Bataan: 2020 Budget & Travel Guide

With so many things on my plate over the past months, going to Bataan was one of my greatest breathers.

It was only my second time to set foot in Bataan. Looking back and learning more about history, what happened, made me feel so connected and proud to be a Filipino.

Yeah, our ancestors were fighting so hard for this country to have what we have right now – freedom from the oppressors! Lovely men, rich culture, and delicious food, all in BATAAN here.

Read to fly to Bataan now?

Facts about Bataan

The peninsula of Bataan is situated south of the western shores of central Luzon, creating the enclosed and well protected Manila Bay to the east which is almost cut off from the open China Sea in the west.

The small outlet separates the peninsula from the island of Corregidor and southward from Cavite. Zambales and Pampanga provinces form popular north boundaries. Approximately, 80 percent of Bataan is hilly or mountainous with Mount Mariveles and Mount Natib dominating the interior.

Much of Bataan’s agricultural portion is to the north and east. The province has two distinct seasons; dry from November through April, and rainy from May through October.

How to go to Las Casas de Filipina de Azucar

Las Casas de Filipina de Azucar by Liza Bahillo Sevidal

Taking pride in heritage promotion, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is suitably situated in a nook of Philippine culture. It’s possible to navigate this heritage set and resort in Bagac, Bataan in several ways. Where to find Filipinas de Acuzar in Las Casas? For specific directions based on your chosen transport method please see below:

BY LAND

The connection to Bataan is via the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX). Also, the busses run directly to the proper town of Balanga, approximately 125 km northwest of Manila. Besides that, you can take the Victory Liner Buses from Olongapo City. The main modes of transportation across Bataan are tricycles and jeepneys.

BY AIR 

You can take the requisite land transfers through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga or through Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals. Also, Las Casas Filipinas is 20 km from the Sanctuary of Samat Mount. Turn left from the Japanese Friendship Tower in Bagac, and 2 km from the beach.

BY PUBLIC VEHICLE 

From Pasay Rotonda along EDSA (below MRT station) – approx. PHP 300+/pax

Balanga Bus Station

Take the Genesis Bus to Balanga Bus Station (trip begins at 4:00 a.m.; bus arrives every 30 minutes). Then, from the bus station take the jeepney to Bagac or Morong (Bagac-bound time is short while Morong-bound time is longer). After entering Bagac, get off at the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower and get off at the tricycle station. Then, take a tricycle to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

From Cubao along EDSA (below MRT station) – approx. PHP 270+/pax

Take the Genesis Bus or Bataan Transit from EDSA Cubao to Balanga Bus Station (trip begins at 4:00 AM; bus arrives every 30 minutes). From the bus station, take the jeepney to Bagac or Morong (Bagac-bound time is short while Morong-bound time is longer). After that, get off at the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower and go to the tricycle station.

BY SEA

MOA by ferry boat

Proceed to the Pasay City SM Mall of Asia (MOA). The ferry to Orion, Bataan is situated at the seaside terminal. From the Seaside Terminal Pasay City Esplanade (behind Mall of Asia and opposite Vikings Luxury Buffet). Take the M / V XGC Express Ferry Boat to Orion, Bataan’s Capinpin terminal. Ride a bus from Orion Port to Mariveles and get off at Alauli.

Then ride a jeep that goes to Bagac or a bus that goes to Morong and get off at Las Casas main entrance. You can ride a tricycle from there, or at Filipino Japanese Friendship you can also get a tricycle.

If you want to know the schedule of ferry trips, you can visit their website at https:/its.1bataan.com/. The ticket to the daily fare is P799 and discounts for seniors apply. It costs P450 per way per head for tickets booked online.

Note: Shuttle bus to Alauli is free.

What to do in Bataan? 

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant photo by Asean Record

Only several provinces have Bataan evoked the cultural sense of mystery. The province is famous (or should we say infamous) for being the site of WWII’s Bataan Death March, where Filipino and American soldiers were forced by their Japanese tormentors to march over a great distance.

