Baguio Highlights

Baguio is a highly urbanized city in northern Luzon of the Philippines. Dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. It is geographically located within Benguet, serving as the provincial capital from 1901 to 1916, but has since been administered independently from the province following its conversion into a chartered city. The city is the center of business, commerce, and education in northern Luzon, as well as the regional center of the Cordillera Administrative Region. According to the 2015 census, Baguio has a population of 345,366. 

 

Baguio was established as a hill station by the Americans in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. It was the United States' only hill station in Asia.  The name of the city is derived from bagiw, the Ibaloi word for "moss".  The city is situated at an altitude of approximately 1,540 meters (5,050 feet) in the Luzon tropical pine forests ecoregion conducive for the growth of mossy plants and orchids. 

 

For visitors to the city - expect several uphill and downhill roads and streets, even the famous Session Road is sloping. You do not come to Baguio and expect a flat terrain, after all the city is a hill station - situated up on the mountains of Cordillera.

Expect a colder climate especially during the months of November - March. Most hotels do not have airconditioning, electric fans - optional, during daytime on warm months (almost always not needed).

There are hundreds of alternative cheaper accommodations called “Transient Houses” with facilities like most hotels offer - clean beds and warm blankets, some even have kitchen, televisions, internet connections - and most of all the hospitality of local people.

 

How to get there: 

Self-drive approximately 5 - 6 hours from the capital city of Manila.

 

Victory Liner is the most popular bus line with a route emanating from Manila (Cubao or Pasay City). Other bus lines ply the Manila-Baguio route like Genesis Transport.

Strawberry Farm

What is Baguio without Strawberries? Well, it's still the summer capital of the Philippines, just without strawberries.  From November to May, visitors who come to Baguio would be able to enjoy strawberry picking at La Trinidad, some 30 minutes travel from Baguio city center.  For the "experience", you've got to pay more to pick these delicate fruits, ranging from P250 to 350 per kilo, but of course you can just walk around the farm and take as much photos as you like without being obliged to pay for the hefty strawberry picking "experience".  You may however opt to purchase strawberries at one of the stalls along the road beside the farm at a lesser cost.  It's not only strawberries but there are also sunflowers, lettuce, kale, onions, and other vegetables around the farm.

 

How to get there:

Take the jeepneys that goes to La Trinidad or jeepneys passing along KM 6. The terminal can be found along Magsaysay Ave at the back of Baguio Center Mall. Fare is P11.00.  

 

TIP : Pass by the colorful Bell Church before heading to Strawberry Fields, located right before the La Trinidad welcome arch.

 

Location of La Trinidad Jeepney Terminal on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/Q8M2G

 

Location of Strawberry Fields on Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/dgn9b


Old Diplomat Hotel

Located at the western part of the city at the Dominican Hill is one of the city's top haunted place to visit and perhaps do some ghost hunting, if that gives you the thrill.  The fortress-baroque-style Colegio del Santissimo Rosario was built in 1913 as a school and retreat house for the Dominican Order under the directions of Fr. Roque Roaňo, an engineer from the University of Santo Tomas known for the constructions of  earthquake-proof buildings.  It was constructed with the support of the locals and other Asian expatriates living in the Cordillera region at a cost of P200,000 and was opened in 1915.

It remained as a vacation house for the Dominican priests but ceased its school operation due to lack of enrollees.

 

The property was acquired and remodeled into one of the city’s upmarket 33-bedroom hotel by Diplomat Hotels Inc. while maintaining its core structures as originally constructed by the Dominicans which still features the Gyronny Cross standing on its pedestal in the middle of the façade above the main entrance.  The hotel was managed by Tony Agpaoa, a well-renowned faith healer.  After fourteen years, the hotel died down resulting from the untimely death (heart attack) of Agpaoa, and the place was closed to the public since then.  Ghost sightings and unexplained noises were reported at the ruin of the Diplomat Hotel.

 

Activities:

- Ghost hunting.

- Photo-op at the beautiful decay of the ruin.

 

Tip:

After visiting Lourdes Grotto, you can visit the Diplomat Hotel (walk - you lazy feet!) uphill the Dominican Hill Rd. or take the jeepney at P8.50.

 

How to get there:

Take the Lourdes Grotto / Dominican Hill jeepney, the jeepney terminal is located at Kayang Street behind the Abanao Square Shopping Mall near the down end of Session Rd and crossing the pedestrian bridge.

 

Dominican Hill Jeepney Terminal on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/qc0Le

 

Old Diplomat Hotel on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/L8pE0


Wright Park

Located right across the gate of The Mansion is an elongated rectangular pool surrounded by wide array of colourful flowers lining both sides from end to end, Wright Park is a favorite among families and children who enjoy riding horses and ponies.  The Horse-back Riding Circle is down the long set of stairs which is also a part of Wright Park where children and adults alike can enjoy horse-back riding accompanied by experienced guides or pony handlers.

