking your photographs. They are very well-versed when it comes to using the Panorama setting of a smartphone or camera so expect creative shots of yourselves around the Balete tree.

    10. Hike to Ditumabo Falls aka Mother Falls


    Our last stop was Ditumabo Falls, also known as Mother Falls, in the town of San Luis. Normally, tricycles and cars are allowed to drive up to the point where the trail going up to the falls begins.

    Ditumabo falls in Baler
    Ditumabo Falls

    However, during our visit, the road was under construction so it was passable only on foot. Thus, we had to add an extra 30-minute trek to the actual 45-minute hike to the falls. At the start of the trail, do check out the small hydroelectric power plant which supplies electricity in Aurora.

    We had to pass by large boulders, small streams, and slippery rocks on our way to the falls. All the while, we had to tread alongside an aqueduct that channels water from Ditumabo Falls to the hydroelectric power plant. Do keep your eyes also on the small falls that you will pass by before reaching the Mother Falls.

    When we finally reached the Mother Falls, we were greeted by a column of raging water about 50 meters high. The pond which catches the water from the falls was clear and very cold. 

    We initially wanted to take a dip to cool us down from the long trek but the water was as cold as ice. Instead, we waded in the pool until we felt relaxed and energized for the long journey back.

    We were informed by Kuya Boyet that there were such other beautiful falls in Aurora, particularly in Casiguran town. These are still not accessible to tourists though because of the lack of a good trail.

    One must-see sight in Baler, the Dicasalarin Cove, was unfortunately closed to tourists at that time because of the damage and litter caused by the recent Typhoon Kabayan.

    11. Learn to surf (or at least try surfing)


    Sabang Beach in Baler
    Sabang beach

    Baler is known for surfing so that’s probably one of the first activities that you can include in your itinerary. If you don’t know how to surf but would like to try it, then don’t worry because many surfing instructors can guide you on how to ride waves.

    12. Beach bum or stroll along Sabang beach


    If you are like us who preferred not to surf, you can still enjoy the beach by walking along the stretch of gray sand. You can also set a beach mat on the sand and just sit and watch other people surf.

    13. Eat Suman de Baler


    Suman de Baler
    Suman de Baler

    The known is also famous for its Suman de Baler, a delicious rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves, dipped in either peanut butter or coconut jam. It’s great as a filling snack or even as breakfast and paired with coffee.

    14. Try the Aurora Blend Coffee


    Aurora Blend Coffee from Baler
    Aurora Blend Coffee

    Speaking of coffee, the Aurora Blend Coffee is one that you should most probably try when you are in Baler. This coffee is fragrant with a mellow taste but strong enough to satisfy your caffeine craving.

    15. Eat in a buffet restaurant


    We love to try local food whenever we travel and I'm sure you do, too. We make it a point to eat in a local buffet restaurant though because that gives us a lot of choices in terms of the local dishes that we can sample. Check our Baler food guide below for a list of the restaurants in town that you should try.

    16. Buy pasalubong


    When traveling, we also love to buy pasalubong or souvenirs. What's good about famous tourist spots is that there are a lot of great options when it comes to local products so it's really easy to take home a souvenir from that particular place. For a list of the stores in Baler where you can buy pasalubong, check the guide below.
     

    Where to eat in Baler (Food & Restaurant Guide)


    This Baler food guide does not really cover all restaurants in town but we compiled this list to help travelers easily find the best and most popular restaurants.

    When in Baler, the options on where to eat seem endless. There are numerous food stalls in the town proper as well as restaurants around the urban center offering a good variety of flavorful dishes and price points that fit one's budget. Another thing that we love most about Baler was that the food in most restaurants was affordable, had hefty servings, and was of good quality.


    For those exploring Baler, here’s a rundown of some of the best restaurants where you can have a filling meal:

    1. Yolly’s Ihaw Ihaw

    Location: Poblacion

    After exploring Diguisit Bay, Ermita Hill, and Aragon House, we decided to stop by at Yolly's Ihaw Ihaw for lunch. We were told by Kuya Boyet that Yolly's is one of the more popular restaurants in town.

    Yolly's Restaurant in Baler
    Yolly's Restaurant

    Yolly’s Restaurant offers native dishes such as adobo, pinakbet, pork, and Maya-Maya sinigang, Bicol express, and Menudo, to name a few. They also offer grilled dishes like squids, crabs, shrimps, and liempo. In terms of taste, you can be assured of delicious, home-cooked goodness. Food is around Php60 to Php150 per serving but the seafood selections are a bit on the more pricey side.

