Balanga, the capital of Bataan, is a rustic yet progressive city in Central Luzon. Originated from the Kapampangan word balañga (clay pot, or banga), which the town used to produce and among the best that can be found in the country. The city is also known for its bountiful variety of dried and smoked fishes (tinapa) such as Bangus, Kitang, Kabasi, Samaral, Halugasin, and Kapak.
Basically a residential-agricultural city, Balanga was used to be an underrated area. Today, it showcases its interesting side with its local culture, historical landmarks, thriving local businesses, and growing ecotourism destination.
From Manila, you can catch a ferry ride using the Manila-Bataan Ferry Boat to Orion, Bataan. You can find the Manila terminal at the Esplanade – Seaside Terminal MOA beside the Vikings restaurant. From Orion, the terminal is located in Port Capinpin. The travel time takes an hour and passengers are advised to arrive 30 minutes before departure.Then from Orion, take a bus or jeep to Balanga.
When riding via a private vehicle, it may take 1.5 to 2.5 hour trip from Manila to Balanga, Bataan, depending on the traffic.
For commuters,taking the bus is the easiest way to get to Balanga. Bus lines include Genesis with terminals in Pasay and Avenida, and Bataan Transit with terminals in Cubao and Avenida. Travel time may take 3 hours on average.
Like in most provinces and other small towns in the country, Balanga’s most common mode of transportation includes tricycles and jeepneys.
One of the most famous landmarks not only in Balanga but in Bataan is the Mt. Samat Shrine. Also called the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), the shrine has a 74-meter Memorial Cross of Bataan National Shrine towered over the summit of Mt. Samat. The shrine is in honor and symbol of sacrifice for the mighty Filipinos and Americans who fought during the Battle of Bataan.
Located at the heart of the city is Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga. This architectural icon of Balanga is a perfect mesh of quaint and modern, old and new. At nighttime, the plaza comes to life with a spectacle of lights and dancing fountains. Built in 2014, a nearby Spanish-inspired hotel structure called the Plaza Hotel is a boutique hotel you should check out.
Another historical marker is the Bataan World War II Museum. The museum is located inside Balanga Elementary School showcasing story panels, selected war memorabilia and two over-sized dioramas chronicle the history of the war in the province.
An important ecotourism destination, Balanga Wetland Park is gaining its popularity in the international bird-watching circles. Experience birding for the first time in any known of its birding sites: the Sibacan-Lote Bird Site, Pto, Rivas Ibaba Bird Site, and the Tortugas Bird Site. At least 35 species and 15 families of migratory birds were recorded stopping over in Balanga.
Visit Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga for a perfect backdrop for your daytime IG-snaps and even a mesmerizing evening photography subject.
Say a prayer or two at Balanga Cathedral, previously called as Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral Parish of St. Joseph. This is the seat of the Diocese of Balanga which comprises entirely the civil province of Bataan. Mark your calendar for the Feast Day of St. Joseph on March 19 and April 28 or the “pistang bayan”.
Looking for mouthwatering classic steaks for families and friends? Balanga’s homegrown Daddylo’s offers generous yet affordable servings of tasty steaks, burgers, and milkshakes. Some of their must-trys are Daddylo’s Hungry Burger and T-Bone Steak with thick-cut fries.
Another local favorite is The Beanery Cafe. Order their best-selling Jello Freeze and Caramel Macchiato and pair it up with their pastries and main courses. The cafe has two branches in Balanga – San Jose and Capitol Drive, and another in Dinalupihan and Orani.
Nightlife may be relatively modest as compared to other cities but for a local fun time, Esquinita Kitchen & Pub is the liveliest spot to be. Aside from some acoustic gig, beer pong contest, and booze and pulutan, they also offer butterbeer and caramel beer. How cool can it get? If you want to chill out on a great sound trip, head on to Nico’s Terrace Grill. Or cap the night out at Hangout Bar & Grill.
There’s more to Balanga than stories of World War II. Although not exactly the touristy destination unlike other neighboring areas, the provincial capital of Bataan has a number of exciting things that await to be explored. From natural attractions to adventurous activities, it’s a refreshing weekend getaway from the urban hustle.
If you’re looking for a group accommodation in Balanga City, check out hotels like Crown Royale Hotel, The Plaza Hotel Balanga, Anton’s Dormitel, Arangel Farm Villas, and Gap Plaza Hotel.