The Baguio City is in the northern part of the Philippines in the province of Benguet. It is surrounded by lush pine forests. These tall, stately pine trees are a distinctive feature of the city’s landscape and contribute to its cool and refreshing climate. The moniker “City of Pines” not only reflects the prevalence of these trees but also evokes the serene and natural beauty that characterizes Baguio. The pine trees, along with the city’s elevated location in the mountains, make it a unique and picturesque destination known for its cool weather and scenic charm. Moreover, the presence of pine trees is a significant part of Baguio’s identity and one of the reasons why it is affectionately called the “City of Pines”. It is also dubbed the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” offering a respite from the sweltering and muggy conditions prevalent in other regions of the country.
Furthermore, Baguio City’s fame extends beyond its climate; it is equally famous for its awe-inspiring natural splendor. The city boasts captivating views featuring verdant pine forests, undulating hills, and picturesque viewpoints. These striking landscapes, complemented by the city’s consistently cool weather, render the City of Pines an alluring haven for tourists and nature enthusiasts alike. Approximately 5 hours from Metro Manila, the way to this famous place can get foggy on the uphill roads. Different from the urban areas, the vibe that Baguio gives makes the tourists come back from time to time. Furthermore, Baguio City has a thriving arts and crafts scene. Local artists and artisans are showcasing their work in galleries and markets, mostly handmade. Its cultural diversity adds to the city’s vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Here are the spots you shouldn’t miss on your itinerary this 2023:
The Diplomat Hotel
The Diplomat Hotel, perched atop the hills of Baguio City, stands as a famous architectural spot with a haunting history. Originally constructed as the Dominican Hill Retreat House in 1915. It later transformed into a hotel and played a role in significant events during World War II. Unfortunately, it became a target of bombings, resulting in casualties within its premises. Then, in 1973, the hotel underwent a transformation into The Diplomat Hotel under the ownership of Antonio Agapito “Tony” Agpaoa. It enjoyed a brief period of success as a favored tourist spot, yet financial difficulties ultimately forced its closure during the 1980s. Since then, the hotel has been left abandoned, gradually deteriorating while still retaining its historical charm. Today, with its eerie ambiance and crumbling appearance, The Diplomat Hotel presents a combination of history, architecture, and a captivating ghostly atmosphere, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and thrill-seekers.
It provides an advantageous location for capturing beautiful photographs of the nearby scenery. Enabling visitors to fully appreciate the eerie yet captivating allure of the famous hotel. Diligent attempts have been undertaken to safeguard The Diplomat Hotel’s historical importance. In 2005, it earned recognition as a historical landmark from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Despite the limited access to its interior, the external structure stands as a tangible reminder of Baguio’s history and the resilience of its ghostly inhabitants. When arriving at The Diplomat Hotel, guests will have to pay a per-person entrance fee of Php 10. Which contributes to the upkeep and conservation of the site. For those who come by car, there is a parking fee of Php 35. Furthermore, there is also a Php 5 pay toilet at the back of the main building, near the main entrance.
Baguio City Night Market
The City of Pines also offers an exciting shopping experience at the Baguio City Night Market. This bustling marketplace comes alive on Harrison Road after 9 PM. Offering a diverse array of local products, street food, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere. Shoppers can expect a treasure trove of items. From clothing and accessories to handicrafts and souvenirs, with the added thrill of haggling for the best deals, especially at the ukay-ukay stalls, famous for their affordable yet quality finds. Apart from shopping, the Baguio City Night Market also treats visitors to a culinary adventure. The market strategically separates the food area from the merchandise section. Inviting patrons to savor local delicacies like strawberry taho, cheesy hot corn, and sizzling grilled skewers. The food stalls are the ideal place to recharge after a shopping spree. What also makes the night market more charming is the presence of mascots roaming the streets.