And as the site of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was built in the 1980s and was never in service. Both have now become tourist destinations-just 2 of the province’s many things to see and experience.

Nothing Bataan has to say however is steeped in tradition. There’s gold old-fashioned holiday fun in the province too. Find out our activity list, and see which one fits you.

Go Cycling in Bataan

Mountain bikers get to tap into Bataan’s rugged terrain. Furthermore, the province has a nearby mountain biking club, which is more than happy to send visitors on a trip to the province’s routes.

Paint Wars

This is a fight over paintball. Bataan is a popular Airsoft war games web site. The province has 13 different locations for the Airsoft projects, including sites in Orani, Pilar and Mariveles.

Airsoft groups and clubs in Manila and Bataan will be able to let you know how to navigate through those pages.

Walk by the March

A stamp to commemorate the Bataan Death March by Phiippine Postal Corp.

Within the Philippines, Bataan is remembered as the site of the Bataan Death March, a bloody WWII affair that resulted in the deaths of many Filipino and American prisoners by their Japanese captors.

Most towns in the province have markers to mark every kilometer of the 69 km march, while numerous institutions have plaques to remember the brave souls who died in this troubled time. Each 5 April, the province celebrates the march, with the Bataan Death March Ultramarathon conducted later that month.

Climb Mt. Natib

A beautiful view of Mt. Natib by Wilfred Hagonoy

The slightly hilly Bataan provides plenty of climbing opportunities. Mt. Natib is one of the most famous peaks in the Bataan Natural Park, in Brgy. Tala at Orani is the highest point in the country. Even the Park is straddling Morong city, where Mt. Silangan is located. Whether you want to scale from Orani’s or Morong’s side, you can find a range of facilities for making your foundation in.

Visit Turtles conservation center

Located in Brgy. Nagbalayong is a home devoted to raise awareness about the preservation and propagation of endangered marine turtles aptly called Olive Ridley. The coastline where the Pawikan Conservation Center sits is place to the original nesting sites of these endangered species. It is managed by the people who used to be Poachers turned into protectors of these sea creatures.

The Pawikan Conservation Center in Nagbalayong, Morong is expected to discourage people interested in marine animal conservation. The Center takes care of unhatched sea turtle eggs, making sure that as many of this endangered species hatch this side of the island and make it to sea. Guests are allowed to ‘adopt’ new hatchings, hold them in their hands and set them at liberty.

Watch countless birds

Panoramic View by JoeCab
Panoramic view of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Birdwatchers count Bataan as one of the bird havens in the area, having Sibacan at Pto. Rivas, reportedly housing one of the largest concentrations of waterbirds of the world in the town of Balanga.

Feel Energy (Nuclear)

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is something else to be found at Morong. However, the government is making the most of the white elephant by turning it into a tourist spot. Folks will go on a tour of the notorious plant now without knowing the implications of the spill.

Seek Mt. Samat Shrine

Mt. Samat Shrine taken by Jun Pomer

Bataan is a popular pilgrimage site, home to several stone churches, each with a fascinating history of its own, dating back to the Spanish period. The Abucay Church, for example, was the site of an altercation between Pampangueño defenders and Dutch invaders, while the Balanga Belfry Catholic Church was used as a Japanese artillery station.

Play House

Death March Zero Kilometer marker

Located in Bagac, near to the Bataan Death March Zero Kilometer marker spot, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a resort that takes its guests back in time. The resort is composed of Spanish-era houses transported to their present location from all over the country, brick by brick.

The resort offers many activities ranging from learning about the houses’ history to swimming in the pool or surrounding beach or trying out one of the resort’s many restaurants inside.

Bum at Coast

Sunset at Morong by Jijo de Guzman

Beach bunnies and tanning aficionados will have a field day at one of the many resorts that line the shores of Bataan. Areas like the beaches of Bagac, Limay, Morong, Mariveles, and Orani are popular. Also situated within the province is the popular Anvaya Cove, a 5-star resort available to members and their guests.

