Breathe the Mountain Air in Baguio City
Baguio City has come to be known by several different names. Some people call it the City of Pines, others call it the City of Flowers, and still some simply call it the summer capital of the Philippines. On the other hand, some people just call it home. Here’s an insider’s view of what it’s like to be in one of the coolest cities in the Philippine islands.
Getting to Know Baguio and Breathing the Mountain Air
Why would anyone want to visit or live in Baguio City? Well, who wouldn’t? Even the local folks in the country make a summer time pilgrimage to this city during the peak of summer just to escape the scorching tropical heat.
The cool mountain weather is not only a refuge from the blazing heat of summer; it also reminds you of home (and it also saves you a good deal of money on air conditioning). The frolic of pines that dot the city is quite a refreshing sight to behold. Who can imagine that pines can grow in a tropical country like the Philippines?
Great Places to See
There are a number of great parks that people can visit in this little hilly city. A lot of these parks also have quite a good deal of history behind them. The most popular parks in the area include Burnham Park, Wright Park, and Mines View Park. Other sites and facilities like the newly revved up Orchidarium has park benches and other amenities making them great places to visit and hang out.
The other facilities you’ll find here are also quite nice. You can visit Camp John Hay but not for any bit of military training etc. The place has now been converted to a neat little country club of sorts where people can practice their golf swings and go camping. You can also try horseback riding but note that they usually have pretty small horses.
Visitors should also see the next festival happening along session road in case you’re in Baguio just in time to join in the festivities. In case you get hungry or just want a healthy snack, or if you just have nothing to do then pick your own strawberries in the Strawberry Fields situated just outside the city limits.
Click here to learn more about the sites and places of interest in Baguio City…
Sample the Local Brand of Philippine Festivals
There’s always something happening along Session Road and it’s not just the usual traffic and hawkers selling their wares. There are festivals and other city activities lurking about for you to splurge in. The biggest festival in the city is the festival of flowers or locally known as the Panagbenga Festival. That happens each year in February. These festivals are usually very lively and everyone in town pitches in the celebrations.
La Trinidad also hosts a yearly Strawberry festival – in 2012 the festival was from March 18 – April 15
Click here to see more things to do in Baguio City…
Baguio City Hotels
The City of Pines is one of the major tourist destinations in the entire nation. As such, it is expected that both local and foreign tourists would flock to this metropolitan area throughout the year. However, it should be noted that summer is the peak season here. During such time, experts estimate that the number of people in the city usually doubles. The good news is that the place isn’t usually that crowded during the rest of the year.
In response to such a high demand for temporary lodgings, more than 80 hotels and inns have been established in and around the metropolitan area. However, in case you want to have a room to crash into during summer, make sure to book your rooms several months in advance. You’ll be surprised by the number of people who do this just to get some space during the summer.
Inns and hotels in the city go from modest to decent with a good number of deluxe hotels. However, there are no premiere five star Vegas style hotels yet. The hotels and inns here are pretty much alright. All of them are practically cozy offering the regular amenities that anyone should expect.
The room rates are pretty much average compared to the average room rate in the Philippines. You’ll find a few room rates that are simply bordering on cheap. Average room rates range from Php 1,000 to Php 1,500. Some rates can go as high as Php 2,500 to Php 3,500 a night while others are only Php 700 to Php 850 per night. It all depends on the quality of the amenities you choose for yourself and the location of the hotel.
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As a major tourist destination in the country, you can bet that there is a plethora of options when it comes to finding a place to chow down some good food. Like any major city in this archipelagic nation, visitors will find the usual set of fast food stores that are popular in this side of the tropics. But take note that they do not represent the true taste of Baguio City.
If you really want to know the true taste of the local cuisine then you should go beyond what the limited menus of fast food chains have to offer. Some of the highly recommended food establishments in the city include the following: Rose Bowl Restaurant, Star Café, The Flying Gecko, Barrio Fiesta, Forest House Bistro, and Café by the Ruins.