    2. Picnic Bay by Gerry Shan

    Location: Sabang Beach

    Picnic Bay is an affordable all-you-can-eat restaurant offering delicious and flavorful native cuisines. This restaurant is also owned by Gerry Shan of the well-known Gerry Shan’s Place in the town proper. The food here is really good and reasonably-priced at Php250++ per person. It’s along Sabang Beach so expect to be serenaded by the sound of pounding waves and the relaxing sea breeze.

    Picnic Bay by Gerry Shan restaurant in Baler
    Picnic Bay by Gerry Shan

    Picnic Bay's selection of soup-based (sinigang, nilaga), meat, vegetable, and seafood dishes is extensive. Standout dishes were the crispy squid, lechon kawali, sisig, and kilawin. Desserts of fresh fruits, native cakes, and Leche flan, and an unlimited pitcher of iced tea are also included.

    3. Bay’s Inn’s Hungry Surfer Restaurant

    Location: Buton Street

    Our accommodation package in Casitas Bed and Breakfast included buffet breakfast at the Hungry Surfer Restaurant, run by its sister-lodge, Bay’s Inn. 

    Hungry Surfer restaurant in Baler
    Breakfast buffet at Hungry Surfer restaurant

    It was a hearty breakfast of garlic rice, eggs, Baler longganisa, tocino, and pako salad. Bread, suman, and coffee are available as well as juices and iced tea. What’s nice about the Hungry Surfer Restaurant is that it provides a lovely morning view of Sabang Beach.

    4. Bayler View Restaurant

    Location: Buton Street

    Bayler View restaurant in Baler
    Bayler View restaurant

    Hungry from walking along Sabang Beach, we stopped by Bayler View for merienda. They offer one of the best seafood marinaras we have ever had. Their club sandwich and shakes were also notable.


    Where to buy the best pasalubong in Baler


    Each time we travel, we feel that the experience is not complete if we would not be able to hop through local souvenir shops to check for the best deals in pasalubong (Tagalog, noun: a keepsake, bought from a place where one has been to, that is usually given as a gift to family and friends).

    As such, during our trip to Baler, we asked Kuya Boyet, our driver and tour guide, to take us downtown so that we could hunt for stores that offer the most affordable trinkets and souvenirs that we can buy for our own as well as for our friends and family.

    7 best pasalubong ideas from Baler


    While we were on our way to the town center, we asked Kuya Boyet to give us his recommendation on the best items to buy for pasalubong. In particular, we said that we were looking for products that are unique to Baler and popular among tourists.

    Kuya Boyet gave a good list of his recommended pasalubong but we are also adding here the things that we personally liked.

    Here are 7 pasalubong ideas from Baler that you may want to consider the next time you are in town:

    1. T-shirts 


    You can never go wrong with souvenir shirts. This is one product that you can probably find in almost every corner of Baler.

    2. Key-chains 


    Another popular keepsake. These are quite affordable and can be bought in bulk if you are thinking of buying for a big group.

    3. Suman de baler 


    The Suman de Baler is a delicious rice cake that becomes even more flavorful when dipped in peanut butter or coco jam.

    4. Peanut butter 


    Baler has some of the best-tasting peanut butter in the entire country. It's smooth, creamy, and with just the right balance of sweetness.

    5. Aurora Blend Coffee 


    I personally like the local coffee in Aurora province. It's got a mild flavor that is perfect for an evening after-dinner cup.

    6. Biniklad na dilis 


    These are small dried fish that had been butterflied. What we like about this type of dried fish is that it's not salty and it is when crunchy when fried.

    7. Ak'kaw Poppo 


    This is a book containing words and expressions that are unique to Baler. This is not technically a common or popular pasalubong item although it's a good souvenir idea or a gift for those who love languages. 

    The lexicon is quite extensive, giving the Tagalog spoken in Baler its own character and distinctness.

    Popular pasalubong stores in Baler


    As I had mentioned above, there is a souvenir store in almost every corner of downtown Baler. However, if you are looking to score the best pasalubong deals, here is a list of the stores that you may want to visit:

    1. LRT Store

    Location: Quezon St, Baler, Aurora

    At LRT Store, tourists can look forward to affordable shirts and key chains. What's more, the store has an extensive collection of ballers, ref magnets, local alcoholic beverages, local spiced vinegar, and ground coffee.

    Coin purse souvenirs and more pasalubong from Baler
    Coin purse

    LRT Stores has one of the most numerous items on display among the souvenir shops that we visited in Baler.

    2. Mura Crafts, Gifts, and Souvenirs

    Location: Quezon St, Baler, Aurora

    Among all the shops in Baler, Mura Crafts, Gifts, and Souvenirs offers the best deal on souvenir shirts at three for Php400. Just like other stores, they also offer key chains, ballers, chips, coco jam, and coffee.

