Located at 5,000 feet above sea level and with mild temperatures ranging from 9 o â€“ 28o C (48o â€“ 82o F) , this city is called the â€˜summer capitalâ€™ of the Philippines because people climb to the city to escape the summer heat.
Imagine this: the cool breeze ruffling your hair as you drive by the roads of the mountainside. You gaze at the blue skies with low fluffy clouds above you. All around are fragrant pine trees and flowers of all the colors of a rainbow.
Nice isnâ€™t it?
Well then, take it all in as you visit the many parks and places that abound this little paradise. (No need to fret too much; hail a taxi, tell the name of the place and theyâ€™ll take you there.)
But First: How to Get to Baguio
The trip to get to your destination matters. You could choose to go by bus, by air, or by car, depending on your taste and temperament.
Length of trip: 5 hours from Manila to Baguio, plus 2 hours if there are stop-overs.
Where: Victory Liner terminals at Cubao (+632 727-4534) and Pasay (+632 833-5019 to 20)
Dagupan Bus, Edsa cor. New York St., Cubao, Quezon City, Tel. +632 929-6123, 928-5639, 727-2330, 727-2287
Fare: P 380 ($9)
Length of trip: 4 hours from Clark airport to Baguio
Where: Partas Bus
When: Partas Bus stops at Clark airport and heads north, departing at 5 pm. Get off at Sison (around 8
pm) and cross the road to restaurant stop and get on a Victory Liner bus that does a dinner stop here.
Fare: P193 (around $4) from Clark airport to Sison / P90 ($2) from Sison to Baguio
Length of trip: 50 min from Manila to Baguio (the plane lands at Loakan Airport which is 20 minutes from the city center)
When: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Fare: P710 ($17) plus P250 ($6) insurance
Length of trip: around 7 hours and longer during holiday weekends
When: anytime you want!
Where: Drive along North Luzon Expressway and pass through the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan. There are three main routes leading up to Baguio by road: Kennon Road takes only 30-45 minutes to climb from the foot of the mountain (the shortest , the most scenic and the most dangerous), Marcos Highway takes up to 1 hour to climb, Naguillan Road is 3 hours longer. All three roads can get blocked by landslides. Driving as tourists are discouraged; it would be best to hire a Filipino driver for this purpose. Most rental car companies in the Philippines offer chauffeur driven rentals in addition to the usual self-driven rentals.
Fare: P3000 – P 4000 ($60 – $80) per day for a van
Okayâ€¦.weâ€™re here! Where do we go next?
If you are already familiar with the place, you could try riding a jeepney. Minimum fare is P7.50 (Â¢18).
Taxis are common in the city and the drivers are familiar with the places that tourists visit. The fare costs P25 (Â¢60) for the first 500 meters (.3 miles) and adds P1.50 (Â¢4) per 100 meters thereafter. Maximum capacity in each taxi is 5 persons (4 passengers and 1 driver).
Taxis can also be booked for a whole day tour at P1,800 â€“ P2,000 ($43 – $47) for an 8-9 hour tour of all the main attractions in and around town. You can find a taxi at the Tourist Information Counter at the Victory Liner terminal or through your place of accommodation.
Places to See
Take pictures of the beautiful flowers as souvenir (alas, picking the flowers are not allowed).Â At the center of the park is an artificial lake where you and your friends could take boat rides for a fair price. Row your own boat for a challenge, or ask an oarsman to do it for you. A kid in age / at heart? Roam the playground or have a bicycle ride. Feel hungry? Eat some toasted corn, chicharon (crunchy pork skin), balut (boiled duckâ€™s egg), or taho (soybean custard). Take a picnic at the grassy area, or dine in at the restaurants and ihawans (grilled food).
Located at the heart of the city, this place is where business and events are frequently held. During the Panagbenga festival held in February, see a parade of dozens upon dozens of flower-decorated floats. Visit the many shops and eateries that are in this area.
Mines View Park
Climb the stone stairs and view the breath-taking Cordillera Mountains and mines at the observatory deck. You could use a telescope to scan the grounds as well (Big Brother, I can see you!) Yell words of kindness and hear it echo back to you. Take a peek at the many stores that sell native food and novelty items like jewelry, wood carvings, brooms, utensils, embroidery, blankets, clothes, souvenirs, trinkets, toys and even funny-looking ash-trays.
Got the need for speed? Horse-back riding is for you! Choose a pony and gallop full speed at the outside oval or trot gently at the inside oval. A delightful way to commune with nature is to roam the mountains with a trusty steed. Explore the many scenic trails of Baguio for P300 ($7) per hour plus guide fee.
Strawberry FieldsTake a trip to La Trinidadâ€™s Strawberry Fields and pick strawberries during strawberry season (around November). A kilo costs P40 (Â¢80) to P100 ($2). Strawberry shakes, anyone?
Baguio Botanical Garden
Curious about the people? Tour here and marvel at the tribesmenâ€™s costumes, houses and arts. You could also buy plants here like small pine trees, orchids, ornamental flowers and others , if in case you want to take a piece of Baguio wildlife with you. (Remember to replant them somewhere with cold weather also, unless it is a cactus on a pot!)
Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary
Fancy a mystical tour? Have a guide take you to a â€œCosmic Journey.â€ It is a pilgrimage that bathes your soul in the wonders of Mother Nature.
Camp John Hay
Sports-lovers: try out paintball, wall climbing, mini-golfing for P85 ($2), and pony-riding for P 250 ($6) per hour. You could also chase the butterflies at the butterfly sanctuary or stroll along the eco-trails. After that, take a break and have a picnic at the picnic grounds.
Asin Hot Springs
Hot springs in the cool mountains? Of course! Walk the hanging bridge 30 feet from the river. Soak in the heat of all-natural sulphuric water. Itâ€™s all good.
Balatoc Mine Tunnels
Have a guided tour inside the mines of Itogon, Benguet. Wear minersâ€™ costume, wear a chapa (a kind of ID) and ride the train cart to explore the tunnels. Listen as miners teach you the tricks of the trade. Brace yourself for demo explosions. Pan the river for some gold. Leave the tunnel with a rich experience. The rate for adults is P250 ($6) while the rate for students is P150 ($3).
Mount Santo Tomas
Wanna go higher? Climb Baguioâ€™s highest peak and get a view of the whole city, plus the South China Sea. Donâ€™t forget to bring your cameras for picturesque memories.
This is a suave six-level mall overlooking the city. In here, there are lots of shops, entertainment centers, movie theaters, and restaurants. There is no air-conditioning in this mall; the coolness inside comes from the Baguio climate. The roof is open and covered with tents like a circus. Sometimes the mountain fog even creeps inside: added entertainment! Nice view especially at sunset.
Baguio City Market
Offers a lot of goods at a cheaper price than the rest of the Philippines: vegetables, fruits, rice, meat, delicacies, brooms, clothes, and the shopping list goes on and on.
Now, wasnâ€™t that relaxing?
In these times of global warming and frantic living, why not go back to experiencing the simple life? Get away from it all. Take a hike. Go to Baguio City.