The province of Bataan in Central Luzon is majorly associated with significant events in Philippine history such as the Bataan Death March and Fall of Bataan. Going around the province, you will notice markers and monuments that pay tribute to the valiant soldiers that fought during World War II. However, these are not all it can offer.
Highly accessible from Manila by land travel, Bataan is a promising weekend getaway not just for history enthusiasts but also for those who love nature and outdoor adventures. Here are some of the reasons why it’s worth the travel.
1. Catch the beautiful sunset at Barangay Sisiman
The coastal barangay of Sisiman in Mariveles offers several vantages for a hypnotizing view of a fiery sunset. You can sit by the beach and witness the town glow with the sun’s rays or you can can take a short, 15-minute hike to nearby San Miguel peak where you can see the tadpole-shaped Corregidor Island and the rest of Mariveles.
To get here, take a bus to Mariveles and get down at the SSS Building. Board a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to the grotto at Brgy. Sisiman. Travel time is 20 minutes. Fare is₱60/tricycle.
2. Take a walk back to the Spanish colonial era at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
This heritage park and resort located beside the West Philippine Sea in Bagac provides visitors an opportunity to explore and learn about Spanish colonial period houses and its previous occupants.
These houses, some of which were severely neglected, were transported from its original location. They were then carefully reconstructed using some, if not all of its original parts and brought back to its original splendor.
They offer packaged day tours complete with pick-up from Pasig or Makati city (₱1,999) as well as overnight accommodation. Deluxe room rates start at ₱10,000/night. Guests can also book some of the casas. For day tour guests, they can swim at the beach and enjoy other water sports like kayaking or riding a jet ski.
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3. Tour the Philippines’ first & only nuclear power plant
In 1984, the construction of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant at Napot Point in the municipality of Morong was completed and was supposed to operate 2 years later. Had it pushed through, it would have been Southeast Asia’s first nuclear power plant. The decision to mothball the project was made by the government, following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
Though it was never used, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is open to the public for tours. Managed by National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), advance coordination is required.
The tour takes about 90 minutes and showcases the facility’s equipment and machinery. The steel staircases and massive dimly lit space leaves a lot of room to the imagination. It feels like being in a zombie or sci fi movie set! Highlights include a visit to the nuclear reactor and the control room which will make your fingers itchy as you’re surrounded by what seems like a thousand buttons in one big room.
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Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Facebook Page
4. Pay homage to the soldiers of World War II at Mt. Samat National Shrine
Completed in 1970, this shrine in Pilar is dedicated to the American and Filipino soldiers who fought during World War II. The shrine consists of a towering 92 meter-memorial cross situated at 555 meters above sea level with a viewing gallery that offers sweeping views of nearby mountains and the West Philippine Sea.
There’s also an esplanade, a colonnade, and a museum where you can find war artifacts and learn about the events that transpired in Bataan during World War II.
To get here by public transportation, take a bus to Balanga and get off at Balanga Central terminal. Take a jeep to Cabog-Cabog and ask to be dropped off at Mt. Samat. There will be tricycles waiting by the road that can take you up the shrine or you can choose to walk. It’s a long, winding road up so wear comfortable footwear.
Open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily
Entrance Fee: ₱20
5. Help preserve our Pawikan (sea turtles).
The coast at Nagbalayog in Morong is one of the major nesting sites of these endangered marine animals, thus, a fitting location for the Pawikan Conservation Center.
Run by Bantay Pawikan Inc., some of the volunteers are actually former poachers who now recognize the importance of saving the pawikans. Outside the nesting season, you can only view two rescued pawikans in the facility. The best time to visit is from November to December when the turtles born here come back to lay their eggs.
You can also join the Pawikan Festival that’s held annually every last week of November. Filled with activities like street dancing competitions and trade fairs, it’s an effective way to promote awareness and help raise funds for the organization’s conservation efforts.
Contact Number: +63 47 237 4785
Bataan Tourism Facebook Page
6. Hike Bataan’s verdant mountain trails
With its topography comprising 80.9 % highlands, hills, and mountains, this province has so much to offer to hiking enthusiasts. Prominent destinations include Tarak Ridge which is part of Mt. Mariveles. The trail’s highlights include a dip in the icy waters of Papaya River and the scenic view of Corregidor and other nearby islands at the ridge.
If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, there is Mt. Natib in Orani. The trail to its summit is very steep and takes about 4 hours to reach. Limatik or leeches are also present along the trail. A side trip to Pasukulan Falls in Abucay can also be done after your hike.
For those who are looking for a short, fun hike, there’s Limutan Falls in Bagac, located inside Bataan National Park. Also in the same area, which can be combined in a single trip, is Ambon-Ambon Falls. The latter is a bit more challenging to reach.
Another short hike is Dunsulan Falls, a 9-meter waterfall in the municipality of Pilar. This can be mixed with a trip to Mt. Samat. Aside from the waterfalls, you can also try its 540-meter zipline and go horseback riding.
7. Go biking and enjoy Bataan’s rewarding views
Its well-paved roads are ideal for bikers especially the sections along Morong and Mariveles where there are lesser vehicles.
The highway goes around a mountain offering scenic viewpoints along the road. For serious mountain bikers, there’s also the famous Killer Loop, a 34-kilometer trail that goes around Mt. Samat, providing bikers picturesque mountain views and some river crossing. A less intense but still challenging bike ride would be at Karagatan bay view peak in Mariveles.
For more information on mountain biking, you can get in touch with Bataan Trail Riders and Adventurers Network, Bataan’s active mountain biking club.
These seven reasons are just an introduction to what Bataan has to offer because there’s still so much more to do! Aside from historical tours and outdoor activities, those who are fond of beaches can also enjoy a quiet getaway.
Notable beach resorts include Brisa Marina Resort in Morong (rates start at ₱2,500 for a couples room) and Vista Tala, a mountain resort in Orani. For those who want a staycation albeit the beachfront, The Oriental has elegant interiors, inspired by the different cultures in Asia.
The Plaza Hotel in Balanga is right at Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga, its beautiful city center designed after Plaza Mayor de Salamanca, a UNESCO world heritage site in Spain. It is also close to business establishments, restaurants, and nearby attractions such as the 18th century Balanga Cathedral which is just across and the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park, a destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
How to get to Bataan
From Manila, take a bus to Balanga, the provincial capital or to Mariveles, the last municipality.
Bataan Transit has terminals in Avenida (Manila) and Cubao (Quezon City). For contact information and schedules, visit Bataan Transit’s website or their Facebook Page. Tickets can also be booked online through their partner website, PinoyTravel.
Another reputable bus company plying routes to Balanga and Mariveles is Genesis Transport which has terminals in Cubao and Pasay (closer to both international and domestic airports). For schedules, contact +63 2 709 0803 or visit their Genesis Transport Inc.’s Facebook Page. Travel time to Balanga takes 3 hours depending on traffic while Mariveles is roughly 90 minutes away.
For assistance traveling to Bataan, you can get in touch with the provincial tourism office or drop by the Bataan Tourism Center in Balanga. It’s located just along the Roman Highway, Bataan’s major highway where public bus and vehicles pass by. It more than just an office, it’s a destination itself, featuring a gallery, landscaped garden and souvenir shop.
Contact Number: +63 47 237 4785
Bataan Tourism Facebook Page