When in Bataan: Underrated Spots You HAVE To Visit 

A heritage house taken by JoeCab
An ancestral house in Bataan

Beyond the stunning beaches, the Province’s fascinating position in history has led to many sights and events that are equally convincing to visit.

Furthermore, sprawling hills, historic houses, and vast beaches, so, what’s not Bataan to think about?

However, Bataan is just 2.5 – 3 hours by land from Manila, and 45 minutes by ferry from Manila Bay, making this the perfect easy getaway from the busy Metro Manila scene! 

 Let me take you around my lovely hometown with seven undervalued places you’ve got to see. Plan this trip right now with your buddies!

Mount Samat Shrine, Pilar

Perhaps the most recognized landmark in the province because of the annual commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan, the Shrine of Valor is worth mentioning in this article simply because a lot of people still do not recognize that Mount Samat is a destination worth visiting! The square and the underground museum are filled with old cannons, guns, and other World War II memorabilia.

However, the best part of Mount Samat must be the view up the cross (yes, you CAN climb the cross!) showing a 360-degree view of Bataan — vast mountains, green plains, and vibrant cities, with the cool breeze swinging in your face. Also, this is located at Barangay Diwa, Bataan Pilar.

Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga, Balanga City

The wonderful Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga

While Bataan’s sights may paint a sleepy, idyllic backwater, its capital, Balanga City portrays a different picture entirely — a sprightly city with an Old World charm, married with twenty-first-century elements, like its own Starbucks, for example.

The magnificent Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga, located in the heart of the city, cannot be missed. Furthermore, the plaza comes to life especially at night, with a spectacle of lights and dancing fountains. 

Pasukulan Falls, Abucay

The Enchanted Pasukulan Falls

To those passionate about enjoying the great outdoors of Bataan, the province has many waterfalls to satisfy one. Pasukulan Falls is a popular side trip for hikers who already know the nearby Mount Natib. 

A three-hour hike will take you to a magnificent sight — sparkling waters cascading into a lake from nearly 200 feet above it. Judging from these images, the journey is worth it.

Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an, Morong

One of Bataan’s most interesting hole-in-the-wall spots is Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an in Morong, a modest, unassuming eatery that sells Vietnamese-influenced dishes, something you would never think you would see in this quiet area.

After refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia found temporary shelter at the Bataan Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC), Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an opened in the 1990s. Two decades on, the refugees have long gone, but through this humble pair, this chapter of world history continues to live on. Must-try’s the Vietnamese noodle soup, hu tieu, and their special banh mi takes.

Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park, Orani

Vista Tala Resort and Leisure Park

There is a scenic sanctuary by the mountains in a quaint village called Tala, in Orani. Vista Tala Resort and Leisure Park is a mountain resort, surrounded by villas and a stunning cliffside swimming pool overlooking lush mountains and trees. 

Moreover, Jacuzzis, an in-resort pool, and a fitness center are also open, offering a respite from the turmoil of urban life. The place exudes serenity throughout, making it the perfect getaway for some relaxation that is required.

Stella Mariz Resort, Bagac

Sunset at Stella Mariz Resort

Bataan is filled with luxury beach resorts, but for those seeking a quieter and more unadulterated paradise (as well as those on a tighter budget), Stella Mariz Resort allows you to be one with nature. Away from the city’s bustle, small cottages, picnic tables, and pine trees adorn the beach instead of asphalt, luxury hotels, and villas. Bask between your toes in the warm sun and sand, set up camp by the beach and spend your nights on the beach. Campfire talks with colleagues, listening to the roaring waves and lying under stars? You’re Guessing.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bagac

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

One does not leave Bataan without visiting Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a heritage resort perched by the sea, with opulent houses from the Spanish period, cobblestone streets and a majestic canal.

