Baguio City is, without a doubt, the most popular choice for a summer getaway by most Filipinos. Nestled at about five thousand feet above sea level, this American built mountain resort enjoys quite a cool weather all year round. The truth is: it is always cooler here by eight to ten degrees vis-à-vis the lowlands temperature. The economy of the city is centered on tourism and its educational institutions, of which it has seven colleges and universities. It is estimated that these schools comprise 100,000 students.
At the height of summer , 250,000 lowlanders cram its streets and parks to luxuriate in its “air-conditioned” climate. The trade center of the city is bounded by Session Road, Harrison Road, Magsaysay Avenue and Abanao Street, where commercial and business establishments abound.
The perpetually crowded City Market offers a wide array of colorful woven fabrics, wood carvings, cut flowers, strawberries, prime vegetables and other highland products that are favorite take home gifts of tourists to their loved ones back home.
The average temperature is from 15-26˚C, and it can drop down to 8˚C from December to early February. The weather follows the typical Philippines’ seasons: Dry Season from October to May and the Wet Season from June to September.P
PLACES OF INTEREST IN BAGUIO CITY
MINES VIEW PARK
A ridge located at the extreme northeast side of the city, past The Mansion and Wright Park, Mines View Park boasts of a spectacular view of Benguet’s gold and copper mines and the Cordillera mountains.The main attractions in Mines View Park nowadays would be the commercial activities such as the souvenir and silverworks stores by the park. The one especially worth visiting is Rimando’s, that offers the best carved artifacts, on the Gibraltar side.
CAMP JOHN HAY
Located on the south eastern side of the Summer Capital of the Philippines, its Main Gate is now located on Loakan Road, a 5-minute drive from its old location at the Upper Session Road-Loakan Road-South Drive rotunda.Camp John Hay has a second entrance accessible via the Baguio Country Club road, which is closer to the other major tourist attractions of the City of Pines.
Burnham Park is centered around a man-made lake located at the heart of the city. It was named after the city’s planner, Daniel Burnham. The park is a favorite place of local residents and visitors alike. There are different facilities for recreation and relaxation that are available in the park. You can row a boat, have a picnic, attend an outdoor concert, watch a football game, go biking, or just take a leisurely stroll around the park.
At the southern end of the park is a circular skating rink where skates can be rented. There are also tennis and basketball courts, a few restaurants, outdoor kiosks, a children’s playground, and an orchidarium where various kinds of plants, trees and flowers are sold. Chairs and benches are distributed around the park for those who just want to sit down and relax.
The football field at the eastern side of the park is sometimes used for parades, carnivals, concerts, political rallys, and for display booths during special events and activities. On certain Sundays and some special occasions, cadets of the Philippine Military Academy perform a parade and review or a silent drill exhibition at the field. Just after the big earthquake that hit the city in 1990, many of its residents fled their homes for fear of aftershocks and temporarily set camp in this field.
The Lourdes Grotto is another Catholic shrine and place of meditation in Baguio. It is located on a high hill in the western part of the city where you will find the image of the Lady of Lourdes.
The grotto is a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week most especially during Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Access to the top of the grotto could be made by climbing the 252 steps or by driving a light vehicle through a winding, narrow and steep asphalt-paved road. Devotees who go up to the grotto to pray usually light up a candle at an altar below the image. There are also vendors at the shrine who are willing to light up a candle for you and say a prayer for whatever personal intentions you might have.
As it is in many other similar shrines, the grotto was constructed to commemorate the numerous visions of the Virgin Mary by a 14-year old French girl named Bernadette Soubirous. This happened in 1858 from February 11 to July 16 in the town of Lourdes which is in southwestern France. The visions were declared authentic by the Pope in 1862 and this also led to the authorization of the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Mansion is located on the eastern part of the city along the Leonard Wood Road and right across from Wright Park. It was built in 1908 for U.S. governor-generals and was destroyed in 1945 during the battle for the liberation of the Philippines.
The Philippine government later rebuilt and improved the structure in 1947 and since then it has been used by various Philippine presidents whenever they come up to Baguio for their official visits and engagements. The Mansion served as the seat of the Second Session of Economic Commission of Asia and the Far East in 1947. It has also been the site of first meeting of the South East Asia Union which was popularly known as the Baguio Conference of 1950 which was conceived and convened by President Elpidio Quirino.
