baguio philippines

Find out why Baguio is a must-visit destination for both local and international tourists. What type of activities can you enjoy here? What are the top tourist spots you shouldn't miss? Get ready to travel up north to Baguio and explore this mountainous region with help from this guide.

Baguio did not earn the moniker Summer Capital of the Philippines for nothing. While Metro Manila and other lowlands hit scorching temperatures during the dry season, the weather here is still relatively cold. It has the temperature rising to just 26˚C on a typical summer day. If you want to enjoy outdoor activities in the Philippines during the summer season without the sweltering heat, then Baguio is the place for you.

Baguio is dubbed as the "City of Pines" and is famous for its green park spaces, and of course, hillsides teeming with gigantic pine trees. Even back in the day, the city has always been filled with greeneries. Locals also claim that the town got its name from a green flowering plant called "bag-iw" that grew there, which the Americans during the occupation pronounced as "bág-ee-yow."

Tourist spots in Baguio grew in number over the years, and several of its parks started offering other activities. Nowadays, you can chill out in one of these parks and spend a whole day just trying out everything that it has to offer. Aside from the scenery and chilly weather, though, you'd want to stick around to witness a wide variety of cultural and historical attractions. 

 Here's a list of all the activities you can do to help you plan your Baguio tour:



CONTENTS

1. Go Boating at Burnham Park

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Considered as the city's "mother of all parks," Burnham Park is one of Baguio's best attractions. It was named after urban planner Daniel Burnham, the American architect who came up with the original design and layout of the park (as well as of the entirety of Baguio). Burnham Park is an open green park at the heart of Baguio. The park's lush greeneries and blooming flowers make you forget that you are in the middle of a highly urbanized city.

Burnham Park is very accessible; it is located along Harrison Road and is just a stone's throw from the famous Baguio thoroughfare, Session Road. The park boasts multiple clusters that offer different activities and attractions such as the Children's Playground, Rose Garden, Orchidarium, Picnic Grove, Igorot Garden, and much more.

Aside from those attractions, Burnham Park is best known for the picturesque centuries-old artificial lake at its center. If there is one thing you must experience at Burnham Park, it is boating at the famous Burnham Lagoon. There are several boats you can rent here. The best part is that they are easy to operate so that you can row it on your own. 

You may ask, what's so special about a human-made lake? For one, it's an excellent way to get away from the crowd. Secondly, it's a good take in the beauty of Burnham Park and enjoys the cool Baguio breeze. Last but not least, boating in Burnham lagoon at sunset makes for a memorable experience if you're traveling with a loved one. So go ahead and rent a boat and go rowing! 

2. Feast on Local Cuisine at The Farmer's Daughter

If you want to taste authentic traditional Filipino dishes, there's no better place to go than The Farmer's Daughter. This unassuming nipa hut restaurant on the outskirts of Baguio will take your tastebuds by surprise. It's thanks to the essential cooking techniques they employ and fresh local ingredients they use.

The Farmer's Daughter serves home-cooked regional cuisine centered on smoked meats, fresh vegetables, and native wines. They may be humble home-cooked dishes, but you'll be surprised by how packed they are with potent flavors that will make you crave for more. Be sure to try their best-sellers; the Pinikpikan, Etag, and Pinuneg. 

Pinikpikan is an Igorot dish. The Igorots are one of the indigenous tribes in the Cordillera region, and they follow a unique ritual in preparing the chicken soup. The Etag, on the other hand, is sundried or smoked pork. The meat is cured in salt for a week, and then either sundried or smoked for several weeks.

Pinuneg is the Ibaloi Tribe's signature sausage. What makes it unique is that unlike ordinary sausages, it's not made from ground meat. It is pig's blood sauteed in onions and other local spices. If you fancy exotic native cuisine, The Farmer's Daughter Restaurant certainly will not disappoint you.

3. Explore Camp John Hay

If you have limited time to tour Baguio attractions and you want to visit just one place, head to Camp John Hay. The camp was a former rest and recreation facility for American soldiers. Today it has become one of the best places to visit in Baguio over the years, mainly because it houses must-see tourist spots in one convenient area. 

This expansive recreational complex offers tourists tons of fun activities. It highlights the best that Baguio has to offer, which are pine trees, fresh air, cool breeze, and a serene atmosphere. You can go to a heart-pumping eco-adventure or commune with nature. Treetop Adventure inside Camp John Hay offers several thrilling rides, including the Superman Ride (zipline), Tree Drop (harnessed free fall), and Canopy Ride. 