In recent years, Las Casas has been a common setting for period movies and television shows, such as Zorro’s GMA-7, the sleeper hit Heneral Luna, and Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis’ 8-hour film Lav Diaz. Moreover, you may book a night at their heritage home; go for a dip in the sea as a calesa moves along. Also, it’s as if transported back in time.

A DAY TRIP TO LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR

Take a trip down memory lane at La Casas Filipinas de Azucar by Jessica Soho

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan will make you enjoy the history of the Philippines even though you’re not so much a history enthusiast. This heritage resort, the brainchild of architect José “Jerry” Acuzar, is a massive open-air museum with more than 20 Spanish colonial buildings and stone houses from different parts of the world. Some of them have been turned into luxurious housing while others are open to public access.

The Heritage Walking Tour

Heritage tour by JoeCab

There are also plenty of schedules to join in for the heritage walking tour: 8:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. 

Tip: If you don’t want to get hungry in the middle of the trip, you may want to take your lunch first, then, join the party at 1:30 pm.

Phase 1: The Islamic Tour

The first leg of the walking tour is the Islamic Tour where you will be introduced to the ancestral houses of a Muslim Sultan or Datu, as well as some Spanish-era bahay na bato (stone houses). 

Tip: Watch your guide closely to learn some interesting tidbits about every place of residence. I’m not trying to be a spoiler so, I’m not going to tell you the funny (and sometimes gory) details. You have to hear all of the instructions yourself!

Phase 2: The Estero de Binondo Tour

This tour will take you back to the old settlement of Binondo where an Estero (canal or waterway) slithers through the buildings and ancestral houses such as those in Europe. Indeed, you can trick your friends on being in Venice!

Phase 3: The Heritage Tour

Wait until you explore the last group of heritage houses and buildings if you think you’ve seen enough from the two phases. I strongly advise you to complete this tour’s last leg. Sad that only a handful has managed to complete the third phase — it’s possibly because of fatigue and hunger. 

Where to Eat in Bataan 

Bataan is very famous because of the historic places that add to the history of the Philippines. One of the popular tourist spots in the province is Dambana ng Kagitingan or the Shrine of Valor. 

Besides getting the historic sites, we didn’t know that when it comes to food and dining, Bataan was still one of the successful provinces. So another thing you have to do in Bataan is “Food Crawling or Restaurant Hunting.” Great meals and drinks are available, served in restaurants with a relaxing atmosphere and excellent service.

Below are my recommended restaurants you could try on your visit to Bataan:

Tangway Bar and Grill in Bataan

It is located along Capitol Lane, Balanga, Bataan serving Filipino dishes, is the first in line. Tangway means a place with a body of water surrounding it. Also, one of Tangway’s best dishes for us was the Sinigang na Manok, we love sour dishes and Sinigang is one of Filipino’s pride dishes.

Tangway serves this dish which distinguishes it from other sinigang in the country because they use pieces of leaves to make the taste sour, different from the usual sinigang mix, or tamarind ingredient most Filipino used.

Moreover, the other dishes I recommend are Bangus, Crispy Pata, and Pakbet.

Stregato Gelateria Café

An instagrammable cafe in Balanga, a must try

Stregato Gelateria Café is one of Balanga City’s MUST TRY cafés, selling gelato, cakes and ice cream you just need to try. I’m asking the staff, what the bestselling ice cream flavor is Pistachio and Ferrero, and so I recommend you to try their Php 90 pistachio. Besides having the best ice cream in town, Stregato also has the best place to chill with friends and is great for feeding your Instagram.

Marres Kitchen

Throughout the day and evening, you will enjoy a variety of Mediterranean dishes at Marres Kitchen. When the weather permits, you can work in the lovely Marres city garden, a peaceful retreat in the heart of the busy Maastricht center.

Also, you are of course warmly welcomed to have a cup of coffee or tea, too. The accommodating atmosphere, as in Mediterranean culture, has welcomed you to share meals and have a chat with other guests. If you’re vegan or enjoy meat or fish, the menu serves everyone; they deliver a broad range of choices to match your preferences.