The elaborate main gate of the Mansion is said to be a replica of that at Buckingham Palace in London. Vehicles entering the compound pass through a great circular driveway and it is usually open only when the Mansion is used for an official function or activity. With its beautiful gardens and a well-manicured lawn, it is a favorite site for sightseeing and picture taking.
is the main thoroughfare of the city and the center of Baguio’s commercial establishment. This is where you will find department stores, banks, movie houses, and bazaars. There are also some hotels, bakeries, restaurants, newspaper stands, bookstores, boutiques, cafes, and studios along Session Road.
Local residents, students in the different schools and universities in the city and visitors alike spend most of their free time just going up and down Session Road. It is a place to go window shopping, looking at people, or just taking a leisurely walk during a cool and quite afternoon or evening. Visitors should take note that residents of Baguio City are predominantly Catholics and when the Angelus (a Catholic devotion in honor of Annunciation and Incarnation) is supposed to be recited in the evening at 6:00 o’clock, a loud continuous siren is heard all over the city to remind everyone about it.
There are numerous important religious landmarks around the city however Baguio Cathedral is the most significant. With its two tall, pink towers the cathedral is a beautiful sight on the Baguio skyline and once acted as a shelter for thousands of people during WWII bombings
Situated on Baguio city border with Trinidad Valley is this stunning cluster of temples. Built in an exotic oriental style with an ornate gateway, pagoda, dragon ornaments and Buddha statues, the Bell Church offers excellent photo opportunities. The priest at the Bell Temple practices a combination of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Christianity, and it’s possible to have your fortune told here.
ACTIVITIES IN BAGUIO CITY
Baguio City Public Market
A good place to stroll around and people watch. The market specialises in fresh fruit and vegetables as well as flowers. The market is awash with colour as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and other delights line the stalls. It’s also a good place to pick up handicrafts as well as backpacks, baskets and other locally made items.
Dining Out in Baguio
Eating out is normally a good experience in Baguio, with an excellent range of restaurants to choose from. All tastes are catered for here with restaurants including Mongolian, Chinese, Italian, American, Korean, Japanese and of course plenty of local delicacies to sample.
North Philippine eateries include small family-run restaurants, fast-food chains and bakeries offering up delicious bread, sweets, cakes and other local delights. The best area for eating is Session road, where it is always possible to find plenty of food choices between 10:00 and around 22:00.
There are a number of local delicacies that you should sample, and the best idea is to be brave and experiment. One dish you shouldn’t miss out on is kulangot ng intsik, coconut shell sweet treats that are native to Baguio. The name literally translates as ‘Chinese boogers’, but don’t let that scare you off. Peel off the red paper that holds the sweet together and savour the brown nectar inside.
Baguio’s pleasant climate means that eating al fresco is a popular option. Choose one of the city’s many parks or open spaces, pack a picnic and head for a lovely lunch. There are plenty of places in town where you can buy suitable picnic food including bread, salad, cheese and wine.
Aside from the many eateries on Session road, it is also be a good idea to check out some of the city’s best hotels. Many of Baguio’s luxury accommodations offer fine meals at their onsite restaurants.
Horseback Riding in Baguio
Going on a horse or pony ride is a popular activity for children and there are some good options for this activity in Baguio. The best two places for riding are Wright Park or Camp John Hay. At weekends or during school holidays it can get pretty busy at these places, making arranging a riding excursion during the week a good idea. There are also possibilities for more extensive pony treks at Mines View Park or Outlook drive.
Pony riding is especially good for families with small children, and the best place to head for this activity is Wright Park. The ponies here are sturdy and can carry adults, but visitors should ensure they ride an animal that can manage their weight. Tourirts can either go for a simple trot around the park or on a longer ride with an experienced guide.
Outdoor Things to Do in Baguio
Visitors to Baguio will have no problem in finding outdoor activities to add to their holiday experience. Climbing enthusiasts will enjoy the outdoor mountain climbing and indoor climbing facilities. River trekking is great fun and good exercise, while the Philippines also have some excellent caves to explore.
Shopping in Baguio
Baguio is a good shopping destination and the shopping options here are endless. The region is renowned for its hand-woven fabrics, with the tribe-folk of Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Igorot being famous for weaving cotton with beautiful motifs called lepanto. The best place to shop for these fabrics is the city market. If you’re interested in finding out how the fabric is made, then you can head to Easter road to the Easter Weaving School and watch the weaving process as they produce blankets, blouses and bags for the local market.
