It was raining pretty hard the other day and my daughter looked up at me and said, “We’re going back up to Baguio next year, right?”. That question, coupled with her look – raised eyebrows, worried eyes, tentative smile – I knew that what she really meant was, “We’re going to Baguio next weekend, right?”
The trip, which used to take the better part of the day, has been cut in half because of TPLEx, meaning its now possible to reach one of the top tourist destinations in the North in 5 hours or less (coming from Metro Manila). And that’s driving on relatively smooth roads across scenic landscape, which makes it a very appealing trip to make especially if you have children.When you get to Baguio, you will never run out of things to do! The hotel that we stayed in was called C Boutique hotel, located on Gibraltar road. It’s very close to Wright Park, which was also the first place we went to when we got there. A nice and cozy hotel (they didn’t have air-conditioning but it was cold when we went so we didn’t mind at all), we liked the little fire pit and quiet comfort the place offered.
The area we stayed in had many small stores, ukay-ukay, cute little ponies with bright pink hair and wonderful plants all around. At Wright Park, my daughter didn’t want to ride the horses but we did eat at “Kanto”, one of the restos that was a part of the Ketchup Food community. Their burgers and fries were very, very good.
Next, we decided to check out Burnham Park. This was a gold mine for the kids! They loved the playground, we went riding in the skate park, we picnicked at the garden and bought toys for my daughters. There’s a children’s park which has different playground sets scattered throughout the area. We arrived after lunch and the place was packed with kids. Warning! If there are a lot of people, your child will wait quite some time for his or her turn at the swings. However, if he or she doesn’t mind just running around the playground sets and going down the slide, then she won’t get too impatient. We left when it was starting to get dark and since we weren’t familiar with the restos in the area we decided to just go to the mall and ended up eating at David’s Tea House in SM Baguio. It’s very, very cold in the evenings so please make sure you bundle up the little ones!
The following day we went to the Botanical Garden. It’s a beautiful place where, near the entrance, visitors could don the Ifugao costume for a fee. There were actual members of the Ifugao tribe actually in front of the garden, but so many people were taking pictures and we couldn’t wait for our turn. Inside the Botanical Garden, we saw massive pine trees and huge sculptures scattered throughout the park, there were bridges and walkways and a tunnel that was quite spacious. I thought my kids would get bored in the Botanical Garden and surprisingly, they enjoyed it! They skipped and ran around the gazebos and wanted their photos taken with the flowers. Z didn’t want to leave the mini-bridge and she wanted to feed the koi fish!
We had enough time to make a quick trip to Camp John Hay. This was where Z was able to go horseback riding. It’s more organised than the ones we saw outside and the trail that the horses went on are also far from actual roads which I appreciated so much. I didn’t realise that it worried me a lot seeing those horses walking right along the fast vehicles on the highway. The trail inside Camp John Hay felt much safer for me. My daughter loved this so much we went back the following day! But don’t worry, there are lots of other things you could do in Camp John Hay. There’s a butterfly sanctuary you can also visit, we wanted to go inside but they were closed when we went so we had to skip it. One thing you shouldn’t miss while at Camp John Hay is the Vizco strawberry shortcake. Sweet but airy and tastes so divine! No wonder people were raving about this online. The Mile Hi Centre or outlet yard was another good place to shop in the area, from really cheap native souvenirs, toys and sporting goods and fashionable clothes (some branded) at very good deals.
Yet another ‘tradition’ when one goes to Baguio would be the boat ride at Burnham Park. We decided to go back to the park and do this. I was a bit hesitant about doing this because the water was not clean and the gas fumes were pretty strong. However, the girls totally enjoyed this! We were 3 adults and 3 kids in one blue swan boat and it cost about 200 Pesos for an hour. We went boat riding late in the day and the man-made lagoon in the middle of the park had so many boats in it that we traversed the lagoon very slowly and couldn’t help but bump into other boats. Although it wasn’t jarring or scary, I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy those moments that much either. Friendly advice? Go for it when there aren’t that many people, I’m sure the experience would be calming and you’d love it more. Burnham park is huge, I heard there was an orchidarium and a football field but we didn’t go to this area any more.
Let me also talk a bit about the morning we decided to go to Mine’s View Park. This place offers a stunning view of Baguio, but be warned! There were so many people we could hardly walk straight! Parking was very difficult. The children must have been very confused because they were jostled left and right, I ended up carrying my toddler most of the time because people were in a hurry and the space was super tight. There were a lot of establishments by the side that sold very nice souvenirs so I ended up buying pamaypay (fans), magnets and t-shirts that had “Baguio” printed on it. To be honest, we didn’t stay very long because we were overwhelmed by the crowd. If you have a tight sched and you want something relaxing during your trip, perhaps you can skip this completely.
When we were leaving the city, we stopped by The Hillside. Cafe Adriana at The Hillside is a place that any foodie would love. Their menu sounds very elegant and sophisticated with their take on classic Filipino and Spanish cuisine. We had to wait a while for the food to arrive because the place was busy Sunday lunch time (about 45 minutes for the food to arrive) so while waiting, the kids and I strolled on the balcony of the building that offered a breath-stealing view of Baguio. The price of their meals are pretty reasonable with main dishes that are about 350-450 Pesos, everything tasted amazingly delicious and we had to stop ourselves from ordering a second round. We did not have any problems with service as their wait staff made sure we had water and pika-pika while waiting for the food to arrive.
Our Baguio trip was something my daughters remembered even months after we had gone. They could not forget the horseback riding and the weather, and we’ve already promised to go back soon!
Over all, its a good place to plan a family vacation with plenty of tourist attractions suitable for the entire family. Most of the restaurants offer reasonably priced meals that are delicious and the weather (cold in the morning and evening, but hot and sunny in between with cold winds) are a good change from the stifling heat of Metro Manila. The drive was also not so bad (read my post about it here) and I’ve heard from my husband that taking the first class bus up to Baguio was also a very good experience.
Planning a trip soon or have you gone recently up north? Let me know how your trip went!