Here, you can visit a world-class golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, where famous tournaments like the annual Fil-Am Golf Tournament are held. If you're not a golf fan, you can visit the Historical Core or the Bell Amphitheater. There's also the Butterfly Sanctuary, where you can see and learn about various species of butterflies. If you're into hiking, you'll love the pine-tree lined Yellow Trail in Camp John Hay. 

That's just scratching the surface. Not only does Camp John Hay have a lot more to offer, but it also has evolved into a commercial complex with a hotel, shopping, and dining establishments, all while retaining its natural charm.

4. Head to Mines View Park

Baguio was a former mining town in the early 20th century. To get a glimpse of that past, you have to visit Mines View Park. This park sits on a ridge on the northeast side of Baguio. As such, it's main attraction is a viewing deck that offers a stunning view of the Cordillera Mountains and Benguet's old copper and gold mines.  

Tourists are given a chance to dress in traditional Ifugao garbs like bahag (loincloth), vests, and headdresses, and even hold a shield and spear for picture-taking. You can also get your fix of Baguio's signature strawberry taho at Mines View Park. You won't have trouble finding taho vendors here as they are everywhere.

Mines View Park is also a great spot to buy souvenirs. There are several shops here that sells woven items, knitted garments, wooden souvenirs, as well as silverworks. You will also find rows of succulents, flowers, and bonsai trees you can purchase.

5. Visit Strawberry Farms in La Trinidad

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Visiting the strawberry farms in nearby La Trinidad is one of the top experiences you can't miss out on when you're in the Summer Capital. The weather in the North is perfect for growing several kinds of vegetables and fruits, but nothing is more popular and delicious than the plump red strawberries here.

La Trinidad, the capital of Benguet, is about 30 minutes from the Baguio town proper. This municipality is where you'll find hectares of land dedicated to growing strawberries to supply the rest of the country. If you want to take your Baguio experience even further, there is no better way than to go strawberry picking in the La Trinidad Strawberry Farms.

Strawberries are best eaten when they're freshly harvested. So, grab a basket and pick the berries yourself. Aside from being such a unique experience, harvesting fruits will also give you a deeper appreciation for the Ibaloi farmers who till these lands. The activity is open from November to May every year. The rates for the event vary. If you leave the work to the professionals, you can buy freshly picked strawberries near the exits of the farm.

Aside from strawberries, you can also purchase fresh flowers and choose from a wide selection of fresh vegetables. Don't forget to try the treats like fresh Strawberry Ice Cream and Strawberry Taho, as well.

 6. Appreciate Art at BenCab Museum

Baguio is home to a vibrant art scene; from contemporary Filipino art to the distinctive traditional architecture of the Cordillera Region. Whether you're an art aficionado or you're looking to deepen your appreciation for Filipino art, then be sure to drop by at BenCab Museum

BenCab Museum is home to the permanent collection of Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera. It also serves as a venue for art shows and exhibitions. The museum has several themed galleries. One of which is a gallery dedicated to original Cordillera art pieces such as sculptures, weapons, and paintings. One of the prominent exhibits is BenCab's bulol collection. Bulol is an Ifugao rice god figurine carved from Narra wood. You won't miss this exhibit, as the display occupies a whole wall in the museum. Another fascinating exhibition is the Erotica Gallery, which features several paintings and sculptures that explore sensuality.

There is also the Indigo Gallery, which features the works of several renowned Filipino contemporary artists. Of course, the highlight of the museum is the gallery of BenCab himself. The BenCab Gallery houses the National Artist's masterpieces, which mostly feature Sabel, his best-known muse. Sabel was a real scavenger woman whom BenCab saw and photographed in 1965. She has since been the subject of several of BenCab's paintings.

Aside from the galleries, BenCab Museum also has a restaurant. Cafe Sabel serves the Cabrera family recipes and uses ingredients that are grown from the museum's garden.

7. Discover Tam-Awan Village

If you want to explore to learn more about the region's indigenous art forms, go on a Cordillera heritage tour and start with Tam-Awan Village. Built by the Chanum Foundation in 1998, Tam-Awan Village is modeled after native Ifugao villages to give people a glimpse of the other parts of the region.