Adding whimsy and entertainment to the shopping adventure. These mascots, dressed in colorful costumes, engage with visitors, offering photo opportunities and spreading joy. To make your interaction with the mascots more enjoyable, think about offering them small treats, monetary tips, or souvenirs as tokens of appreciation. These acts of generosity can significantly uplift their spirits and foster a positive atmosphere for all. Furthermore, don’t forget to bring cash or use GCash for smoother transactions when shopping. Just remember to haggle respectfully when bargaining for the best deals while considering the livelihood of the vendors. There are also security personnel and officers present in the area to maintain order and ensure everyone’s safety. To help ensure a smooth and orderly flow of people, visitors need to adhere to the designated two-way paths. Which helps prevent congestion and minimize the chances of bumping into one another.
Burnham Park is a sprawling 32-hectare oasis famous for its serene beauty and diverse attractions. Named after urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham, who played a pivotal role in designing Baguio City, the park bears historical significance and continues to be a beloved destination. Initially planned in the early 1900s as part of Burnham’s vision to turn Baguio into a thriving summer getaway. The park now stands as a testament to his legacy and remains a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. A prominent aspect of Burnham Park is its abundant greenery and natural charm. It boasts lush greenery, meticulously maintained gardens, and towering pine trees that create a refreshing ambiance, making it an ideal retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Burnham Park offers a wide range of recreational facilities, catering to various interests. Visitors can rent bicycles or boats to explore the park’s picturesque lagoon.
Some enjoy bumper car rides and experience the thrill of ice skating. The park’s “Fun Rides and Recreation Area” features roller coasters and even a horror house for those seeking excitement. Its open spaces are perfect for picnics, group exercises, and cultural events, including the famous Panagbenga Festival, showcasing vibrant flower floats and street dancing. Burnham Park encapsulates Baguio’s beauty, history, and community spirit, making it an enchanting destination for relaxation, adventure, and cultural immersion. For a tranquil experience, consider visiting in the early morning when the park opens at 5 AM, allowing you to savor its serenity before the crowds arrive. Furthermore, the park frequently serves as a venue for events and celebrations. Including the Panagbenga Festival, featuring colorful flower floats and street dances. It also hosts performances, art displays, and food fairs. These gatherings promote a sense of community and allow visitors to engage with the local culture.
Mirador Heritage & Eco Park
Mirador Heritage & Eco Park, sprawling across 5 hectares, has a unique history dating back to the aftermath of World War II when Baguio City struggled with the devastation of carpet bombings. The park, located on Mirador Hill reflects the city’s resilience and recovery efforts. Over the years, it has evolved into a landscaped sanctuary dedicated to preserving Baguio’s heritage. Providing a serene retreat for residents and tourists alike. The park’s development not only showcases the historical significance of the area but also emphasizes ecological awareness and environmental conservation. Today, Mirador Heritage & Eco Park serves as a poignant reminder of Baguio’s rich history and the community’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty. Visitors are invited to explore the park’s various sections, each woven with tales of Baguio’s past. From the Spanish-inspired Bell House to the Japanese-vibe Peace Memorial, these landmarks offer a glimpse into the city’s journey.
The park has become a beloved destination, offering tranquility, natural beauty, and a deeper connection to Baguio’s heritage. Mirador Heritage & Eco Park provides a range of experiences, from spiritual reflection at the Lourdes Grotto to adventurous hikes through the Rock Garden. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove offers a peaceful escape. Visitors can also savor breathtaking sunsets over Baguio and Lingayen Gulf on clear days and find solace at the Jesuit Villa and Retreat House. Completing the experience is Café Iñigo by Ebai, a café offering delectable treats and scenic views. To enjoy Mirador Heritage & Eco Park fully, visitors should plan their visit between 6 AM and 6 PM, with an entrance fee of PHP 100 per person (children under 12 enter for free). Donations are encouraged to support the park’s maintenance and preservation efforts, ensuring its continued beauty and significance for generations to come.
