Baguio City is located about 240 to 250 kilometers north of Metro Manila, high above in the mountains. The city is the heart of the landlocked Cordillera Administrative Region, bordered by the Ilocos Region and the Cagayan Valley. Given such geographic location, the city is accessible to most people only by land.
Several bus companies are available to provide safe trips from Manila to Baguio. The travel time usually takes about six to seven hours with layovers in between. Victory Liner Buses offer 24-hour transport services with Baguio-bound buses leaving every hour. Genesis Bus offers trips as well.
In recent years, both Victory Liner and Genesis Bus have also offered deluxe services to those who wish to travel in comfort and style. These deluxe buses boast WiFi connection, wider seats, an onboard restroom, and non-stop travel. You can reach Baguio from Manila in around four to five hours.
With the completion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) in 2008, Baguio City, also known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” has become even more accessible to private vehicles. Bringing your own transportation to Baguio City is also another convenient way of getting there, ideal if you are with friends or family. At the end of SCTEx, drivers can head straight to the MacArthur Highway which leads to the zigzagging roads of Marcos Highway and up to the Baguio city proper.
How to Get Around
Taxis are a dime a dozen in Baguio City, and the drivers will take you wherever you need to go in the city. The flag down rate is at PHP 30.00, just like in Manila. The incremental rate, however, is cheaper: PHP 2.00 for every 400 meters or 60 seconds waiting time. Expect the taxi drivers there to be more diligent in providing the exact amount of change.
Taking the jeep is another ideal way to go around the city. This iconic mode of transportation in the Philippines is also the perfect way to enjoy the cool Baguio weather because of its windows are open. Best of all, jeep fares are cheap: starting at PHP 7.00 only per person for the first four kilometers.
What to See
More than its inviting weather, Baguio is a quaint and homey city that is home to a number of attractions that are truly worth visiting.
If you’re traveling to Baguio using your own car, you can reach the city proper faster by taking Kennon Road. Along this zigzagging road is the famous Lion’s Head, a 40-feet high sculpture that serves as the symbol of the Lions Club members in Baguio. Though this landmark is not exactly in the city, it has become a popular spot for visitors since it was unveiled in 1972.
Like any other place in the Philippines, the focal point of the city is the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, more popularly known as the Baguio Cathedral. Completed in 1936, the cathedral serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baguio. The cathedral, with its distinct pink façade and twin spires, features a large courtyard where you can enjoy a view of the busy Session Road.
Casa Vallejo is another Baguio landmark and one of the oldest institutions in the city. Built in 1909, Casa Vallejo is a hotel complex located along Upper Session Road, where Cinematheque Baguio (a small cinema house that screens classic and contemporary Filipino films, both mainstream and independent as well as other activities related to the art of filmmaking), Mt. Cloud Bookshop (a cozy bookshop with a selection of rare and hard-to-find books), and Hill Station Restaurant (one of Baguio City’s well-loved restaurants) are conveniently located.
The Mansion is also located right in the heart of Baguio City. This stately manor serves as the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines. Tourists usually flock to The Mansion’s ornate main gate, which resembles the gate of the Buckingham Palace in London. The Mansion houses a museum where you can find various presidential mementos. Wright Park, a pine tree-lined promenade, is located just right across The Mansion.
The Laperal White House, about a seven-minute ride from The Mansion, features Victorian architecture but has been infamous for being a haunted house. Today, however, this mansion is now a museum that houses a bamboo exhibit conducted by the Bamboo Foundation. Another spooky landmark in the city is the old Diplomat Hotel located along Dominican Road. It was once a seminary that was converted into a hotel in 1973, but operations eventually ceased in 1982. While the architecture of the hotel is a sight to behold, the creepy tales and urban legends about the place continue to attract a number of curious tourists to this place even up to this day.