Sybilla’s Restaurant

Check out their food and pricing in their facebook page Sybilla’s Restaurant

Sybilla’s Restaurant is a family restaurant offering refreshing and delicious cuisine at the generous size. During our stay in Bataan, I’m amazed that every restaurant serves some of Filipino’s favorite foods such as sinigang, buttered chicken and sisig, but they all have their variations to make of restaurant very memorable on their own.

Foods that I recommend are: Cheesy Valapeno Dynamite – P69.00, Vegetable Samson Croquette – P85.00, Mang Cesar Salad – P150.00, Egg drop ½ bowl – P95.00 for the whole bowl – P180.00, Sizzling Sisig – P190.00, Creamy Sinigang ni Jimboy – P240.00, Baked Bangus – P290.00, Fish Parmigiana – P260.00, Molten Lava Cake – P125.00.

The Beanery

The Beanery is like café Starbucks, offering coffee-based beverages. High on the menu are frappes, cookies, and pastries.

Moreover, the Bataan Beanery has its class interior design that is perfect for your Instagram, very relaxed, and has the perfect drinks based on coffee.

A 3 Day Bataan Itinerary 

With all that Bataan has to offer, we strongly suggest devoting at least 4 days to your journey. Here’s a sample itinerary to help you make the most of your holidays. 

Here is a 3 day and 2-night sample itinerary to get the most out of what the island has to offer.

Day 1 – Arrival + Nature and Historical Tour 

by JoeCab
A franctic view in Bataan

At around 06:00 AM, is your Departure from Manila via ferry boat. By 07:00 AM, your ETA in Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan. By around 07:30 – 08:00 AM, leisurely eat your breakfast near Port Capinpin. Right after your breakfast, at 09:00 – 12:00 NN is your Sinagtala Farm Resort day tour. Also, you can go swimming and try exhilarating activities like sky swing and sky bank.

By noon, you can have lunch, I recommend at Ima’s Pamangan. By 02:00 PM, you may have your Check-in at The Plaza Hotel and have a rest. Get ready for the next trip! At around 03:00 – 04:00 PM, visit the Saint Joseph Cathedral Explore Balanga Plaza de Mayor and by 5 PM, stroll to Balanga Wetland and Nature Park. By 06:00 PM, have your delicious dinner at The Plaza Hotel. And lastly, by 8 PM, have a restful sleep.  

Day 2 Museum Tour + Zipline + Waterfalls

Pasuklan falls captured by Ian Mendija

At 08:00 AM, have your delicious breakfast at the Plaza Hotel. By 09:00 AM, go for a ride to the World War II Museum. By noon, have your lunch near the museum.

At around 01:00 PM, head over to the Mt. Samat Zipline, this is a part of a Bataan day tour. By 02:00 PM, explore and enjoy at Dunsulan Falls. At around 04:00 PM, head back to The Plaza Hotel, freshen up, and just relax. By 05:30 PM, you can shop for souvenirs at stores near the hotel and have your dinner. At 08:00 PM, rest and call it a day! 

Day 3 Food Trip + Departure 

Blue hour effect at LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR

By 08:00 AM, have your yummy breakfast at the hotel. Then, at11:00 AM, have your early hotel check-out. By noon, have your lunch at IMA Flora’s Pamangan. At 02:30 PM, is your boarding time at the ferry back to Manila at Port Capinpin. And lastly, by 03:30 PM – is your safe arrival at SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

For me, Bataan is a vivid example of how nature and manmade inventions cross history and culture. In its living museums, historical sites, beaches, ecotourism centers, and festivals, the province’s tales of bravery and commitment to preserving its culture and natural beauty are visible. 

If you are looking for a fast beach/nature getaway or a week-long cultural and historic immersion, a trip to Bataan province won’t be disappointing.

Have a blessed trip!

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