Baguio City, also called the Summer Capital of the Philippines and the City of Pines, is located north of Luzon in the province of Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region. It is best visited during the summer months.
It has been so long since I last drove up to Baguio. If my memory serves me right, the last time I was there was during our week-long retreat in my senior year in high school. It has been that long! Where have I been?!
Arjay has been bugging me to drive north for the longest time already, but I keep putting it off because of my work schedule and the little girl’s school schedule. We can’t go there during the holidays, too, because Arjay cannot file a leave on holidays. This has been our biggest dilemma about vacations. On days/weeks/months when the little girl and I are not busy, that is when Arjay is required to be on duty. Christmas, New Year, the Holy Week, not even during the summer months. We have no other choice but to schedule vacations in between the holidays.
But the good thing about going on a vacation in between the holidays? There are not a lot of people going on vacation! Hence, we get to enjoy less crowded vacations. :)
Take a look at how our weekend went and get a few tips on your next trip to Baguio…
Day 1: Settle down in Jewel Igorot Building
We left my mom’s house in Cainta, Rizal on a sunny Saturday at around 1:00 in the afternoon. We could have left earlier if we planned this trip. However, although planned on such short notice, I can say that this is one of the best trips as a family that we have had for a while.
The minis were quite well-behaved during the trip. We really have big kids now! We only needed to make one stop over throughout our drive up Baguio (just to use the washroom) so we were there by 6:00 pm. If not for the Baguio traffic, we would have checked in earlier and had a chance to roam around before settling down for the night. However, since traffic was horrendous when we arrived, we went straight to our rented condominium unit in La Trinidad, had dinner in Kalei’s and called it a night.
Speaking of accommodations in Baguio. We went there without making any reservations so we were not surprised that we could not find a house or room for rent when we arrived. Thankfully, one of Arjay’s classmates in PNPA is assigned within the area so she was able to find a condo unit for us in La Trinidad, which is just 10 minutes from the heart of Baguio City.
At PHP3,000 per night, we got ourselves a two-bedroom condo unit with two bathrooms with heaters, a kitchen, dining area, and a terrace. Not bad!
Accommodation = P3,000 per night
You can find cheaper accommodation if you book ahead of time. Take note that rates are naturally more expensive during the summer months and in December.
Day 2: Camp John Hay (Horse Back Riding – Bell House – Cemetery of Negativism – History Trail – Baguio Country Club Christmas Village – Choco-late de Batirol)
Since we rested early the previous night, we were able to get ready early the next day as well. Our first stop was supposed to be the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, but the strawberries were not yet ready for picking that early (the best time to go is in the afternoon) so we drove to Burnham Park instead.
By the time we reached the heart of the city, traffic was already crazy. It was a Sunday and both locals and tourists were flocking to Burnham Park so we decided to head to Camp John Hay.
First in our itinerary was to go horseback riding. They have a trail that goes into the woods where you can enjoy the breathtaking views of nature as well as take in a heap of fresh air. The one-hour ride going up and down the mountains was a pleasant one! Even the minis enjoyed it.
After our ride, we had an early lunch in the Diner’s Filling Station inside Camp John Hay. You will find food stalls there as well as outlet shops where you can buy branded items for a cheaper price. My mom went shopping like crazy for the minis here! I would have gone shopping as well if only I brought extra cash!
“What’s next?” The Little Man and The Princess asked me as they finished up on their strawberry ice cream. It was only 1 in the afternoon so it was still a bit too early to visit the Christmas Village. With a quick search online, I saw another stop in Camp John Hay: The Bell House.
When you enter the vicinity of the Bell House, you will get a chance to enter the Bell Museum, go around the Cemetery of Negativity and hike the History Trail. We were only able to roam around the Bell House and the Cemetery of Negativity since the History Trail is too steep for the minis. If you have time to explore it, though, I highly recommend that you do!
After our quick tour of the museum, we decided to take a pit stop in one of the parks inside Camp John Hay. We were getting hungry again so we ordered barbecued pork from one of the stalls while the minis ran around the fields with other kids.
We wanted to try out the adventures at Treetop Adventure, but they had to close the facility early because of the long lines inside. Boohoo! Maybe next time.
By 4 in the afternoon, we started driving to Baguio Country Club to check out the Christmas Village. This is not too far from the center of Camp John Hay, but since we had two kids tagging along (and none of us wanted to carry them lol), we just took the car. The Christmas Village is a yearly attraction in BCC. It opened in November 9, 2015 and closed on January 4, 2015. If you missed it, be sure to catch it next Christmas! I assure you that the kids (and adults) will enjoy it.
We ended our snowy day with a cup of traditional chocolate each at Choco-late de Batirol. This is along the same road as Baguio Country Club so you will not miss it. We were curious about all the rave surrounding this humble cafe so we tried it out as well.
We came here to have dinner, but we realized that it is best to stop by here during merienda time. Why? Their specialty is traditional hot chocolate, which is best served with Bibingka or Suman. If you do find yourself here during lunch or dinner, try out their Sinigang and Caldereta. (And don’t forget to have hot choco too)
Day 2 Expenses:
Horseback Riding = P400 per hour, per horse
Entrance fee at the Bell House, Cemetary of Negativism, History Trail (one fee for all) = P60 for adults, P40 for residents, P30 for seniors and students, Free for kids aged 5 and below
Entrance fee at the Christmas Village = P100 for adults, P40 for kids aged 4-12 years old, Free for kids aged 3 and below (open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm until January 3, 2016)
Day 3: La Trinidad Strawberry Farm – Burnham Park
We initially planned to drive back to Manila early in the morning. But, Arjay insisted that we visit the Strawberry Farm one more time to see if we can be allowed to pick strawberries. Luck was on our side on our last day because they allowed us to pick strawberries!
You can enter the strawberry farm for free. However, if you decide to pick strawberries, note that there is a minimum of one (1) kilo. The farmers can help you pick if you cannot fill your baskets.
As our last hurrah in Baguio, we finally had a chance to drop by quickly at Burnham Park. We got to try boating in the lake and took the minis on a bike ride. We did not stay long here because it is very crowded, it being in the heart of the city.
Day 3 Expenses:
Strawberry Farm Entrance = FREE
Biking in Burnham Park = P50 per hour
Boating in Burnham Park = P150 per boat for 30 minutes
We left Baguio at around 3 in the afternoon and were home by 10 pm. The drive home was actually very fast save for the traffic jam that welcomed us back to Manila. All in all, although my legs are hurting and I am lacking sleep, I can say that I am glad we went to Baguio for a quick family getaway! We sure needed that break. :)
Balintawak Toll = P45
NLEX (Balintawak-Dau) = P173
SCTEX = P104
TPLEX = P216
Tuba Toll = P15
Gas (whole trip) = P3,000
I am sure we missed a lot of attractions in our Baguio vacation. We did not get to visit The Mansion, Mines View Park, Tam-awan Village, Baguio Cathedral and a lot more. If you plan to go here soon, be sure to create an itinerary so you can visit more places during your stay!