Things To Do In Baguio
Baguio City is settled high in the Central Mountains of the Cordillera, which is located in the Northern part of Luzon, the Philippine's first archipelago. This city is the "Summer Capital" of the country and a great destination to escape the heat of the cities lying in the lowland areas. The Burnham Park is amidst the city and just a stone’s throw away from the central market, SM (a popular shopping center) old colleges and different schools, downtown lodgings, fast-food joints and bus terminals.
It is an ideal spot for unwinding, picnic, lover’s lane, meeting point, boat – sailing (on its man-made lagoon), skating, and even play a round of soccer in the Melvin Jones Stadium. There is a kids' park with bikes for rent and are made accessible for children. This park very organized, clean, and well maintained.
When To Go:
Anytime is a decent time to visit the so-called “City of Pines”. Everything depends on how fun and exciting you want your holidays to be. Being the acclaimed summer capital it is expected that most tourists travel this side of the Philippines during the hot summer months of March – May particularly during the Holy Week (Semana Santa).
In any case what some may not understand is that most hotels are full (and busy months ahead of time, as well) especially during the Christmas season. It is because the month of December is the most prominent time when most Filipino families are complete, going around with their relatives visiting from abroad, having a get together for family reunions, weddings, and different festivals.
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Here are the places to visit and things to do when in the cool city of Baguio.
Mines View Park
The Mines View Park is part of the essential places to see in Baguio. From this point you can have a great view of the countryside. Go there early in the morning because it gets filled with tourists at around noon. There are indigenous tribes wearing their traditional costumes with their matching weapons and implements who stay in one corner of the park and obliges for a photograph, just leave a donation. There are also fully garbed horses that double as a photo opportunity for every guest to pose with. If you don’t have any binoculars with you, there are sellers who offer binoculars for rent with a corresponding charge per minutes of use.
Choose to take a taxi rather than the overloaded Jeep, it is more convenient. Around the actual viewpoint, there are a plethora of shops of all kinds, mainly souvenirs. The view is very good, and on a clear day you can see the best part of the Cordillera Mountains. There are many stalls filled with sweet delicacies made in Baguio, t-shirts, caps, knitted bonnets, native bags, wood handicrafts, mats, etc. Take lots of pictures of the ravine, where most houses are located. It is stunning and a tour of the park will take you less than half a day to absorb everything this park has to offer.
Riding Stable at Wright Park
If you love horses, this is the perfect place, here at the Riding Stable at Wright Park; you will not find an ordinary looking horse, but a well garbed and tame one with “colored” hairs (pink, red, blue, green, etc.). You may also have the chance to enjoy a pleasant stroll through the shady alleys of this park. Try and rent a horse and spend about an hour of striding along the spacious park on top of a gallant ride and with a trained guide. It is totally safe and the rider is secured as the horse trainers guide the rider on how to maneuver the ride or handle the reins properly.
Kids love the safe rides and the views to see along the way. The only downside is there are corners that smell of horse’s urine and looked unkempt because of the presence of some horses that look under nourished. But in general the Wright Park is still good and most tourists make this park their first official stop to imbibe the family friendly and pleasant park ambience of the place. There are gardens situated right beside the horse riding park and where you can take good pictures and memories of Baguio.
The Mansion was initially built to serve as the summer residence of the American governor-generals who ruled the Philippines at the beginning of the last century. At the present, it serves as the official summer vacation/residence for the President of the Philippines and the first family. Filipinos and other tourists are photographed against the backdrop of the white building. Over the fence, of course, they are not allowed as there are lots of National Army guards who patrol and keep the mansion grounds safe and secure. It is lined with tall pine trees and an all steel fenced perimeters.
Nobody is permitted close to the "house" so that visitors/ guests who needed a peek of the manor are allowed just a couple of meters after the gate for security reasons. Presently you see the chateau within the proximity of the gate.
