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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrBaguio is a city located 1,524 meters above sea level in the province of Benguet . It is in the southwestern part of the Cordillera mountain range north of Luzon Island in the Philippines and is just 240 kilometers from Manila.
This city is more popularly known as the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’ and the ‘City of Pines’. The year-round, cool temperature in Baguio attracts both local and foreign tourists, making this small mountain resort city one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Baguio enjoys an average temperature of 15°C to 25°C and goes down to 7°C in December and January.
HistoryBaguio was originally named Kafagway by the Kankanaey and Ibaloi tribes who occupied it. In the early 1800s, the Spanish explored northern Luzon mountains and saw the abundance of fertile lands and minerals like copper, gold and ore. Because they were met with strong objections from the natives, the place was divided into Rancherias managed by the aristocrats.
The American arrival in 1900 saw the development of Baguio into a summer health retreat and a civil government was established. Baguio was already a thriving city before World War II. But the war destroyed the city and it was only rebuilt after General Yamashita, Baguio’s Japanese leader surrendered in 1945. A major earthquake destroyed major establishments in the city but new developments are now in place.
AttractionsOne of the most visited cities in Luzon is Baguio with many tourists making it an annual vacation destination. There are a lot of things to do and see in such a small area. As they say, tourism is the middle name of Baguio.
Asin Hot Springs10 kilometers north of Baguio is Tablay where Asin is located with its large swimming pool and hot springs
Baguio CathedralOn Fr. Carlu Loop, Cathedral Hill, climb 100 steps to reach Baguio’s most majestic buildings with richly decorated interiors.
Balatoc Mines and Crosby ParkThirty minutes away at the former mining town of Itogon, Benguet, is this old mine that was rehabilitated so you can experience being a miner for a day at the Vegas Tunnel. Crosby Park has a 6-hectare pine forest and scenic views.
Bell ChurchIt is a group of temples with oriental architecture located on Magsaysay Avenue at the border of Baguio and Trinidad Valley. A mix of Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism is practiced here.
Bencab MuseumFor art lovers, this is a must-see with its four-level museum featuring national artist, Ben Cabrera’s work and other contemporary artists. The place is also the location of Bencab’s house and workshop with a massive vegetable garden, greenhouses, Ifugao huts and forest.
Baguio Botanical GardenIt is located on Leonard Wood Road and has towering pine trees, an art gallery and pocket gardens. Also called ‘Igorot Village’ and ‘Centennial Park’, get a better understanding of Igorot culture and see an example of Cordillera's architecture with its native huts .
Burnham ParkAt the heart of Baguio, this 32-hectare park is the oldest in the city with a variety of attractions including the Burnham Lagoon with rowboats for hire, orchidarium, picnic grove, skating rink and more.
Camp John HayThis used to be an American forces base turned over to the Philippines in 1991. Today, visitors can enjoy well-preserved cottages, golf courses; picnic groves, dining spots; bowling lanes and beautiful landscape.
Easter Weaving RoomWatch the traditional Cordillera weaving process at the Easter Road, Guisad, and buy high quality woven products like bags, placemats, rugs, blankets.
the hanging bridge and a short trek to the 40-feet tri-level waterfalls.
Located on Leonard Woods Road in front of PNKY, this grand house was used as a Japanese garrison and is touted to be a haunted house with sightings of ghostly apparitions. It was recently renovated and is now a museum featuring Filipino artworks of bamboo and wood.
Kennon RoadThis 30-kilometer road popularly known as ‘Zigzag Road’ is the fastest and most interesting access to Baguio. Along the way, you will see the majestic Bridal Veils waterfalls and other smaller ones together with lush greenery, wild sunflowers and views of mined mountains. The real natural rock formation as well as the carved one, both called the Lions Head can be found on Kennon Road.
Lourdes GrottoThis is the shrine of the Lady of Lourdes located on Dominican Hill Road, Mirador Hill and is a staggering 252-step climb to the top. A view of the city greets you at the top.
