One of my Mom’s dream local destination is Baguio City, Philippines. This trip has been planned six months ago and she’s been looking forward for this all her life. The first time I went there we checked out the Panagbenga Festival and people were flocking up the city – it was justifiable – the traffic, the crowd, the long lines etc. Imagine how excited I was to know that I’ll be seeing Baguio without all those. And imagine what I felt when I heard that our vacation also fell on the date of the Pope’s visit. Not sure if I was disappointed or felt lucky. There was a big possibility that non-Catholic people might flock on Baguio or, the optimistic side of me thought of not seeing too much people since they might flock in Manila to see the pope.
Mom and the kids (my bro and cousins) arrived in Manila around 7:30 AM. Mom’s friend offered his car to be rented throughout our trip. Initially, my plan was to ride the bus and just hire a car with a local driver in Baguio. You see, Baguio has a difficult road system – it’s quite “hill-y” and most cars are SUV/4WD. But since Mom wanted to accept her friend’s offer, I agreed. It would also be convenient for us – road trip on my mind!
TPLEX’s now open so it only took us almost 4 hours of travel, but we chose the Kennon Road – we didn’t know there was Marcos Highway on the other side. I thought TPLEX was really connected to Kennon Road alone. Kennon Road was very steep – I don’t recommend it. Go through the Marcos Highway instead of Kennon Rd. It’s scary and if something bad happens – knock on wood – you’ll really find yourself dead.
By the time we got to the entrance of Baguio City from Kennon Road at 2PM, there was traffic and the car gave up. The clutch burned up and we couldn’t climb up anymore. The car rolled down the hill and crashed on a van – gladly, not a big impact and thankfully, it happened in Baguio, not in Kennon Road!
The driver settled the accident by paying a sum of money and we went on our way. But we were really scared by this time so I told Mom that maybe its best we should just get down and get a taxi. I didn’t trust the car nor the driver anymore given that it was hilly and there was traffic. It was a difficult drive. They looked for a taxi and after almost an hour, we found one and walked all the way down with all of our bags.
We arrived at the hotel (Hotel Supreme) around 4PM. We were so stressed and hungry! Good thing, the room service was fast and around 6PM, we went out and walked around Session Road. I was also thankful for my friend, I asked him to call up the car rental in Baguio and we were able to rent a car for our tour the next day.
It was such a waste of time. I didn’t want to play the blame game since it was an accident but it kind of really ticked us all off. Not a very good way to welcome us in Baguio! But I was still thankful that it wasn’t such a big accident.
We started our Saturday in the bus station to buy tickets for our trip home. The deluxe buses were full until Tuesday so we settled for the ordinary airconditioned bus which left Mom stressed out since she has a thing with peeing every hour.
Anyway, we only visited three places – Camp John Hay, Strawberry Farm and La Presa of tv series Forevermore (highschool stuff, the kids!) due to limited time.
This one’s in Camp John Hay. We only stayed for like 30 minutes.
Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad. We did some strawberry picking but there weren’t a lot of strawberries since it’s only the second week of January. We paid around 50php for unlimited picture taking (lol!). Please visit the Strawberry farm around 7AM to avoid traffic and big crowds!
Dinner at 50’s Diner – as per its name, it’s a diner with a 50s theme. We waited for like an hour to be seated on a table. Don’t go here if you’re really hungry, though they have really big servings, worth of your waiting but but their food isn’t all that good.
We had lunch at Vizco’s Restaurant and Cake Shop. Order their Strawberry Vinegrette Salad and Strawberry Shortcake. Food’s cheap and tastes good! Really good! Mom loved it! And when she loves it, it only means it’s really good!
Last stop was the Sitio La Presa up above the mountain, near the “Radar”. It’s not really an official tourist spot but due to a popular teen tv series, people flocked around the area. It took us around an hour to drive there. The roads were winding and very steep! La Presa’s at the back of the radar mountain. Upon arriving at Cafe De Sky, you have to walk further to find Agnes’ house (the main lead in the tv series). We loved the view, of course! The mountains were kissing the clouds and the city looks like specks of dust from above.
We wrapped up our Baguio trip early Sunday morning. We got on the bus at 7:40 AM as chance passengers – our bus schedule was supposed to be 8:40 AM but there were 25 vacant seats on the earlier trip so we decided to hop in. It was a 7hour trip since the bus took the SCTEX and Marcos Highway. They also had a speed limit of 8kph. We arrived in Cubao (QC) at around 2PM.
Aside from the mishaps at the start of the trip, it turned out pretty good. But do I want to go back to Baguio for a vacation? Hmmm, not really. The traffic’s bad and the fifteen-minute drive to a place would take you an hour. The people are everywhere – like really everywhere! I understand that the place turned out to be really popular but…oh well. The weather’s nice though. It was really cold, but not that much. It allows you to play with your clothes and don autumn/winter style outfits. I was happy to wear my boots for the first time too! So yeah, that’s almost about it.
1. Just take the bus going to Baguio. There’s a regular with airconditioned bus (450php) and a deluxe one with a toilet (750php). It’s best to reserve tickets before your trip so as to avoid the long line. If you’re gonna drive your own car, make sure that the brake and clutch are working. Get it checked up before your trip as Baguio road is really difficult.
2. Choose car rentals. Or get a local driver. They know the roads and shortcuts better. The traffic is really bad and the roads are steep. One wrong move, you’ll find your car at the edge of the cliff. Car rentals are usually priced at 2500php (12 hours). Taxis are not really reliable. We spent almost an hour getting one, but to no avail. We took the jeepney instead.
3. Start your day early to avoid traffic and crowd. There’s not much to do in the evening after all, so sleep early and wake up early. Try to spend a lot of time in places you want to visit, especially Camp John Hay. Camp John Hay is such a big place. Sitting under those trees and just take everything the nature can offer brings a really good feeling.
Where to stay:
Hotel Supreme or Hotel Supreme Convention Plaza – nice place especially for groups. We booked a room for five without aircondition and it only cost us 4000php for two nights with free breakfast. Strawberry Farm is like a fifteen-minute drive away.
Let me know if you need one, I’ll give you our contact’s number. They’re cheaper compared to the car rentals hotel offers.