Feature Article

Unforgettable Charm: 7 Things That Made Me Fall for Baguio Again

Ever changing but always endearing, Baguio City remains irresistible.

By: Patricia Marie Prado | January 01, 2021
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the establishments featured in this article might be enforcing their own set of health protocols and requirements. Please coordinate with the management before visiting.

unique experience in Baguio

Are you ready to conquer the mountainous city?

When you think of Baguio what are the words that come to your mind? Some will say “cold” or “strawberries” while others might come up with “traffic” or “crowded.” Through the years, the City of Pines has received lots of mixed good and not-so-pleasant reviews. All of this boils down to one question: is Baguio still worth visiting?

Last December, our team went to this city to rediscover its beauty and see if there are new charms that will capture our hearts. And true to our expectations, we had an amazing time. Our three-day trip was challenging, fun, and very memorable!

Instead of highlighting the places we visited and the things we did, I decided to focus on some of the things that made our trip to Baguio unforgettable. Read on and see the many fun and exciting things that we experienced and what made me love this city once again.

1. The Cold Weather

unique experience in Baguio

The Yoorekka team at BenCab Museum wearing jackets and long sleeves to fight the cold

It’s no secret that Baguio is cold; the chilly weather is the first thing that welcomes anyone who sets foot in the city. Every time I travel, I soak in the character of a city or country that I visit—from the people, the culture, the food, to the weather. This practice helped me see that the freezing temperature in Baguio is part of its beautiful character. So even though I prefer to don just my favorite t-shirt and jeans when traveling, I still found Baguio’s cold weather a nice change from Manila’s sweltering heat.

Despite our thick jackets, I and my coworkers could not stop saying “Ang lamig!” (“It’s so cold!”) wherever we were (it was that cold). But after a couple of hours of cursing the winds, we decided to embrace and enjoy it instead. So when you visit Baguio, embrace the cold! Savor it! Despite the negative rep about the crowd, the traffic, and the bad urban planning that the city has been receiving lately, its cold weather is worth experiencing.

Upon coming home to Manila, guess what we missed the most.

2. The Crowd

unique experience in Baguio

Baguio’s crowd, may they be locals or tourists, makes the trip more fun.

Whenever Baguio is mentioned, the word “congested” always comes to mind for most people. From cars, to houses, and even humans, Baguio has a lot of everything. But despite the overwhelming Baguio crowd, its locals made our trip memorable.

I’m not one to brave crowded places like Divisoria, but I did not miss Baguio Night Market at Harrison Road. The road officially closes at 9:00 PM to give way to the hundreds of tiangge (bazaar) stalls that set up shop every night until 4:00 AM. Come by at around 8:45 PM just like we did, take a spot at the overpass along Igorot Park, and see the magic happen as these stall owners set up their stalls in five minutes tops!

Aside from scoring jean jackets as low as PhP100 or dresses with price tags of PhP20, the real fun is in interacting with the crowd. Here, you can haggle to your heart’s content with various stall owners, find gems in the hundreds of clothes racks, and in some cases, fight over a nice piece of item with other buyers.

3. The Long Walks

unique experience in Baguio

Make sure to get out of your car because Baguio is best explored on foot.

Although we brought a car to Baguio, we didn’t need it all the time since some of the city’s tourist attractions required some leg work. These walks were exhausting and challenging but were fun as we got to enjoy Baguio just like a local.

From strolling through the paths of Burnham Park overlooking the man-made Burnham Lake to hiking the high slopes of Camp John Hay, experiencing Baguio on foot and at your own pace is so much better than staying inside the car or joining a group tour.

Walking is fun, but make sure to bring the right shoes! I made the mistake of wearing a pair of wedged sandals during our second day, and I had a hard time walking for almost half a day. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella as well—Baguio may be cold but the sun shines like you’re still in Manila.

4. Its Luscious Nature

unique experience in Baguio

Let your senses be overwhelmed by Baguio’s marvelous greenery.

While a portion of Baguio’s land has been developed and turned into commercial or housing complexes, its local government still made sure to keep their nature parks well taken care of. We went to a number of parks in Baguio and the stunning environment is the city’s real gem.

Despite the developments at Mines View Park that made it crowded, the view is still breathtaking. Despite the maze-like paths at Baguio Botanical Garden, its rich foliage will make you stop and make you feel at peace. And despite Camp John Hay’s uphill slopes, its towering pine trees will make you feel like you’re one with Mother Nature herself.

As you savor Baguio’s abundant greenery, let go of your camera for a while to soak it all in. Close your eyes and breathe in the fresh air, because you certainly cannot smell your photos once you go back home.

5. The Streets

unique experience in Baguio

Baguio’s tricky streets will send you in a fun and never-ending maze.

Another thing that made our Baguio trip memorable is its many confusing streets. Just when you thought you’re in a dead end, another small lane or alley pops up and makes the trip all the more confusing. Another thing that we noticed while driving along Baguio’s major thoroughfares are the long U-turn slots. Whenever we missed our turn, it took us another long drive before we found the next slot. There were times when we even ended up where we started and we passed by the same street twice before reaching our destination.

It might seem annoying, but getting lost is part of the fun! Albeit confusing and at times a bit scary, the streets of Baguio made us laugh out loud as we navigated them. Instead of being upset when we missed a turn or did not find the landmark we were looking for, we just shrugged and laughed. Why put on a long face when all you can do is look and drive back again? We even became experts with Google Maps and by the time we left, our driver already knew the ins and outs of Baguio!

6. The Beauty in the Bad

unique experience in Baguio

Hillside housing turned into art at Stobosa community in La Trinidad.

No matter how you put it, Baguio is a victim of bad urban planning. The mountain city has attracted so many people that even its hillsides have houses on them. This means that the roads also slope; we actually experienced driving in some of Baguio’s steepest slopes where our car was literally close to a 90-degree angle.

Despite this problem, it showed us what the locals of Baguio are made of and how they can make something out of nothing—even if it means building houses at the side of a hill. We also witnessed how they can turn unpleasant things into something beautiful, as illustrated by the transformation of the colorful community of hillside houses in Stobosa in La Trinidad, Benguet.

7. The Scary Stuff

unique experience in Baguio

Don’t be afraid of the dark! Baguio is still very much alive at night.

Baguio is also known for its horror stories that will keep you up at night. From visitors of Teacher’s Camp being possessed by spirits to the apparitions at Diplomat Hotel, the frightening anecdotes from Baguio are endless. Numerous old buildings in the city also add to this eerie feeling.

Even though I had the creeps every time we passed by Teacher’s Camp and our dimly-lit hotel room is one horror story about to happen, I decided to enjoy myself instead of freaking out. Baguio’s scary vibe made me realize that I should not let my fears prevent me from enjoying what life has to offer. Besides, the scary stories that surround Baguio do not do anything to detract from its beauty.

Baguio has many facets that make it unique and worth coming back to. Let us know in the comments section what you love the most about the City of Pines.

Stay safe as you travel! Make sure to follow social distancing protocols and observe health precautions wherever you go. Have a great trip!

This article was originally published in Yoorekka on February 2, 2018.

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About Patricia Marie Prado
Patricia came from the field of business and accounting but is now pursuing her dreams of being a writer. She is a self-confessed introvert and is passionate about reading, travelling, writing, movies, coffee and God. When she's not writing, she loves discovering new coffee shops/cafe and doing TV-series marathons.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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