Baler on a Budget

Baler is known for its sprawling coasts and lush forests. An aerial view of the Aurora province reveals immaculate untapped territory purely reserved for nature to go on about its daily living. Despite the developments in infrastructures (roads and bridges have led to accessibility), Baler is still able to preserve its natural environment by merging knowledge of the local ecology and responsible tourism.
Don’t be intimidated by heading further away from your comfort zone. The travel is not as expensive as you think and the experiences become priceless memories. Baler’s more modernized part of town lies in the vast Sabang beach, along with its fancier options. Head to the back roads (read: not beach front) that’s just a quick walk to the beach.
Stay:

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* Hostels:
Charlie Does allows guests to use its limited hammocks for Php 250 and Php 150 to hang your own. Their room prices are half-off on weekdays so best to make use of that.

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Another option is to check out Circle Hostel’s Baler leg which offers hammocks for Php 350 and beds for Php 450.

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* Fan Rooms:
Obviously the cheapest option, fan rooms will cut up to half of your accommodation costs. Check out Villareal’s Bahay Kubo across the road from Sabang beach proper. For only Php 500 per room for one and just Php 600 per room for two, the fan room includes a bathroom, bed and a fan – all solar-powered, so no reason to worry about the town’s recurring blackouts.

Eat:

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* Rolling Store
Not in any sense mobile, this well-loved 24-hour carinderia has a variety of home-cooked meals starting at Php 30. Take a pick from which of the establishments catches your eye, from grilled seafood and barbecue to the usual Filipino fare.

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* Forest Inn Café
The food isn’t exactly the best in Baler but they do serve decent silogs for Php 50 and cold beer for just Php 45. What attracts guests to this roadside hub is its very laidback garden setting. It is also an inn, if you want to stay overnight.

Do:

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* Museo de Baler
Absolutely free of charge and will accept any donations for its maintenance, Baler’s sole museum gives you a cheat sheet of Baler’s history – from their indigenous Ilongot roots to the Spanish resistance.

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* Ermita Hill
You can rent a tricycle to Ermita Hill, but many of the truly kuripot wanderers can walk the Sabang beach all the way to the rivermouth and pay Php 5 to cross via boat. Then from there, hop off, cross the road and climb towards the top for a view well worth the efforts.

Buy:

balerbudget8Photo from: Nanay Pacing’s Facebook page

* Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter
Grab a jar or two of Baler’s famous peanut butter starting at just Php 90 for 230g. Ask the tricycle drivers where to get Nanay Pacing’s and they’ll gladly direct you there. Be there extra early since stock is limited and easily runs out by mid-morning.

balerbudget9Photo from: c.u.p.k.e.y.k.’s Flickr page

* Baler’s Longganisa
Baler is also known for their garlicky longganisa that becomes a necessary addition to any silog breakfast with Casiguran vinegar. Head to the public market and go to any of the meat stalls selling links of local sausages for as low as Php 200. Best to ask a local first on which stall sells actual homemade longganisa from Baler since many are imported from the neighboring town, Maria Aurora.

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* Baler’s Suman
The famed suman of Baler is a crowd favorite with its semi-sweet sticky rice and purple color. The suman is made fresh everyday, and is easily found around town from local peddlers. Prices usually range from Php 50 to Php 60 for a pack. Pair this with some fresh coffee and their local peanut butter for a steady morning by the sea.

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