 

The park is named after Luke Edward Wright, a Tennessee-born American who served as Governor-General of the Philippines between 1904 and 1906 and also as Secretary of War from 1908 to 1909.  He ordered architect Daniel H. Burnham to build Baguio as a recreational facility for American soldiers and civilians. 

 

 

Activities:

- Picture-taking at the long pool with The Mansion at the far end.

- Don an Igorot regalia or costume for that souvenir photo.

- Horse-back riding.

- Browse the several shops for souvenir items.

 

How to get there:

Take the jeepney that goes to Mines View Park at Lower Mabini Street, near Session Rd and Harrison Rd, beside Danes Bakeshop OR head first to Mines View Park. With the same jeepney from Mines View, head to The Mansion, and just opposite its gate is Wright Park fare.  Jeepney fare is P8.50.

 

Google Map Location of: Mines View Park Jeepney Terminal at the downtown which also passes by Wright Park - https://goo.gl/maps/ZhBgt

The jeepneys from Mines View Park to The Mansion / Wright Park are waiting for passengers in front of the arched gateway of the park.  Tell the driver to drop you off at The Mansion or Wright Park.

 

Location of Wright Park / The Mansion on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/aGwUd


Bell Church

For its colorful structures - pagoda, statues, dragon-adorned archways and roofs, lotus pool, sculptured gardens - the Bell Church is worth visiting on your way (or after visiting) the Strawberry fields.  Located few meters from the La Trinidad welcome arch, it's easy to spot with its main entrance adorned with dragons. The place is busy with foreign and local Chinese coming to the Bell Church to beseech good fortune and health during  the Spring Festival or the so-called Chinese New Year.

 

It's best to go to the temple during weekends when the upper section is opened to the public.  Only the lower section where the main temple is located, is open during weekdays.  Photography is allowed around the compound but strictly prohibited inside the main worhip temple.

 

How to get there:

Take the jeepneys that goes to La Trinidad or jeepneys passing along KM 6. The terminal can be found along Magsaysay Ave at the back of Baguio Center Mall. Fare is P8.50.  

 

TIP : Combine your visit to Bell Church with Strawberry Fields as it's along the same route.

 

Location of La Trinidad Jeepney Terminal on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/Q8M2G

 

Location of Bell Church on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/7qP5Z


Mines View Park

Visitors to the city of pines should not leave without visiting the Mines View Park.  The newly reconstructed promontory park located approximately 4 kilometers from downtown Baguio offer its visitors a refreshing view overlooking the mining town of Itogon - used to be the gold and copper mines of the Benguet Corporation.  The observation deck with a circular canopy and benches is just below a winding stairway.  A well-paved pathway with metal hand railings is available for PWDs.  

 

Activities:

- Have a photo with the huge friendly St. Bernard (dog) wearing sunglasses;

- Take a photo riding the pink-haired horses; 

- Don a colourful Cordillera (Igorot) costume - bahag, shield, spear, tapis, vests and headdresses and have a photo session;

- Visit the Good Shepherd Convent for their famous strawberry and ube jams, peanut and cashew brittle.

- Browse the several souvenir shops for Baguio shirts, brooms, sweets, fresh strawberries, ukay-ukay, etc.

 

How to get there:

Take the jeepney (fare P10) from the Mines View Terminal at Lower Mabini Street near Harrison Rd and Session Rd, beside the Danes Bakeshop.

 

Google Map of the Mines View Jeepney Terminal at Lower Mabini :  https://goo.gl/maps/ZhBgt

 


Bencab Museum

 

Located along Asin Road, Bencab Museum is short for Benedicto Cabrera and houses the collection of Philippine National Artist of the same name.  An exhibit of artwork - paintings, indigenous Cordillera art, bamboo, wood carvings and works of some Filipino masters and contemprary artists meticulously arranged and categorized in various galleries.  Noteworthy are the collection of Bul-ol or rice gods, couple of paintings from An Kiukok, scupture from Benhur Villanueva, a bronze work from Abdul Mari Imao, and several interesting (if not a bit ambiguous) contemporary arts, and the fascinating "Erotic Gallery", not that it absorbed me the most, but hey, it's quite interesting. Now, don't you single me out, everyone who come to the museum, comes to look for it.  Start at the upper level and end up sipping coffee and nibble on some snacks at the Cafe Sabel overlooking the beautifully landscaped garden complete with duck and koi fish pond, a nipa hut is perched in the middle.

 

Activities:

- If you're into artwork (or otherwise), you'll enjoy browsing the collection of beautiful paintings, crafts, woodwork, rice gods, etc.

- Don't miss the "Erotic Gallery"  (Lol!).

- Relax or dine at the Cafe Sabel, wander around the beautifully sculpted garden surrounded by mountains.

 

Opening Times: Tuesdays to Sundays 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM(last entry at 5:30 pm). Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

 

Entry Fee:  P100;  Students and senior citizens P80; Special rates for student groups with prior arrangement.

