DIY Baguio Travel for First-Timers
It is the cold weather that lures domestic tourists to Baguio, especially during summer, when we want to escape from the fierce heat in the lowland.
In due course, this unusual cold climate it benefits from spawns more opportunities and godsends. One such instance is the apparent abundance of strawberry and pine trees in the area which add more charm to the already overall scenic view of the city.
Baguio city is the premiere tourist destination in Northern Luzon for its cool climate,strawberries and pine trees. When you visit Baguio on a weekend for the first time, you are supposed to enjoy the following attractions to feel the true spirit of the summer capital of the Philippines:
Baguio, being considered as the in demand romantic hideaway, truly coincides with the abundance of strawberries tilled 30 minutes away from the city which symbolize love. The positive thoughts attach to these sweet, red fruits probably explain the friendly attitudes of Ibaloi farmers despite the frigid and foggy weather. These farmers can teach you how to pick the freshest strawberries that you can experience from November to May every year.
This strawberry Baguio style picking is a unique experience for the whole family and lovers alike. At the end of the picking, they will weigh the amount of strawberries you picked. The rate is normally twice the market price since half of the cost goes to this activity itself.
How to get to the Strawberry farm
Ride a jeepney to La Trinidad in the Gen. Luna area near the University of Baguio. There’s a chance that you might miss the Strawberry Farm sign since it is not so prominent. But it should be to your left and just remind the driver to drop you off at the Strawberry Farm.
Once you get down to the Strawberry sign, start walking straight as the said farm is just few hundreds meters away. Keep walking until you see it from your right. To your left are lines of souvenir stalls.
Mines View Park
The name itself suggests that this is a park where you can view the mines, which is wholly true. It’s no puzzle that this was the preferred place of the whites during the American colonial period. Talking about the weather concern, Tagaytay could have been a suited abode. But why to the 7- 8 hour ride to the mountainous Baguio? Perhaps, they saw a jewel from this remote area. Literally, yes. This green city is not only conducive for the growth of pine trees and moss-like bushes, but it also reserves gold and copper mines. Thus, the creation of one of the lasting attractions in the Pine City, the Mines View Park.
This small park is crowded with lofty and leafy pine trees along with the myriads of souvenir and silver works stores. Be sure to wander around this classic park that offers a splendid view of the mining town and the Cordillera Mountains.
How to go to Mines View Park
From Burnham Park, you can ride a jeepney going to Mines View Park for 10 php. Get off at the corner where you can see the Mines View insignia. Unlike the Strawberry farm sign, the Mines View has a more noticeable one and you can never lose it when you go with the crowds. You can feel that you are already near the said park when an array of souvenir stalls and small eateries begins rolling in right before your very eyes.
It is also in this tourist attraction that you can dress like a native Cordillera for a day. For just 50php/1 USD, you’ll get the chance to take a selfie with a bahag, shield and spear (for the men), tapis (for the ladies) and headdresses for both. You, in your traditional Baguiotes costume against the backdrop of the panoramic spectacle of the Cordillera Mountains will surely capture the best photographic memory that you will remember.
I learned about Burnham Park when I read about it in one of our school textbooks in grade school. It describes particularly about the man-made Burnham Lake where tourists can enjoy boating around with the available boats for rent. I got curious about it since first; I had only seen natural lakes at that time, so my image about man-made lake was just not yet forming. Second, I was querying about the name of the park itself, why it sounds so American?
Soon afterwards, I found out that Baguio used to be the American government summer offices where white officials occupied to escape from Manila’s intense heat between March to June.
The 32.84 hectare urban park was named in honor of the American architect and urban planner, Daniel Burnham, who was successful in laying out the plans for the city. The park is also nearby former recreational base of the United States American Forces, Camp John Hay.
Apart from boat riding to navigate the man-made lake, one can tour the entire park by renting a bike. These bike rentals are found beside the said lake which comes in different kinds: small bikes for children, single bikes, tandem bikes or one with side cars.
To its south is the skating rink while on its eastern part is the Grand Stand and Football field which turned into a multi- purpose field for parades, rallies, concerts and other social activities. To its west is the Orchardarium. Several restaurants are clustered around the park. This open plaza is a good place to enjoy your afternoon stroll along with Baguiotes from all walks of life.
Pink Baguio Church
Upon coming back to the center, near SM Baguio, just downtown, is the pink Catholic cathedral of Baguio, better known as the Cathedral of our Lady of Atonement constructed in 1907. The pink-colored façade of the Church will perhaps remind you of the pink strawberries flavor that you have probably eaten with taho (a Philippine comfort food made of fresh soft tofu, arnibal, a sweetener and sago pearls, ice cream or jams) during your Baguio vacation.
Basically, almost all edible stuffs in Baguio are mixed and flavored with strawberries. The crimson pyramidal-structured roofs further define the pinkness of the Church.
Climate and city center
It was 19◦C when I went to Baguio which was a little chill for a budding May weather across the country. Now probably you understand why we love to hangout in this place during summer. Its weather explains why it’s the summer capital of the Philippines.
Session road is the hub of Central district of Baguio. Affordable yet fashionable boots and leathers are sold here at the numerous shops lined along this street.
On the second floor of SM Baguio is where you can find this wonderful view of colorful buildings overgrowing alongside the trees on its mountains. Just near Burnham Park is the Baguio Museum.
Food and accommodation
Walking distance from Burnham Park is the most affordable hotel I’ve found in the city for just 800 php per night which is also walk-able to the bus station.The accommodation comes with free wi-fi, an electric fan , regular size bed and a bathroom. After all, with the breezy climate outside, air con is deemed unnecessary in this place.
Baguio has a significant population of Koreans which accounts for the eminent availability of Korean food especially in the malls. Bibimpop is just one of the popularized Korean dishes in town.