It was always my dream to visit Baguio City someday. Since my elementary days, the place has always been the subject being one of the most favorite travel destinations among Filipinos. We had this exam before in our Civics and Culture where it asked “What city is the Summer Capital of the Philippines?” Of course, I know the correct answer. Baguio City.
When we had our trip to Manila last September 2012, Baguio City was part of the itinerary. We did not really prepare before we got there. We did not book any room accommodation. We did not hire a van or a driver. We just went there unprepared.
MANILA TO BAGUIO CITY
At 11:30 PM that night, we found ourselves comfortably seated inside the Victory Liner bus in Pasay City ready for departure. I can still remember that before that we had to purchase our tickets first, of course LOL. One Way Fare is around PhP 455.00 per head. Never forget to show your student ID so you enjoy the discount.
The chairs inside the bus are enough to let you sleep on a long hours of travel. Bring your coats or blankets if you plan to travel at night because the temperature inside the bus can literally freeze you to death. Also, it is notable that there is a free WiFi connection inside the bus, I guess powered by Sun Broadband. http://instagram.com/p/PmvuXPqAPV/
TOUCH DOWN BAGUIO CITY
Around 5:35 AM the following day, we arrived in Baguio City. The temperature is really low. Like I said, we had no preparation before we arrived so our next activity that time was to look for a place to stay where we can leave our things then look for a van or a driver that will tour us around the city.
Good thing because as soon as the girls have done their toilet monologues, this helpful old man showed us a brochure of hotels and inns. He is from Tourist Information Center which is just a few walks away from the Victory Line Bus Terminal.
The old man introduced us to the driver, Mang Luis. We were a group of 9 and were able to get a deal of PhP 3, 500 for the van rental and driver’s fee. Since Mang Luis is very kind and patient, we paid more than the amount as he deserve.
I forgot the name of the place we stayed in but I do remember that we paid PhP 1, 700 for the non aircon room, good for 5 persons. The hostel is also a walking distance from Victory Liner Bus Terminal.
START OF THE CITY TOUR
As soon as we made a deal with Mang Luis, he started driving the van at 6:00AM. From Victory Liner Bus Terminal, he drove us to our hostel. And from the hostel, he looked a place where we can eat our breakfast. Uhmm. Well, we ate in Jollibee along the famous Session Road.
I noticed that the roads or streets in Baguio City are not on straight level but always sloped or elevated. This explains why the taxis in Baguio City are bigger than the usual taxis.
PLACES TO SEE IN BAGUIO CITY
Mang Luis brought us to several places in Baguio City.
LOURDES GROTTO and MIRADOR HILL
At 7:32 AM, we stopped by in Lourdes Grotto and Mirador Hill. It is located on a high hill in the western part of the city where you will find the image of the Lady of Lourdes.
The grotto is a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week most especially during Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Access to the top of the grotto could be made by climbing the 252 steps or by driving a light vehicle through a winding, narrow and steep asphalt-paved road. Devotees who go up to the grotto to pray usually light up a candle at an altar below the image. There are also vendors at the shrine who are willing to light up a candle for you and say a prayer for whatever personal intentions you might have. (Source: http://www.cityofpines.com/lourdesgrotto.html)
This place is located nearby the Lourdes Grotto. The building is antique and local residents say that this is a haunted place. Scary. haha Well, I was there and this place was featured once on Rated K by Korina Sanchez.
8:36AM. There is an entrance fee of PhP 50.00. The place is perfect for people who appreciates arts and handicrafts of igorots.
There are a number of Igorot huts within the village which will allow you to see how the homes of the mountain people really look like. You do get a chance to climb up the wooden ladder and see what is inside each hut. This will give you a chance to feel what it is like to be living in one of these huts. Since these huts were set up on different locations on a hillside, visitors have to climb up the steep pathways to go from one hut to another. (Source: http://www.cityofpines.com/tamawanvillage.html)
BELL CHURCH AND CHINESE TEMPLE
The Bell Church is located north of the downtown area of Baguio along the road leading to the town of La Trinidad, Benguet. Within its compound are intricately designed arches and buildings adorned with flags, bells and dragons.
It has a pagoda, and beautifully landscapped gardens. There are some artifacts about Buddhism that you will find at the Bell Church as well as some literature about the history of China.