 

How to get there:

 - Take the jeepney that goes to "Asin" at the back of Abanao Square Shopping Mall, at the corner of Kayang Street and Shagem Street.  Travel time is about 20 - 30 minutes from the city center. Fare is P10 and get off at the end of the jeepney line, then take few meters walk to the museum entrance on your left. Or tell the driver that you're going to the museum, most of the time he'll take the effort to drive the extra few meters to the front of the museum.

 

Location of jeepney terminal on Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/jXYEC

 

Location of BENCAB Museum on Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/0pkhI


Lourdes Grotto

Located at the western part of the city is a peaceful place of meditation, prayer and pilgrimage - the Lourdes Grotto.  The grotto, like many others of the same name, is a replica or a version of the original, the Our Lady of Lourdes (Lourdes, France).  Devotees flock the place to light candles and offer prayers.  The place can be crowded during weekends, holidays and holy week.  Access to the image of the Virgin Mary on top of the hill is through 252 steps stairs with metal railings for the elderly or people who may find the climb daunting.  The start of the steps is just along the main Dominican Hill Road.  The somewhat arduous climb is rewarded - in a way - with a nice view of the surrounding mountains - portion of La Union, as far as some parts of Pangasinan on a bright sun shiny day.  Devout catholics (or otherwise) light candles and utter some silent prayers  just below the Marian image.

 

Activities:

Climb the 252 stairs, pray, meditate, photo-op.

After visiting the grotto, you might want to do a side trip (walk - you lazy feet!) to Diplomat Hotel (haunted), uphill the Dominican Hill Rd.

 

How to get there:

Take the Lourdes Grotto / Dominican Hill jeepney, located at Kayang Street behind the Abanao Square Shopping Mall near the down end of Session Rd.

 

Dominican Hill Jeepney Terminal on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/qc0Le 

Lourdes Grotto on Google Map:  https://goo.gl/maps/7Z3l9


The Mansion

Most visitors start their Baguio tour with the Mines View Park.  Not far from there and just few minutes distance by jeepney is The Mansion.  The attraction of this place is limited to a quick picture-taking with the "mansion" on the background.  Just a couple of minutes selfies at the lofty steel gate and inside the gate but not beyond the bend of the vast lawn, otherwise you'll be in trouble with the military personnel.  It’s the Philippine president’s official summer residence, so you won’t be allowed to get past the big lawn and get near the mansion itself.  

 

The Mansion was built in 1908 as the official summer residence of U.S. Governor-Generals.  It was rebuilt in 1947 after the WW2 devastation and also served as venue for several local and international political and economic events.  That's just about it, be contented with few photos and scram out of there onto your next destination - park facing the main gate - The Wright Park.

 

Activities:

Take some photos at the gate or beyond the gate with the mansion on the background, period.

 

How to get there:

Take the jeepney that goes to Mines View Park at Lower Mabini Street, near Session Rd and Harrison Rd, beside Danes Bakeshop OR head first to Mines View Park, with the same jeepney from Mines View, head to The Mansion, fare is P8.50.

 

Google Map: Mines View Park Jeepney Terminal at the downtown - https://goo.gl/maps/ZhBgt

The jeepney from Mines View Park to The Mansion is parked just in front of the arched gateway of the park.


Botanical Garden

Baguio Botanical Garden is another respite from the busy downtown area of the city of pines.  It is almost the same size as Burnham Park at the downtown area but a bit less crowded. The botanical garden used tobe called "Igorot Village" as evidenced by some native huts dotting the area although very few remained nowadays.  Several flowering plants and trees can be found at the garden and a group of native people or Igorots right at the entrance to the park.

 

Activities:

- Photo-op with the Igorots at the entrance of the park for a meager donation.

- Stroll around the narrow pathways with its beautiful landscape, themed gardens (i.e. chinese, korean, japanese and american gardens) and several interesting statues.

- Sit and relax at the grassy lawns.

- Browse some souvenir stuff at the row of shops particularly nice paintings and wooden carvings.

- Don a complete Igorot regalia and take a snapshot.

 

How to get there:

- Take the jeepney that goes to Mines View Park at Lower Mabini Street, near Session Rd and Harrison Rd, beside Danes Bakeshop, this jeep passes by the Botanical Garden, OR head first to Mines View Park (P10 fare). With the same jeepney from Mines View, head to The Mansion (fare is P8.50), and just opposite its gate is Wright Park.  From Wright Park, you can easily take a leisure walk to the Botanical Garden.

 

Google Map Location of: Mines View Park Jeepney Terminal at the downtown which also passes by Botanical Garden - https://goo.gl/maps/ZhBgt

The jeepneys from Mines View Park to The Mansion / Wright Park are waiting for passengers in front of the arched gateway of the Mines View.  Tell the driver to drop you off at The Mansion or Wright Park or Botanical Garden.

 

Location of Wright Park to the Botanical Garden on Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/YuS6v