Baler is a small town in Aurora Province on the East coast of Luzon in the Philippines. It is situated between the Sierra Madre mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, in the vast plain at the mouth of Baler's Bay.
Founded in 1609 by Franciscan missionaries, Baler is also the last place hold by the Spaniard until they got kicked off in 1899. In 1951, Baler became the capital town of the new province of Aurora. It has around 30,000 inhabitants. Baler became famous as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, after the cult movie Apocalypse Now was filmed there in the 1970s.
- From Manila Genesis Transportation provides the only direct bus from Manila (along EDSA in Pasay city) to Baler and one way cost P394 (6-7 hrs) Alternately, you can catch a bus from Manila to Cabanatuan and jump on a van to Baler at the Central Bus Station there (leaves when it's full). Slower than the Genesis bus as it goes through the sinuous dust road and not the new sealed one, but better if you're sick on air con buses in the mountains.
Genesis also provides a direct deluxe bus called Joybus that does not stop for breaks (restroom onboard) for P700. There are only a few departures each day. Booking these buses is highly recommended as they fill up quick and are fastest way to Baler from Manila and back. The buses leave from the same terminals as the regular Genesis bus. (4-5 hrs) The Joybus features very strong AC and can get very cold. A jacket or sweater for the ride is highly recommended.
Traffic in and out of Manila to and from Baler on the weekends can be especially bad. Genesis usually has buses that leave in the early morning hours (1 AM, 2 AM, 5 AM, etc). These are highly recommended on weekends if you want to avoid the traffic
- From Baguio Lizardo Trans runs four daily buses from the Times Transit Terminal in Baguio to Baler, leaving at 4:30am, 6:30am, 10am and 2pm (March 2014). The trip takes 8-9hours and costs P330. It is possible to travel from La Union/San Juan on the east coast or Sagada/Bontoc all the way to Baler in one (long) day via Baguio, providing you arrive in time to connect to the 2pm bus to Baler.
- From Cabanatuan Aurora Bus company run between Cabanatuan and Baler several times daily, taking 3-4hours, P247. There are also minivans that ply this route.
- From CLARK Airport It is possible to get from Clark Airport to Baler in one long day. The route is as follows: CLARK Airport-> Dau Terminal -> Cabanatuan City Terminal -> Baler. From Clark Airport: Take a Grab to Dau Terminal (~PHP 250) or, for the fun way, take the AC jeepney (PHP 100). To catch the jeepney, exit the airport and head to the right without crossing the street. You will see a sign for public transportation, head left along the pavement and you will see some big buses. The jeepney stops behind the buses. From Dau, you can take either a bus (PHP ??) or minivan (PHP 170) to Cabanatuan. The vans are faster but they do not leave until they are full and can take a long time to fill up. I recommend checking the van first, and if it is nearly full go for it. Otherwise find buses towards Cabanatuan and find out when they leave. There are several buses that go there. From Cabanatuan, see above.
- It is possible to rent bicycles from close to Sabang beach, P35/hr.
- Baler's Museum
- Bahia de Baler/Sabang Beach on Baler's bay
- Ermita Hill - where locals took refuge from a tsunami. Now a pleasant small park with a view of the bay and a large cross at the top.
- Waterfalls - Ditumabo Falls and the smaller Culayan Falls. The latter is a nice and clean, good for a picnic and a dip. Both are technically in San Luis, slightly inland from Baler.
- Surfing: There are a number of surf spots in Baler, a nice beach break along Sabang Beach, Charlie's Point (the wave from the legendary movie Apocalypse Now), and Cemento reef break to name a few.
Be aware that board rental in Baler is not cheap - P200/hour, P800/day or P600/day for multiple days. The board shops operate a price-fixing ring, so you won't be able to get much cheaper than the above prices. A one-hour surf lesson should cost P150 (not including board rental).
- Waterfalls: There are several waterfalls in the Aurora area, they can be reached by bicycle, hired tricycle or car.
- Beaches: Sabang beach is not the only beach in Aurora. There are many other less famous, sometimes almost deserted, beaches to be found in the area.
- Gerry's Chinese and seafood restaurant : a good value popular among locals in the center of the city.
- Bay's Inn : has a restaurant by the beach, good value Filipino-western style meals.
- Bahia de Baler : more expensive than it neighbor Day's Inn but a bit more classy too.
- Kubli Bistro : slightly more expensive than other places (mains-PHP 250), but well worth the price.
- The Good Food : cheap and tasty mexican-style food. Fills up by noon.
- Yellowfin Bar and Grill, Sabang Beach. Cheap drinks and barbecued food. Widescreen TV showing the latest NBA highlights.
Due to its location close to Manila, accommodation in Baler is more expensive than elsewhere in Luzon and the Philippines. It is a popular weekend destination with Manila residents, and many of the accommodation options may be booked out, even during the week. Expect to pay up to ₱500 extra for rooms on weekends.
- Note: All the below rates are out of date. Expect ₱2000 for 2-person nipa huts on the beach . For budget accommodation, use Airbnb [₱600/pp for bunk beds off the beach].
- Pacific Waves Inn: at Sabang beach,offers air-con rooms with hot and cold shower, cable TV and Wi-Fi (they have rooms good for 2, 3, 5, 6, 10 and 12 persons) they also offer tours and surfing lessons. Free shuttle to and from bus terminal. ☎ +63 920 967 2405, +63 917 895 0276.
- Kahea's Lodge: at Sabang beach, offers ₱500 for single rooms, no fan.
- Little Girl's Surfer Lodge: next to Kahea's, offers ₱400 rooms and surfboard rental.
- Desiree Lodge: next to Kahea's, ₱700 twin room with bathroom midweek.
- MM Lodge: after the two first ones at Sabang Beach, ₱400 single rooms.
- Carlito's Inn: though it is far from the coast at the eastern tip of the city, Carlito's offers nice air-con/fan rooms with bathroom, cable TV for ₱500-900.
- Amihan Lodge: at Sabang beach, ₱500 twin with shared bathroom in a very small bamboo hut.
- Post office : is in the Bus Station area.
- Hospital : there is a reliable hospital facility at the east of town (on the way in/out).
- ATM : there are several ATMs in Baler. You can also send yourself money online & pick it up at an authorized place in town. Enjoy Baler has a step by step guide how to do this if you have never done it before.
- Manila There are buses leaving for Manila from early morning until 3pm, 5-6hours and P450. Check  for the latest schedule. Note that Genesis bus company has a separate terminal, a two minute walk from Baler Central Terminal.
- Baguio Lizardo Trans run four buses per day, P330, 8-9hours. The bus to Baguio leaves at 1:00PM and 5:00 PM.
- Cabanatuan Aurora Bus company runs buses to Cabanatuan, taking 3-4hours, P247. Vans also leave from the central terminal.