Genesis bus line serves Baler from EDSA, takes around 6 hours and you will enjoy the scenery as ir passes through the mountainous area of Aurora province, where he road is being greatly improved. If you are coming from the north stop at Cabanatuan and make your connection there.
Unfortunately so far, only Genesis Bus Transport goes directly to/from Baler/Manila. And if you're crazy enough like us to take a bus and travel at the onset of the Holy Week weekend, prepare for a wild adventure.
The Genes website showed that buses bound to Baler leave every hour starting at 3:00am with the last bus leaving at 7:30am. We called to confirm this and to ask how many buses depart and was advised that they were adding more buses due to the high demand and for us not to worry as long as we get to the terminal early (Genesis Bus Terminal is located along EDSA cor. New York St., Cubao. It is near the Baliwag Transit Terminal). We were also told that as long as there were passengers there would be trips so we were more or less assured. But just to be safe, we asked if we could get seats in advance and was even willing to pay in advance but was told they don't do advance reservations. Unbelievable in this day and age.
We got to the terminal a little before 6:00am and imagine our surprise and panic when we found out that they were already boarding the LAST bus to depart for Baler! WTF?! It was a mad rush to the ticket counter and seats were all first come first serve. Thankfully we were able to get our seats on time as a few minutes after we boarded the bus got full and we left for Baler.
On the trip back to Manila we encountered even worse! Absolute chaos! No ticket counter in Baler, no personnel to set order in the terminal. Whenever a bus arrived bound for Manila it was pandemonium! To each his own with everyone pushing everyone else to get inside the bus first! To think that the bus hasn't even made a full stop and passengers inside haven't even gone down! I felt so sorry for the kids and elderly who were crushed and pushed by inconsiderate people who only thought of themselves.
I really don't know why Genesis Bus Transport still has this kind of system (or non-system) in place but they suck! I will never take that bus again and neither should you.
We are planning to go back to Baler and we just found out that going there today is much easier than before. Genesis now offers a more comfortable option via their executive coach called Joy Bus. For a fare of P650, you get to travel in style and with NO stopovers. The Joy Bus has an onboard comfort room so no need for stopovers and travel time is shorter. They say we can reach Baler in 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours, depending on the weather. There are amenities, too: free snack served by a bus stewardess, wifi, blanket & pillow, reclining seats for a relaxing sleep/nap, and a Good Morning kit (soap, toothbrush and toothpaste). Surfers will be pleased to know they have a wide, secure baggage compartment to include surf boards. The Joy Bus leaves only at 12:00MN & 1:00AM so BOOK in ADVANCE to ensure seats (call 709-05-44 to 45 or 441-6834). The bus terminal is at 704 EDSA Corner New York St., Cubao, QC.
I can't wait to experience riding on a Joy Bus... I'll let you know my experience after our return to Baler.
OUR FIRST GENESIS BUS EXPERIENCE:
Although we were told that our Fortuner could take the rigors of the roadtrip to Baler, we decided to commute by airconditioned bus for our first travel to Baler. We wanted to see how good/bad the road condition was. We took the first Cubao-Baler trip (4:30am) of Genesis Transport Service. There were more buses leaving Cubao at 5:30am & 7:30am, but we wanted to leave earlier. We had stopovers at Cabanatuan City and Pantabagan, Nueva Ecija so we reached Baler Central Terminal by 11:20am. We paid only P394/pax then (Nov.2009), but today, the fare is P418 (check latest fare when you go to Baler).
Cubao-Baler Bus route of aircon deluxe:
The bus passes through the North Luzon Expressway, exits at DauExit, enters Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, exits at the last toll plaza of Tarlac, and turns right towards Nueva Ecija. The bus stops to refuel at the terminal in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija and passengers can go down to eat breakfast or use the comfort room. The trip resumes after about 40 minutes. The second stopover is at an eatery with public comfort rooms in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. The trip resumes shortly after 15 minutes. From there, the bus should go directly to Baler, but in our case, we had another brief stopover at the public market of Maria Aurora, Aurora because some passengers needed to have their money changed to smaller bills (bus conductor didn't have change for big bills).
