Hubby and I went for a quick jaunt to Baguio City last weekend. And let me tell you… even if I’ve been to this wonderful city so many times, it never disappoints. The weather is just perfect (17-20 degrees celsius) and the vibe is both energetic and welcoming. If you plan to go to Baguio soon, here are the Top 10 things you may want to do.
1. Visit something old but new.
Baguio was established by the Americans in 1900 and was promptly named the Summer Capital of the Philippines. That’s why you can see old American Colonial buildings almost everywhere you go. Casa Vallejo is one of the establishments from that era. I first read about it from my friend M. She only had praises for the rustic B & B so we just had to see it for ourselves.
Casa Vallejo was built as a hotel in 1909. Apparently, it was abandoned and had stood empty for years. But it was only in 2010 when it was renovated and turned into a boutique hotel.
It’s a little piece of history that’s worth checking out. But if you’re planning to spend a night or two, don’t stay at the lower floor as it tends to be noisy in the early mornings.
2. Eat a hearty Baguio breakfast.
Cafe Hillside is Casa Vallejo’s wonderful fine dining restaurant. We loved the breakfast that came with our accommodation– the famous Baguio longganisa with a wonderful side dish of acharang pipino. Finish off your breakfast with a cup of Benguet brew.
3. Explore Session Road.
Session Road is the heart and soul of Baguio, as many locals would say. This famous strip is lined with restaurants ready for the most discriminating gourmet. Session Road is also famous for its night life. Have a couple of drinks at The Flying Gecko and sample their grilled bloody sausage. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Ukay-ukay, of course.
You cannot, and must not, leave Baguio without going to ukay-ukay. Although the second-hand goods are more expensive now (owing to ukay-ukay’s popularity), there are still some gems to be found. Just be patient and don’t forget to take antihistamine if you’re sensitive to dust.
5. For merienda, eat what the locals eat.
In this case, Star Cafe’s pancit canton.
Star Cafe along Session Road is one of the oldest restaurants in Baguio. It is quite famous and is visited by famous people (including the former President Gloria Arroyo, Senator Loren Legarda. Madam Imelda Marcos and myself. Hahaha!). Pancit Canton is the restaurant’s most popular dish, I think mainly because of the delicious noodles which, I suspect, is homemade.
For drinks, we preferred steaming cups of Benguet coffee to go with our pancit. Weird ba? And true to the old Pinoy merienda custom, Star Cafe serves coffee with evaporated milk on the side.
6. Go to the market.
The best place to experience local life is to go to Baguio’s City Market. Try to get up really early and be there as the market opens at around 5am.
Here, one can find the freshest produce the Cordilleras have to offer. Plus, the famous Baguio pasalubongs such as ube and strawberry jam, lengua de gato, and of course, ang walang kamatayang sundot kulangot!
7. Bring home Benguet beans.
Stock up on Benguet coffee. Of course, it is best to get your beans from the public market as it is way cheaper. The shops here also sell other variants so you can mix your beans according to your preference. Benguet coffee sells for Php220/kilo.
8. Have your portrait sketched at Tam-awan Village.
Tam-awan Village is a must-stopover. Aside from the reconstructed Ifugao huts that you can rent, you can also have your portrait sketched by a true-blue Baguio artist. You won’t be able to do that anywhere else!
9. Experience local art at the BenCab Museum.
On your way back to Manila (if you’re passing through Marcos Highway), make a quick stop at the BenCab Museum. Built by Philippine National Artist Ben Cabrera, the museum is home to artworks by Baguio’s homegrown talents, including Kawayan de Guia and of course, BenCab himself. Entrance fee is Php100/person.
10. Spend a few quality minutes at Cafe Sabel.
Before you finally board that bus or car back to Manila, have a cup of coffee at Cafe Sabel right at the basement of the BenCab Museum and enjoy the beautiful Benguet countryside. I’m sure you’ll need that one last look to keep you energized for several weeks (or months?) before you crave for that Baguio fix again.
By the way, we didn’t do all these things in just one weekend (as we had to make another trip on the side). But you can actually do all of these if you have at least two days to spare. Also, if you have other activities in mind, do share!