When in Baguio, a visit to the Burnham Park and the Mines View Park should be included in your itinerary. Named after the American architect who designed the layout of the city, Burnham Park is an expansive piece of land located in the middle of this progressive summer capital. The park features a man-made lake where tourists can enjoy boating, a skating rink, a rose garden, an orchidarium, and the Melvin Jones Grandstand where a number of events are often held.
Mines View Park, on the other hand, is where you can see the neighboring mining town of Itogon. The park is also home to a number of stalls or tiangge, where a variety of native products and souvenir items are available. You can also rent Igorot costumes, the traditional attires of the natives of Baguio, and have your pictures taken. While you’re at it, have a photo op as well with the cuddly Saint Bernard dog named “Doglas” and his burly companion.
Another prominent attraction in the outskirts of the city is Tam-awan Village, a reconstruction of a typical Cordilleran village that features traditional huts and other pieces of arts and culture that belong to the Ifugao people. Not too far away from Tam-awan Village, about 8 minutes by taxi, is the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Climb the 252 steps to reach the grotto where you can light a candle at the altar as you offer your prayers to her.
For art lovers, a visit to the BenCab Museum is highly recommended. Featuring the works of Benedicto Cabrera as well as of other contemporary artists, the museum not only showcases a variety of fascinating art works but also houses a small aviary, a mini forest, and an eco-trail. A coffee shop called Café Sabel is also available onsite.
The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is also located in Baguio City and open to the public. For over a century, the PMA has been the premier training ground for the future defenders of the country. Tourists can roam around its well-manicured grounds or see vintage tanks and other military weapons on display. If you’re lucky, you might witness the cadets perform drills and exhibitions during your visit.
Camp John Hay is another popular tourist attraction, home to a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a topnotch resort and hotel, a number of thrilling attractions at the Tree Top Adventure, and the Baguio-Ayala Technohub where a number of restaurants and other establishments are located.
Events and Festivals
Baguio City has quite a number of celebrations that happen all-year round. This includes the PMA Homecoming in February, the Baguio Foundation Day in September, and the Baguio Arts Festival in either November or December. But the grandest and much-awaited event is the Panagbenga Festival held every February. This is the time when the city is decked out in colorful decorations and becomes lively with festivities, especially the grand parade that features floats adorned with beautiful flowers.
Where to Eat
Although Session Road is mainly Baguio’s Central Business District, this bustling avenue also houses a wide variety of dining options that cater to different appetites and budget.
When in Baguio, satisfy your craving for Italian food with a hearty meal at Don Henrico’s, or Don Hen as it is more popularly known to the locals. Don Hen started serving delightful pizzas and Italian dishes to the public in 1993 in its first ever branch along Session Road. The restaurant became so popular that it eventually branched out to other cities in the Philippines in the years that followed.
Another iconic Baguio restaurant is Café by the Ruins. Featuring rustic architecture and interiors made of wood, Café by the Ruins treats its guests to ethnic fares like native chicken, pinikpikan, and bagnet, served with mountain rice on the side. They also have a selection of strawberry-based desserts to cap off a spectacular meal.
If you’re looking for American-style grub, 50’s Diner is where you can satisfy your craving. Complete with flashing neon lights and a jukebox, this restaurant serves steaks, salads, and creamy milkshakes—all at pocket-friendly prices. O’Mai Khan is another Session Road favorite, which serves eat-all-you-can Mongolian barbecue made from fresh vegetables straight from the highlands.
When it comes to dessert, Chona’s Delight from Tea House Restaurant and Bakeshop is one of the most sought after. This tub of chocolate cake is a certified Baguio favorite. It is very affordable too, starting at PHP 130.00 only. Meanwhile, Choco-Late de Batirol in Camp John Hay is a quaint café where you can enjoy traditional hot chocolate to warm yourself in the cold Baguio weather. It also serves snacks like rice cakes and various Filipino dishes.