The word Tam-Awan in the local dialect means vantage point. An apt name since the Tam-Awan Village sits on a hillside with a panoramic view of the South China Sea. With a stunning vista and lush greenery, you'll surely enjoy exploring the several Cordillera huts scattered around Tam-Awan Village. You can also go on a quick hike to several viewing decks in the village. 

If you're not too keen on hiking, check out the art galleries in Tam-Awan Village. The village also holds regular exhibitions and cultural shows from both local and visiting artists. For a more immersive experience, register for any of their workshops in drawing, oil painting, watercolor, and wood carving.

For those who want to stay for more than a day, the village also has a cafe where you can taste authentic Cordilleran dishes, as well as huts for lodging.

8. Go Bargain-Hunting at Baguio Night Market

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Baguio is a famous bargain shopping hotspot. If you want to put your haggling skills to the test, there is no better place than the Baguio Night Market. This bargain-hunting haven is every thrifty fashionista's dream. 

From 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM, a part of Harrison Road at the northeast of Burnham Park transforms into a flea market. Here you can find everything to complete a casual look without burning a hole through your wallet, thanks to the rows of ukay-ukay stalls. Ukay-ukay is the local term for surplus items shipped from other countries and second-hand apparels such as clothes, bags, and footwear that are sold at bargained prices. 

Baguio Night Market is overflowing with ukay-ukay. It's the best place to shop for quality second-hand jackets, boots, clothes, and accessories for a fraction of their original price. And if you're lucky, or have great thrift-shopping skills, you can score one of a kind vintage finds or even items that are in mint condition. After shopping, grab an ear of sweet corn, noodle soup, or other street food at the northern side of the hill.

9. Try Horseback Riding at Wright Park

Wright Park is one of the many scenic parts of Baguio. It is a quiet promenade with blossoming flowers, a pool lined with pine trees, and a long stairway that leads visitors to a riding circle. Wright Park is considerably smaller than Burnham Park, but it is also less crowded and more peaceful. It is located in the eastern part of Baguio and fronts the main gate of The Mansion. 

Wright Park's long rectangular pond is called the "Pool of Pines," which could not be a perfect name as the length of the lake is flanked by pine trees on both sides. There is also a park circle and pavilion where you can sit, relax, and listen to the swaying pine. Wright Park is an open green space, so feel free to stroll around and admire its natural beauty.

Wright Park is often called Ride Park, an understandable mistake since the park is known for its horseback-riding activity. Indeed, Wright Park is the perfect place for people who love horses and want to learn how to ride one. Follow the long stairway at the far end of Wright Park to reach the Riding Circle. There you'll find several horses you can hire and ride around in the vicinity. If you're traveling with kids, good news! There are friendly ponies that are perfect for children. 

Rest assured, every horse has an experienced handler who will guide and watch riders at all times. If it's your first time, the driver will lead the horse and walk alongside you as you ride.

10. Spend Time at The Mansion 

The Mansion in Baguio was built in 1908 to serve as the official summer residence of U.S. Governors-General during the American occupation. Today, The Mansion serves as the official summer palace of the President of the Philippines. 

Located in the eastern side of the city, it right in front of the idyllic Wright Park. This grand palace is easily one of the most photographed landmarks in Baguio. Although the main gate is open to the public, visitors are only allowed in The Mansion House Museum, where tourists can check out presidential memorabilia. 

Aside from exploring the museum, the only other activity you can do here is picture-taking. So don't be shy about taking tons of photographs! The Mansion's elegant main building is inspired by the Spanish Colonial Revival design, making it an excellent backdrop for any picture. You can also snap photos in front of the ornate iron gate or by the beautifully manicured lawn. 

11. Unwind at the Baguio Botanical Garden

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The Baguio Botanical Garden provides a much-needed tranquil space amid bustling Baguio City. In 2009, the garden was renamed Centennial Park in celebration of Baguio's 100th year as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. However, it is more known as the Botanical Garden.

Exploring the garden is a whole adventure on its own, as it has several sections with different attractions. As you enter the park, you will be greeted by a giant sculpture. This bronze masterpiece is the work of Ben Hur Villanueva, a renowned Filipino sculptor. The statue represents the of the Cordillerans, Americans, Chinese, and Japanese in building Baguio.

