Baguio: The City of Pines
Every summer in Philippines, starting from the month of April, many Filipinos as well as foreigners go to a place where the heat season can be spent best. This is the city called Baguio, known as the summer capital of the Philippines. It is located at the mountains of Benguet province. The main reason why most tourists go there is because they want to enjoy the cool climate that can never be found elsewhere in the country. However, it is not only during summer when most people drive up to Baguio. Baguio also has a lot of visitors during the months of November until January when the climate is definitely colder than its usual temperature.
Best Time to Visit Baguio
The climate is perfect for growing various kinds of plants and agricultural products. Photographers, flower enthusiasts, tourists, and alike come together every February to witness the spectacular Panagbenga Festival also known as the Flower Festival. It is actually a month long celebration which highlights the grandiose floats created by the locals boasting the vividly colored flowers grown in the city. The floats will be then paraded starting at the Session Road and ends at the Burnham Park. The roads will be then closed to all types of vehicles as bands, street dancers, and people from all walks of life come together to enjoy the annual festival. However, if you want to enjoy Baguio without so much people and so much traffic, this is not the great time for you to come in this tourist destination.
What to See
During the normal days, Baguio is a place where you easily roam around and visit all the tourist spots. If you happen to be there during summer, it is a must that you visit the infamous Mines View Park. The picturesque view of Benguet’s gold mine is what you could see from the viewing deck. I advise you not to go to Mines View Park during the rainy season (May-August) since all you can see is fog. During the summer, it is best to go there by morning until afternoon when the sky is clear.
After you enjoyed the captivating scenery at the Mines View Park, you might want to visit the Good Shephered Convent. It is only few blocks away from Mines View Park and can be reached within 5 minutes of walking. While there, do not forget to buy any of their local delicacies especially their famous Ube Jam. Every time you purchase a product at the convent, you not only enjoy the delicacy but would help fund the scholars of the convent as well.
“Upper Asin Road has some beautiful wood carvers and the occasional bargain can be found there. Farther down Asin Road are hot springs and swimming pools, perhaps 10 kilometers at most. The City Market also has some great stalls for wood carvings too but keep an eye on your wallet and valuables as the occasional pick pocket has been known to shop there as well. A quick trip to the Easter Weaving facility lets you see beautiful local cloth, available raw or made into clothes and accessories. Ask to see downstairs where the women are working at their looms, turning exquisite native designs into charming textiles.
Might be good to mention Tamawan Village where they have a nice art gallery, local art students sketch your portrait for 100 pesos, and there are wonderfully preserved examples of various types of native structures such as homes and storage houses from around the Cordillera. The fertility hut which can be rented overnight is a great favorite among some married couples.” Added by SM Allen
Where to Stay
There are also various accommodations available in Baguio that would suit the number of guests, their budget, and their needs. Since most of the tourists that go there are in a group of four or more, transient houses are the most rampant form of accommodation for the whole family. These are usually located not far from the city and from the tourist spots as well. But you can still choose transient houses that are far from the modern lifestyle in Baguio. Usually, the price starts at 2,000-5,000 depending on the season and how big the house is.
There are rooms for rent for the backpackers. Most of these inns can be found at busy areas of Baguio. The InnSison Apartelle would allow backpackers to rent a room in a dorm-type area for only P350 (less than $10). But if you want a full room with one bedroom on it and can accommodate two persons, you can go for their standard room for as much as P1000 only or $20.
Because of the nice cool climate, Baguio is the perfect place to rekindle your relationship or spend your honeymoon. The Camp John Hay Hotel is the best place to do all sorts of activities that would help you bond with your sweetheart. It takes you away from the noisy streets of the city.
If you want to experience the modern Baguio, then look for hotels or transient houses that are near the Burnham Park or Session Road. But the room rates in these hotels are definitely high. On the other hand, if you want to see the best views, the best climate and the real Baguio, look for accommodations that are located at the upper area of the city.
What to Eat
Since the climate is cold, you would definitely want to try all kinds of foods in Baguio. Hawker foods as well as small local restaurants are rampant within the area of Burnham Park. Do not forget to try the hot Bulalo (beef shank soup) and the grilled squid. The best Bulalo is at the Slaughter House. Actually it is not a name of a specific restaurant but it is the food stalls located near Baguio’s slaughter house. So you will be eating freshly meat everyday.
But I highly recommend dining at SM City Baguio located at the upper Session Road. Most of the restaurants there have outside seats so that you can enjoy not only good food but the view as well. There is a wide variety of food choices from local Filipino foods, to Italian food and even Korean specialties.
“Places to eat might mention Honey in the Rock, on Marcos Highway, which is committed to top quality organic food and produces some dishes with wonderful depth of flavor. And for a wider range of Filipino foods, you simply can’t go wrong by stopping at Bario Fiesta also know as Pinoy Hotpot. A bit more expensive, but attention to detail and with offerings taken from around the islands and prepared with a wonderful touch. Higher end restaurants dedicated to an international cuisine would have to include Marios, while Sunday Brunch at the The Manor in Camp John Hay is simply the best anywhere outside of Manila.” – added by SM Allen
By 6 P.M., Baguio turns into a city of souks where you can find the most fashionable and cheapest accessories and clothes for sale. If you are fond of jewelries made from silver, go to Session Road and start strolling at the stalls there. You will see all sorts of authentic silver jewelries that you would definitely like. Ask the price and you will be surprised how cheap it is. But you can get an even better deal so don’t forget to haggle! Try to haggle as much as twenty percent off of the regular price. Also, try to look for the numbers 956 at the inner portion of the silver jewelry (if it is a ring) to know whether it is authentic or not. The silver souk is from 6 PM – 9 PM.
Session Road is also the best place to look for an excellent nightlife experience in Baguio. If you want to dance and listen to great live music, go to Padi’s Point. Every night, different local bands perform here. If you are going at Padi’s Point with friends, you order their Beer Barrel instead of individual beer bottles so that you can save more money.
Remember to do these at Baguio
So before you leave Baguio, don’t forget to do all the important and exciting activities for you and your family such as the:
- Have your picture taken at the Lion’s Head (landmark that you are already in Baguio)
- Horseback riding at Wright Park
- Shop for second-hand-not-so-used clothes near the city market
- Haggle for these cheap goods
- Eat lots of strawberries (best eaten with salt)
- Boat ride at Burnham Park
- Take pictures with Igorots and wear their costume for 20 pesos
- Have a shot with the biggest dog in Baguio (usually he and his owner is at the Mines View Park)
Getting around Baguio
You can tour around Baguio easily if you have your own vehicle. You may rent at the local car rental companies or try to commute instead. Taxis and air-conditioned vehicles are available to take to the different places in the city. You may also opt to ride the jeepney but it is not very advisable since you could get too much smoke from other vehicles while traveling.
Getting to Baguio
To get there, you can take an airplane coming from Manila. It will only be a one-hour ride from Manila’s Ninoy International Airport going to Baguio Airport. If you are from abroad, ask your travel agent if they have a direct flight going to Baguio. But others would choose to drive up to Baguio since it is only five hours away from Manila. However, make sure that you start your journey as early as 4 A.M. to avoid the traffic and get to Baguio early.
“Asian Spirit dropped their service so the best way up is by Victory Liner standard or deluxe service. The silver on the street is rather notorious for not being silver.” – added by SM Allen
PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He loves advising travellers to Philippines and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Philippines with everyone. Learn more about me [+]