24 Hours of Baler

February 29, 2012

How to get there:
Most Baler patrons (at least those that I know of) suggest that the bus is the best way to go to Baler. Not only does it make the travel hassle-free, it is also a lot safer.

Hassle-free because all you'll need to do is drop yourselves off to the bus station and if you're lucky, get a trip via *Joybus, also the tiring 5-7hr drive will take a toll on the designated driver, making it hard to enjoy the getaway. Also, apparently. it is better to those who will be bringing their own surfboards.

Safer because the road is not for road trippers, especially less experienced drivers. There are zigzag paths, wherein even in a bus, it could be scary. What more if the driver is not used to the path.

*Joybus is Genesis Transport Service Inc.'s special bus that has routes to popular tourist destinations like Baler, Baguio, La Union, etc. The bus station is located at Cubao, beside Baliwag.

What makes the Joybus special is that for an additional Php280, you'll get a bus with wifi, snacks, pillow and blanket, a comfort room, lazy boy seats and a friggin' stewardess! Even local economy flights don't have these! If you have a choice, this is the ONLY way to travel to Baler.

Joybus ticket to Baler, Aurora. Purchased before the price hike.
And because we weren't so lucky on the way back to Metro Manila, we weren't able to catch a Joybus. Apparently, you can only book departure tickets in advance, which is possibly the only con we've encountered transpo-wise. The tickets from Baler-Manila, you have to purchase from the Baler Genesis office, which is like this nipa house at the back of the bus parking lot. It's purely on a first-come first-serve basis, so if it's a peak season, better secure those return tickets as soon as you get to Baler.

In our case, since our plan was for a 2D1N stay only, we got beaten in the Joybus ticket slots by those who planned for a 3D2N stay, who arrived on a Friday, and purchased their return tickets on the same day. Heck, we couldn't even get return tickets for a regular bus on our preferred time (which brings us on why the the title is as it is; to be written later).

As for the price hike, it conveniently occurred during the day we departed. Here are the bus ticket prices for your reference.

Previous Price Current Price
Regular Bus Php400 Php429
Joybus Php650 Php695

Where to stay:

Going to Baler with a surfer friend really helped us in finding the best hotel for our price range, the price range being the cheapest possible. And apparently, even @peepaubau and his friends also stayed at this hotel at the advise of their surfer friend. From there, I could only assume that it is one of the cheaper accommodation options, and with it being on a beach front, there's really nothing to complain about.

To get there, we just took a tricycle from the bus station. It costed Php15 per person.

And before I forget to say which hotel, it's the Bay-ler View Hotel

Cost: Php1800 per room, shared by 3 people, making the price Php600 per person only. 
Where the money went
-A/C room, which the people in our room usually turn off (while I keep on blasting it to the coolest temperature when they're not looking haha)
-2 beds (double and single)
-CLEAN bathroom/restroom, also a vanity mirror for the girls
-cabinet (which no one used)
-and the infamous LCD television...

If you watch The Office, it's like the TV Michael Scott bought for his condo. 
They also have an in-house restaurant that's convenient for tired bodies. For more information about the accommodations, go to their website by clicking here.

No awesome surfing shots to post since my lens is too short.
What to do: 
Like La Union and Zambales, Baler has been a go to place for surfing here in mainland Luzon. And since the past two summers, I, along with this same group, have been going to La Union to surf. It almost became a yearly tradition until our *real* surfer friend Ting decided it's best to go to Baler this year. It was a good decision, I must say. Everything in Baler is cheaper compared to La Union.

What costs Php450 in La Union for an hour rental of surf board and instructor lessons, only costs Php300 in Baler. That one hour, even got extend to almost three hours. So yeah, I'd say it's quite a steal.

I hear there are other beaches, falls and historical places that are a must-visit, but I have nothing else to post here. Due to time constraints, we literally only spent 24 hours in Baler, including sleeping time. 

Every plan we had, shattered.