Filled with pine trees, the Botanical Garden has two purposes. It serves a hideaway from the often crowded Baguio. It also houses nurseries dedicated to propagating flora that will eventually be replanted in the parks and gardens of Baguio. With the abundance of trees and different plants, the Baguio Botanical Garden is truly a great place to unwind. You can explore the various sections, sit by the benches, or have a snack under the cottages.

You will find pocket gardens and pavilions dedicated to Baguio's sister cities in countries such as South Korea, Japan, China, Canada, Thailand, and the USA. These sections are decorated with symbols that represent each city. There are also relics from the Igorot Village, such as giant statues depicting different Cordillera tribes.

12. Buy Souvenirs at the Good Shepherd Convent

Aside from the pasalubong stores around Mines View Park, do not forget to drop by at the Good Shepherd Convent that is just a stones' throw away. Their acclaimed peanut brittle, ube, and strawberry jam have become synonymous with Baguio pasalubong. They are also now offering baked goodies like Lengua de Gato and alfajores, homemade ice cream, and strawberry-calamansi juice.

Nuns and volunteers from the international congregation The Religious of the Good Shepherd Sisters run the convent, with profits from Good Shepherd going to charity. Students of the Mountain Maid Training Center and Development Inc. create the products as part of the congregation's livelihood program to poor female students from Kalinga and Bontoc.

Be prepared to either line up for at least 30 minutes as you wait to be serviced or get heartbroken when your desired product goes out of stock. Though, you may enjoy taking photos from the convent's view deck with the Cordillera Mountains as your background.

13. Visit the Baguio Cathedral

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Formally known as the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, the Baguio Cathedral stands atop Mount Mary Hill, or what the Ibalois call "Kampo." The church is known for its Neo-Gothic style, as evidenced by its twin spires and its rose-colored exterior with stained-glass windows. 

During World War II, it served as an evacuation center. Baguio Cathedral is also the largest Catholic church in the city. As it is built on top of a hill, it gives visitors an awe-inspiring bird' s-eye view of Session Road and the whole of Baguio. The Baguio Cathedral can be reached by climbing a 104-step staircase.

 If you want to cut some time and effort, the road up the hill is accessible to cars. You can also climb the escalators of Porta Vaga Shopping Mall in Session Road and exit at the top floor, as it'll lead onto the church's parking grounds.

14. Admire the Taoist Architecture of Bell Church

Atop the hills near the borders of Baguio and La Trinidad sits the Bell Church, the center of the religious and cultural activities of Baguio's Chinese-Filipino community. Bell Church was founded in 1960 by Ng Pee, a Chinese immigrant from the Canton Region. This Chinese temple is primarily influenced by Taoist architecture, but it also features a fusion of Buddhist symbols and follows ancient Chinese methods of construction. 

Upon arriving at Bell Church, an ornate arch with dragon highlights and Chinese inscriptions will greet you. In front of the temple, you will find two octagonal lotus ponds that resemble a Bagua. In Chinese culture, it represents the concept of rebirth and immortality. As you explore the church grounds, prepared to be entranced by the soaring pagodas, dragons, and lion statues, of course, the bells that decorate Bell Church.

Bell Church's pagodas feature images of saints and the Buddha. Past the opposing dragon figures, you will find a charming koi pond where you can make a wish. You can go to the central patio of Bell Church to witness a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. 

15. Explore Baguio Museum

Baguio is a melting pot of diverse Cordilleran culture. The Baguio Museum stands as a reminder of that and the city's storied past and rich cultural and historical heritage. The museum was built to resemble a traditional Ifugao home. It has wood and stone, and it features a pyramid roof that has two towering concrete poles at the stair entrance.

Baguio is part of Benguet Province and the greater Cordillera Region. The main floor of the building is dedicated to the craftsmanship of the provinces of the Cordillera region: Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Apayao, and Abra. You will find various tribal artifacts, native jewelry, apparel, fabrics, and musical instruments encased by protective glass panels.

If you're curious about what the lives of the indigenous Cordilleran tribes look like, the miniature dioramas in the museum will give you a picture. Aside from the exhibits, the museum has educational clippings and photographs where you can learn more about the history of Baguio and the different tribes in Cordillera.

Baguio Museum also houses models of the different huts used by tribes in ancient times. Even more fascinating is the museum's collection of burial jars and carved wooden coffins, one of which contains a real mummified body! So, don't forget to stop by the Baguio Museum on your Cordillera heritage tour

16. Take a Dip at the Asin Hot Springs

As you can tell by now, Baguio is full of surprises. And as if the one discussed above is not enough, this perpetually cold city has one more natural attraction that will take you by surprise.   

