Did you know that Baguio was listed by the United Nations last year in 2017 as one of their rare “Creative Cities” and was the only city within the ASEAN region to be added to the list.
It was added to the list of the other cities including Phuket in Thailand, Singapore, and Pakalongan/Badung in Indonesia. Having Baguio added is really wonderful and shows that when a community comes together to showcase their specialties, the world notices.
Baguio was added specifically for it’s focus in crafts and folk art, which isn’t a surprise considering the amount of cultural attractions both from art, to music, to food preparation, and even the entire side of a mountain has all of the houses painted into a giant mural.
Every year I venture back to Baguio, but I only have enough time to see one or two new things before I have to head back to Manila. Below are all of the details that you’ll need to know when you visit Baguio, Philippines.
Make sure to take time to see some art and culture while you’re here in the Philippines only “UNESCO Creative City.”
How to get to Baguio?
If you’ve got a car, just pop it in your GPS, but for the rest of us plebs – we take the bus! It’s really easy to get to Baguio because you just have to take one bus ride there.
Victory Liner Bus
The best bus to take to Baguio is via Victory Liner bus company which you can take from either Pasay or Cubao terminals in Manila. I highly suggest to go to the Victory Liner Cubao location because they have buses leaving every hour going to Baguio no matter what time of day it is.
Even on a Friday night you’ll still be able to catch a bus going there (maybe you’ll have to wait 1-2 hours for the next bus to leave, but you’ll always be able to get one).
You can also book in advance at Victory Liner’s website here.
There are two different buses available either the regular or the deluxe/first class bus. The regular is 4 seats wide and doesn’t recline much, but the deluxe one has a bathroom and is 3 seats wide with reclining seats making it really easy to sleep on the way there.
Baguio Bus Price
- Regular Bus: P485 Each way (Approximately $10 USD)
- Deluxe Bus: P800 Each way (Approximately $16 USD)
You can also checkout Genesis Bus which is located as well in Cubao, Manila.
Manila Baguio Travel Time
If you’re going during a Friday or Sunday, expect to spend about 6-8 hours traveling there. If you can do an overnight bus, thats the best situation because the travel time is typically shorter between 5-6 hours and by the time you arrive you’re already well-rested.
Most of the buses stop 2 times on the way (except the joy bus) so you can stretch your legs during the long travel.
Where To Stay In Baguio
Baguio is a huge tourist hub for the northern part of the island of Luzon. It also is a college town, an agricultural hub (lots of veggies grow due to the cooler weather), and it’s a “creative city” so it sees lots of tourists throughout the year.
This means, there’s plenty of hotels to stay when you visit ranging from basic cheap hotels to fancy luxury ones. Here’s all of the best hotels in each of those ranges.
Cheap Hotel Baguio City
If you’re like me, you’re looking for a cheap hotel. One thats clean with a private bathroom and a bed to sleep in. Here are some of the budget hotels in Baguio below.
Hotel 45 Baguio
Price: PHP1,200 -1,700 Per Night (Between $14-24 USD)
Location: Bagong Bayan St, Baguio
Hotel 45 is very easy to notice because it’s just next to the major mall in Baguio called SM Baguio. It’s accessible to taxis all day, in a very safe area, and with the prime location it’s a bit surprising that it’s so affordable.
Here you cant expect the most fancy room, but it has a nice bed good for 2 people, includes breakfast, and is clean. Most of the TVs dont work and there’s no air conditioning, but in Baguio it’s cold already so there’s no need 🙂
Check pricing here for Hotel 45 in Baguio.
La Brea Inn
Price: PHP 1,200-1,300 Per night (Between $24-26USD)
Location: Ayk Building along Lower Session Rd, Baguio
While La Brea Inn may not look very nice from the outside, the rooms aren’t bad for the cheap price. They have rooms for 2 only and it’s right along session road near Burnham park. It’s probably the best location for a hotel that you’re going to find, but dont expect a ritzy place 🙂
Check pricing here for La Brea Inn in Baguio.
