Baguio City Guide

Baguio: An Overview

Situated in the northern region of the Philippines, Baguio City is one of the popular cities in the province of Benguet. The city occupies around 57 square kilometers of land, surrounded by different municipalities – La Trinidad, Itogon, and Tuba. The city has a population of around 350,000, with people from all walks of life and cultures. Learn more about the tourist destinations in Baguio through this comprehensive city guide. 

A Favorite Tourist Destination

Known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City is often the go-to place of many Filipinos and tourists alike who wish to experience a mixture of nature and urban landscapes.  It has transformed from being a quaint town in the north to one of the most highly urbanized cities in the Philippines. 

Some of the popular Baguio attractions are Camp John Hay, Mines View Park, and Burnham Park. The city is also surrounded by pine trees and other flora that contrast the charm of the bustling city life. 

A Place Full of History

Baguio City is not only rich in attractions, but also in history. The history of Baguio City can be traced back to as early as the pre-colonial period in which the location was a hunting ground of indigenous groups, such as the Ibalois and Igorots. During the Spanish occupation, the Commandante de Galvey established the province of Benguet. When the Americans took over, they went north to escape the heat of the lowlands. 

At this time, Baguio became the capital of Benguet and was dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Following the Philippine Independence, Baguio City remained as the prime location for many American bases – foreign visitors often refer to the city as Little America. 

Baguio City’s history, withstanding the challenges of the times through the years, is among the reasons tourists love the province

When visiting the locale, include in your itinerary educational trips for exploring Baguio City’s background to further appreciate this historical destination.

The Best Place for Foodies

Baguio tourist destinations are also popular among foodies. A trip to this city will not be complete without sampling the local food. Street vendors roam around the parks and the city streets selling strawberry-flavored taho and ice cream. Local restaurants offer Cordilleran delicacies, as well as numerous dishes from different cultures. Some of the foodie places to go to in Baguio are Hill Station, Cafe by the Ruins, Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant, and Amare La Cucina Pizza.

Baguio is also famous for its desserts and other sweets, such as ube jams, strawberry jams, choco flakes, lengua de gato, and peanut brittle. The city is also a quick ride away from La Trinidad where visitors can experience picking strawberries from a local strawberry farm.

A Cool Hotspot

What is the summer capital of the Philippines if not for its cool weather? Baguio is around 4,600 feet above sea level, which is the reason the city gets colder than cities in the lowlands. Baguio City weather rarely goes beyond 30 degrees, and can even get colder and foggy during the rainy season. The lowest temperature recorded was 6.3 degrees back in January 1961.

From December to February, the weather can be pretty chilly, which is why people tend to wear hats and scarves to combat the cold. It’s no surprise that drinking hot chocolate and setting up campfires are among the most common tourist activities in Baguio.

A Go-to Province for Popular Festivals

With its melting pot of culture, Baguio City never runs out of festivals to celebrate. Whether it’s during the peak summer season or nearing the end of the year, Baguio City events and festivals become the highlight of residents and visitors. 

The Panagbenga, or flower festival held during February, is one of the most popular events in the city. During the Panagbenga, there is a parade of floats going around the city. Another popular festival is the Baguio Arts Festival, in which artists showcase their best works during the months of November to December. The culture of Baguio is best displayed in its colorful festivals, so it’s worth visiting the locale around the time of these celebrations.

A Paradise for Strawberry Pickers

The summer capital of the country also hosts a few strawberry farms, including King’s Berry Farm and Macky’s Strawberry Farm. These farms feature several varieties of strawberries, allowing tourists to pick and taste for themselves. Visitors can likewise learn about the basics of farming and the history of strawberry farms in Baguio straight from the farmers in the vicinity.

Not far from Baguio is the most popular strawberry farm in the country, La Trinidad. Owned and maintained by the Benguet State University, it produces almost 2,000 metric tons of strawberries. Similar to Baguio’s strawberry farms, La Trinidad is open to domestic and international tourists. Strawberry picking is among the most popular things to do in Baguio.

