While Baguio City’s climate is cool year-round, the best time to experience that perfect “sweater-weather” is in January. With clear skies, fewer vacationers and the lowest temperatures you can expect a relaxing trip.
Having been to the City of Pines several times, I recommend setting aside two nights and three days, at the very least, to make the most out of your stay – two days to sightsee and dine out, and the last day to shop and rest. Last month though, my friends and I were able to pull off a 2-day-1-night itinerary. Quick weekend getaway it is! Not ideal, but definitely doable.
Where to stay in Baguio?
Looking for a temporary home is easy to manage during off-peak season. Whether you prefer to stay in a hotel or a transient house in Baguio, you’ll find plenty of options online. While it would have been lovely to stay in Camp John Hay Manor or in a cozy bed and breakfast, we went for the practical choice and booked a unit in Naja Apartelle.
We paid 2,000 PHP for the entire stay – 500 per head, plus 500 for checking in early. Check in time is 11 a.m. and we arrived at 6 a.m., so that’s 100 PHP per hour if you do the math. Really not bad for a fully furnished 3-bedroom unit. Although situated away from the heart of the city, getting around won’t be a headache because there are plenty of taxis in the area.
How to get to Baguio City?
If you don’t mind getting behind the wheel for a stretch of five hours or more, you can drive up the city in your own car. But, if you prefer to leave the metro via public transport as we did, Victory Liner would be a good choice. The bus line provides hourly trips to Baguio so you won’t run out of buses to take, and if you value comfort and convenience, Victory Liner offers a Deluxe Express trip with no stopovers for 750 PHP. It comes with perks like free Wi-Fi, complementary snacks and bottled water, an onboard toilet, and uh yes, a friendly stewardess.
We were Baguio bound 20 minutes past midnight and we arrived safely at five in morning. Make sure to buy the tickets ahead of time and purchase return tickets at the Baguio terminal upon arrival.
What to do in Baguio City?
Now comes the fun part. If you plan to explore Baguio with just a full day to spare, I suggest planning your itinerary carefully to avoid wasting time. Shortlist places you’ve never been to and tourist spots you’d like to see again and then review geographic proximity in Google Maps to plan your route.
Below are the places that made our list:
Mt. Santo Tomas’ Cafe in the Sky
We almost had this spacious restaurant to ourselves, if not for the couple who arrived before us. Because delivery has not been made that day, we ordered the only meal that was available – pork tocino with rice and egg and a strong cup of coffee. The panoramic view of the Baguio skyline and its rolling hills made up for the cafe’s scant choice of breakfast offerings.
Entry of tourists is being regulated at this time, so it’s best to get in touch with someone from the cafe. You can check their Facebook page for details. We rented a taxi (500 PHP) that brought us at the foot of the mountain and rented another vehicle (300 PHP) that drove us up the mountain.
Definitely one of the must-see museums in Baguio City! BenCab’s four-level building is art in itself. I love the modern look of high ceilings, clean white walls and glass partitions, and how it creates a stunning contrast with the indigenous pieces that are housed inside. Apart from showcasing Benedicto Cabrera’s masterpieces, the museum has art installations from other Philippine contemporary artists like Elmer Borlongan and Lynyrd Paras. (Ticket price: 120 PHP)
Dominican Hill and Retreat House
We’ve never been to Diplomat Hotel so it was on the list. While planning the itinerary, I made sure that we visit this place in the afternoon where the sun was high up in the sky, haha! Although it was eerily cold inside the ruins, there were no supernatural sightings that would merit a visit from Sam and Dean. Thank God.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
When you’re a paranoid android and you feel the need to ward off spirits who followed you from the Diplomat Hotel, it would make sense to visit the nearest grotto. Just a few “tambling” (or kembot if you’re not as flexible and strong) away from Dominican Hill, the shrine is known for its 252-step climb. Devotees who brave the cardio-inducing climb usually light up a candle and pray at altar where a statue of the Our Lady of Lourdes is enshrined.
Choco-Late de Batirol
Somewhere in Camp John Hay, surrounded by lush trees and shrubbery, is a cozy shack that offers a deliciously thick, traditional blend tsokolate drink. People were streaming in constantly to have lunch or merienda and we had to wait a few minutes to be seated. Nothing special with their Pancit Palabok and Turon de Langka, but the Suman sa Lihia and organic lemon grass tea are both must-tries.
Cafe by the Ruins
To cap off our short Baguio trip, we had breakfast al fresco at Cafe by the Ruins. This is one of the restaurants you wouldn’t want to miss when visiting Baguio. Grub is deliriously good – I ordered the Farmer’s Morning Feast because, well, bacon. The meal is served with your choice of tea or coffee and a bowl of fresh fruits.
Other places that we were able to squeeze in: Session Road, Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral, Mines View Park and Good Shepherd Convent – all these in a day and a half.
Man, writing this entry makes me crave for another Baguio fix! 🙂