Prime Hotel Baguio
Price: PHP1,650 per Night (Around $33 USD)
Location: Carino St, Baguio
The cozy Paladin Hotel is next to Burnham Park and has rooms good for 2 people at an affordable rate. The building is nice and safe, but it is on the far side of the park – so you’ll enjoy a nice stroll through the park on your walk into the city area.
Check pricing here for Paladin Hotel in Baguio.
Luxury Hotel Baguio City
Sometimes you need something a little more fancy (Like on my recent anniversary :)) and Baguio has a few great options available for you too!
Le Monet Hotel Baguio
Price: Rooms starting at PHP 5,800 (About $118 USD)
Location: Camp John Hay, Baguio
The Le Monet is an absolutely stunning hotel from inside to out. The entrance is covered in glass walls and ceiling and has a grand shiny chandelier right when you walk in. They have an indoor heated pool and fitness center.
Check pricing here for Le Monet Hotel in Baguio.
The Manor At Camp John Hay
Price: Rooms starting at PHP 8,000 Per night (Around $160 USD)
Location: Camp John Hay, Baguio
By far the most luxurious and elegant hotel in Baguio is without a doubt The Manor at Camp John Hay. Located high up in the mountains surrounded by pine trees, the location is perfect if you want a relaxing cool retreat into nature.
The buildings exterior looks like a log cabin and the rooms are spaciously comfortable with balconies overlooking the surrounding forests.
Check pricing here for The Manor at Camp John Hay in Baguio.
What To Do In Baguio City
Baguio started off as a small city on the top of a mountain where a US military camp was built. Then as farms sprouted up in every direction, it became a large agricultural hub for the Philippines. Thats how Baguio grew into the thriving city full of people and culture that it has today.
At first glance as you look around Baguio city you may think it seems like another normal city full of cars and pollution, but I dare you to dive deeper into Baguio and explore WHY it was named a UNESCO CREATIVE CITY.
I referred to in the start of the article that every time I visit, there’s something new to explore, so consider this list below an ongoing work that will grow every year as Baguio grows more beautiful as well.
When Baguio was first being built and the US military planned for it to be a place of retreat, one key development planned for the city was a large central park. The park has continued to exist and is everyone’s favorite outdoor activity including a lake with paddle boats, children’s playground, rose garden, go carts, bike riding, and plenty of street vendors offering to draw your photo and selling food.
Camp John Hay
A former US Military retreat for soldiers is now an expansive historic landscape full of old military buildings, museums, libraries, and a large amphitheater surrounded by gardens.
You can even find endless zip lines, cable cars, and a tree-top adventure for the more daring ones 🙂
Mines View Park
Since Baguio is built on a mountain, you will find many amazing views of the countryside from atop the side of a mountain somewhere. The best in the city is at Mines View park which is a series of pathways that lead you to an overlook of a mining community.
At Mines View Park you’ll find all sorts of fun activities including real pink ponies that kids can take photos on, panoramic photos of the mountains, and for just a couple peso you can dress like the locals in a decorated “bahag” or lioncloth, vest, spear and headdress too!
Baguio Botanical Gardens
The Baguio Botanical Gardens are absolutely wonderful to see. There are hundreds of flowers and they have different themed gardens for each of their country partners including a Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, and Thailand Garden.
There is also a lighted cave system as a dedication to the Philippine miners. You can purchase potted flowers from the gardens if you want to take them home with you to grow.
Colors of Stobosa La Trinidad
Just a 10 minute taxi outside of Baguio will take you to La Trinidad where you can find the famous colorful houses called the “Colors of Stobosa”.
Arriving here you’ll instantly feel happier about life in general because a world full of color turns a smile on everyone’s faces. Just ask the taxi driver to take you to the colorful houses in La Trinidad.
Some additional activities…
- Strawberry Picking: Baguio is known as the strawberry capital of the Philippines as strawberries love the cool climate. They grow year round and you can even pick them at the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, just a 10 minute taxi ride outside of the Baguio city center.