Mines View Park on Outlook Drive SouthOne of the most popular tourist attractions, this ridge offers a breathtaking view of the Cordillera mountains and the old gold and copper mines.
Old Diplomat HotelThis abandoned place on Dominican Hill Road, Mirador Hill, is beautiful but creepy and said to be haunted.
Philippine Military AcademyFort del Pilar, Loakan Road is the site of the Philippine’s top military institution established in 1905. Visitors can explore the immaculate grounds and see a display of vintage weapons and tanks. There is also a PMA museum and in certain times of the week, you can see cadets practicing their drills.
Strawberry FarmYou can pick your own strawberries and pay for whatever you get at this farm located at Barangay Puquis, La Trinidad, Benguet, or 30 minutes away from Baguio. Picking season is from November to May every year.
Tam-awan VillageIt is an artist’s colony of Kalinga and Ifugao huts perched on the hillside of Pinsao Proper, in the outskirts of Baguio. If you’re looking to purchase artwork by locally known artists, this is the place to go.
Wright ParkLocated across The Mansion, this pine tree park reserve is the site for the most photographed Pool of the Pines which is a 100-meter long pool with both banks lined with towering Baguio pine trees. The Wright Park Riding Circle has hundreds of horses and ponies for hire.
The Mansion on Leonard Wood RoadThis used to be the summer residence of the American governor generals during the American occupation and is now the official summer residence of the Philippine President. See the mini museum, elegant structures, Buckingham Palace-style gate and manicured gardens.
How to Get ThereWhile the fastest way to go to Baguio from Manila is by a 45-minute flight, there are currently no flights to the city. One option is to hire a car from car rental companies like Avis and drive it yourself at a rate of ₱3,000 ($66) per day excluding fuel. Chauffeured cars will be about ₱8,000 ($176) drop-off at Baguio including fuel and driver.
Victory Liner deluxe buses from Caloocan, Cubao, Pasay and Manila in Metro Manila have three scheduled round trips daily which often leave and arrive on schedule. They provide amenities that air-conditioned buses do not have like wide seats, toilets, WiFi, free bottled water and light snack. Bus trips usually take 5 to 6 hours depending on the road and weather conditions. Fare for deluxe buses is ₱700 ($15) per person one way while regular air-conditioned buses is ₱400 ($8.80).
Other buses that go to Baguio include Dagupan Bus (air-conditioned from Cubao in Quezon City ), Genesis bus (air-conditioned from Manila, Cubao and Bataan), Philippine Rabbit (air-conditioned from Manila and Balintawak in Quezon City) and Saulog (air-conditioned from Cavite City*).
TransportationThe main transportation in Baguio are jeepneys and taxis although taxis are more popular as they take you directly to where you want to go and save a lot of time. Taxis are cheaper in Baguio than in Metro Manila as they don’t need to turn on their air-conditioner. Unlike many drivers in Metro Manila, Baguio drivers will give you the exact change. Jeepneys, which pass by most attractions are the cheaper option though at just ₱9 ($0.19) minimum fare.
AccommodationBeing a tourism hot-spot, there is a whole range of accommodations in Baguio ranging from luxurious hotels to cheap dorms.
- Akap Dormitel – 11 Artiaga St., Quezon Hill Road 2
- Dream Transient Homes – Km 4 Marcos Highway
- Hotel Veniz – One Abanao Street
- Villa Mia Hotel and Apartelle – 8 Dominican Road
- De Castro Vacation House – Cruz del Heights Subdivision
- Ridgewood Residences – Juan Felipe, Mines View Park
- Mines View Park Hotel – 1 Apostol Street corner Outlook Drive
- Baguio Holiday Villas – No. 10 Legarda Road
- Azalea Residences – Leonard Wood Road
- The Manor – Camp John Hay, Loakan Road
- Baguio Burnham Suites – Kisad Road
- Le Monet Hotel – Ordonio Drive
- Manhattan Suites – 37 Ayson/Sepic Street
- Hotel Supreme Convention Plaza – 111 Magsaysay Avenue
- Alberto Hotel – No. 1 Villamor Drive
DiningFood lovers adore Baguio with its variety of cuisines. But for those who are looking for healthier food, there is a whole range of restaurants that serve fresh vegetables abundantly grown in the Benguet province.