What to Do in Baguio

Baguio City lives up to its reputation of being the favorite destination of many Filipinos. For one, the budget for a trip to the city can be more manageable than any other location. The city is also accessible via land transport, with many bus companies offering direct routes to the city.

When it comes to things to do in Baguio City, there are tons of options for anyone and for any interest.

Visit the BenCab Museum

Featuring the works of Philippine National Artist Benedictor Reyes Cabrera, the BenCab Museum brings together all those who have a passion for the arts. As a venue for promoting and preserving the arts, the museum houses premium collections from different Filipino master artists and new artists. The BenCab museum has galleries with different themes, ranging from erotica to contemporary art. To art enthusiasts, this is the best place to visit in Baguio.

Venture into the Tam-awan Village

Created by the Chanum Foundation, the Tam-awan Village is a colony of Ifugao houses located on the outskirts of Baguio City. This is a go-to place for those who want to get a glimpse of traditional Cordillera culture. This showcases Ifugao and Kalinga houses, arts, and activities that are native to the Cordillerans. While the village is a bit of a distance from the city, venturing into this location is well worth the effort. Tourists who are curious about the native culture of Baguio should definitely include this in their itinerary.

Stay in a Vintage Hotel

The summer capital is dotted with beautiful accommodations that boast old-world charm. Stepping inside these hotels, you’ll immediately experience nostalgia for a certain place’s ancient glory. One such accommodation, which has gained massive popularity among domestic and international tourists, is The Manor Hotel Baguio. 

Nestled within the refreshing, peaceful landscape of Camp John Hay, the four-story hotel has a log cabin design that takes inspiration from its nature-filled surroundings. It has a spacious reception area, which features high ceilings and Cordillera-inspired interiors.

The best thing about staying in The Manor Hotel Baguio is that they offer tour packages, which make it easier for visitors to explore Baguio. Some of these packages include the city’s top destinations, such as Tam-Awan Village Baguio, Museo de Baguio, BenCab Museum, and the popular Baguio parks, Mines View Park and Burnham Park. If you’re still exploring accommodations for your trip to the north, Manor Baguio should be in your top options.

Taste Different Delicacies

Baguio travels aren’t complete without food trips. Fortunately, when you stay in The Manor Baguio, you can be close to popular restaurants in Baguio. Craving for some good old Filipino and Chinese food? Visit the Good Taste along Otek Street. The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant serves Filipino food too, including Cordillera cuisines. King Chef Dimsum Kitchen and Fortune Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant are good Chinese restaurants as well.

If you’re up for a veggie feast, the best place for you is Oh My Gulay! located along Session Road. Meanwhile, for those who are in the mood for fine dining, Hill Station is the go-to restaurant. 

As you explore different restaurants in the City of Pines, make time for visiting the famous coffee shops in Baguio as well. Add these to your itinerary:

  • Cafe by the Ruins along Shuntug Rd
  • Choco-late De Batirol in Camp John Hay
  • That Little Cafe in Orchard Hotel Baguio
  • Ebai’s Cafe & Pastry in Patria de Baguio 
  • Patch Cafe in Bloomfield Hotel

Explore Baguio’s Harrison Road Night Market

Baguio is not only known for its historic and cultural sites; it’s also the best place for cheap finds. The city has a night market that sells a wide variety of items for the best bargains – clothes, food, shoes, and souvenirs. Vendors start setting up their stalls along Harrison Road as early as 8 PM, while the market opens at 9 PM and lasts until the early hours of the morning. If you’re unsure what to do in Baguio at night, roam the market and haggle for good finds. 

Go Horseback Riding

While Baguio’s urban landscapes are a sight to behold, it still provides a place for recreation – one of these is horseback riding. Visitors can find trails for horseback riding at different Baguio, Philippines points of interest: Wright Park, Mines View Park, Baguio Country Club, and Camp John Hay. A riding guide will accompany every rider, which makes it a safe experience for people of all ages.

Enjoy the Party Scene

While the day offers a lot of opportunities to explore cultural and historic sites, the night provides visitors and locals the chance to experience the city’s party scene. As Baguio is home to a number of the country’s prestigious universities, the young crowd often visits these bars to unwind and mingle in different social circles. This party scene forms part of the multi-dimensional culture of Baguio.

