Travel Guide: Bataan

The province of Bataan is best known for its historical and cultural attractions. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March, where the infamous march started, was also named after the province.

But aside from its historical sites, Bataan is a rising eco-tourism destination with beaches, mountains, turtle sanctuaries, bird-watching sites, springs and waterfalls. Bataan lies within two major peaks, Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles, which are ideal destinations for adventure-seekers. If you’re a mountain biker or hiker, you’ll want to check out the natural trails that Bataan has to offer.

biking in bataan tarak ridge mariveles travelup

WHERE EXACTLY IS BATAAN:

Bataan is a province in the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Occupying the entire Bataan Peninsula on Luzon, Bataan is bordered by the provinces of Zambales and Pampanga to the north and faces the South China Sea to the west, Subic Bay to the north-west, and encloses Manila Bay to the east. Despite its proximity to Manila, the province isn’t commercialized or as “touristy” as some other popular destinations, making it a good choice for weekend warriors who want to get away from the crowds.

HOW TO GET THERE:

By private transportation/car:

  • If you’re driving from Manila, you can take the North Luzon Expressway and take either the San Fernando toll exit or the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
  • Upon exiting San Fernando, proceed to Jose Abad Santos Ave, (formerly Olangapo-Gapan Road) all the way to Lubao Pampanga and Dinalupihan Bataan.
  • At the Layac junction, take the road leading to Roman Super Highway on the left (right turn leads to Olangapo City) all the way to the City Center of Balanga, Bataan.
  • Via SCTEX, take the Dinalupihan exit and turn right at Roman Super Highway.
  • Travel time is 2-3 hours by car depending on the traffic. It’s best to leave Manila early morning or after lunch to avoid the rush hour.

By public transportation/bus:

  • From Manila, the easiest way to get to Bataan is by bus.
  • Bus lines include Genesis, Bataan Transit, Sinulog and Victory Liner (the last two pass only Dinalupihan and go to Olongapo rather than Balanga.)
  • Genesis has terminals in Pasay (beside the MRT Terminal) and Avenida (at the back of Philippine Rabbit terminal).
  • Bataan Transit has terminals in Avenida (beside Genesis) and in Cubao (same terminal as 5 Star buses).
  • Travel time by bus is about 3 hours. The bus fare is about P200 per person.

bataan shrine of valor museum flag

By sea / ferry:

  • There used to be a ferry from Manila to Bataan that cut travel time down to 45 minutes.
  • The Manila-Bataan Ferry Boat traveling from Roxas Boulevard to Orion Port is not yet operational. They conducted a dry-run in May 2017, but there are no rates, rules and regulations, and schedules available yet according to the Bataan Tourism.

WHERE TO GO:

Shrine of Valor at Mt. Samat

Bataan’s major icon is the Shrine of Valor, a 92-meter high concrete cross on top of Mt. Samat in Pilar town, 555 meters above sea level. The cross is the country’s national memorial for the defenders of Bataan and site of the annual Araw ng Kagitingan Rites. Below the cross is a shrine, colonnade with an altar, esplanade and museum. Within Mt. Samat complex, there’s a Treetop Adventure, ATVs for rent and a zipline that ends in Dunsulan Falls.

mt samat memorial cross shrine of valor bataan trees

The center of the cross contains an old elevator from where you can ride to the top to get a windy view of the mountain landscape. Last year, we were still able to ride up but effective January 7, 2016, the elevator leading up to the viewing gallery is temporarily closed due to ongoing renovations. RATES: Entrance fee is P30 per person for the museum. For other activities, check this site.

osprey bataan shrine of valor inside crossLas Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

An open air museum and heritage park complex made up of reconstructed ancestral houses from different parts of the country. There are currently 27 heritage houses that recreate the ambiance of a colonial village. There have been debates in the travel community regarding the violation of conservation principles (since heritage houses are physically transplanted from their original location).

osprey bataan las casas de acuzar building

Despite this, there’s no denying that Las Casas is an extremely photogenic place that has become very popular with tourists. Just think of it as a theme park for heritage houses. The resort is open for day trip visits, overnight stays and special events like pre-nup pictorials and weddings. RATES: Day tour entrance fee ranges from P999-P1999 per person (depending on meal and transportation packages)

osprey bataan las casas de acuzar travelup bag stairs

Mountain Biking Trails

There are various mountain bike trails around Bataan catering to different rider levels. Karagatan Bay View Peak is a short but challenging 5-km circuit with breathtaking views of Mariveles Valley, Corregidor Island, Manila Bay and Mt. Mariveles (Tarak Ridge). With a service road to the peak, this place is also a playground for downhillers. This is the venue for the annual Padyakan sa Bataan held every April in time for Araw ng Kagitingan. For non-bikers, the area is ideal for picnics and camping.

karagatan bay view peak bataan padyakan biking

Meanwhile, the infamous Killer Loop Trail is a 34-km trail for advanced/experienced riders that takes 3-5 hours to complete. The trail passes old WWII guerilla roads and tracks which circles around Mt. Samat that contains everything from dirt roads, extended climbs with grades up to 35 percent, roots, single tracks, double tracks, rolling hills, rock gardens, technical ascents and descents, ravines, switchbacks, river crossings and more. The route itself is challenging, but the views are just amazing!

