Baler is in Aurora Province. Many people commit mistake in associating Baler with Quezon Province. Aurora used to be part of Quezon but the former split from the latter many years ago.
Driving to Baler for first timers can turn into a nightmare. From Manila, taking NLEX and taking exit at Sta. Rita is the usual route traversing Bulacan until you reach a crossing with signs directing motorists to turn right to Aurora while driving straight would lead to Nueva Ecijia.
There are two routes you can take going to Baler:
2. Baler-Bongabon (AVOID THIS!)
Baler-Bongabon route must be avoided. The signs which says Aurora is precisely this road. Don’t follow this sign because this road is mostly unpaved and an hour drive could take three hours or more or even forever if you get stuck in deep mud. In our case, we got stuck in deep mud and luckily there were people working there and helped us get out using their heavy truck equipment.
You also need to pass through a very thin bridge made of scrap metals and a small slight turn could lead to fatal accident. The long unpaved road can make everyone in the car feel exhausted and demoralized even before your vacation starts in Baler. At all cost, if you’re driving for the first time to Baler, be 200% sure that you avoid this road by asking locals.
The road leading to Nueva Ecija should be taken instead of turning right. The road to Nueva Ecija is called Pantabangan. It is paved all the way through and you are sure that you will arrive in Baler in one piece. The trip from Manila to Baler via Pantabangan can take five hours but for us who took that fatal road took eight hours. We were just happy to arrive.
Our car looked like we’ve been through war zone after passing this road. Never again we will take this road again.