Bars and Clubs
Baguio’s nightlife won’t disappoint either. For those who love to party, the city has quite a number of bars and clubs where you can enjoy drinks, music, and live performances. Baguio Craft Brewery, 18 BC, Rumours, and Red Lion Pub are some of the city’s highly recommended spots for a fun and exciting night out.
Where to Shop
SM City Baguio is the largest shopping mall in the North Luzon region. Opened in 2003, the mall uses natural lighting and does not use any air conditioning in its common areas. You will be able to find there most of the shops, boutiques, restaurants, and fast food chains that are in the SM Malls in the metro.
But for some authentic Baguio-style shopping, then the Baguio City Market should be your first stop. You can get the best deals in the market on the freshest produce from the highlands like lettuce, broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, oranges, and of course, strawberries. The city market also has a seemingly endless selection of quality items that you can use at home like the famous Baguio broom or walis tambo and foot rugs.
When shopping in Baguio, ukay-ukay is not to be missed. Though there are already a lot of ukay-ukay stores in the metro, tourists still find these stores irresistible. From secondhand jackets, sweaters, beanies, shoes, to accessories and bags, you’ll find highly affordable items in any ukay-ukay shop. You can find them in Hilltop behind the Baguio City Market, Skyworld, and Bayanihan, to name a few.
The Good Shepherd Convent in Gibraltar Road, just a quick walk away from Mines View Park, should also be included in your itinerary. Yet another popular tourist attraction, this establishment is known more for its food items rather than the sights in the area. Good Shepherd is visited daily for their lengua de gato, strawberry jam, peanut brittle, alfajor with caramel filling, different kinds of cookies, and of course, the famous Baguio product, ube jam.
If you have the time, a side trip to the town of La Trinidad is highly recommended as well when in Baguio. Known as the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines,” La Trinidad is where you can purchase fresh strawberries and vegetables at very cheap prices. Best of all, you can pick the strawberries yourself.
Fare: PHP 450.00++
The fare for the regular bus going to Baguio from Manila roughly costs PHP 450.00 to PHP 500.00, one way. If you are going for the deluxe buses, it should be around PHP 700.00 for a one way ticket. Private transportation can also be arranged, but the prices can go as much as PHP 1,000.00 per day, depending on the number of guests.
Going around Baguio is also relatively cheaper. The flag down rate for the taxis is at PHP 30.00, with a PHP 2.00 increment for every 400 kilometer or 60-second waiting time. A jeepney ride will set you back PHP 7.00 per person on the first 4 kilometers of your journey.
Food: PHP 150.00++
You will never go hungry when touring Baguio because of its delicious and budget-friendly food offerings. On average, you could spend about PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00 per meal. For the more upscale restaurants, a budget of PHP 500.00 per meal would already be more than enough.
Shopping: PHP 50.00++
With the presence of ukay-ukay shops in the city, you can score great deals and bargains for just PHP 50.00—especially if you have the patience to dig through piles and piles of thrift items. When shopping for souvenirs, key chains and ref magnets cost about PHP 30.00 to PHP 50.00 per piece. Shirts go for as low as PHP 200.00, depending on the quality and design. When shopping at Good Shepherd, a 12oz jar of ube jam is about PHP 200.00. A 230g tub of lengua de gato is about PHP 175.00, while strawberry jam is about PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00.
Accommodations: PHP 500.00++
Given the number of tourists that come to Baguio annually, the city has quite a number of lodging facilities suitable for just about any budget. Basic rooms are about PHP 500.00 a night. If you want to go all out, you can spend around PHP 4,000.00 a night in some of the hotels.
Activities: PHP 30.00 to PHP 2,000.00
Entrance fees to the museums start at PHP 30.00 per person. There’s a hop-on, hop-off city tour which costs PHP 300 per person, but you can also opt for the one with a tour guide, which is around PHP 2,000.00 per head. But generally, you can DIY your own trip to Baguio at a minimal cost. Expect to spend around PHP 100.00 to PHP 200.00 per activity.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When dining, a service charge is usually added to bill. But if you would like to leave a tip, PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be okay.