It is located right next to the Wright Park, and close to the Botanical Garden, Imelda Park, and Burnham Park. The Mansion can also be easily reached to or from the Mines' View Park and the Philippine Military Academy (with a shortcut access through the Teachers' Camp). When in Baguio, better plan your itinerary well, as almost all of the attractions are close to each other. The best part of seeing the Mansion is you can take lots of “selfies” at the gate and that’s it. Try to also visit the garden located just right across this major landmark in Baguio.
The Burnham Park is located next to the famous Hotel Veniz in Baguio. There is a man-made lake with boats for hire, footpaths, concrete benches, children’s playground and all. The park is often filled with quite a lot of people, especially on the weekends. A significant part of the park is an artificial lake, where you can rent and paddle with your family, there are also foot pedal powered boats that come in animal shapes and perfect for couples who want to have some fun and a few laughs in between paddling and bumping with other boats.
Another interesting part is the proximity to the lake of a beautiful Orchidarium towering over the lake and right across a large shopping center. The children’s playground is located right behind it and they can rent bikes as well be able to explore all of its interesting parts on a two wheeled bike. There are lots of local vendors who go around peddling the usual snacks made in Baguio like; boiled white corn (Binatog) served with freshly grated coconut and milk, cheap and fresh strawberries, soya milk (Taho) drizzled with strawberry syrup.
There are also stalls that set up on the side of the park selling wood carved souvenir key chains made from pine trees. Always have your camera ready for there are lots of photo opportunities offered at the park like; natives in national costumes performing the traditional dance, a huge St. Bernard dog who frequents the park along with his owner and will politely set up the trained dog for that great photo opportunity, and the huge presence of exotic green plants and colorful flowers to admire within its surrounding gardens.
Philippine Military Academy
A visit to the Philippine Military Academy is absolutely mandatory when in Baguio City. It is well maintained, neat, and has an immense landscape view of the city. Be sure to witness the parade time to witness the trained future soldiers in perfect cadence and in full regalia. Make it a point to visit the academy on a Saturday morning (8:00 am) to witness how the cadets perform in their field drills. The cadets are pleasant and accommodating. Explore every part of the academy like; the tree house where you can see from above the stunning landscape of the city, delight in taking photographs beside the old and real military tanks, war planes, barrel guns, helicopters, and the evolution of the old military armory and hardware.
No vendors will annoy you when you are inside the premises of the PMA complex. There is a small museum detailing its history and the presidents who served in its administration. Photos of how it use to look and the foreign dignitaries who visited this school are spread in different rooms, along with an actual replica of how a cadet’s room look like in their official quarters within the academy. There is a souvenir shop where you can buy gifts and PMA souvenirs (varsity jackets, t-shirt, key chains, bottle cap openers, ball pen, stationery pad, mugs, etc.) that are emblazoned with the official logo of the oldest and only existing military school of the Philippines. The price of the souvenirs here is more affordable than any place or market in Baguio.
Good Shepherd Convent
There is dependably an affirmation of great value and best quality when you purchase goodies (pasalubong) from the Good Shepherd Convent. Their famous Ube Jam (a sweet delicacy made from mixing purple yam and condensed milk) is still their #1 hit and with profits shared for a good cause. The jam that gained prominence for the convent is excellent, creamy, tasty, and the overall quality has never changed through the years. Aside from the well- loved Ube Jam, there are still different things that they offer to their regular and new customers like; strawberry jam, snowballs, cookies, peanut brittle, Chocó crinkles, lengua de gatos, and other sweets that made Baguio popular.
They may be a bit pricier than the other homegrown Baguio brands that create the same sweets, but what distinguishes this convent’s products aside from the good quality is, all their profits are shared to their foundation that sends smart but poor students to their chosen school.