It is during the Spring Festival or what is more commonly known in the West as the Chinese New Year that local and foreign Chinese tourists flock to the Bell Church. Like all Chinese festivals, the date of the new year is determined by the lunar/solar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. (Source: http://www.cityofpines.com/bellchurch.html)
LA TRINIDAD STRAWBERRY FARM
10:30AM The strawberry farm is situated in the City of La Trinidad, Benguet which is outside of Baguio City – just a 30 minutes drive. Sad to say the time we got there is not a season for strawberries. So we were not able to pick a fresh strawberry. We ended up wandering the farm looking for a single strawberry to miraculously appear. We were able to find one though.
12:00 PM This place is also known as the Igorot Village. Filled with towering pine trees, the Botanical Garden serves the dual purpose of providing visitors and residents valuable beathing space and re-greening a fast developing city with greenhouses and nurseries designed to propagate the flora and fauna species that will eventually find their way to parks and gardens around the Summer Capital. (Source: http://www.gobaguio.com/botanical-garden-baguio-city.html#.UNGQG-R184c)
By 12:50 PM We headed to SM City Baguio to eat our lunch. Mang Luis went home to take his lunch. He did instruct us to text him once we were done so he could fetch us.
KENNON ROAD VIEWING DECK
2:08 PM Apparently, buses are not allowed to pass by the Kennon Road. We were not able to get a picture of ourselves with the famous Lion’s Head. It is far from the viewing deck. If we did not take the bus and rented a van from Manila we would have passed by the Lion’s Head. Anyway, we did not miss it that much!
THE PHILIPPINE MILITARY ACADEMY (PMA)
2:30PM This is the place where all of the ladies inside the van are excited to visit. They wanted to flirt a cadet. haha I don’t know if “flirt” is the right word. haha Maybe, “make fun” is the right word. PMA is the premiere military institution in the Philippines where the graduates become officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It is situated in Fort Del Pilar.
Please make sure that your cameras are fully charged when you get here. You’ll be amazed with the disciplined cadets doing their formation walks and also the antique battle tanks, mortars etc. are favorite spots for picture taking. Also, wearing sandals is not allowed in the vicinity. You also need to leave an ID before entering the premise.
CAMP JOHN HAY
3:50PM This place is sometimes called the recreational area of Baguio City. Elite members would go here to play golf. Tree Top Adventure also offers extreme activities like Zip Lining, etc. Convergys Baguio is also situated in Camp John Hay. We did not really spend much of our time. We were short of time.
4:10 PM This is a vacation house for Philippine presidents.
4:10 PM This park is located in front of the Mansion. It has a long pond called as the Pool of Pines. We did not really spend much of our time here. But if you prefer to stay long, you may opt to walk up to the other end of the pool. Also, I heard that you can ride on a horse here.
MINES VIEW PARK
4:22 PM In this park you can see the panoramic view of the mountains of Benguet where gold and copper mines are situated. Thus the place is named Mines View Park. Not only that, this park housed St. Bernard dogs, ready to wear Igorot costumes and horses for souvenir photo purposes.
3 shots for this St. Bernard dog costs PhP 50.00 and of course you have to present your camera. Igorot costumes cost PhP 10.00 per person while the horse riding costs PhP 10.00 per shot.
5:14PM Burnham Park is centered around a man-made lake located at the heart of the city. It was named after the city’s planner, Daniel Burnham. The park is a favorite place of local residents and visitors alike. There are different facilities for recreation and relaxation that are available in the park. You can row a boat, have a picnic, attend an outdoor concert, watch a football game, go biking, or just take a leisurely stroll around the park. (Source: http://www.cityofpines.com/burnhampark.html)
We enjoyed rowing a boat. The lesson I learned from our Water Rafting in Cagayan De Oro was applied here. I basically know how to paddle a boat. The boat we rented is PhP 150.00/hour
By 6PM we finally went ahead to SM City Baguio to buy some pasalubongs and eat our dinner. SM City Baguio is a tourist attraction itself, it is the only mall I know that does not use an air con. We dined in at Greenwich and the temperature that time was totally freezing.
We were all tired from touring all day. By 8:30PM, we were all settled in our hostel. The cool weather makes you sleep. By 6 AM, we had to wake up and leave Baguio City as early so we can catch our flight in the afternoon.
The experience we had in Baguio City was truly memorable and a remarkable one. The feeling of being there brought me back to watching the 1998 romantic comedy Labs Kita Ok Ka Lang where they filmed it in Baguio City. I hope to go back there sometime.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Victory Liner Bus Schedules
Mang Luis Driver – 0910 8783 757
Thank you guys for reading and I hope this article helps.