16 kilometer northwest of Baguio lies the hot springs of Tuba, Benguet. Known as the Asin Hot Springs, these thermal and therapeutic springs are the perfect spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. Because of its considerable distance from the city center, Asin Hot Springs is one of the most underrated destinations in the province of Benguet.  

Although the pools are tiled, the waters that fill them are natural and come straight from the mountains. The springs are even said to have healing properties. For instance, the hotness of the water is known to soothe muscle pains, while the sulfuric water stimulates blood circulation and moisturizes the skin. Take a dip and feel your stress wash away. 

Aside from the soothing thermal water, Asin Hot Spring offers visitors scenic mountain views and lush vegetation. There are also different facilities, such as pools for adults and children-friendly ones. Plunge into the lakes, and enjoy the stunning views of the mountainside while soaking.

17. Head to the Easter Weaving Room

To complete your Baguio city culture and countryside tour, stop by the Easter Weaving Room. Established in 1909, Easter Weaving Room is as old as Baguio itself. It is also one of the few places within Baguio where you can witness authentic traditional weaving techniques practiced by the natives of the Cordillera Region.

Easter Weaving Room has a work area where you can watch weavers do their magic on the looms with multi-colored threads. You also get to witness the intricacy of making the exquisite Montanosa cloth, which a colorful hand-woven cloth unique to the Cordillera Region.

Aside from watching weavers work, you can also go around and check out the Easter Weaving Room's displays. They have a wide selection of hand-woven articles such as bed linens, table cloth, decorative wall hangings, ethnic textiles, clothing accessories, religious garments, and many more. You can also purchase those items, as well as baskets and wood carvings.

Compared to other woven products sold around Baguio, the quality of the items made in the Easter Weaving room is superior and, most of the time, even cheaper.

18. Stop by at the Ifugao Woodcarver's Village

Another great spot to buy souvenirs in Baguio is the Ifugao Woodcarver's Village. Stretching for 3 kilometers long along Asin Road, the Woodcarver's Village is the largest concentration of veteran and budding local woodcarvers in Baguio. Here traditional crafts and skills of weaving and woodcarving that span back decades are practiced and passed on to the next generations. Ifugao woodcarvers are recognized as the best among Cordillera tribes in this art form. 

The village is famous for its excellent quality wood carvings. From small critical chains to towering statues of Igorot tribesmen, you will be stunned by the variety of hand-made crafts the Ifugao Woodcarvers Village. 

Woodcarver's village showcases the indigenous aesthetics of the region, its natural environment, and the rich cultural heritage of the Cordillerans through wood carving. Subjects of the carved items are mostly associated with the Cordillera, the indigenous people, and animals. They are also commonly religious icons, household items, furniture, signs, and key chains. Buy some souvenirs and support the local woodcarving industry.

19. Check out the Colors of StoBoSa

The shanty-covered hills of La Trinidad used to be an eyesore in otherwise scenic countryside. Inspired by the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the Gamcheon Cultural Village of South Korea, the local government sought to transform the bleak hillside communities of La Trinidad. 

Today, the houses of Stonehill, Botiw-tiw, and Sadjap (StoBoSa) have become an expansive life-sized art piece collectively called the StoBoSa Hillside Homes Artwork. Also known as the Colors of StoBoSa, it comprises of around 200 houses over an area of 18,000 square meters. If the sheer expanse of it is not enough to wow you, the vibrant hues of this massive art piece will.

This stunning community artwork and has now hit tourist attraction in the town of La Trinidad. Indeed, the Colors of StoBoSa is a magnificent menagerie of bright colors that will capture your attention and entice you to stop and take pictures.

Baguio: Cool Atmosphere, Warm Hospitality

Baguio may be known for the chilly temperatures, but over the years, it's transformed to become a gateway to the Cordillera region. It continues to put the spotlight on the significance of the Cordilleran culture to the city, as well as celebrate the creativity and hard work of its people.

Indeed, the Summer Capital of the country has something for every kind of visitor. Your Baguio itinerary will never run out of places to visit, things to do, places to explore, lessons to learn, and food to eat in the City of Pines.

Get the most out of your Baguio trip and plan your itinerary now. Check out Baguio tours and activities that will let you experience the different sides of the province outside of the usual tourist destinations.