Most bars offer cheap beer and other drinks, along with good food and great music from local bands. If booze and tunes are your type of entertainment at night, these are the best places to visit in Baguio: Old Baguio Boys, 108 Session Road Cafe, and 18 BC Music Lounge.

Celebrate Holiday Cheer in Baguio Christmas Village

The province beams with beautiful, twinkling lights and joyful music when the yuletide season comes up. This is because of the Baguio Christmas Village, mounted in the Baguio Country Club.

There are many activities in this fun-filled attraction, from nativity pageants to snowfall to dancing light shows and picture taking with Santa. It’s the place to be for kids and the young at heart. The entrance fee to the Baguio Christmas Village is P120 for adults. Senior citizens and children below 12 years old can get discounts. 

Join the Spooky Fun

The combination of chilly weather and age-old buildings in Baguio makes it the top tourist destination of fans of the supernatural. The province, therefore, isn’t just a yuletide wonderland, but also a Halloween haven. In fact, when you ask tourists what to do at night in Baguio, many will recommend going to haunted places.

A lot of people visit Teachers Camp Baguio for ghosthunting. Some drop by the Japanese Tunnel, Laperal House, and Loakan Road, to experience the supernatural. Others intentionally book the Hyatt Hotel and Diplomat Hotel when planning where to stay in Baguio so they could explore these haunted hotels. In case your idea of a fun night is a spooky party, then these tourist destinations are your best bet. 

Economic Background

Baguio City’s Economy on the Rise

Baguio City continues on its track for growth, as indicators of progress show positive movement since 2017. The city’s trade, industry, and tourism sectors have made significant contributions to the city’s economy. This is reflected in the continuous increase of registered business establishments in the city over the years. The city now has over 20,000 registered businesses, with gross sales amounting to over PHP48 billion.  

More Employment Opportunities

With the rise of local businesses, the number of employed workers has also risen. This shows employment opportunities are opening to accommodate the influx of tourists every year, as well as support the locals with available work.

The demand for manufacturing work, for instance, has shown an increase due to the growing demands for manufactured products. The city is able to employ over 60,000 workers in 2017, and the number is expected to continue on an upward trend.

Exports Driving the City’s Economic Growth

Exports also serve as one of the main drivers of growth for the city’s economy. According to statistics, television, radio, and communications equipment have the highest shares in exported goods. Fabricated metal products also have a large contribution to Baguio city’s exports.

Call center services also contribute to the city’s exports, with offshoring services seeing rapid improvements. Textile, apparel, and plastic products also contribute to the positive movement of Baguio City’s export situation.

Tourism Supporting the Economy

The boom of Baguio’s tourism industry has a significant impact on the city’s economy. Surveys over the years have shown that Baguio remains one of the top destinations for vacations. In 2017 alone, statistics show that over one million tourists have visited Baguio, Philippines points of interest.

The number of visitors flocking to the city seems to show no signs of decreasing. Peak seasons include Christmas holidays, Panagbenga Flower Festival, Holy Week, holidays attached to weekends (long weekends), and weeks of the entire summer.

With the growth of Baguio’s tourism comes the proliferation of small businesses. The city’s tourism industry also attracts more banks. Lodging, boarding houses, transient homes, and hospitality businesses or similar services have also grown significantly, as more tourists explore various activities in Baguio. The businesses developing in the city means more investment and work opportunities.

Popular Neighborhoods

Baguio City’s neighborhoods offer a laidback and serene atmosphere, which adds to the overall appeal of the city. Many residents enjoy a mix of urban and countryside landscapes. Despite bustling with life due to the many people from all walks of life staying in the city, Baguio City’s neighborhoods offer the best sanctuary for everyone.

General Luna

Situated near academic institutions, General Luna is the best neighborhood for students and families. It houses Baguio City’s university cluster, with the main road leading to academic institutions such as the University of Baguio and Saint Louis University – Laboratory Elementary School. General Luna has two areas: the upper and lower sides. 

