One of the few cities in the Philippines that can boast a cool climate, the highly urbanized city of Baguio is located in the mountainous region of Cordillera, which is about 250 kilometers north of Manila. The city of Baguio has an elevation of 1,610 meters (5,280 ft) above sea level and on the average, is minimally eight degrees cooler than any other place in the Philippines’ “lowlands”.
Baguio is located in the province of Benguet in the northern Luzon island of the Philippines. It’s no suprise, with its cool climate, the city has become the Philippine’s “summer capital”. As one approaches Baguio on the roads, the fragrant scent of pine trees and flowers can be smelled from a mile away.
With not only its amazing scenic views, but its variety of historical and cultural attractions, Baguio has become a desirous tourist destination for Filipino and foreign tourists alike.
It wasn’t always such a peaceful and leisurely city though. The Spaniards heard of this mineral-rich valley in the early 19th century, and fought the locals for control. It was much later that the Americans found and saw the recreational potential in Baguio. They carved Kennon road out of a mountain which linked the city to Manila (and therefore visitors from all over the world) and formed Camp John Hay.
Baguio has all the great restaurants, day trips and night life that would appeal to any class of tourist. There are many great restaurants from Italian to Japanese and from American to Mongolian. Taxis are available to take you anywhere you want to go whether it be playing a round of golf at John Hay golf course, visiting the cities famous mansion, climbing the 252 steps that lead up to the Lourdes Grotto or horse back riding.
The Mansion – Originally built in the early 1900′s for United States Governor-Generals, the mansion was destroyed in 1945 in the battle to liberate the Philippines. It was then rebuilt even better and has since been used as the Philippines presidents during their visits to Baguio. With the mansions well manicured lawns and beautiful gardens, it has become a favorite of tourists.
Wright Park – Located at the front gate of the Mansion, decorative street lights and tall pine trees line both sides of the road along a long body of water called the “Pool of Pines”. Tourists often take postcard quality photos here at the scenic Wright Park.
Camp John Hay – Complete with an 18 hole golf course which is considered to be one of the best in the country, the Camp John Hay (changed to Club John Hay in 1991) was the former recreational facility of United States military and defense personnel. The 690 hectare estate was then turned over to the Philippine’s Department of Tourism in 1991. It has 290 furnished rooms for guests, each with a fireplace for Baguio’s chilly winters. Visitors enjoy the gardens, the hiking trails through the rolling pine covered hills, picnic areas and of course golf (a new golf club house and restaurant were added somewhat recently).
Lourdes Grotto – Accessed by climbing up 252 steps, the Lady of Lourdes replica is located on a high hill on the west side of Baguio. It is a popular catholic shrine and place of meditation.
Mines View Park – This is Baguio’s most famous park where you can walk down a stone carved stairway which takes you to an observation deck that gives one a complete panoramic view of the surrounding mountains including Benguets gold and copper mines that is absolutely breathtaking.
Burnham Park – Named after American Daniel Burnham who was the Baguio’s planner, the park is in the heart of the city and is centered around a man made lake where locals and tourists come to row boats, have picnics among and relax. Picnic tables are distributed all throughout the park. There is a skating rink on the south end of the park where skates can be rented as well as playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts and an orchid-arium that has various flowers and plants.
Session Road – Baguio’s main thoroughfare and the center of its commerce is Session Road. Session Road is home to many restaurants, bakeries, cafes, department stores, movie houses and hotels. You will find that many students and local residents spend much of their free time on Session Road.
Panagbenga Festival – Every year in February, Baguio holds a month long flower festival. Panagbenga is a Malayo-Polynesian term meaning “season of blooming”. There are parades with floats covered with flowers, marching bands and street dancing competitions. Throughout the month of February, flowers are sold along Session Road. The month long festival concludes with athletic competitions.
Hotels and Transportation
To get to Baguio, it’s just a forty five minute flight from Manila or a six hour bus ride. From both the airport and bus terminal, there are many taxis that can take you to your hotel.
There are more than one thousand choices when it comes to accommodations in Baguio. In the summer, there are more than 200,000 tourists at some points so you its widely advised to book your hotel before you get there. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are located all throughout the city.
Once in Baguio, you will not have a problem getting around. Jeepneys and taxicabs are everywhere and of course, many people love to take long walks around the city.
Other Nearby Cities
Banaue – Although the trip to Banaue from Baguio is almost a full nine hours away by bus, the reward for the tourist who spends their time seeing this absolute marvel of culture and architecture will be rewarded greatly. The Banaue Rice Terraces are considered far and wide to be the eighth wonder of the world, These rice terraces were carved from the mountain ranges centuries ago by the Ifugaos, who were one of the oldest known mountain tribes of the province. See more about Banaue Philippines.
Sagada – Also a long bus trip from Manila, but not quite as far from Baguio and well worth it because one of the ten towns that comprise the Mountain Province of the Philippines is Sagada. If you are already planning to go to Banaue, you must go to Sagada which is well known for its numerous subterranean caves that contain the coffins of their ancestors. There are also the “hanging coffins” and the Sagada Rice Terraces. For archaeology buffs, the Sagada area is a must-see. Some other famous attractions include the natural clear waters of Bumod Ok Waterfall. See more about Sagada Philippines.