Aside from fabrics, the region is known for its high quality silver jewellery, traditionally crafted by Ifugao blacksmiths. A visit to the St Louis University silver shop will allow you to watch young silver craftsmen busy at work. The shop is located close to the Baguio Cathedral and you can purchase some beautiful pieces here. Another place to buy silver is at Wright Park, where you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of different items made from silver.
For delicious sweets and preserves head to the Good Shepherd Convent, where nuns raise funds for various good causes by cooking some of the most fantastic preserves in the country. In the peak season you should visit the convent in the morning to try and avoid the long lines that form later in the day. The nuns’ strawberry jam, coco jam, and cashew and peanut brittle are especially recommended.
This is the most common and economical way to get to Baguio City from Metro Manila. Several bus lines ply the Metro Manila to Baguio route with terminals scattered across the metro. It generally takes about 5-7 hrs to get to Baguio by bus. An hour longer than it would by car due to stops along the way.
- Victory Liner, ☎ +63 2 727 4534, +63 2 833 5019 to 20, has hourly bus service to Baguio from its Monumento Main terminal in Caloocan City, Cubao and Pasay terminals. Buses are generally modern and air-conditioned but seats are sized generally for Filipinos and tall people would need to take advantage of the various stopovers to stretch their legs. Cost is just ₱455 per person one way (Most expensive among Aircon buses going to Baguio). A non-stop deluxe bus service is also available for 750 Pesos per person one way, water and snack are served during the trip. Semi-Deluxe buses are now included with one stop at Tarlac Shell station , costs around 650 pesos, no toilet inside the Bus.
Dagupan Bus, New York St., Cubao, Quezon City, ☎ +63 2 929 6123. Also serves the Manila to Baguio route via its Cubao Terminal. Buses leave on an hourly basis.
From Clark airport
Partas Bus operates a bus service that stops at Clark airport and heads north from there, departing the airport at 5PM. Get off at Sison (arrival there around 8PM) and cross the road to the restaurant stop opposite and get on a Victory Liner bus that does a dinner stop there. The fare from Clark airport to Sison on Partas Bus is ₱193, then from there by Victory Liner to Baguio is an additional ₱90. Travel time is 3 hours Clark to Sison, then 1 1/2 hours Sison to Baguio, plus some waiting time at Sison.
From Angeles City
Philippine Rabbit operates from Dau Terminal. Journey takes about 4-5 hr.
From La Union
Partas Bus- Journey takes less than 2 hr
Partas Bus -Journey takes 6-7 hrs. Bus about every 2 hours.
From Manila to Baguio by car, take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Quezon City until Clark and then hop on to the new Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) all the way north to Tarlac City, Tarlac. From there, it’s back to the old McArthur Highway until Rosario Junction, La Union. Motorists drive through the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan and La Union (if via Marcos Highway) or Benguet (if via Kennon Road).
Of the three main routes leading up to Baguio, scenic Kennon Road is the shortest, taking only three-quarters to one hour from the foot of the mountains in Rosario, Pangasinan.
Marcos Highway starts in Pugo, La Union (a little further to the northwest from Rosario) and takes about one hour but is a wider, less winding road with a more gradual uphill incline and is safer in the rainy season. It has spectacular vistas of the South China Sea on a clear day.
Naguillan Road is usually taken by travellers from the north and will take longer.
All three roads can get blocked by landslides and Kennon Road with its long winding stretches is both scenic and dangerous. If you are intent on driving to Baguio, 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. Visitors need to keep in mind that while it takes at average 6-7 hr to get to Baguio by car, it takes much longer during holiday weekends like Holy Week.
Similar to Manila, jeepneys ply various routes within Baguio and its immediate surroundings.
More convenient for tourists perhaps, taxis are also common but once you are in the outskirts may be a bit hard to come by.
Taxis abound in Baguio. All Baguio taxi cabs are painted white and have the proper identification markings on them. Maximum capacity in each taxi is 5 persons (4 passengers, 1 driver). Taxi in Baguio is far from Manila taxis, here you don’t need to tell them put the meter down and they won’t give you ridiculous prices. They are honest and will give your change up to the last drop yes no kidding!
Car rental in Baguio is a good option for short out-of-town trips and traveling around the city. There are several agencies offering car hire in Baguio and there are both self drive and with driver options available. To rent a car in Baguio you should have an international driver’s license. Baguio usually involves navigating a series of winding mountain roads.The traffic is on the right side of the road. As the Session Road and the public market have a very limited parking space, consider leaving your car outside the city center. Rates for car rental Baguio companies can go by the hour, the day or by the week.
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