When traveling by bus from Manila to Baguio, it’s best to take the night trip. That way, you can sleep throughout the entire journey and by the time you wake up, you’re already in the city.
||Arrive in Baguio City. Leave your luggage in your hotel or check-in early.
||Eat breakfast at any of the eateries or restaurants near your hotel. Or ask where you can find a taho (made from silken tofu with syrup and tapioca balls) vendor and try the strawberry taho for just PHP 20.00 a cup.
||Visit the Baguio Cathedral. Aside from checking out the façade, the church can be an ideal jumping-off point to the other interesting places in the city.
||Check out the establishments along Session Road. It has several ukay-ukay stores and restaurants.
||Roam around Burnham Park for some sightseeing and boating at the Burnham Lake.
||Take a taxi to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, where you’ll find the image of the Virgin Mary on top of the 252 steps.
||Take a taxi to Tam-awan Village, where you can explore a traditional Ifugao village and browse for ethnic arts and crafts.
||Take a taxi back to Session Road for late lunch. Don Henrico’s is highly recommended.
||Head back to the hotel to check-in or to rest.
||Visit the Baguio City Market where you can shop for souvenir items and other useful items.
||Go on a one-kilometer walk from the market to SM City Baguio where you can window shop or dine.
||Visit the Philippine Military Academy. If you’re there on a Saturday morning, you can take pictures of cadets doing their drills on the academy’s grounds.
||Take a taxi to the BenCab museum, home to the works of art of one of the country’s most prolific and beloved artist.
||Enjoy a hearty lunch at Café by the Ruins, just 20 minutes away from the BenCab museum by taxi.
||Take a taxi to The Mansion and the Wright Park for some selfies and photo ops.
||Visit Mines View Park where you can enjoy a stunning view of the mountains. The area is also teeming with souvenir shops and stalls.
||Walk to the Good Shepherd’s Convent, which is just five minutes away by foot. Don’t forget to buy their best-selling ube jam.
||Head back to your hotel to rest or to drop off your purchased items.
||Visit Casa Vallejo to see Mt. Cloud Bookstore. See a movie at Cinematheque Baguio as well.
||Have dinner at the Hills Station, also found in Casa Vallejo.
||Visit La Trinidad for some strawberry-picking.
||Visit Camp John Hay where you can also have brunch in one of the restaurants at the Baguio-Ayala Technohub.
||Explore some of Camp John Hay’s attractions like the Cemetery of Negativity, the Bell Amphitheater, and the Bell House.
||Try the hot chocolate at Chocolate de Batirol.
||Head back to the hotel to prepare for dinner or a night out
||Take a taxi to Baguio Craft Brewery to sample their food and, of course, their fine selection of beers.
Baguio weather is generally cool all year round, which is why it is called the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” On average, the city’s temperature ranges from 15 degrees to 23 degrees Celsius, with the lowest temperatures happening between November to February.
It’s best to bring thicker clothes when visiting the city. Or, at the very least, don’t forget a scarf or a jacket to help you keep warm, especially at night.
Baguio City is equipped with hospital facilities—both public and private—to aid you in case of any health-related issues that may happen during your stay. There is the Baguio General Hospital located near Burnham Park. SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart, on the other hand, is located along Assumption Road, near the Baguio Cathedral.
There are also a lot of drug stores throughout the city. Session Road, in particular, has over nine drugstores. Mercury Drug Store in Abanao Street is open 24/7. It’s also advisable that you bring your medication, especially if you have certain health conditions.
Commuting in Baguio City is quite hassle-free since their taxi drivers are some of the most efficient in the country. In fact, taking a taxi is the more preferred mode of transportation compared to riding a jeep. If you need more assistance with commuting, you can ask your hotel for advice.
Baguio City is generally a safe place to visit, though that doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. You will do a lot of strolling since Baguio itself is a very walkable city. Always practice vigilance, and be careful when crossing the road.