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Friday, April 27, 2012

A relaxing Holy Week treat in Baguio City April 5-6 2012

Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines due to its high elevation, about 5000 feet above sea level, covered in thick Pine trees, surrounded by stunningly beautiful mountains and people so warm and friendly to everyone who likes to pay a visit and experience what the city has to offer, no wonder why every summer, Baguio is one of the best destinations in the Philippines for both local and international tourists. For over 4 years since the birth of our group “B4life”, we’ve been travelling this place back and forth and it has been included in our plans to visit and uncover the wonders of this “City in the skies”

For the third time, on April 5-6 2012, we were able to take our steps to one of our favorite destinations and this time with our friend Marvin. Going to Baguio City is never a hassle except when peak seasons comes e.g Holy Week, Christmas and specially the Panagbenga Festival which are yearly held in the month of February, but since we decided to have our short vacation on the said date, as expected, there were huge volume of passengers in every terminals going out of town. But travel will never be complete without this. We left Quezon City at 2:35 AM, Holy Thursday, with our bags and food enough for four days. It was a six hour bus travel from Cubao to Baguio city. As the sun rises, we saw the beauty of each town we have passed as we head straight to our destination. Just a quick reminder, before you get there, you need to pass four neighboring provinces which are the regions of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan. 

Victory Liner Fare (Air conditioned) Php. 450 one way

We arrived in Baguio City at 9 AM, nothing has really changed at all, we were welcomed by the cool breeze coming from the Pine trees and the mountains situated beside the City. Bus, Taxi and Jeepney are the modes of transportation. For back packer tourists, taxi should be your primary option so as to avoid inconvenience on your vacation, with a flag down rate of PHP. 45.00 equivalent to $1.00, you can go to any places in Baguio City hassle-free including its renowned tourist spots. 

Hotels are not a big problem, there are lots of world-class Hotels and Inns to choose from, but I recommend City Lights hotel and La Brea Inn, these two hotels have all the facilities you need for your short stay in the City. For budget conscious people but looking for bigger rooms fit for 8 to 10 people, Venus Park hotel is an option. You may also try transient houses for larger groups fit for up to 15 people and above. Finding a place where to eat out will never be a problem. Baguio City has lots of affordable restaurants to serve the visitors and tourists willing to try the northern food trip.  Here are a few.

1. Atenara House – Located at Claro M. Recto Road, renders a world class All-American Eat All You Can Roast Beef, Salad Bar & Pasta Buffet for PHP. 399/person.

2. Bliss Café -  Leonard Wood Road, offers all pure vegetarian dishes.

3. Café by the ruins -  Otek Street, Baguio City, offers ethnic cuisine such as native chicken and mountain rice served with palatable mountain strawberry desserts.

4. Little Johns – Camp John Hay, Baguio City,  known for their chocolate fondue, strawberries, banana and marshmallows.

5. O Mai Khan – Otek Street, offers authentic Mongolian barbeque.

6. Palizattta – A small bistro with a panoramic view of Session road. Their Tandoori Chicken is always visited by its patrons. Average check is Php. 270

But wait, do you know what are the tourist spots to visit once you and your friends get to Baguio?  I have prepared a short list about the must see places in and around the city that will help you organize your itinerary better. You need to plan ahead about the places to visit to save time and fuel because some of the places are isolated, the travel time may take a while but once you get there, you will find the places quite rewarding and worth time spending.

1. Botanical Garden – Just a few meters from the Mansion lies a place that depicts the culture and early living of the Igorot tribe plus enjoy the different kinds of flowers that only thrives in higher elevation like Baguio City.

2. The Mansion - Situated in the summer capital of the Philippines, was built in 1908 to serve as the official residence of United States Governor Generals and now one of the most promising tourist spot in Baguio City. Millions of people every year come to visit and take a picture of the beautiful structure and landscapes in the Mansion.

3. Wright Park Riding Circle – Just a few walks from Botanical Garden offers a wide variety of fun and amusement from horseback riding to picture taking at the Igorot replicas and shopping along the booths for souvenirs, this place is a perfect getaway to unwind and enjoy the cool summer breeze.

4. Mines View – Is a popular tourist attraction located within the limits of Baguio City showcases a 360 degree view of Benguet mountain range. Some say that Mt. Pulag (the highest mountain in Luzon is visible from the viewing deck of Mines View.

(Beware, there are fake or immitation Igorots all over the town, one of the best example is the guy on the right side wearing eyeglasses (Colorum Igorot Tribesmen)

If found, report to the policemen immediately :))

5. Camp John Hay – Used to be a resting ground and recreational facility for employees of the military and the defense department of the United States in the Philippines in 1900’s offers a relaxing hide out for tourists who want to enjoy both nature and history.

Inside the Bell House

2008 photo

6. Burnham Park - Located at the heart of the highly urbanized City of Baguio, offers a fun treat for everyone, its two main attractions are boating and bicycle riding for Php.100

7. Bell Church Baguio City

8. Strawberry farm

delicious strawberry ice cream

9. Tam-Auan Village – Here in this small place beside the mountain lies the legendary houses of Ibaloi and Igorot tribesmen. Entrance fee is Php. 50.00/person and Php. 25.00 for students.

Baguio City is certainly one of the most sought-after places we always wanna visit, not because we want to escape from the noises and pollution of old Manila but to enjoy the nature and its vast culture. No wonder why millions of tourists including our group would come yearly to try a different northern escapade.

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