Why, you ask? It's because of number of people who came to Baler by Friday, who bought all the return tickets to Manila, leaving us 2D1N-ers to only be able to book by Saturday. Since there were no more buses to fill, we were left with an option to either take a Monday bus or take the early morning Sunday REGULAR bus.

You see, we don't have the luxury of being tardy nor absent last Monday so we just opted the early Sunday morning bus, filing this incident to the "Lessons Learned" bin. Next time, it is safer to just plan for a longer summer surfing getaway than to haphazardly do everything before the bus leaves you. 

Hopefully my Baler trip this March will help me catch up on what I missed.

What to eat:
And to cap this post, I give you food. Haha. Not really much, we also never got to go restaurant hopping (read above for the reason; also, why are you skipping headers?)

After reading blog posts regarding Baler, one thing I got was to never leave without tasting the suman. They're everywhere so you can't really miss it. For Php50/bundle of 10, it's pretty sulit. Delicious, yes, but for people watching your diet, remember that suman is also made of rice.

For breakfast, we decided we were to tired to look for other restaurants, so we ate at Bay-ler's in house restaurant, and of course, I ordered bacon for breakfast! Was quite disappointed to see that the bacon were not cooked to a crisp.

For lunch, Ting brought us to the place popular among surfers, The Rolling Store (the stores? not rolling). It's a turo-turo style chain of carinderias that serves a fraction of the prices of the restaurants, including Bay-ler's. We got to taste some of their bestsellers, the Beef Steak and the Nilagang Baka. No fancy plate setting, but your tummy will be left satisfied for only Php35 a viand. Sulit!

After coming back to the hotel from the return ticket booking, we were too disappointed but then we laughed it off and decided that beer and food would make things okay. And so we also ordered the only available fruit shake they had, Watermelon Shake and the best tasting Tokwa't Baboy that I've tasted in my life, not kidding.

There were many dishes that we ordered during dinner that wasn't photographed, either we were too hungry or too tired to take one. It was our first and last dinner so we went all out and ordered to our hearts' desires. Some of the dishes I could recall were Kare-kare, Sisig, Mixed Seafood, Buffalo Wings, and another batch of breakfast meals we ate for dinner, all of which were ordered from Bay-ler View Hotel's in-house restaurant. The price was the primary catalyst in our ordering behavior. Since the menu was inexpensive, we kept ordering hence the overflowing food.

Such a pretentious header, I don't even recall how much we spent on food so I can't give detailed calculations. But taking account the money that was left on my wallet, I'd say I could give a good estimate.

I must've spent close to Php2800 *all-in-all for this trip but I'm telling you, there were too many unnecessary spending that happened, especially during dinner. If you don't really have to order an additional 3 dishes just because "it's the last meal of the trip", then you could probably get this budget down by Php300-400.

*as in from Manila to Baler then back to Manila, everything covered, up to surfing instructor, accommodations -- EVERYTHING!

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  1. How can we get to Rolling Store?

  2. P300 for an hour of lessons? amazing! ang mura.

    1. Yes, 300 for both lessons AND the surf board. Inabot kami ng almost three hours. 8am to almost 11am.

  3. try Aliya surf camp and resorts at baler....it costs P1,500 for a 3-pax room and 2,800 for a 6-pax room...so on a per person basis, it costs around 500 each which is not bad. The hotel is relatively new so you get an a/c room, clean beds, clean and big cr's. They also have a restaurant and friendly staff...

  4. Uh..the econo rooms at Bahia de Baler cost 1,300. Also good for 3 people. And it also has a flat-screen TV.

    1. This, I think, was our first choice, but it was fully booked already.

  5. no surfing shots but got sexy lady ;)

  6. Hi i'm planning to go there alone at the end of the month. Is it safe for solo travelers?

    1. Hi! Sorry for the late reply. I can't assure you but it seemed pretty safe to me. The locals were very helpful, not the type that would milk you for money. I guess they value the tourism aspect much more than other rather commercialized summer destinations. Overall, the scariest part (at least for me) was the long zigzag roads and I slept almost all the way haha.