- Mario’s – Session Road – continental cuisine since 1971
- Eve's Garden - Lamtang Road – By reservation only – vegetarian dishes including 10 varieties of garden-fresh organic lettuce
- Le Chef at The Manor, Camp John Hay – Mediterranean dishes
- Café by the Ruins - 25 Shuntug Road Snacks - ethnic cuisine including native chicken, mountain rice, strawberry wine
- Rose Bowl – 88 Upper, General Luna Road – Chinese cuisine since 1946
- Hill Station – Session Road – continental cuisine
- The Chef’s Home – 13 Outlook Drive – Asian cuisine
- 50’s Diner - 92 Upper General Luna Road Corner Brent Road - Rice Meals, Sandwiches, Pasta
- Forest House Bistro & Café - 16 Loakan Road, SW of Camp John Hay - Rice Meals, Coffee, Pasta
- Café Sabel at Bencab Museum - Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet - Snacks, Rice Meals, Coffee
- Choco-late de Batirol Garden Restaurant - Igorot Park, Camp John Hay – Pampanga cuisine, Hot Native Chocolate Drink
- Good Taste - Harrison Road near Burnham Park - Chinese Cuisine
- Luisa’s Café -53 Session Road - Chinese Rice Meals and Snacks
- Oh my Gulay! - La Azotea Building Rooftop, Session Road - Vegetarian
- Pizza Volante - Theater Bldg, Session Road - Pizza, Pasta, Rice Meals
- PNKY Travel Café - 18 Leonard Wood Road - Snacks, Rice Meals, Coffee
- Te Quiero - Microtel Hotel, Marcoville Upper Session Road - Snacks, Rice Meals, Tapas
- Zola Resto Café - 2nd Floor, Patria De Baguio Bldg, Session Road - Coffee, Pasta, Rice Meals
- Star Café – Session Road – Chinese cuisine
- Bliss Café - Gibraltar Road (Hotel Elizabeth lobby) – Rice Meals, Vegetarian Fusion
NightlifeEven after the sun sets, there are a myriad of activities in Baguio. Dining doesn’t simply mean eating because many restaurants in the city include indigenous cultural presentations with ritual songs and dances using authentic instruments and costumes. Rock, jazz and folk bands perform in pubs, bars and music lounges.
- Nevada Square – perfect for bar-hopping with 14 establishments - Loakan Road
- 18BC – 18 Legarda Road
- Kwago Bar and Cardeli Café – Military Cut-off
- Purple Lounge - Upper Session Road
- Turf Lounge and Bar – Laubach Road
- The Lobby at The Manor – Camp John Hay
- Alberto’s Music Lounge – Canno Street
- The Flying Gecko – Session Road
- Palazzo D Bliss – 38 Military Cut-off
ShoppingYou can never leave Baguio without buying some souvenirs and native goodies. The most popular buys that local and foreign tourists take back with them include native delicacies, fresh vegetables and handicrafts. There is the ubiquitous kinky barrel-man, carvings, ethnic woven crafts and Baguio shirts. Here are some popular shopping places:
Baguio Public MarketBe prepared to haggle in this treasure trove where you can buy cheap clothes to everything you want to take home like strawberry preserves (Tamtanco brand with strawberry bits), ube (purple yam) jam; peanut brittle, sausages; fruit wine, dried tobacco alongside native sausage (longgania) and Baguio brooms. Native crafts include wood carvings, woven blankets; bags and sweaters, baskets; brass items, silver jewelry and more. Located on Rajah Soliman Street, it is the retail market for fresh vegetables from the La Trinidad Valley in Benguet like lettuce, potatoes; carrots, cabbage; broccoli, lettuce and fresh fruits like strawberries, Sagada oranges and Sablan bananas.