Click here to read more about Baguio City restaurants…
Like any metropolitan center in the Philippines, the city of Baguio also has its own shopping district. You can take a cab or just ride a jeep to get there. If you have your lodgings somewhere near the heart of the city then the shopping district is usually only just about a few blocks away – a pretty good excuse to walk around and work up a sweat.
They have just about anything since the many shopping stores and businesses have everyone’s needs in mind. They have everything from clothing to little trinkets that you can bring home with you after your trip to the city is done.
One of the main places for tourists to go shopping is Baguio City Market. The front part of the market is filled with the usual T-Shirts, wood carvings and local clothing while the back part of the market is where the locals go to buy their vegetables and fruits.
The most notable shopping center in the entire city is SM Shopping Center (or simply just SM). This is one of the standard malls you’ll find just about anywhere in the main island of the Philippines.
That’s a good option to go shopping during the day but if you want to find shopping options at night then the best place to be is along Session Road. This is also the best option if you need to do some shopping while on a shoestring budget.
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How to Get to Baguio City
Getting to Baguio City by air will be a bit tough since there are currently no commercial airlines that fly to the said city. There is an airport up here but it currently only serves private planes. The last commercial flights to Baguio were serviced by Sky Pasada but they only served flights to the City of Pines until the year 2011. Updates about commercial airline flights will be posted here as soon as flights become available.
Those who can’t charter a private plane to Baguio usually travel to these highlands by bus, private vehicles, or rented SUV’s. The most economical way to get here is by bus since just about every major city around the province has trips plying the route to this city. Note that a one way trip from Manila to Baguio will take around five to seven hours depending on traffic conditions and how many stop overs you make.
Direct trips from Manila, Clark, Angeles City, and other northern provinces in the Philippines are readily available. The biggest bus companies that provide transportation services include Dagupan Bus, Victory Liner, Partas Bus, and Philippine Rabbit. Well, there are smaller bus companies around that ply the route to the city and back but they’re not as widely available as the ones mentioned here.
Transport Options In and Around the City
The main mode of transportation in Baguio City is via taxi, there are also lots of taxi cabs around and they are probably the best way to get around for tourists. Any trip within center of city should cost around P50, a trip from city center out to Mines View for example will cost around P100-P110. Taxis in Baguio are much better than their Manila brothers, you never have to fight with them to turn on the meter and they are not trying to rip you off at any given chance.
Click here to learn more about Baguio City Transportation Options…
Another big reason why a lot of people go to Baguio City is because there are plenty of schools and centers of higher education. One of the most popular colleges that can be found here is the Philippine Military Academy. Because of the many educational institutions established in this little city, many local folks often refer to it as a kind of university town.
Some of the other institutions of higher education that also call Baguio their home include the University of the Philippines Baguio Campus, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saint Louis University, University of Baguio, Baguio Central University, Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, University of the Cordilleras, and Pines City Colleges and others more.
There are also plenty of schools that offer elementary and secondary education, which includes the Daily International School, Brent International School, Yeun Soo-Saint Jude International School, and the Monticello International School.
Click here to learn more about Baguio City schools and educational institutions…
Since the city is situated on a hilly and mountainous terrain, it’s pretty obvious that there are no dive spots within Baguio’s boundaries. However, since there are places that have beaches in nearby provinces, taking a weekend trip to go diving is a pretty good option.
Baguio City also has a growing health care sector that is keeping up with the demands of the times. Well, they’re not exactly as great as the hospitals and other health care providers in developed countries but they’re slowly getting there. At least they’re reliable in case you find yourself in a real emergency. Some of the hospitals of note include Baguio General Hospital, Pines City Doctor’s Hospital (there’s one on Session Road and there’s one on Magsaysay Road), Baguio Chinese-Filipino Hospital, Baguio Medical Center, Notre Dame Hospital, and Saint Louis University Hospital.