Being two and a half hours away by car (and 45 minutes away by ferry), Bataan presents itself as the perfect weekend getaway from the chaos of urban Manila. Yet for being so near, Bataan is such an underrated location compared to the more commercialized neighbors of the Metro. The humble province, however, is seeing a rise in its local tourism with rediscovered gems such as the Mariveles’ Five Fingers, which have gone viral on social media.
Photos by: Glenn Imperial and Kevin Liao
With its own collection of rolling mountains, blue seas, and sprawling plains, it’s a wonder how more people have yet to be acquainted with this nature-filled destination. Aside from the breathtaking outdoor sights, Bataan also has an interesting history and culture to be sampled. To get a dose of the way of life in this charming yet busy area, explore Balanga City, Bataan’s history-filled capital. Slow down, engage in history, get a massage and get to know the neighborhood. We have your next weekend getaway!
Haven’t seen Part 1 yet? Check out the itinerary we made for Day 1 here!
Arrange for a morning trip to Mount Samat
While technically not in Balanga City, Mount Samat in Pilar is just on the outskirts of the capital. Many know Mount Samat because of the annual Araw ng Kagitingan Commemoration, yet not everyone is aware that Mount Samat is actually a destination worth paying a visit to!
The drive up the mountain is surrounded by lush greenery, and the shrine is a magnificent marble monument that is both beautiful and historical. Engraved on the walls is the story of the Fall of Bataan. Old cannons, weapons, and other World War II memorabilia adorn the place and the underground museum.
A little higher and you can stand at the foot of the cross, itself a beautiful design, filled with trees and flowers that provide for a picturesque sight. Yet the best part would be riding the elevator to the view deck up the cross that shows a 360-degree view of Bataan — sprawling mountains, lush plains, blue seas and busy towns, with the cool breeze swishing in your face.
Take a dip at the Dunsulan Falls
Right after visiting Mount Samat, take a quick drive to Dunsulan Falls, just located behind the mountain. The tiny waterfall is 5 meters in height with a deep plunge pool, perfect for cooling off and taking a swim. Picnic tables are also nearby, but you can go ahead and set up your own picnic blanket. Aside from being very accessible, it’s also not too crowded, so go ahead and enjoy the solitude.
Get pampered at a local spa
You’ll be surprised that there are a dime a dozen spas in Balanga City — the locals clearly love their massages. We highly recommend Scentual Spa near the Balanga Public Market. It stands out from the rest of the massage centers with a beautiful and peaceful ambiance, clean interiors, and the right music to set the mood. It’s a perfect way to soothe your muscles after an adventure-filled day in the outdoors.
Find the perfect pasalubong
Before your weekend escapade is over, bring home the perfect pasalubong for your family and friends to enjoy. While you can take a quick trip to the Balanga Public Market or the Bataan Tourism Center for your local finds, we recommend grabbing a bottle of Carlos’ Tuna, a homegrown product. Carlos’ tuna comes in four variants: Chili Garlic, Hot & Spicy, Regular, and Mild Hot. Our personal favorite? The chili garlic one, which provides lots of flavor and kick.
Bataan is a peninsula, which means seafood is abundant, so dried fish such as the native kapak, and smoked bangus or tinapa are suggested gastronomical souvenirs. You can also bring home cashew butter, a unique alternative to the usual peanut butter!
Return to the Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga for the light spectacle
Plaza Mayor image: Bataan Tourism page
While the Plaza can be a charming sight during the day, it’s especially mesmerizing in the evening. The plaza comes to life especially at night, with a spectacle of lights and dancing fountains. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes.
If you haven’t seen Part 1 of the weekend itinerary to Balanga City, Bataan yet, click here!
Have you been to Bataan? Share your experience with us!