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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baguio Bliss: A Family's Guide for a Happy Trip to the Summer Capital of the Philippines

My 2010 started with a trip to Baguio last January (when the temperature was 7 degree celsius) . It was just my second time to visit the place after a decade or so and that time I can say that I liked the place so much. I love the ambiance. I love the people. I love the lifestyle.
This picture was taken in Baguio last January, who's not gonna like this morning bliss?

Hmm... I just love everything about Baguio. I fell in love with this city so much that this time, I decided to bring my family with me. I just badly wanted to share the beauty and happiness I discovered in Baguio, so I thought that my Papa's birthday and my parents' Wedding Anniversary (which is just a day difference) would be the perfect time to feel the bliss.

How To Get There:
There are 2 ways to go to Baguio.
1. By PRIVATE VEHICLE
Budget-wise, this is advisable if you are going to travel in a big group. Big savings however you need to consider the following: van/car should have good breaks and the driver should be familiar on the route. Most important also is that the driver SHOULD got excellent driving experience through that famous ZigZag Road to Baguio. Of course, you don't want to put the safety of your family or loved ones at risk.

2. By VICTORY LINER BUS
You got it! Yes, if you are going to travel by public transportation/bus, there should be no way going to the North other than Victory Liner. Yes, there are still other bus lines but Victory Liner is the trusted name, naks! Seriously, drivers and staff are professional enough and they are really driving slowly but surely safe; their buses are new too. :)
MANILA to BAGUIO and vice versa
Baguio buses leaves exactly every hour. For inquiries, you can send an email to info@victoryliner.com or you may also contact (02)833-4403/(02)833-5019 to 20 (Pasay Terminal). For Baguio to Manila trip, you may call (074)442-5708 or (074)619-0000. For schedules and other info, visit their website http://www.victoryliner.com/. (Important: You can already book or get your ticket in advance as early as 1 week before your trip. No extra charges. Plus you can choose your preferred seats.)

Off to Baguio! Weeheehoo!
We took the 7 am trip of Victory Liner in Pasay. It was quite a good day for a roadtrip. :D Since I have traveled with Victory Liner before, I know that there are only 2 stop-overs during the trip (for non-deluxe, regular air-condition buses), so I asked everyone to go the CR already before the bus left. I am quite sensitive with using of public comfort rooms but I assure you the CR in Victory Liner Terminal in Pasay is really clean. There is a maintenance fee of P3.00 .

The ride was good. We have a 2-year old kid with us and he did not cry or got scared during the trip. The conductor, the driver's assistant was friendly and kept on giving my 2 year old nephew a smile. We also did not get bored during the trip since there were movies played like Harry Potter and Shutter.

Anyways, they say that the best months to go to Baguio would be from November to January (these months are expected to be the coldest months in Baguio). Friendly tip: usually, it is raining in Baguio during the first 2 weeks of November. Actually, 2 weeks ago, Baguio experienced the heavy rains and strong winds of Typhoon Juan; Kennon Road was even closed due to possibility of landslide. It was a blessing that this time, just a few days before our trip, everything went back to normal. Hahaaaist! :) Just make sure to check weather updates before going on board.

On the way, everyone did enjoy the 'zigzag' thing. Wala lang. Hehe Nakakatuwa lang. We also enjoyed the majestic scene of mountains, falls, rice fields and terraces and whew! the thick fog when we were on our way up. We arrived at around past 1:00pm at the New Victory Liner Baguio Terminal.

Where To Stay:
There are a lot of hotels, condotels, apartment type, transient rooms and houses in Baguio. For backpackers, you can stay in transient rooms which will cost around Php700-Php800 per night. For family, I highly recommend a stay in Hotel Elizabeth. Hotel Elizabeth exceeded my expectations. The place is so private and intimate; the rooms are also nice and clean. Staff is really professional, customer-satisfaction-oriented, and friendly. The service is really outstanding. Genuine smiles from the staff will greet you every now and then. And the food? Uhmm.. Whew! It's heavenly satisfying!
Hotel Elizabeth, a next-to-Camp-John-Hay's-Manor-type-of-hotel, get what I mean? :)

F.Y.I. - We enjoyed a 3Day-2Night stay in one of Hotel Elizabeth's Penthouse Suite for a total of P10,976 only. How? We grabbed this special offer in this year's TravelMart Sale. Regular price for Penthouse Suite is Php8800.00/night but we were able to avail it for only P5,488/night only. The suite is just originally good for 6 pax with 4 complimentary buffet breakfast(buffet available during peak seasons). With my hidden talent in bargaining (of course, the power of 'more names you mention, more chances of winning a good deal' did work again), the hotel manager agreed that the suite will be good for 7 pax w/ no additional charge. Hehehehe

Getting Around the City:
Taxi is like the city's local transpo. Don't get it wrong. Taking a cab in Baguio is miles different from taking a cab here in Manila. Let's take a look. I know everyone would agree.