Bikers should coordinate with the Bataan Tourism and Bataan Trailriders and Adventurers Network for biking guides.

biking in bataan killer loop liyang trail travelup

Sisiman Bay

San Miguel Rock is 110-meter high rock in Sisiman Bay, a swimming spot for locals. There’s a lighthouse and beach area where you can watch the sunset. Apparently, you can also try rappelling from the rock!

sisiman bay san miguel rock bataan beach

It’s an easy downhill ride to the beach from Karagatan Bay View Peak. RATES: Entrance is free

bataan bicycle sunset sisiman bay rocks

Pawikan Conservation Center

The Pawikan Conservation Center aims to protect marine turtles which are highly threatened by extinction due to human activities such as poaching, egg gathering, slaughter, illegal fishing and pollution. The center contains a hatchery and sanctuary for injured turtles. RATES: Entrance fee is P30 per head

bataan pawikan conservation center hatchery

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

One of the country’s birdwatching havens. The area contains thick mangrove forest, wetlands, grasslands and mudflats that have provided a natural food basket for migratory and endemic bird species an houses at least 35 species and 15 families of birds. RATES: Entrance fee is P20/per person

bataan balanga wetland nature park birdwatching

Mountains 

For mountaineers and hikers, Bataan’s rolling terrain offers different hiking trails ideal for day trips or camping. The most popular hikes include Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles*, Mt. Natib, Mt. Malasimbo in Dinaluphian.

Waterfalls

Bataan also has waterfalls you can hike to including Kairukan Falls, Limutan Falls, Ambon-Ambon Falls and Dunsulan Falls.

READ MORE: Outdoor Adventures in Bataan by Jovial Wanderer

Leisure resorts

There are numerous swimming pool and beach resorts around Bataan including Mt. Tarak Resort, Villa Amanda’s and the membership only Anvaya Cove in Morong.

anvaya cove morong bataan swimming pool

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant sits on a 389-hectare government reservation at Napot Point in the coastal town of Morong. BNPP was completed in 1984 but never fueled due to anti-nuclear movements in the country and numerous issues raised against it. Highlights include the Steam Generator Building, the Reactor Building and the Control Room. RATES: Entrance fee is P100 (student), P200 (non-student); open only during weekdays

osprey bataan nuclear power plant control room

Historical Landmarks

Bataan has a number of historical landmarks around the province including two Death March markers (KM 00 and KM 0 in Bagac and Mariveles), the First Line of Defense Monument in Layac Junction in Dinalupihan town), Flaming Sword in Pilar, Diwa ng Bataan (World War II Surrender Memorial), and Philippine-Japan Friendship Tower.

WHERE TO STAY:

SEARCH & BOOK CHEAP HOTELS IN BATAAN HERE

The Plaza Hotel is an architectural icon with an impressive façade inspired by Spanish colonial architecture, and elegant and classy interiors. The hotel is adjacent to the City Hall, Galleria de Victoria Mall, and across the 18th century Balanga Cathedral. Room rates start at P3,200/night. www.theplazahotelbalanga.com

the plaza hotel bataan fountain

Located inside the Freeport Area of Bataan in Mariveles, The Oriental Hotel Baaan is a beautiful four-star Asian inspired hotel with luxury accommodations, swimming pool, cliff lounge and Cocoon restaurant. Ideal for business, leisure travelers, families and couples. Promo rate starts at P3,800 per room. www.bataan.theorientalhotels.com

the oriental hotel bataan swimming pool

Crown Royale Hotel offers basic accommodations for regular travelers who need a base conveniently located in the city. Double standard room starts at P1,700 a night (good for 2 pax). http://crownroyalehotel.com/

crown royale hotel bataan glass window

For luxury travelers looking for a unique experience, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar offers a getaway where you can stay overnight in recreated ancestral houses.Rooms and suites range from P10,000 (good for 2 pax) to P17,000 (good for up to 6 pax) per night while whole houses range from P12,000 to P75,000 (yikes!) per night.  The latest addition to the resort is the Hotel de Oriente, a replica of a Binondo hotel built in 1889. www.lascasasfilipinas.com.

hotel de oriente las casas de acuzar bataan

WHERE TO EAT:

The Food Project is a hip hangout in Orion, Bataan that serves pretty good meals like steak, ribs and pasta meals which all cost under P100 each! They specialize in fusion comfort food, with Pinoy favorites and Western dishes. The resto has a nice vibe & friendly service too. Great for barkadas!

Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an is a budget-friendly roadside eatery run by a Filipina who used to work at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center. Try their Hu tieu (rice noodle soup in pork broth),  banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich with meat and fresh basil), Bun Tit Nuong (rice noodles w/ grilled meat) and spring rolls.

lolengs hutieuan noodle vietnamese bataan

Mt. Tarak Restaurant in Mariveles serves Spanish fusion dishes like Paella, Prawns Thermidore, Beef Salpicao and Pollo Iberico (Iberian chicken that requires 3 hours prep time; pre-orders required). Beer, wine and cocktails available.

bataan mt. tarak restaurant pollo iberico chicken

Villa Amanda is a popular swimming pool resort with its own restaurant that serves very good savory dishes including inihaw na tilapia stuffed with herbs, pesang tilapia, crispy dilis, ensalada, sinigang na tilapia, crab relleno, and crispy pata.

bataan villa amanda resort crispy pata

The Beanery is a hip homegrown coffee shop where you can enjoy all-day breakfast meals, cakes, pastries and coffee. They have 2 branches in Balanga and 1 in Orani.

the beanery bataan coffee cake

Espada Grill is a bar/grill restaurant that serves affordable Filipino meals like grilled tilapia, pork liempo and chicken bbq/inasal. They have an Eat-All-You-Can promo every Monday in their Balanga branch ranging from P145 (superior meal) to P195 (executive meal). Buffet hours are from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm for lunch and 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm for dinner.

bataan espada grill monday filipino buffet

Joyous Tangway Grill is another homegrown restaurant that serves Filipino food like sisig, crisy pata and sinigang na manok sa ayo (type of leaves used as a souring agent).

WHAT TO BUY:

For all your souvenir needs, be sure to stop by the Bataan Tourism Center. It houses the provincial tourism office, Bataan World War II Diorama and a Bataan souvenir shop and Pasalubong Center that showcases some of the province’s products, souvenirs, handicrafts and delicacies.

osprey bataan tourism center

Products include coffee, cashews, capiz products, souvenir t-shirts and handicrafts. Dried fish like tinapa and danggit are also delicacies of Bataan.

NOTE: This travel guide was compiled from several trips to Bataan including The “Out and About” media tour sponsored by Osprey Philippines in 2015, the 11th Padyakan sa Bataan 2016 organized by Bataan Tourism; and Tarak Ridge Climb sponsored by BaseKamp.

For more information, please contact the Bataan Tourism Center. Roman Super Highway, City of Balanga, Bataan, 2100 Philippines

22 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Bataan

  1. I’m interested in the Liyang Trail or Killer Loop Trail and was wondering how I can find out more about it. In particular a map.

  2. Hi Kara, thanks for the links. I’ll try contacting Eboy. I would like to run the track but I would like to have a guide, probably on a bike.

  3. My wife and I visited the memorial. It is a great place to visit . The cross stands on top of the mountain and you can see for miles in every direction.

  4. Wow! this is helpful. we are going to Bataan next week because ive been dreaming to visit las casas filipinas. too bad the ferry going to bataan is not an option for travelling 🙁 it’ll be so much easier to get to bataan.

    • Hi Nica. This guide was based on 2 separate trips. First trip was just overnight and the other was about 3 days when we went biking. Hotels mentioned here aren’t that budget-friendly. It really depends on what area you plan to stay in. You can compare room prices for budget accommodations in Bataan here.

    • We had a private van when we visited, but I read that you can ride a mini bus to Morong town proper from the central terminal of Balanga City. From Mt. Samat, you can hire a trike to take you to the road where the mini buses pass. From Morong town proper, take a tricycle to Brgy. Nagbalayong. The Pawikan Conservation Center is near the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

  5. Now this is the ultimate Bataan travel guide!

    We’re planning to do a road trip in Bataan hopefully this year. Sobrang helpful ng write-up na to. 😀

    Sayang weekdays lang pala open ang nuclear plant, and the Death March markers are also a great addition to the itinerary.

    I haven’t tried the bike trails there yet pero mukhang mas challenging pa ata kesa sa Timberland.

    • Thanks, Georwyn. Yes, the downhill portion of the trail in Killer loop is really fun! You can check out the elevation on Map my Ride. I should probably add a couple of photos of the Death march markers here na din. Thanks for the suggestion! More details on Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in a separate article. They might be open to weekend visits if your group is big enough, but I’m not 100% sure. 🙂

    • Hi Georwyn, were you able to visit Bataan? I’m actually planning a solo trip by end of October. Looking for City tour 🙂 As much as I would like to do the trekking, I cannot since I will be on a solo trip.

    • Hi Linda, they did a dry run for the ferry in May 2017, but according to Bataan tourism officers, as of now, the ferry is still non-operational. No rates, regulations and schedules, available.

  6. Thank you for sharing this article. Such a great help. Btw, I am planning to visit Bataan for a solo trip by end of this month. Maybe, I’ll just do city tours since I don’t want to do the trekking alone 😀 Do you have at recommendations for the city tours? And is it advisable to arrange a tour package or have a do-it-yourself tour? I really hope to hear from you 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Maricar, I know there are some travel agencies that offer packaged city tours covering all the top spots, but usually that’s coming from Manila and if you have limited time. I personally prefer doing trips DIY since part of the fun of solo travel is figuring out how to get around. There are a lot of DIY guides and Itineraries out there for Bataan. 🙂

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