The manner of ordering goods in their shop is very organized, once you enter, you must make a list of the sweets and souvenirs you want to buy, after that you hand it over to the cashier to have all your purchases summed up, you must write your name and wait to get your goodies at the check-out counter. There is also a good coffee shop located on the convent grounds, served and prepared by the polite nuns of the community housed inside the sanctuary. A visit to Baguio is not complete without passing by this religious and noble convent of religious missionaries. The products can be purchased in the market, but there is nothing like making the trek to the convent and buy freshly baked goodies from the original source.
The Session Road is the heart of Baguio City. It is a busy winding road that is filled with hotels, shopping centers, fast food joints, coffee shops, fine dining restaurants, churches, museums, bus terminals, public market, and horticultural parks. You will never see so many people strolling in and around every establishment located in the main city center from this part of Baguio that is always busy with pedestrian traffic. It is a stone’s throw away from the very central Burnham Park and within its premise is where you can also find the premium shopping center of the Philippines, the SM City.
And like the human heart, Session Road is the center of life in the city that is divided into two chambers, the upper and the lower part. This prominent road is the main epicenter of all the nightlife fun and family friendly activities in Baguio. There are banks, post office, government offices, tourist information centers, five star hotels, art galleries, and world class- boutiques (with signature brands). The walk in the serpentine terrain is exciting as well as the view of the entire city from the top of SM City Baguio. Although it is practically safe to go around, it is advisable to be aware of your personal belongings when strolling around the city.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Just outside the city proper, the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is located on top of the slope that is accessible after climbing more than 200 steps from the base. For the most part, it is prescribed for religious and solemn intentions because there is not much that this sight can offer. Even the view of Baguio from the top is not clearly visible because of the tall pine trees, but it is still cool to visit this place if you are a devoted catholic offering flowers and candles to the foot of Our Lady.
Around the solemn vicinity, it is common to see the local tribe called the “Igorots” dressed in their traditional outfits asking for a small donation for every picture taken beside them. The grotto is about 2 kilometers away from Burnham Park if it is accessed via the Naguilian Road. The stairs require physical agility and it is advisable to take your pace when climbing, persons with knee problems are not encouraged to try the challenging trail.
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral
The Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral is a religious center in Baguio that is a bit pretty, classic, and unique. It is located on a high hill outside the city center that offers English and Korean mass on certain days.
There is a small children’s entertainment center and souvenir shops. The “cute and pink “cathedral has lots of surprising things to see along the way (small, restaurants, chicken farm, mini garden, etc.). You will be amazed at how devoted the Filipinos are on this church, it is always open and filled with devotees who love the solemn and peaceful ambience of the church despite the huge crowds of visitors that flock to this church every hour.
Cemetery of Negativism (Camp John Hay)
This "cemetery" contains mock tombstones with a deep sense of humor that makes you ponder about yourself and your negative behaviors a bit. However what is gorgeous is to meander round the encompassing enclosures located within the popular community for American servicemen called Camp John Hay. This park was created for their rest and recreation purposes and it is still wonderful to stroll around this unique attraction in Baguio.
This memorial is so small and a place designated by the former American residents as the cemetery where you can bury all your negative mentality. A visit to the Cemetery of Negativism can be best appreciated with the help of a guide that Camp John Hay provides.
The BenCab Museum is the perfect tribute to the Philippine’s National Artist, Ben Cabrera. All of his works are stored and presented on this beautiful building along Asin Road. It also has a small museum showing the beautiful combination of ancient art and modern Ifugao art created by BenCab and other painters.
Everything is embellished with excellent style and taste. The museum also has an interesting cafeteria with dish names derived from his work, plus a lovely, well maintained garden where you can enjoy peace and quiet while sipping a good cup of coffee.
The Tam-Awan Village is far enough and away from the city center, but easy to access via private car. This community houses a dozen traditional huts that are mounted in a valley with lush vegetation. The works of art on display here and there are of variable quality.
The awkward and steep stone steps connect the various points of interest. Overall it is worth to visit, even if it is not within the premises of the city center. It is surrounded by beautiful park grounds with lots of flowers and a good education about Baguio’s irresistible natural charm and rich culture.
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