A Bataan Itinerary for History Buffs, Nature Lovers, and Weekend Warriors
If you haven’t yet explored Bataan, it’s about time you did. Just a few hours away from Manila, exploring Bataan can be done in two days but while your trip might be quick, it’ll surely be memorable. After all, this Central Luzon destination is jampacked with both historical sites and eco-tourist destinations. If you’re particularly interested in World War II history, or love to see wildlife in action, Bataan is your best bet. Try this Bataan itinerary for an easy yet exciting weekend adventure.
How to get to Bataan
Part of the appeal of Bataan is that it’s relatively accessible. If you prefer to drive there on your own, it’ll take you about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the traffic.
If you’d rather take public transportation, you can take a Dinalupihan-bound bus from Pasay or Cubao and ask the driver to drop you off at Balanga. Bus companies like Genesis and Bataan Transit regularly ply this route. All in all, transportation should cost about PHP 200. Getting there via public transport can take anywhere from 3-5 hours, so it’s best to leave as early as you can.
Getting around Bataan can be done by minibus. Most of the towns will have minibus terminals, but you can also typically catch them from the main road. When in doubt, ask the locals. They are always willing to help!
Day 1: Go Back In Time
Go back in time at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
This Bataan itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. This Insta-famous heritage park is more than just everyone’s favorite backdrop for pre-nup shoots. It has 27 heritage houses, both original structures and replicas of colonial homes from the 17th to 19th century. Take the guided heritage tour and learn the story behind each special house. Walking the complex’s cobblestone streets will definitely make you rethink what era you’re in. Tours run every hour from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m, and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Packages range from PHP 999 to PHP 1,899 per person. The basic package includes the entrance fee, guided tour, access to the beach area, a welcome drink, water, snacks, a map and a cold towel. You have the option to add a set meal or a buffet meal if you wish.
Make a stop at the Zero km Death March Marker
Bataan is known for being the starting point of the infamous death march in World War II. The march saw an estimated 80,000 Filipino and US POWs walking all of 160 km from Bataan to a concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac over a period of 6 days. A simple memorial in Bagac marks the point where the march began, in commemoration of the tens of thousands of POWs who died during the brutal march. Another marker can be found in Mariveles.
Remember heroes at Mt. Samat National Shrine
The stark white marble Memorial Cross and stunning view of Bataan’s mountain range belies the shrine’s dark past as the site of the bloodiest battle against the Japanese in World War II. But the shrine’s understated grandeur is a fitting tribute to the heroes that died nobly in that infamous battle. Pay your respects to the fallen with a solemn moment at the Colonnade. Or take the elevator all the way up to the viewing gallery at the top of the Memorial Cross. The shrine also has a museum that displays portraits of war heroes, as well as arms used in the war. Entrance fee to the museum is PHP 30 per person.
Immerse yourself in history at the World War II Museum
The site where Filipino and US forces surrendered to the Japanese can be found outside the Bataan World War II Museum in Balanga. And where better to learn about that period of our history than in the place where it all happened? The museum houses dioramas, infographics, and artifacts that tell the story of the war from a Bataan perspective. It’ll be the perfect culmination of the historical leg of this Bataan itinerary. The museum is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance fee is PHP 50.
Go for an evening stroll Plaza Mayor de Ciudad
We’re rounding up the first day of this Bataan itinerary with one of the province’s most popular attractions right in its capital city. The Plaza Mayor de Ciudad in Balanga is a picture of old world charm at any time of day. But when the sun goes down, the square lights up and you’ll feel almost like you’re in some historic European town. Arguably the best place to enjoy the view is from the rooftop of the Plaza Hotel — which, incidentally is also a great place to have dinner.
Day 2: Go Into The Wild
Head to the Pawikan Conservation Center
There’s no better way to kick off the second day of your trip (and this Bataan itinerary) than by interacting with endangered baby turtles at the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong. The center not only cares for injured and sick marine turtles, but also protects turtle eggs from poachers and predators. You can even “adopt” a hatchling there for PHP 50, with proceeds going to the Bantay Pawikan foundation. You don’t actually get to take your adopted baby turtle home, but you get to transport it from the hatchery and release it into the sea. The whole thing probably won’t take more than an hour, but we’re pretty sure watching your hatchling flip flop its way into the waves is a memory that will last forever. Entrance fee is PHP 30 per person.
Eat at Loleng’s Hutieu-An
It may sound odd that the tastiest meal you can get on this side of Bataan is a bowl of steaming pho (they call it the Hutieu special here), and an order of banh mi. Then again, restaurants like this are pretty much the footprint of the Vietnamese refugees who lived in Bataan in the 80s. Once you get over how random it is to find Vietnamese food in a small provincial Filipino town, you’re sure to enjoy the rich, meaty broth of the restaurant’s appropriation of the Vietnamese classic.
Enjoy some downtime at the beach
Of course, every Bataan itinerary has to have a fair amount of sun, sand, and sea. Luckily, there are many beaches in Morong where you can enjoy some sun and waves. Take your pick out of any of the resorts and give your inner beach bum some sunkissed love. For quality beach time, try Coralview Beach Resort. The shore is wide and clean, and has space for beach volleyball, as well as kayak rentals if you are so inclined. Entrance fee is PHP 200 per person.
Catch a spectacular sunset at the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park
Birdwatching is the big draw at this eco-tourism site. The lush mangroves are a great habitat for all kinds of birds. If you’re there at the right time, you can see flocks of them almost covering the sky. Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to catch sightings of all the birds. That being said, you don’t have to be a devoted birdwatcher to enjoy the sheer natural beauty of this destination. The sunset here is particularly stunning. The silhouettes of birds in flight make the scene especially dramatic. It’s a great sight to cap off your weekend adventure. Entrance fee is PHP 20 per person.
History buffs, nature lovers, and weekend warriors have much to love about Bataan. The province evidently has so much to offer in the way of educational experiences—whether you’re learning about World War II or taking care of turtles. This Bataan itinerary introduces you to what the province is all about. But you don’t have to stop there. Its proximity to the city means you can easily return for more interesting and enriching adventures!