Igorot Stone Kingdom
The Igorot Stone Kingdom in Baguio City reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Igorot people. Showcasing their remarkable craftsmanship and deep connection with nature. Spread across a 6,000-square-meter compound on a mountainside, this complex of stone structures is a living tribute to their heritage, beliefs, and traditions. Each tower within the site carries its unique significance, from the Fertility Tower symbolizing abundance to the Tower of Igorot God Kabunyan representing their spiritual connection. The park, created by Pio Velasco, holds spiritual significance as it is believed to be where he had a mystical sighting of a white carabao, inspiring its construction. It serves as a blend of old and new Igorot culture, paying homage to the enduring spirit of the Igorot community and the resilience of its people. Particularly Pio Velasco’s Igorot mother, Rita “Rosing” Gal Velasco. Visitors can explore the park’s symbolic towers and history.
Beyond its historical value, the Igorot Stone Kingdom is a place for community gatherings, rituals, and traditional practices. Tourists have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Igorot culture, interact with the local community, and witness traditional dances and performances accompanied by the rhythmic beats of the Gangsa, their traditional gong instrument. The site also offers hand-made souvenirs and snacks at affordable prices. Supporting the local community and preserving their cultural legacy. To ensure the preservation of the Igorot Stone Kingdom, everyone needs to adhere to respecting the site, follow guidelines set by local authorities, and engage in responsible tourism practices. This helps safeguard its cultural significance while promoting sustainable tourism initiatives. The park is open daily from 6 AM to 6 PM, with an entrance fee of Php 100 for adults and discounted rates of Php 80 for children and senior citizens, provided valid identification is presented.
Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay, nestled in the picturesque mountains of Baguio City, is a historic retreat with a storied past dating back to its establishment in 1903 as a rest and recreation facility for the United States Armed Forces. It has witnessed significant events, including World War II’s Japanese occupation, serving as a reflection to Filipino resilience. The camp’s natural beauty, surrounded by towering pine trees and a cool mountain breeze, offers a serene ambiance for visitors. Exploring its trails and gardens provides a chance to immerse in nature’s splendor while enjoying panoramic views of the Cordillera Mountains. Furthermore, there are accommodations at Camp John Hay ranging from luxurious hotels to cozy cottages. All are complemented by excellent dining options featuring local and international cuisine. Recreation options include a golf course, tennis courts, and a fitness center. Adventure seekers can engage in zip-lining, trekking, horseback riding, and exploring a butterfly sanctuary.
The camp’s forest trails cater to various difficulty levels, allowing visitors to experience the tranquility of nature while encountering wildlife and breathtaking vistas. For those who love to trek and hike, Exploring Camp John Hay’s forest trails offers a unique adventure. From the leisurely Yellow Trail amidst pine trees to the moderate ascent of the Blue and Red Trails leading to viewpoints and the challenging White Trail’s uphill climb for panoramic views. Each trail provides a connection to nature and unforgettable experiences. Visitors should plan for at least a 2-hour adventure, prepare essentials like water, snacks, and sunscreen, and check the weather forecast for their visit. Additionally, inquire about entrance fees for specific attractions within the camp. All these Camp John Hay’s fully-packed amenities and attractions truly invite tourists who love exploration, relaxation, and memorable wilderness adventures. Perfect for team building and family and friends getaway.
Tips and Guidelines
- If using a private vehicle, rely on navigation apps like Waze or Google Maps for real-time directions.
- Check the status of Kennon Road, as it may occasionally close due to landslides.
- Be prepared for uphill and zigzag roads, especially when approaching Baguio City. Drive cautiously and follow traffic rules.
- Keep in mind that public transportation can be challenging, especially during peak tourist seasons when there is high demand for buses and taxis.
- Baguio City has a cool climate, so bring appropriate clothing for cooler temperatures, especially during the evenings.
- Don’t miss the opportunity to try Baguio’s famous strawberries, fresh produce, and local delicacies.
- Bring enough cash, as some establishments may not accept credit or debit cards. ATMs are readily available in the city.
- Traffic congestion can be common, especially in the city center. Plan your travels accordingly and be patient during peak hours.
If you’re looking for similar places to go in the Philippines, you should check these out:
- GoodTaste Restaurant; The City of Pines’ Go-to Family Restaurant
- Tagaytay City – More places to visit & dine in 2022!