- Lion’s Head: Upon entering Baguio, you’ll be greeted by a 40 ft tall stone lion statue that was constructed in the 1970’s by the Lion’s Club. The Lion is said to guard the needs of the community. Awesome picture spot!
- BenCab Museum: If you’re an artsy person, you’ll love the BenCab museum. It specializes in local art from around the Philippines specifically many of the works from the Filipino National Artist Ben Cabrera.
There are many other activities all around Baguio, so keep exploring and finding things to do by talking to the locals about whats new.
Where To Eat in Baguio
Baguio, being a creative city, also has many very unique restaurants as well. While there are a bunch of fancy restaurants all over the city, I’m going to focus in on the smaller ones with decently priced meals.
I love exploring new hidden restaurant gems, and these are the ones I keep going back to every day over and over….
Patch Cafe Baguio
You’re up early and ready to start the day, but where’s the best breakfast place??? Patch Cafe! The coffee is great and the breakfast is even better!
They serve both authentic Filipino style breakfast like tapa and tocino, but they also offer American style breakfast like french toast and pancakes with bacon.
The Coffee Library Baguio
If you’re looking for the Coffee Library, it’s not along the main Session Rd, but rather on a dark side street behind the school. It may not be the most noticeable place, but the Coffee Library is my ultimate go-to place for dinner.
Here you’ll see college students all working on homework and while it looks like a coffee shop, they have table service and service full dinners including spaghetti-meatballs, pork chops, and ribs. I highly recommend this place for an affordable and tasty dinner!
While the Good Shepard isn’t necessarily a place to eat, it’s a place to get food! Specifically, pasalubong (gifts) for friends and family when you go home.
The Good Shepard is a company that makes all sorts of jellies, jams, dried veggies, and candies. I wouldn’t call it a bakery, but rather they make goods from the local produce (strawberries, yams, etc).
The two best sellers is the Ube Jam and the Strawberry Jam since both are difficult to get in Manila.
Baguio Jeepney Routes
If you are on a budget, most of the places you want to go within Baguio you can get there via Jeepney as well. The Jeepney is one of the most local and fun forms of transportation in the Philippines. You just flag one down thats going by and jump in. The jeepney is a point to point vehicle so it starts at one end and stops at the other and turns around.
Baguio Jeepney Routes and Destinations:
- Mines View Park, Baguio Mansion, Wright Park and Good Shepard: You’ll see a jeep that goes right by Session Rd that says “Mines View” and this one is convenient and takes you to all 4 of these locations so finding this one is golden!
- Baguio Botanical Gardens: The jeep that says Pacdal will take you to the Baguio Botanical Gardens which is really wonderful as they have Ifugao ladies standing out front to take photos with and the gardens are vast and beautiful. The terminal for the Pacdal jeepney is on Lakandula Street just nearby Session rd.
- Camp John Hay: If you want to get to Camp John Hay, you can take the jeepneys going to Scout Barrio or Loakan or Kias-PMA, all 3 of these you can get on at their terminal at the east side of Burnham Park.
- Philippines Military Academy: The PMA is a premier military school in the Philippines and is located quite a ways from the city, but the Kias-PMA jeep will take you there. The terminal for Kias-PMA jeep is just on the east side of Burnham park.
- BenCab Museum: The BenCab museum features many local and national artists in the art gallery as well as different shows and exhibitions. To get here, take the jeepney with “Asin Rd” signage which can be found at Kayang st just nearby the public market.
- Tam Awan Village: The unique village showcasing indigenous art and history is really a wonderful experience. To get here, take either the Long Long-Tam-Awan or Quezon Hill-Tam-Awan jeeps both with terminals at Kayang St near the public market.
The fare for the jeepney will depend on your destination but it ranges anywhere from 8-15PHP. A taxi will definitely cost around 10x as much as a Jeep so this is a great alternative for those on a budget.
Baguio – The City of Pines
When you travel around Baguio, you’ll find you’re often surrounded by nature on all sides and you’ll forget about those worries of the normal city life.
Take some time to listen to the street performers, try some fresh strawberries, and take a stroll through the pine trees of Camp John Hay and breathe in some fresh Baguio air.