[note: This is an updated version of our Solo Female Traveler’s Weekend Guide to Baguio City]
text by Prime Sarmiento
photos by Prime Sarmiento and Avie Olarte
Summer time is Baguio time! Baguio 's cool weather and bohemian vibe are one of the things that I miss here now that I'm living in the heart of Borneo. I am a true blue Manila girl and for all its faults, (and there are many, believe me], I love my country's capital. But I always considered Baguio city my second hometown, the home away from home.
Which is why I will never get tired of updating my Baguio city guide and encouraging all you Gypsy Gals to go to Baguio! There are just so many reasons why you may want to get out of Manila to take that eight hour trip to Baguio. For one, it's probably the best way to escape Manila's heat, dust and grime. Located some 1,500 meters above sea level, nestled within the Cordillera in northern Philippines, the temperature in Baguio is always below 30 degrees celsius (this even at the height of the summer months of March to April). In the colder months of January to February, temperature drops to less than 20 degrees celsius– that's pretty cold for a tropical archipelago.
But there's more to Baguio than its mild climate. It has the vibrancy of the city minus the pollution and the crowds. Since it’s a main tourist spot, it has all the facilities that any traveler will need: cafes with free wifi, public transport, galleries and a mall. It has that bohemian vibe and mystique that lures artists, writers, dreamers and seekers.
1. Nature Tripping
With all due respects to all outdoors enthusiast, but I'm soo not into mountaineering and camping as I detest any place where I can't find any clean Western style toilets, hot and cold shower and cafes which serve good coffee. I know that a lot of city girls share the same sentiment.
Having said that, if you want some moment of peace, commune with nature and do some light trekking, there's no perfect place for that but one of Baguio's parks and gardens. Burnham Park comes to mind but it's a bit crowded there now and dirty. There's the Botanical Garden, home to numerous pine trees and flowers, where you can summon that inner botanist by trying to identify every type of plant that you can find here. Another option is to go to Camp John Hay and just jog around the park, enjoying the cool breeze, the fresh pine scent. But my favorite is Maryknoll Ecological Park where there's a a clear hiking trail that you can follow plus you have the benefit of marveling at this clay-based ecohouse! [It’s so inspiring, I’ve been thinking of building something like it]
2. Horseback riding in Wright Park:
This is for you all cowgirls out there! Wright Park is the only place in Baguio where you can rent and ride a horse for a few hours and explore Baguio on a horseback.
3. Selfie moments in Mine's View Park:
Stand on top of the ridge and just marvel at the view of the old cooper and gold mine, a reminder that mining used to be one of the key industries here. You can have your picture taken with the view of the minesite (obviously….). Or you can rent some of these Igorot (indigenous mountain tribes) costumes and get your photos taken. Or, if you like this kind of cuteness, get your photo taken with this St. Bernard dog.
4. Buy pasalubong
There are so many places to go if you need some retail therapy. In Session Road alone, you can either go to the mall or bargain your way down in Baguio Public Market to buy cardigan, accessories, home furnishings, jam, bags, jams, strawberries (if they are in season -usually in the first quarter]. You can go to Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts, which is just a few steps away from the Victory Liner bus station. The store sells woven bags, ponchos, placemats, tapestries and other home/fashion accessories.
But of course, the best pasalubong are those bottles of strawberry jam, ube jam and peanut brittle from the Good Shepherd Convent. The products were made in the Mountain Maid Training Center (MMTC)- where the Good Shepherd nuns and the lay staff employ poor Cordillera students to make jams and other yummy food products including orange marmalade, pickles, tamarind candies, mango jams…. (are you salivating already?) to be sold in the store (at the convent entrance) and thereby earn money for their schooling.
5. View some artworks (and have a good meal too…):
Baguio is a creative hub ( must be the weather, or the bohemian vibe or the proliferation of many parks and gardens in the city), and if you just need to view some good artworks produced by mostly Baguio-based artists, I suggest that you go to some of these cafes like Cafe by the Ruins, Oh My Gulay or Hill Station (which by the way is just beside a bookstore you must check out: Mt Cloud] Bit for ,ore serious art lover, then do go to Asin Road and not only to view Bencab's works but also some of his bulol and art collection.
And after you had your art fix then you can go down the basement, get yourself some coffee and sit back to witness this marvelous view.
*Baguio city is easily accessibly from Manila. The Victory Liner has the widest fleet catering to travelers going from Manila to Baguio. You can find schedules, ticket fare and terminal location in at www.victoryliner.com.
*Baguio city is relatively safe for solo female travelers. However avoid walking alone at the park near the market as there are thieves and pickpockets there.
*There are several bars in the city, and while it’s fun to booze, it’s still advisable to only drink with people you know and trust. That’s true in Baguio and anywhere.
Have you been to Baguio city? What do you love about that place? Please share your views in the comments section.
*Want to know more how to travel alone as a woman? Then sign up for this FREE six-week mentorship program where I shared everything that I learned in the last ten years as a solo female traveler. 🙂
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