A couple of months back, I had a chance to explore Baguio City the second time around. I got to reassess the city and create a new impression that was completely different from the last. Together with a handful of bloggers, we jumped in with our bags and experienced what the summer capital has to offer.
Known for its lush pine trees and cold weather, Baguio has always been a favorite destination when you get tired of the heat in this rather tropical country. The city has always been a favored choice during summer and holidays. However, despite its popularity, I have only visited the place once, back when I was still in college. I felt a little underwhelmed during that time, and I didn’t feel like it was as special as many would say. To be fair, my first time was a quick two-day trip for a class, and the itinerary did not interest me as I hope it would. We were always in a hurry and I didn’t absorb anything significant during that time. I guess I was too busy minding my tired legs that I didn’t get to enjoy whatever Baguio has to offer.
After my latest trip to the city, though, I came home with a strong sense of admiration for this haven in the sky. During the media tour, I saw a community with beautiful people that embrace and empowers creativity and art — a community where I would willingly submit myself anytime. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that that trip was life changing, but it surely made me more interested in coming back, to explore, and to immerse myself in its beautiful culture.
Here’s a quick look of what went down during my latest trip!
What is there to experience?
If it is your first time in Baguio, I bet that many people would tell you to squeeze in a quick trip to the popular places in the city. On your first day, you can go ahead and visit the infamous Camp John Hay, take photographs of the gorgeous pine trees and have a picnic on its huge grounds. Our team had our lunch at the park in CJH right after a terrifying (yet one of the most popular activities in the city) horseback riding session. It was a different experience, but I felt like it could’ve been better if we just walked all the way to Camp John Hay (or we can always take the van, you know).
Background: I am not afraid of horses, but during our trip, one of my co-bloggers had to deal with an angry horse. Her horse was flailing around the place as it felt irritated the whole time. It was extra scary, but she eventually jumped out of it and made her way to Camp John Hay safely. After the incident, I felt a little anxious as my own horse keeps wandering off the pack (it looks like it’s tired) and my guide just lets me navigate myself even if I keep on insisting that I needed help as I really don’t know how to ride horses. We arrived safely at the camp, although I felt exhausted as I would have to call on my guide every single time just to guide my horse back on track.
Another park that is popular with tourists is the Mines View Park. If you’ve seen photos of people together with a huge St. Bernard in Baguio, chances are, those images were taken here. Most people go here because there are tons of touristy things that you can do around. There are a handful of merchants selling souvenirs, Igorots taking photographs with tourists (which is I’m really sad about), and picnic tables with a nice view of the city. I went here during my first visit to Baguio and it was okay. I would have to admit that this place is a bit underwhelming and can be crowded especially during peak seasons.
Of all the must-see places in Baguio, La Trinidad’s Strawberry Farm would definitely be the one that I like. Aside from cheap yet very fresh strawberries, you could also try picking them on your own for a small sum of money. There are also small gardens for flower picking and tons and tons of pasalubong that you can go gaga for. Of course, La Trinidad’s strawberry ice cream and strawberry taho are something that you must not miss. Bonus: try their strawberry wine. It. Is. Delicious.
If you love the arts, Baguio is also the right place to be. Their art community has grown a lot in the past years, and museums have spread out around the city. One of the most popular is Ben Cab Museum in Tuba, Benguet. Home to the works of National Artist for Visual Arts, Benedicto Cabrera, the museum showcases most of his contemporary works in a spacious gallery with a breathtaking view. We weren’t able to visit this during our tour, but basing from what I can see online (and reviews coming in from friends), this place is something worth going for. If ever I go back to Baguio sometime soon, I’m putting this as number one on my itinerary.
During our trip, we were able to visit the Ili-likha Artist Village and Tam-awan Village, both of which offers an eye-opening experience when it comes to preserving art in the area. Ili-likha Artist Village, a quaint little place near Session Road, is an artist studio-cum-foodie haven. Ili-likha Artist Village offers delicious and affordable organic and vegetarian options that will surely satisfy your taste buds. While you’re in the area, you can also talk to the resident artists who have workshops in the village, and get to know more about their craft and how they live their lives as full-time artists.
Tam-awan Village, on the other hand, is a place where you get to witness the interesting architecture and history of Ifugao houses. Doubling as a breakfast and bed, these houses are exact replicas as to what the Ifugao’s abode. It showcases the meaningful stories of each home, giving visitors a peek at who they really are. Tam-awan Village also boasts its galleries and its creative workshops. We were able to experience live sketching during our visit!
If experiencing nature is your cup of tea, Baguio is also perfect to kick off your adventures. During our trip, we get the chance to climb Mt. Yangbew, just a quick 30 minute trip from the city. Want something more challenging? Go ahead and travel all the way to Mt. Pulag in Benguet! If you want to do some surfing, Baguio is also a couple of hours away from La Union.
Last but definitely not the least, you can go ahead and shop your heart out to Baguio’s Ukay Ukay! Home to the best surplus finds, there are so many shops around the city, most of which you can find near SM Baguio. You can also check out their night market, where you can find cheap clothes, accessories, shoes, and much more. Don’t forget to stay vigilant and mindful of your belongings. If you’re not a fan of clothes, you can go gaga and shop their delicacies at the local market. Prices are way cheaper compared to the mall and other souvenir stalls.
Where can I stay in the city?
Baguio is beaming with tons of accommodations for visiting tourists and guests. Whether you are a backpacker or someone who’s willing to pay a bit more for comfort, you will definitely find something here for you.
During my first visit to the city, our class arranged an accommodation on a small inn just beside the strawberry farm. I can’t recall much about it and can’t even find the name of the hotel, but as far as I remember, our room was pretty straightforward — a bed with fresh sheets, a closet for our belongings, and a working bathroom. Aside from that, I really can’t put much details into it.
For my recent trip, we were hosted by the generous people from Azalea Baguio Residences, and it was nothing but wonderful. Our accommodations were great, as the place was four-star rated — the only one in Baguio. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind paying extra for a pleasant stay, then I highly recommend that you check out Azalea.
Where to eat in Baguio?
Believe it or not, the small city of Baguio is overflowing with food places. From the infamous Baguio Craft Brewery to Ketchup Food Community, a quick three-day trip wouldn’t be enough to cover everything.
If it’s your first time going to the city, some of the things that you cannot miss are Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam, Mikasan’s Chocolate Flakes, Strawberry Ice Cream, and the Strawberry Taho.
One of our editors from WheninManila wrote a comprehensive post about Baguio’s food scene, you can read it here.
How much should we prepare for the trip?
This will ultimately depend on your itinerary and your spending capacity. You can go around Baguio for more or less PHP 3,000, excluding the accommodations and the fare coming in from Manila. Since our trip was taken care for, I don’t have a comprehensive guide on our expenses.
A rough estimate for accommodation can go from PHP 500/night to PHP 5,000, depending on the type of hotel that you are booking for. Fare from Manila to Baguio is at PHP 455/way (Victory Liner). You can contact Victory Liner for the trip schedules.
I hope that you find this guide comprehensive! Let me know if you have any questions and I would be more than glad to help you out. Cheers and happy travels!