Baguio: A Trip To The Mountains
Something about the place:
Located at the mountainous region of the Cordillera, Baguio City is a famous tourist spot here in the Philippines because of its cool climate, the fresh pine tree-scented air, the culture and traditions, historical past and more. It is approximately eight degrees cooler than the lowlands. It is known to be the “Summer Capital of The Philippines” and also called “The City of Pines”. Other than being tagged as the summer capital of the Philippines, this is also a famous place for newlyweds or honeymooners during the months of June, July and August. The city is blessed with cultural, historical and beautiful panoramic views from the mountains. The city was developed by the Americans when the Philippines was still under the American colonial rule. This used to be the vacation spot of the Americans in the 1900’s.
Local and international tourists visits Baguio City often. It’s a weekend getaway for people living in Metro Manila since it only takes 5-7 hours travel time by land, depending on what expressway used as well. It may be a long drive but it’s all going to be worth it when you start feeling the Baguio breeze. You know how fiestas and festivals are a thing here in the Philippines? Well, Baguio offers this wonderful festival called the Panagbenga Festival or the Flower Festival. The word “Panagbenga” came from a Kankanaey word that means “Season of Blooming”. This is when the locals design their huge floats with different kinds of flowers and join the parade with music, dancing, bright colored costumes and even food! Exciting right? This festival happens every February of the year and lasts for a month.
The people here:
People living in Baguio are from all over the Philippines and other parts of the world. The main language spoken here is Ilokano, but other languages include English, Tagalog and Chinese. Some native dialects are spoken here such as Ifugao, Kankanaey, Ibaloi, Kapampangan and Pangasinense. The native people who inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera are called Igorots or the mountain people. They wear colourful hand-woven clothes with the same design usually, headdress, accessories made from wood, and more. People in Baguio are very friendly and honest. In my experience, we took a cab and since I’m someone who lives in the city and is used to giving tips to the cab driver, I don’t get the change anymore. When we were going down the cab, the driver gave my change back which is really amazing since my change is only 1 peso only. It honestly made my day and I thought I was just lucky, but I took several cabs there in Baguio and guess what? Every single cab driver there deserves a medal for being honest.
The Adventure Begins!
When took a bus from Metro Manila to Baguio at 7 in the evening and arrived at the bus terminal at 3 in the morning. I wasn’t able to sleep while we were traveling because I had a large Iced Latte before leaving Manila. We were there too early to check in at the transient house near the bus station but we were able to talk to the owner and we were able to leave our bags at their place while we start seeing the city. We didn’t have an itinerary and it’s best if you travel without one because you’ll never know what’s waiting for you in the area, right? So we went and walked around the city at around 5 in the morning and enjoyed the morning breeze that Baguio offers.
Where to Go and What to Do:
• Baguio Market
We went to the market and saw a lot of strawberries, pasalubongs (food souvenirs), fresh coffee beans, rice, cheap fresh vegetables and the very delicious Tupig (A native delicacy from Pangasinan) that is only being sold here in the mornings.
• Burnham Park
You can walk everything from the market. Just across it, you’ll see the Burnham park where you can do several activities such as biking, boating, running, jogging, zumba, walking and more. Every morning you’ll see people doing their exercise in the area. There are booths here that offers bike and boat rentals! There is a huge man-made lagoon in the center of the park. We rented a boat for less than a hundred pesos for 30 minutes and a bike for 50 pesos!
• Mines View Park
We took a jeepney going to Mines View Park which is less than 10 minutes away from Burnham Park. The park has transformed into a shopping village where you can buy native items such as hand woven clothes, jackets and blankets, handmade wood souvenirs, jewelries, jams & preserves, and lots of keychains for a very affordable price. When buying, make sure to ask for the last price of the items! You can also see the amazing view of the mountains from here and enjoy a panoramic view of nature.
• Good Shepherd
If there’s a must visit place here in Baguio, it’s the Good Shepherd. Why? You will never regret buying their Ube (purple yam) and Strawberry jams! Freshly made jams for everyone! From Mines View Park, you can walk going to the heavenly place of Ube. They also serve freshly brewed coffee to warm you up. Whenever you buy from them, you are actually helping them to send someone to school. Since the place is higher compared to the Mines View Park. they offer a more beautiful view and colder breeze!
• Baguio Cathedral
You have to climb more than a hundred steps to reach the cathedral. It is one of the religious landmarks in the city and is located along the Session Road.
• Camp John Hay
Visiting Baguio is incomplete without visiting Camp John Hay. You’ll find The Manor Hotel, golf course, celebrity owned-houses, basketball and volleyball courts, heated pools, delicious restaurants and more. When we went here, it was a cold and rainy day. We had Italian food for dinner while enjoying the foggy view. Various activities are available here. You can go try their tree-top advendture!
• The Botanical Garden
The beautiful garden where you’ll see and experience the Igorot culture. You’ll see unique Igorot statues, architectures, and more with a hint of Japanese and Korean. There’s a Japanese cave here where you can enter but make sure you know how to get out for it is like a maze! The Botanical Garden is filled with flowers and trees and pine scented air. A place to relax and enjoy the peaceful area. At the entrance you’ll see a group of Igorots sitting there. You may take a photo with them but prepare some change because they’re going to ask for money in exchange of the photo.
• Strawberry Farm & The La Trinidad Market
Strawberries are famous here in Baguio. Locals sell strawberry flavored taho, jams, ice cream and more. Though Strawberry Farm isn’t actually located in Baguio anymore, it’s a place that you should visit! It’s 15 minutes away from Baguio & located at La Trinidad, Benguet. The farm is still a part of Benguet State University used for their agriculture education. When we went there, it’s not the season of strawberries which is pretty sad but we still enjoyed walking the whole farm. If you’re lucky, you can go pick the strawberries from the farm! We were able to score some freshly harvested lettuce and bell peppers and got it for 50 pesos per kilo which is 50% cheaper when bought from the grocery. There were strawberry flavored ice cream being sold outside the farm and I had to buy because why wouldn’t I, right?
After going to the farm, we went straight to La Trinidad market to get some cheap and fresh vegetables! Like really cheap compared to the markets in the lowlands. This is where trucks would put their products before distributing it to different places! For just 700 pesos, you can buy one huge plastic of several types of vegetables! #WorthIt
You know how Brazil has this city with colourful houses? When you’re travelling going to La Trinidad, you’ll pass by a mini-brazil inspired area where houses are painted with different colors!
• Session Road
Best time to stroll down Session Road is in the afternoon where night bars and restos open their lights and music. A long road filled with good food, ukay-ukay (thrift shops), vintage and branded things at a bargain price and more. At night, the street between Session Road and the Burnham Park closes to give way to the night market. A street is filled with ukay-ukay stands, shoes, clothes, souvenirs and of course, food! The night market starts at 9 in the evening and ends before the sun rises. I was able to buy several sweaters for 10 pesos each and it’s all branded.
- If you’re a student or travelling with a student/PWD/Senior Citizen, make sure to present your ID when purchasing a ticket to get a discount.
- Keep your itinerary open
- If you’re traveling to explore and learn, don’t join group tours with fixed itineraries and create your own itinerary instead!
- Cabs. Use the cabs as mode of transportation since it’s one of the easiest way to go around the city.
- Ask for last price when buying from souvenir shops. Bargaining is the key.
- Explore authentic food instead of going to the usual fast food chains
- For budget travelers, go for dorms or transient homes for your lodging.
- Talk to locals and ask questions