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Not for its ambrosial Ube (purple-yam) jam or the warm, English-speaking Igorots (the traditional peoples inhabiting the surrounding region). Not even for the glorious pine trees that hug the city or the smiling sunflowers that romance the hills, Baguio City is most appreciated by Filipinos for its unique personality and its youthful chutzpah (more than 65 percent of its population is under 30). Located in the Cordillera Central mountains of the country's main island Luzon, a bit over three hours' drive north of Manila, this city of some 345,000 (metro area approximately 552,000) was developed by the Philippines' US occupiers starting in 1900 as a "hill station" - a refuge from the steamy tropical heat of summer - and became known as a university city (there are eight institutions of higher learning here) and the "summer capital" of the Philippines. With a number of interesting in-town attractions as well as activities in the surrounding hills and mountains, it makes for a wonderful visit.
Your trip to Baguio won’t be complete without a visit to its imposing cathedral or even the multicolored Tam Awan Village. You can even tour the Philippine Military Academy to experience first-hand the valorous journey of an ordinary Filipino’s transformation into an honorable army cadet. Take a break at the lush green Burnham Park with your friends and family or if you’re up for a little adventure, head out hiking on one of the magnificent hills surrounding the city. Travel to Baguio to feel like a part of a metamorphosis; witness a fledgling spread its wings and get ready to make a mark on the world.
WHAT TO SEE
Dubbed "the Playground of Gods" and famous for its "sea of clouds" and spectacular nighttime stargazing, Luzon's highest peak stands proudly at a whopping 2,922 meters above sea level.
Seventy-seven-year-old artist Benedict Cabrera (aka BenCab) is perhaps one of the most celebrated and talented artists in the Philippines. His artworks and paintings are showcased at this eclectically built museum, and displaying some fascinating sculptures, 3D artworks, and original paintings
With its pink façade, the neo-Romanesque Our Lady of Atonement is one of the Philippines most impressive buildings and easily Baguio City's most magnificent, finished and consecrated in 1936.
This "garden in the sky" is an open-air museum in a leafy setting centered around thatched huts built in Ingorot fashion and mimicking a traditional Cordillera village, with a café and art displays.
WHAT TO DO
The main shopping street is Session Road, home to various interesting shops as well as SM City Baguio Mall and the Baguio City Market, where locals go for food and household goods, but visitors will find a variety of handicrafts and locally-produce edibles such as the aforementioned Ube jam. Another popular stop is the Good Shepherd Convent, where chocolate curls and Ube and strawberry jam made by the resident nuns are among the products sold to benefit local charities.
Surrounded by hills, mountains, and forests, Baguio offers fantastic opportunities for hiking amid nature - not just on Mount Pulag but other spots including Bakun Trio and Mounts Ulap, Ugo, Cabuyao, and Santo Tomás.
PLACES TO EAT
Your go-to place for American breakfast, Spanish chorizo, and Filipino delicacies too, the Rose Bowl restaurant is fast becoming one of the most delicious choices to dine in Baguio.
If you’re in the mood for steaks, think no further than Mario’s restaurant. They also have an extensive wine list.
House of Waffles
Just the name is enough explanation for a recommending this charming restaurant. Fill yourself up with mouthwatering varieties of waffles and pancakes set amidst beautiful surroundings.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
Baguio's flower festival is held every February. Street parades, colorful floats and costumes and native dance displays draw huge crowds every year.
Holy (Easter) Week
The Roman Catholic Holy Week kicks off the Philippine summer vacation. Festivities last for a week and the whole town comes out to celebrate this respected festival (in 2020, April 5-11).
HOW TO GET IN AND GET AROUND
The nearest airport to Baguio is Loakan, at a distance of 20 kilometers from the city and which can only service small planes and private landings due to its short runway and weather conditions. The nearest major airport is Clark International Airport. This airport has international and domestic flights from Angeles, Philippines and is approximately 175 km from the center of Baguio.
If you are landing at Clark Airport, there are a number of buses that transfer passengers to Baguio at convenient intervals. From Manila, a bus ride to Baguio takes four to six hours. There are a number of buses that get to Baguio from nearby cities of Angeles, Vigan, and Baler.
Baguio is accessible via flawless roads from Manila, Quezon and La Union too. The drive is scenic and takes less time to reach than a bus (just over three hours).
These shared taxis (above) are extremely popular, as well as colorful and quirky; traveling in them helps visitors capture the spirit of Baguio beautifully. They are basically like small buses that ply on almost every street in Baguio. You can board a jeepney when it's parked at a stop or by flagging one down as they drive past.
Painted white, holding up to five passengers, these are plentiful and affordable in Baguio, and you can even choose to rent one for the whole day. Of course, if you feel like driving around yourself on your Baguio vacation, you can explore the option of renting your own car.