If most people from Manila see Baguio as their weekend getaway, for me, it’s the other way around. That is why whenever anyone tries to suggest spending our holidays in Baguio, I would shrug it off. I want to be anywhere else rather than Baguio during holidays because I practically live there already. It is not to say that I’m complaining. Baguio is a cool place to live in. And it’s great to be able to stay in one place (and a tourist destination at that) for free!
If you’ve never been to Baguio and you’re contemplating on visiting, you definitely should.
And here are some of the reasons why I like it there:
It’s cheap (and easy) to go there
If you’re coming from Quezon City, Metro Manila, go to the Victory Liner Bus Station in Cubao. Air-conditioned buses cost P445-P715 (Deluxe) per pax. After 5-6 hours, you’re in Baguio already.
Hotel or Transient? I say Transient, especially when you’re in big groups. In Baguio, you can find lots of transient houses/rooms where you can stay at. The usual rate is P2000/night (4-6pax) and around P3500 (10pax).
Strawberries and Ube Jams
If you’re nuts over strawberries, then this is your city. You can find them everywhere in Baguio; at the mall, the wet market, from a street vendor, etc. Go to Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad (5 minutes away from the La Trinidad Municipal Hall by car) around 4pm-5pm so that you can buy them cheap from the vendors. Around that time the vendors want everything sold already, so they sell them at a very low price. You can also buy other souvenir items and pasalubong items here. (Must try: Strawberry Taho).
Other must-try: the Ube Jam of Good Shepherd (go to the Good Shepherd convent near Mines View park because it’s cheaper to buy there rather than in the market).
Number coding is almost non-existent for tourists
If you decide to bring your car and will stay here for several days, there’s a good chance that you will be subjected to the number coding system in one of those days. But don’t fret, there’s a way to still roam around freely. All you need to do is to go to the police station at least a day before your plate will be under number coding, pay for a “Passage Fee” (P300) , and you will then be given a permit to take your car out.
The cold weather
Basically one of the main reasons why people come here is because of the cold weather. This is the summer capital of the Philippines after all. If you want to escape the heat of summer, this is the place to be. No need to wear super thick jackets over layers of clothing with matching bonnets, though. You’ll pass out in the middle of Session Road.
One can easily find cheap anything
We once had to extend our stay for another day here and I ran out of T-shirts. The solution? Ukay-ukay! You can basically do your ukay-ukay shopping anytime of the day by going to regular stalls at the malls but if you want to experience the real ukay-ukay culture and score some really cheap finds, do it at night – on the streets.
Every night (9pm) the flea market a.k.a Ukay-Ukay comes alive as the vendors line up along the street with their items (bags, tshirts, pants, shoes, etc- both original and fake). You can buy T-shirts here that are as low as P20-P50. You just need to be careful and check your purchase for any damage. These are usually discarded branded designer items and imitations. I bought a couple of branded shirts that costs only P100 that were in perfect condition. Not bad.
There’s a fat chance you’ll be able to shake hands with a National Artist
Want to meet a National Artist? Go to Km. 6 Asin Road and visit the BenCab Museum. If you’re lucky you might chance upon the man himself, our National Artist for Visual Arts. The first time that we went there, we didn’t know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised by the provocative paintings and sculptures. You can actually take pictures of the artworks, just don’t use flash.
Entrance fee is P100/pax, P80/student or senior citizen with valid ID. It is open from 9am-6pm daily (except Mondays). You can ride the jeepney to Asin from the jeepney terminal near Baguio market.