    Mura pasalubong shop in Baler
    Mura souvenir shop

    Also here, I saw an interesting book called Ak’kaw Poppo, which is a collection of words and expressions that are unique to Baler.

    Ak'kaw Poppo book of words from Baler
    Ak'kaw Poppo

    While the language spoken in Baler is Tagalog, I was surprised to discover that the locals use many words that can only be found (or heard) in this town. I wish I bought Ak'kaw Poppo so that I could learn the words that are unique to Baler.

    3. Giiiggles

    Location; Brgy. Suklayin, Baler, Aurora

    Pasalubong ballers from Baler
    Ballers

    Giiiggles sells the usual shirts, key chains, bags, slippers, native products, purses, and chips. Price was standard and there was nothing really unique with their merchandise.

    4. Pasalubong Center

    Location; Brgy. Suklayin, Baler, Aurora

    If you are looking for more options, then head over to Pasalubong Center. The Pasalubong Center is actually a cluster of many different stores, serving as a one-stop-shop where you can canvass for products that fit your budget.

    Shirts are the best pasalubong from Baler
    T-shirts

    The shops here offer the usual key chains, ballers, slippers, jams, peanut butter, coffee, vinegar, fans, and accessories.

    5. Nanay Pacing Food Products

    Location: Brgy. 05, T. Molina Street, Baler, Aurora

    Pasalubong peanut butter from Nanay Pacing in Baler
    Peanut butter

    Perhaps one of the most iconic shops in Baler is Nanay Pacing Store. As such, one can always expect to find large throngs of visitors in this store.

    Pasalubong coco jam from Nanay Pacing store in Baler
    Coco jam

    Here, you can buy Nanay Pacing’s famous coco jam and peanut butter that are really popular in Baler. You can also stop by here if you want to buy Suman de Baler, native sweets, banana chips, and turmeric tea.

    6. Baler Public Market


    Dried fish pasalubong from Baler
    Dried seafood

    Baler, being a coastal town, offers a variety of dried seafood produce. We made a special trip to Baler Public Market to find Biniklad na Dilis, which we loved so much when we tried it in Costa Pacifica. 

    Biniklad na dilis pasalubong from Baler
    Biniklad na dilis

    What differentiates biniklad na dilis from the regular dried dilis is that the former is butterflied before it is sun-dried, giving it more crunch when fried. Biniklad na Dilis is indeed special – it’s quite expensive at Php700 a kilo! We bought one-fourth of a kilo of this dried fish that, we were told, can only be found in Baler.


    Sample Baler Travel Itinerary


    If you are interested to explore Baler, here is a sample itinerary for one day which you might find helpful:
    • Depart from Manila to Baler - 5:00 AM
    • Arrival in Baler and Hotel Check-in - 8:00 to 8:30 AM
    • Have a quick breakfast - 8:45 AM to 9:15 AM
    • Hire a tricycle - 9:20 AM
    • Ermita Hill - 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM
    • Diguisit Bay and Rock Formations - 10:15 AM to 10:45 AM
    • Hanging bridge - 11:00 AM to 11:15 AM 
    • Aurora Aragon House - 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
    • Baler Church - 12:45 PM to 1:00 PM
    • Museo de Baler - 1:15 PM to 1:45 PM
    • Late Lunch break - 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM
    • Balete Park - 2:45 PM to 3:30 PM
    • Ditumabo Falls aka Mother Falls - 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
    • Drive back to your hotel - 5:15 PM to 6:00 PM
    • Dinner - 6:30 PM

    We did not include our trip around town to buy pasalubong in this Baler itinerary because we suggest you do this separately. You may allot half of a day for this activity so you can move around without any time pressure.

    Epilogue


    Baler is a beautiful town. It has a lot of things to offer to travelers in terms of culture and history, natural and man-made attractions, delicious food, and fun activities. The people are friendly, warm, and hospitable. And despite Baler's popularity, it's amazing to know that prices of commodities are still well within the affordable range.
      
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    16 top things to do in Baler


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        6 comments

        1. Superb and quite narrative post .❤️

          ReplyDelete
        2. Thank you for the tour. I followed along on a map and learned about a new part of the world.

          ReplyDelete
          Replies
          1. Glad to be of help. Thank you very much, too!

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        3. Suman de Baler will always be the to-go-pasalubong hhehehe thanks for sharing this! :)

          ReplyDelete
        4. Suman de Baler, gurll......... 1000/1000!!

          ReplyDelete