Looking for a new phone on a budget? General Luna is the neighborhood to go. Apart from the prestige of the academic institutions surrounding the area, General Luna is also a popular location for finding the best gadget deals. The area is famous for its numerous gadgets and gadget stalls selling new and secondhand items.

General Luna Road hosts popular restaurants in Baguio, including:

  • Rubia Restaurant 
  • Studio Coffee Cafe & Deli
  • Rose Bowl Steakhouse and Restaurant 
  • Cuci Fusion Restaurant 
  • Granny’s Kitchen 

Trancoville

Trancoville is one of the most popular barangays in the city. This neighborhood is a popular option for those looking into investing in residential and commercial properties. It’s home to many migrants, with a total local population amounting to over 3,000. 

While the neighborhood may take 45 minutes to an hour’s drive from the main district of the city, the area is still accessible via public transport.

Some of the popular cafes and restaurants in Baguio are in this barangay, namely:

  • Chowbun 
  • People’s Eatery & Billiards
  • TrancoGrill
  • Bow and Whiskers Cafe
  • Il-lengan Cafe

How to Get to Baguio

With its various entertainment hubs, museums, parks, and festivals, Baguio City has been part of many tourists’ vacation itinerary during Christmas and summer vacations. The booming of its industry and the local economy has led to the development of many thoroughfares conveniently linking Baguio City to Metro Manila and other areas in the country.

Here are some of the ways tourists can get to the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

By Bus

Buses are the most popular means of transportation for tourists from Metro Manila commuting to Baguio City. With their convenience, comfort, and cost-effectiveness, buses remain to be the go-to transportation for those wanting to experience the cold breeze and pine trees for a budget. The two most popular bus lines going to Baguio are Victory Liner and Genesis Transport.

Victory Liner is perhaps the most iconic of all the buses leading to the city. The bus line has terminals situated in Cubao, Monumento, and Pasay, making Baguio City more accessible to those hailing from both the north and south ends of the metro. Victory Liner buses operate 24 hours a day and have buses bound to Baguio every hour. Tickets can be booked and purchased online, adding to the hassle-free experience of traveling to the city.

Genesis Transport has also become a favorite line to get to Baguio City. They have terminals in Cubao and Avenida; buses in their Cubao terminal leave every hour from 3 am to 7 pm, and buses from the Avenida terminal leave every hour from 11 pm to 9 pm.

These bus lines stop at their respective stations close to SM City Baguio, making it easier for tourists to find their way around the place.

The buses fare through NLEX and Marcos Highway. Travel time can range from 5 to 6 hours for night trips and 7 hours during day trips. Using the improved TPLEX (Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway), tourists can experience reduced travel time from Manila to the summer capital, about three hours. This is the fastest way to Baguio by land.

Fares can cost an average of Php 450. Purchasing tickets is easy, but it is recommended to book tickets in advance when traveling to Baguio during the Panagbenga Festival and summer season. 

By Private Transport

Traveling by private car can be the fastest way to get to the city since smaller and private vehicles can take the notable Kennon Road, which is the shortest way to the City of Pines. From Kennon Road, tourists can turn to the storied Loakan Road and access Camp John Hay, Baguio Country Club, Mines View area, and the Philippine Military Academy. 

Travelers can fully enjoy the Baguio experience by stopping by the famous Lion’s Head. Take pictures with the massive statue and appreciate the cold breeze fanned by the copse of trees covering the surrounding mountains. The Lion’s Head marks a tourist’s arrival in the Summer Capital and bids farewell to those returning to the metro. 

From Clark International Airport 

Baguio City is not only accessible to Metro Manila; airports, sea ports, and infrastructures linking southern areas to Luzon have allowed tourists from Cebu, Iloilo City, and Davao to access the summer capital. 

Tourists can book flights from Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, and Davao International Airport to travel to Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Pampanga. Riding a plane is the fastest way to Baguio, but new road infrastructure projects have also made land transportation more efficient.

After arriving at Clark, tourists can take buses bound to Baguio, which can take an average travel time of 4.5 hours. If you want a more comfortable travel experience, Clark International Airport also offers P2P buses to Baguio City, which takes three hours of travel time and costs around Php 300 to Php 500 depending on the class.

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