Baler-Pasay Bus Route of aircon deluxe:
Going back to Metro Manila, Genesis bus traces the same route and stopovers, but ends at their Pasay Terminal instead of Cubao. The authorized bus stops in Metro Manila are: Camachile (Caloocan), SM West/Paramount (Quezon City), Quezon Avenue Ilalim (QC), GMA/ Timog Ilalim (QC), Ortigas Ilalim (Mandaluyong), Ayala Ibabaw (Makati) and finally Metropoint (Pasay City).
The tricycle (a motorcycle with a sidecar attached to it) is the main mode of transportation around Baler. Minimum fare is P10/pax for destinations within the Poblacion. To Sabang, the fare is only P12/pax, as indicated in the "taripa" (authorized/standard rates) posted on the tricycle window. The fare for destinations within the same barangay/sitio is P10/pax.
You may rent a tricycle to bring you around the tourist spots. You can request your hotel/resort to make arrangements for you, or you can haggle with the driver yourself. We hired one after consulting our resort waiter on what is the usual practice/rates for hiring tricycles. We then compared the rate with what we've read about in blogs and what we've been told by the local tourism office. We hired a tricycle for P500 half day use in the tourist spots, and gave P150 tip since we were pleased with his service.
You won't need to pay a tour guide to go around Baler since the tricycle drivers and locals are very nice people, willing to help tourists with directions/questions.
If you're leaving at dawn to catch the first trip to Metro Manila, you may make arrangements with your resort staff/guard to call in a tricycle.
there are two roads going to baler. one is via the arterial road (through palayan city), the other is the canili road (via talavera and pantabangan, nueva ecija). both roads are unpaved for most of the way (90-95%). driving cars is strongly NOT recommended, as the rough roads will surely do serious damage.
the arterial road is passable only by light vehicles because of soil erosion and landslides. it has many tight curves and turns and deep ravines. can be very dizzying so don't forget to drink bonamine.
buses can only pass through canili, which offers a more scenic view of the mountains, the virgin forests, and the pantabangan dam and lake.
first timers are discouraged from driving because of the dangerous terrain and the unpredictability of bus and truck drivers. travel time takes four hours of bumps, bumps, and more bumps. it is advised that you leave cabanatuan for baler (and vice versa) in the morning. it is difficult to drive at night as there are no streetlights. be sure your vehicle is prepped up for the journey because if you get a flat tire or car trouble, there is no one to help you but your fellow drivers (if they are willing). there are no gas stations in between cabanatuan and san luis and baler, aurora, so fill up your gas tanks beforehand. there is only one stopover with dining and restroom facilities midway or about 2 hours from your point of departure.
genesis buses leave cubao every hour. the fare is very affordable at 350 pesos one-way. vans also leave cabanatuan city for baler. the fare for a one-way trip is 150pesos.
Since roads to Baler from Nueva Ecija are on the rough side, dusty and bumpy, it is recommended to take the air conditioned Genesis Bus to Baler from either Cabanatuan City or Manila. Cost a couple of Hundred pesos only. Tip : for best seats, board the bus from its "garage" near Sabang Beach as the bus tends to fill up in the bus terminal
Point of Origin/Destination/Bus co./ travel time
Pasay City-Baler, Aurora Genesis Transport- 8 hrs
Cabanatuan City -Baler, Aurora-
Genesis Transport - 4 hrs
ABC Bus Co. 4 hrs
Jeepney 4 hrs
Baguio City -Baler, Aurora-D.Liner Bus Co-8 hrs
Baguio City-Ma.Aurora, Aurora-
D.Liner BusCo.- 7.5 hrs
For more information contact:
Provincial Government of Aurora
Provincial Tourism Office, Aurora Capitol Compound
3200- Baler, Aurora Tel/fax no: 042-2094211 (Baler);042-2094373 (Baler)
Tel/fax no: (632) 743-3932 (Manila)
You have to be aware of the road signs on the highway and careful because Baler has a narrow, rough, some muddy and wet road.