Having been to Baguio in the past, I wasn’t too keen on visiting the usual tourist spots. The itinerary below isn’t great for first-time visitors, yet it’s a good one-day itinerary if you have an extra day to spare.
Arrive in Baguio in the afternoon
Check into your favorite hotel in Baguio. Choose to spend the night in a hotel tucked in the pine forests for a more relaxing day, or find a room in a hotel smack at the center of town. If you are intending to visit a lot of tourist spots, opt for the latter, unless you brought your own car.
However, if there’s something I’d urge anyone to do in Baguio, it is to walk. Soak in the atmosphere present in the City of Pines as you take a stroll in Burnham Park, where there are fountains and flowers (and lights at night), or go uphill along Session Road. Families, friends and lovers would surely crowd your path. Don’t worry, the streets are pedestrian-friendly. Stop on a bench or let time pass on one of the cafés. Grab a snack — a stick of barbecue or a cup of strawberry taho or a piece of cinnamon twist. Watch people. Enjoy the cold weather. Relax.
Try local restaurants
Baguio is home to a multitude of local restaurants, so why have your meal at another branch of your favorite chain? Do yourself a favor and try local food.
My parents and I chose to have our dinner at Café by the Ruins. We made it a point to have our meal early, since locals and tourists alike flock the place, and they do not accept reservations! The restaurant was almost empty at 6 in the evening, but when we finished our meal, there’s already a line of people waiting at the door.
We started our meal with a drink of tapuey (pronounced tapuy), a wine made from fermented rice. It wasn’t my favorite, but my folks seemed to love it. A bowl of pinikpikan soup kept us all warm. Though I found this dish lacking in taste generally, but there’s a distinct smoky flavor to it. I can’t even remember the other dishes that we ordered, sadly.
Honestly, I’m not really sure whether I’d go back to this café. The food was a let-down, or maybe I just didn’t order their specialties? Anyway, the ambience was great. I’ve always loved places with a great atmosphere.
On another occasion, we had a meal at Central Park Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant also close to Burnham Park. The interior was horrible (it was almost unbearably hot inside, thanks to the abundance of their customers) and the space was just too crowded. It was unappealing, except for its strategic location.
Surprisingly, their dim sum was not only delicious, but it was also very affordable. Try their siomai — pork and sharksfin!
Embrace art in BenCab Museum
Open your mind to the Filipino world of art at the BenCab Museum. I was there when works of up-and-coming artists were exhibited, where different media have been used in the paintings (or collages). An erotica gallery stood in a humble corner of the building, where various nude paintings and sculptures of sexuality and sensuality are shown. Definitely not for the conservative audience.
A few galleries were dedicated to the Ifugao way of living, showcasing some historical artifacts and various implements. BenCab also has a gallery of his own, where his famous icon Sabel took the spotlight. Be on the lookout for more contemporary pieces in two galleries, and admire the greatness of the works of some maestro artists.
My favorite in the entire museum was a watercolor painting by stevesantos, depicting the multitude of houses built on the slope of the mountain. It was very much like Baguio, and very beautiful indeed.
Go shopping at the Baguio Public Market
Stores selling fresh flowers line the exterior of the market. Different varieties of rice await to be sold, along with the heaps of sweet strawberries. The aroma of coffee soon radiates in the air as you navigate the deep recesses of the market, where the freshest vegetables can be found. It is here where you can find the cheapest options, mainly because they are sold in bulk, but vendors are kind enough to sell you a smaller quantity.
Do your pasalubong shopping at the dry goods section, where rows upon rows of Baguio sweets and delicacies can be found. Buy a bottle of berry wine called Bugnay to savor back home.
See, 24 hours in Baguio isn’t too shabby. Fill it with a dose of people watching, a shot of art and culture and a bagful of local food, and you’d surely want to stay just a little bit longer.
Until the next adventure…happy travels! 🙂