Taking a Taxi in Baguio VS Taking a Taxi in Manila
LEGEND:
Green = Super okay quality
Red = a no-no but the reality

1. Flag Down Rate is P25.00 vs P30.00 in Manila
2. Additional P1.50 for every succeeding meter vs P2.50 per meter in Manila
3. Taxi Drivers in Baguio give exact changes. Enough said. Haha
4. Taxi Drivers in Baguio do not choose passengers or destinations. Unlike here in Manila where taxi drivers always come up with their quick lame excuses like "Ay, trapik dun eh.", "Pauwi na ako eh!", "Pa-garahe na ako, masyadong malayo.", "Wala na akong makukuhang pasahero doon." And mind you, all these brilliant excuses are accompanied with 'i-am-the-only-taxi-driver-slash-you're-gonna-be-having-a-hard-time-finding-for-another-taxi-look' followed by this common line of the taxi drivers "P300 na lang." or at least "Dagdagan mo na lang ng P100." Haaaaist.
5. Taxi Drivers in Baguio does not set a fixed price for the ride. Enough said again.
6. Taxi Drivers in Baguio know where they are going and where they're driving you at. Most of Manila taxi drivers would pretend that they are not that familiar with the place for the passenger to pay more.
7. They promote their place. Taxi drivers know the tourist spots in their place. They even suggest and share some historical facts about a good place. (They're not bragging about Baguio para mangontrata or what, they are just simply proud of their place and of course wants the tourists to see it as well.) Amazing!

In short, taxi drivers in Baguio do not take advantage of their passengers. For me, I find them more honest.

What To See, Where To Go and What To Do in Baguio:

*
Give Thanks at Baguio Cathedral
Me and my family always start our trip by going to the church. It is our way of giving respect and gratitude to the Lord for our safe trip and for the opportunity that we were able to visit a certain place. So before anything else, we headed to Baguio Cathedral as soon as we set our foot to Baguio.
My Mama and Papa with Wadey, ang Batang Lakwatsero

*Spend the Morning at Mines View Park
This is one of the famous sights in Baguio. For me, this is also the best spot to watch the sunrise. We were not able to catch it this time since we were not able to get there before 5:30 am.

Anyways, make sure to...

Have a shot at the picturesque view of the mountains.
I love this moment so much! :)

Have a souvenir shot with Gulliver and Shasta
, the most famous dogs in Baguio. It's P50.00 for 3 shots. They are really big but cuddly. If you want to know more about Gulliver, you can add him up on Facebook. Click the facebook link to view his profile. Astig si dog may fb din! :D

Galing ka ng Baguio, pag may picture kang ganito.
Heheheh Take a souvenir shot with the horsey-horsey Jasper, P10.00 per shot.

Dress like an Igorot for P10.00 only. Unlike any souvenir shots in Mines View, this one is not per shot basis. For P10.00 you can enjoy unlimited pictorial galore.
someday I want to spend some time with Igorots

*Pick some strawberries at Strawberry Farm
This is a unique experience for the whole family. The activity might be pricey compared to just buying some strawberries in the market (200% more of the usual price of a kilo). But promise, picking the strawberries yourself is worth it. You get to pick fresh strawberries of your choice. Super saya!

Strawberry Farm is located at La Trinidad Benguet. You can either go there by cab or jeepney. Taxi meter will be around P99-103.00 (good if you're going to travel by group), Jeepneys to Strawberry Farm are available across the Baguio Center Mall right after Session Road, fare is P16.00.

The price of strawberries vary. As of this month, it would be around P150.00/kilo fresh picked by Ibaloi farmers, if you would like to pick it yourself, it's P400/kilo(I was able to haggle up to P300/kilo). Best month for strawberry picking would be every January- harvest season of this local fruit of Benguet.
The farmer told us that it is not advisable to pick some strawberries this month since they just harvested the big and ripe ones

Perstaym! My little bro was so happy to see strawberry fields

*Stroll, Skate, Bike and Boat at Burnham Park
This is the most popular park in Baguio and the largest one as well. There's a lot of things that you can do here. You can do biking. Patok na patok tong activity na 'to since this is one thing that you don't usually do in Manila. There are hundreds of bikes for rent. Single bike(mountain bike, bmx) is for P30.00/30 mins and yung pwedeng may angkas is P40.00/30 mins.
Oo! May tama ka! Dyan yun! Dyan nga may mga romantic scenes si Sharon at Gabby sa mga lumang pelikula nila, magka-angkas habang nagsusubuan ng cotton candy. :)

You can also skate here in Burnham Park. Though, until now I havent tried it yet. There is a skating rink just in front of Solibao Restaurant where you can see those peeps enjoying those old school skating shoes. It seems so fun!

You can also try boating at the man-made lake here. Boat rental is 60.00 for unlimited use during weekdays (30 mins only on Saturdays and Sundays).