Strawberry HouseTouted to sell the best strawberry preserves, this shop on 19 Naguilian Roads also sells strawberry wines and candies.
Good Shepherd ConventLocated on 8 Gibraltar Road, you can buy strawberry jam, purple yam jam, choco flakes, peanut brittle and cashew brittle made by nuns.
Narda’sLocated on Upper Session Road, this is the place to go for world-renowned woven cloth items
Maharlika Livelihood CenterDifferent vendors sell antiques, ethnic furniture and Filipiniana products
The St. Louis Filigree ShopThe shop sells pretty silver trinkets, fine jewelry, cutlery, décor and personalized silverwork. Located on Gen. Luna corner Assumption Road.
Wood Carvers VillageFive kilometers from the city is Asin where the Ifugao Wood Carving Village is. They sell beautifully carved curio items at low prices.
Mt. Cloud BookshopAn interesting selection of books, postcards and stationery located at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road.
Mines View Park tourist marketOther than the great view you get at Mines View Park, the flea market is a rich source of Baguio handicrafts.
Night MarketHarrison Road transforms into a night market where bargain hunters get the best buy for ukay-ukay or second hand clothes. Baguio is known for designer brand second hand clothes.
SM City BaguioThe biggest mall in Baguio has the anchor SM Department Store and Supermarket together with retail shops, dining outlets and service centers. One good place to buy souvenirs and native delicacies.
Things to DoAside from the usual touristy things of sightseeing and shopping, there are many things you can do in Baguio that you can probably not do in the usual hectic days. Here are some things to do in the city:
- Go walking in the parks and gardens and enjoy the lush greenery and fresh mountain air
- Enjoy the fresh vegetables of Trinidad Valley and have healthy meals
- Get some art lessons at Tam-awan Village or Botanical Garden
- Play golf at Camp John Hay and Baguio Country Club
- Read a good book at quaint book shops
- Have a quiet evening by the fireplace or outdoor bonfire
- Go horseback riding
FestivalsBaguio is synonymous with the Panagbenga Festival. For those who want a quiet Baguio, this is not the time to go. The Panagbenga Festival is celebrated every last weekend of February and is one of the major festivals in the Philippines and brings in troves of tourists including popular personalities from the entertainment industry. Baguio is the ‘City of Flowers’ and the festival is a showcase of the most beautiful blooms of the region. There is a parade of flower-laden floats, band and street dancing competitions.
In November, the Grand Canao, a traditional highland thanksgiving festival is held in Baguio. This is grand event with traditional games, dances, songs and ceremonies of the Cordillera people. Animals are slaughtered and roasted and tapuey or rice wine is served.
Throughout the year, Baguio hosts other activities like golf tournaments, arts festival, food festivals, the PMA Homecoming and Himig ng Pasko Christmas festivities.
Safety and Travel TipsBook your accommodations very early if you are going during the festivals, on Philippine holidays and long weekends.
The road going to Baguio is treacherous at certain times of the year. Fog limits the view of the road. During rainy days and immediately after, landslides are common at Kennon Road and even at the Marcos Highway.
Pickpockets are prevalent in Baguio so be very vigilant about your bag, mobile phones and other valuables especially when there are crowds.
Baguio is getting crowded even on ordinary days because of the economic zones and business process outsourcing companies in the city that have attracted workers from other places. Those sensitive to fumes must be aware that the city is quite polluted already.
Mines View Park is quite crowded and its stones are slippery so take extra care especially during wet days. Have someone assist you to avoid falls.
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Author: janblim. Last updated: Jan 26, 2015