7 Things To Do & See In Balanga, Bataan, Philippines

things to do in balanga city philippines

Are you a history lover? A two and half hour drive from Manila is Balanga, a province rich in history, particularly World War II stories. The city has plenty of historical sights that every Filipino and tourist should visit. You can explore the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park or witness the bravery and sacrifice at the Bataan World War II Museum. Read on to find out the things to do in Balanga, Bataan.

1. Bataan World War II Museum

Balanga City Hall
Source: Photo by user Vinz.pagdanganan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This museum inside Balanga Elementary School is built for the heroes of Bataan. It’s just a small museum run by mostly volunteers who are World War II survivors. The volunteers also serve as guides and they have first-hand accounts of the war.

One guide was 12 years old when the war happened. Strangely, she can still describe, in detail, the horrors of the Japanese invasion of Luzon. Listening to her story will make you appreciate the museum more and why it was built.

Outside the museum is a torture chamber that’s off-limits to the public. The chamber looks creepy. The World War II Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance fee is 0.50 USD for students; 0.75 USD for senior citizens and about 1 USD for regular visitors.

Bataan World War II Museum

Address: Balanga Elementary School Compound, Jose P. Rizal St., Balanga, Bataan

Facebook: Bataan World War II Museum

2. Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga

Plaza Mayor de Balanga Fountain
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jepoic used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Here, you’ll find the newest hotel in Balanga built in 2014. It’s called The Plaza Hotel, an architectural icon in the city of Balanga. The hotel structure is a mix of old and new, just like the city itself which is a combination of modern and Spanish architecture.

The plaza will remind you of Spain and it comes to life at night. The city is full of colorful lights and people who love to chill while having an ice cream tempura. The tempura is a must-try in Balanga.

Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga

Address: City of Balanga

3. Mount Samat National Shrine

Mount Samat National Shrine (Dambana ng Kagitingan)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sandrock001 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Also called the Dambana ng Kagitingan, the Mt. Samat Shrine was built in honor of the Filipino’s heroism during the war. The steel-made memorial cross is for the fallen soldiers who fought against the Japanese soldiers. At the cross’ foot are sculpted Filipino heroes.

Inside the shrine is a museum containing photographs and some weapons used during the war. You will also find an altar with the Philippines’ flag in front of it. There is also a viewing deck for the visitors where they can get a good view of Bataan and the Manila Bay. The shrine is also a symbol of sacrifice made by the fallen soldiers for the country’s freedom.

Take a side trip while at Mt. Samat. Dunsulan Falls is at the foot of Mt. Samat and is also worth a visit. Take a dip in the tempting waters of the falls after studying Filipino history at the shrine. There is an entrance fee of 1 USD.

Mount Samat National Shrine

Address: Mount Samat, Balanga

4. Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

488Balanga Nature and Wetland Park 14
Source: Photo by user Judgefloro used under CC0

Like to see migratory birds? Thousands of them are in Balanga Wetland and Nature Park. They found sanctuary in Balanga, thanks to the local government.

Every year, the city of Barangay holds the Ibong Dayo Festival to celebrate the migratory birds. Tourists can rest in huts while admiring the migratory birds. They can also climb the viewing deck and get a good view of Mt. Samat and the Manila Bay.

There is a natural beauty in this place that you surely will love. There is a mangrove trail here in the park, a museum, and souvenir shops. You can also rent a cottage for a minimal fee. The park is perfect for a family get-together.

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

Address: Balanga City, Luzon

Facebook: Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

5. St. Joseph Cathedral

Balanga Cathedral 2018
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Teemu Väisänen used under CC BY-SA 4.0

During the war, this cathedral was used to bombard Mt. Samat and was later renovated by the bishop with St. Joseph as the patron saint of the province. This is another historical site in Balanga because the cathedral survived the horrors of the war. Masses start as early as 5 a.m. on Sundays. The cathedral is at the heart of the city so you really won’t miss it. If you’re into antique churches, then include St. Joseph on your list.

St. Joseph Cathedral

Address: J.C Aquino Avenue, Libertad, Balanga, Bataan

6. Surrender Site Marker

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Also located inside the Balanga Elementary School is another historical site that you need to see. This is the Surrender Site Marker, the actual site where the major general signed the surrender documents. This happened on April 9, 1942. They said the surrender happened not because the soldiers no longer wanted to fight, but because they lacked supplies needed for the war. The major general decided to surrender to avoid losing more soldiers to the war.

Surrender Site Marker

Address: Balanga Elementary School Compound, Jose P. Rizal St., Balanga, Bataan

7. Flaming Sword

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Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Judgefloro used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

This isn’t just a sword, but a symbol of Filipino courage and heroism. During Araw ng Kagitingan or Bataan Day, war veterans from different provinces of the Philippines visit this site to honor the fallen soldiers during the war. There is a guide at the site who will narrate what transpired during the war. Once you learn its history, you will never look at the flaming sword in the same way again.

Flaming Sword

Address: Balanga City

Balanga is more than just a historical site

When you hear the word “Bataan,” you will remember the brave Filipino soldiers who fought during the war. The province’s historical past is indeed one reason why you need to visit the city. But there’s more to Balanga than stories of World War II; it’s also a city with beautiful attractions, good people, and good food. And that’s another reason why you should pay it a visit soon.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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