*Walk along the busy street of Session Road
This is like the central business district of Baguio. There's a lot of restaurants, bakeries, malls/plazas, bars, etc. For me, I feel like it is one of the safest streets in the Philippines. :)
My family enjoying a walk along the famous Session Road

*Watch the sunset at SM Baguio
There's really nothing much new here aside from the fact that the whole mall and its boutiques do not use air condition. Pay a visit even you are used to seeing SM everywhere. It's just nice to see how Baguio locals spend their free time at the mall. Best time to visit: 5:30 pm to witness the sunset at the SM Sunset Deck (2nd floor).
I love Baguio. :)

*Climb up the 252 steps and light up a candle at the altar of Lourdes Grotto
*Enjoy extreme adventure at Camp John Hay
I know this might sound a bit new. We all know Camp John Hay as one of the historical sights in Baguio. But as of right now, it is being revamped to attract more tourists. Yeah, cool! Brrrr...

Now, you can find the 2 leaders in extreme adventure and adrenaline rush here in CJH - Paintball Republic and the Tree Top Adventure Philippines. Tree Top Adventure just opened this month and is now operating the canopy ride, Superman ride, Silver Surfer and Interactive Free Fall. Rides here would be more exciting since it is longer and the fact that you are being accelerated above the pine trees and the thought of cool, very cool breeze brushing your face is definitely breathtaking. Sayang! We were not able to try it since immediately after we were enjoying riding the zipline in Paintball Republic, eh umulan na ng pagkalakas-lakas. Tsk Next time na lang. Sure, I'll try it. :)

Where To Eat:
*Solibao in Burnham Park
There are two Solibao Restaurants in Baguio City. The other one can be found along the busy street of Session Road. I preferred eating in the Solibao at Burnham Park. I think it is the original one. I believe that food tastes greater too. :) Winner ang Solibao, Pang-pamilya, panalong-panalo ang pagkain in a reasonable price.
Solibao's Diningding and Bagnet

My favorite is their Sinigang na Bagnet! Ang Sarap to the highest level!!! :D Yummy!

*Cafe by the Ruins

Wanna try some Cordillera dishes? Then try Cafe by the Ruins! It is an all-Filipino food resto at the heart of Chuntug Street in Baguio. Meals are served with Cordillera's mountain rice. Best for dinner would be their Pinikpikan and Chicken Palawan. But oh! Don't miss to try Cafe by the Ruins' Champorado (hmm...the best champorado in the country) served with crispy danggit and fresh lettuce.
Just had dinner. :) Burp!
Sure, everyone will enjoy Cafe by the Ruins. :)

And of course! Last but not the least, bring home a bottle of Tapoy (Benguet's Rice Wine). It's P65.00 for 25 ml, and P160.00 for 1 kwatro kantos bottle. Galing pa talaga siya sa baul! Classic! :D

What to Bring Home:
*wink*

17 comments :

  1. nice clear shots. parang masayang umakyat ulit ng baguio nyan!!!

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  2. thanks chyng! haha di pa ako tapos. oo saya talaga sa baguio ngayon. haaist sarap bumalik!

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  3. congratulations! very informative and useful for the 'on-the-budget' travelers :) in other words, you made us feel we are with u as your adventures unfold...amazing :)

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  4. Chasing PhilippinesSunday, December 05, 2010

    thank you nina. i hope these infos will help a lot.

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  5. Chasing PhilippinesSunday, December 05, 2010

    thank you dboy for reading the article. :) if you have some suggestions. im very well open with that. thanks again :)

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  6. Thanks! Were actually planning to visit Baguio City sometime next week of the following week. This info would be very beneficial and helpful to us! :-)

    Jet..

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  7. I mean, next week OR the following week (typo error).

    Jet..

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  8. im glad this post helped. enjoy your trip jet! :))

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  9. What's your camera?

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. Congratulations for the wonderful happy family bonding trip in Baguio City. I am glad to saw your very informative blog and I just remember when I and my family also travel in Baguio City. A lot of happy memories that I’d never been forgot. I will also refer this to my friend that is not travelling yet here. Thank you.

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  12. I'm a bona fide Baguio resident and I'm so glad to know that you had a great time in my home city. Next time you visit, you may also want to check out [1] Camp John Hay, [2] Diplomat Hotel (that is, if you like ghost-hunting @ Dominican Road), [3] BenCab Museum; [4] Baguio Artists Forest (located at Km. 5 Asin Road, Baguio City) and the nearby Bell Church at Km 3, La Trinidad, Benguet, to complete your Baguio experience ... Enjoy your next, fun trip in Baguio!! ;)

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  13. I am going through this post and thinking of it’s theme and trying to understand what is this post about. At last I can have found something from this post which feels pretty good.

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  14. I'm glad I stumbled upon this post and I'm happy that you enjoyed your Baguio trip. Burnham Park, is easily one of my most favorite tourists spots in Baguio no matter how many the number of people go there at a time. I was wondering if you've ever had the chance to go back now that TPLEX has cut down the travel time significantly? Looking forward to more of your Baguio posts soon.

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    Replies
    1. Havent tried TPLEX yet. But I'll be visiting Baguio soon... very soon.

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