10 Things To Do in Baguio City, Philippines: Places to Go To and Things To Do in Baguio City, Philippines
Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the land. It is known for its pine-scented cool breeze, provided by the many pine trees surrounding the whole city. Other famous trades are walis tambo (broom), cheap quality silver jewelry, and flowers. Filipinos and foreigners alike like visiting this city, particularly during the Lenten Season and February, to witness the Panagbenga Festival (Flower Parade). If you plan to visit Baguio during these times, make sure to book your hotels and air flights early. There are many cheap air flights to the Philippines and even cheap air flights to Baguio, itself. The day population of Baguio doubles, probably triples, during these seasons.
Baguio is a good 6 hour ride from Metro Manila, but there are other means of getting there. One can take the bus, and there are now express buses that will take you to Baguio non-stop, cutting a good couple of hours from your trip.
You can also take the plane from Manila, which is of course much faster than taking the bus. I kinda like the land-based travel, though. It allows you to build excitement and anticipate the vacation ahead of you.
Aside from shopping, boating in Burnham Park, horseback riding in Wright Park, seeing the view stop Mines View Park, and doing all the other usual stuff in Bagiuo, here are some suggestions on places to visit and things to do in Baguio.
1. Sit down for a sketching session with the artists
While no doubt you can have this done in the malls, too, nothing beats sitting for a sketch with the pine breeze and soft sounds of nature surrounding you. Artists in the Botanical Gardens will finish your sketch in an hour, and you can relax and distress in the gardens afterwards. There are also souvenir shops and food stalls in the area, so there is no need to worry about shopping and food.
2. Go artsy in Tam-Awan Village; have a short hike, too
“Artsy” is the first thing that comes to mind when one sets foot in the Tam-Awan Village. As soon as you first see its tiny entrance, you know that you are about to set foot in a place emulating culture and the arts.
There are Ifugao and Kalinga huts, some of them are open for lodging, coffee shops and souvenir shops. You can also have your sketch taken here, and some very unique items are found in Tam-Awan. Even the signs in the comfort room tell you that art is a prevailing concept n the village.
You can also take a short hike following the trail shown in the map. Even kids and toddlers can go, since it is a very easy trail, but nevertheless gives a sense of adventure.
3. Pick, pack and eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Though not technically in Baguio, La Trinidad, Benguet is almost always associated to the City of Pines. Going farther up north, one can have a fill of the freshest produce the uplands can produce. If you go during the cool and dry months (December to May), you can buy fresh strawberries for as cheap as $1 per kilo. You can also pick the berries yourself, have them weighed, wash them and eat them. Other fruits and vegetables are unbelievably cheap and fresh, too. Broccoli can be bought at $0.50 per kilo. Freshly cooked strawberry jams (with or without whole strawberries) are available at very reasonable prices, too.
4. Drink strawberry taho (taro)
While in La Trinidad, try this unique strawberry taho (taro) at a very cheap price, $0.25 per cup. Taho is a local delicatessen, made up from soy and made sweet by liquid sugar. Usually, it is accompanied by tapioca balls but this particular mix is topped instead with whole strawberries, and strawberry syrup.
5. Have your picture taken with the butterflies
Camp John Hay is one of the US camps that
have been converted into parks and recreating center. It has a world class Jack
Nicklaus-designed full golf course, a convention center, hotels, shopping
centers, and of course, miles and miles of long and winding pine-tree lined
roads. You can even do a mini-mountain hike in some of Camp John Jay’s area.
Tucked within Camp John Hay is a small butterfly farm, where you can have close interactions with beautiful winged creatures. For only Ph45 ($1), you can go around the Butterfly Farm and have your picture taken. The caretakers of the place sure know how to entertain their guests. They will guide you on how to have good photos with the butterflies, and you might be surprised with the results. It actually makes for a good prenuptial photoshoot!
6. Buy tiger prawns at a very cheap price
Going to Baguio by land, you will pass many provinces, and you will see various landscapes and daily life activities as you hop from one town to another. If you pay closely, you will see that there are various products sold on the side of the streets. Just before the long highway leading to the city proper, you will see some housewives and kids dangling a black little thing on their hands, some 6 to 8 inches long. Stop. Look. These are actually tiger prawns, and you can buy them for $7 per kilo or less, depending on the time you pass. The later it is in the day, the cheaper these tiger prawns get. The same kilo in the mall will cost at least double that price. But the ones you will buy from the streets are just as fresh and tasty. A tip will be to bring containers, if you feel like buying a lot. These sellers, however, are not always on their posts. When we looked for them on our way home to bring some to our neighbors they can’t be found.
7. Drink a cup of the most expensive coffee
Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee beans in the world, which comes from civet's excretion, is produced in the Philippines and in Cordillera Coffee, an unassuming coffee shop in SM Baguio, one can have a cup, but it is not cheap! Known in the menu as Kape Alamid, a cup costs around $7 - a steal, considering that it is sold for $120 to $500+ a pound in the US and Japan.
Enjoy this weird, precious brew while listening to the music favored by the highlanders while people watching in the mall.
8. Take photographs at the park
If you are into photography (digital photography – SLR or the point and shoot variety), there are many places in Baguio City to capture the beauty of nature. Trees, flowers, insects and birds abound in the city, and you can get some very good subjects just walking around on the streets or while eating in one of the food carts. What’s best about taking photographs in Baguio is that you won’t break into a sweat, even if the sun was so high up in the sky.
Day 12 HubChallenge
9. Shop for unique gifts at affordable prices
Apart from silver jewelry and walis tambo, Baguio also boasts of many quality wooden carvings that range from less than $2 to hundreds of dollars. But what is great is that it will always be priced cheaper in Baguio than in any other place (except of course in Banawe and Sagada, where these things come from). These wood carvings make a wonderful gift for a foreigner friend or relative, or for a boss because it just has “class” written across it.
10. Make a wish at the Pink Sisters Convent
A personal favorite of mine, and one that I firmly believe in, Pink Sisters Convent grants your every wish. Pink Sisters is said to make wishes come true. When you go to this tiny chapel/convent, you can make a request by writing on the request paper available on the sides of the pew. You can ask for any request (any reasonable request, I guess), and the nuns will pray for your request. You can include a donation, but you are not required to. I have made a lot of request in this very chapel, some made with donation and some without, all have been granted so far. It may just be luck, or coincidence, but either way, it doesn’t hurt.
Our family goes up to Baguio at least once every year, but there is still that same excitement whenever my eardrums pop for the first time, and I see the long and winding road ahead of us. The first sight of pine trees still thrill me, and every sight, sound and taste of Baguio still feels like the first time. Suffice it to say, I will never get tired of Baguio because I keep discovering that there are still many things to do in this breezy city.
All photos by Ones Almario.