The Philippines is well known in the travel community for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. However, many are not aware of the one place that many locals enjoy visiting during the hot summers: Baguio City.
Located in the high and cold mountains of Benguet, Baguio is a haven for many who wish to escape the heat of the tropical country and enjoy the cool breeze of the City of Pines.
THINGS YOU MUST DO IN BAGUIO CITY
If you are someone who is very religious, the Baguio Cathedral is the first stop. Its exquisite design leaves everyone in awe, not to mention the overwhelming feeling it gives when you are in its proximity. It attracts everyone, trust me, because I am not religious at all, but I find myself drawn to it.
You can’t claim to have been in Baguio City if you don’t visit Burnham Park. The large park is not only for those who enjoy a colourful nature walk, but also for kids who wish to go on bicycle rides or couples who want to enjoy a romantic boat ride on the lake at the centre of the park. There is plenty to do here, and it is in the centre of town, making it the perfect place to start your tour of the city.
WHAT I LIKE BEST ABOUT BAGUIO CITY
The weather is what lured me to this city. I come from a hot a dry place, and Baguio is the complete opposite. It is below 28 degrees Celsius all year round. During the colder months between December and February, you can enjoy temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celcius. For those who enjoy the colder, fog-filled gloomy atmosphere, like me, then Baguio City is perfect. Plus, because the city is on a mountain, it does not flood during the rainy season as it does in other regions of the Philippines.
BEST WALK IN BAGUIO CITY
I can’t give you a specific answer here, because walking all over Baguio is a joy, no matter where you go. But I guess there are a few places that stand out more than the others.
I have already mentioned Burnham Park, but there is also Camp John Hay, CJH is favourite for both locals and tourist alike, that consists of wide open spaces for family picnics, pine trees everywhere you go, and several food establishments to fill every craving.
Another place to go for a lovely walk is the Botanical Garden, which is filled with lovely aesthetic sceneries and a large diversity of flora. Many come here to escape the city life, or for photo shoots, or simply because they are botany lovers.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN BAGUIO CITY
FOOD! Food, everywhere you look. And man, oh man, is it delicious FOOD! Baguio city offers a variety of dishes, from European and American dishes to dishes from every corner of Asia.
If you are looking for authentic Filipino cuisine, look no further than Good Taste. No need to google directions, just tell the taxi driver “Good Taste po” and they know exactly where to go. This restaurant is probably the biggest restaurant in Baguio City, taking up two entire floors, simply because it is always full of people craving traditional food. Good Taste offers the largest variety of Filipino food for a cheap price.
Don’t think that “cheap” means bad or small portions. On the contrary, the reason why this restaurant is loved by both locals and tourists is due to its exceptional quality and large servings. You will never be disappointed.
A lesser-known hidden treasure is Camping Date (Legarda Road), a Korean restaurant that makes sweet and spicy chicken to die for. Aside from the mouth-watering dishes, Camping Date is different from all other restaurants due to its interior design: every table is inside an actual camping tent. You have the option of a small tent where you would sit on pillows on the floor, or camping chairs. I remember being blown away the first time I went there, and then being blown away a second time when I tasted their food.
BEST FESTIVAL IN BAGUIO CITY
Baguio City is known for its flower festival – Panagbenga. The festival is a month-long celebration that takes place every February. The city comes to life with flowers everywhere you look. The festival involves landscaping competitions, cultural dances from schools all over the city, parades with local celebrities, and my personal favourite, Session In Bloom.
Session In Bloom is a week-long event that takes place in main street (Session Road), where it is completely shut down to traffic, and replaces with food stalls and other little stalls that sell trinkets and books and flowers, of course. This event takes place during the last week of Panagbenga as a sort of “closing with a bang”.
BEST NIGHTLIFE IN BAGUIO CITY
Besides the usual clubs and bars (which can be found in every city around the world), Baguio offers something a little better – the Night Market. From 9 pm to midnight, enjoy the excitement of shopping at a large market under the night’s sky. In case you were too busy enjoying culture and sight-seeing to go shopping, no worries. You can find almost everything here, and for a cheaper price. Shoes, clothes, accessories, trinkets, souvenirs, and once again, FOOD!
BEST DAY TRIP OUT OF BAGUIO CITY:
While the city is filled with wonders, it has more to offer with just a few minutes drive outside the city. If you’re looking for some adventure, I recommend you visit one of the many waterfalls that surround Baguio. These include the Hyrdo Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Binanga Falls, or the Colorado Falls. All are worth the short travel.
If you don’t want to get yourself wet, then I cannot recommend the Strawberry Farms enough. Baguio City is known for its strawberries, but if you don’t feel like simply buying them at the market, you are more than welcome to pick them yourself at the Strawberry Farms. It is located just outside of the city, and it is one of the “must dos” when in Baguio.
SOMETHING THAT NOT MANY TRAVELERS KNOW ABOUT BAGUIO CITY
If you know who to ask, and where to go, there is a haven for bookworms hidden somewhere in the city. Bookends is a small thrift store hidden near Harrison Road. What might look like a clutter to other people, will be a shop full of hidden treasure to those drawn to books. Piles, towers, mountains of books can be found here, and for an unbelievably cheap price. Some are only worth P5o (US$1) per kilogram. These books are pre-loved and still in a good condition.
FINAL TIP FOR TRAVELERS
There are hundreds of little restaurants off the beaten path, hidden in every corner of the city. I recommend you get into a jeep and just let it take you wherever it goes. Lose yourself in the city and discover it by yourself. Don’t worry, it is very easy to find your way back to the city centre. Just take a jeep. Every single jeep only has two destinations, the sub-division it is heading to, and the Plaza (city centre). So, you’re never really lost.
I hope you find yourself in Baguio one day. I know I was happy to end up here.