Everybody loves the summer months as it means frolicking on the beach, conquering mountains, the Holy Week break and countless outdoor activities which all translate to endless fun. When the unbearable heat in Manila’s concrete jungle strikes, everyone scampers to a cold place in the north – Baguio City. Regarded as The Summer Capital of the Philippines because of its cool climate, Baguio is one of the city dwellers’ favorite go-to summer spots and a holiday destination all year round.
Also known as the “City of Pines”, Baguio is the melting pot of mountain tribes and lowland cultures, and is a university town which has 8 major institutions in its turf. With the opening of new roads that makes travel time faster, going to the summer capital is no longer a humdrum . So whether your Baguio City trip is all by yourself or with the fambam, immerse in the different places where the locals hang around, either in a homegrown cafe, restaurant or public market. There’s much to love about the Summer Capital, aside from its juicy strawberries, crunchy peanut brittle, colorful everlasting flowers and fresh mountain air.
Photo credits: @orhtej16 via IG
Location: 2600 Steps To Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, Baguio
One of Baguio City’s most photographed structures, Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, or popularly called Baguio Cathedral, is a beautiful Neo-Gothic church located atop a hill. Easily recognized by its rose-colored facade and twin spires, it is the first church in the world dedicated to Our Lady of the Atonement and is regarded as the biggest church in the city. The church’s 104-steps is a must-experience for Baguio City’s first timers, giving a scenic view of the downtown area.
Photo credits: @arnoldmartin_ via IG
Valley of Colors.
Location: KM 3, Hanselma Highway, Brgy. Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet
For an eyegasm experience, StoBoSa Hillside Homes Artwork or commonly known as Valley of Colors, is a must-see spot along the road of La Trinidad, Benguet. Just a 30 minute ride away from the City of Pines, the Valley of Colors is composed of houses painted in lively hues built on the hill’s edge.
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Location: 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet
A serene, instagram-worthy place bursting with inspiration, the BenCab Museum houses the works and collections of the National Artist Ben Cabrera and other contemporary Filipino artists. Hailed as one of the most striking museums in the Philippines, BenCab Museum is a 4-level edifice which also serves as the artist’s home and workshop. Located on a sprawling land, with manicured gardens and a farm to boot, BenCab Museum is definitely a haven for photography and art enthusiasts.
Photo credits: @cathventures_ via IG
Location: Jose Abad Santos Dr. Baguio
One of the country’s more popular and most visited parks, Burnham Park still packs a crowd of locals and tourists alike. More than 32 hectares and divided into 12 clusters, a Baguio visit is not complete without spending a lazy afternoon paddling a boat in Burnham Lagoon or enjoying its recreational facilities like the public skating rink and the bicycle area, as well as the other open, green spaces that make this park the “mother of all parks” in the City Of Pines.
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Location: 366-C Pinsao Proper Baguio City
A recreated Cordillera Village to showcase the culture and life of the people of Cordillera, Tam-awan Village is one of Baguio City’s most visited attractions. It is an al fresco museum which features Ifugao huts and Kalinga houses, along with the works of noted Cordillera artists. There are quite a few things to do in this art-fueled village: hike around, taste the delicious cuisine in their cafe, watch the cultural show, stay in one of the huts and have your portrait done by one of the artists.
Photo credits: @d_of_p_photos via IG
Mines View Park
Location: Outlook Dr., Benguet
Located on the northeast side of Baguio City, Mines View Park offers a picturesque view of the gold and copper mines of the Summer Capital and the Cordillera mountains. After taking your countless selfies at the Mines View Observation Deck, go around and buy souvenirs, try the delightful strawberry taho or rent some Igorot clothing and take another share-worthy Instagram photo of yourself!
Photo credits: @jannicafigueroa via IG
Tree Top Adventure
Location: Scout Hill Dr., Camp John Hay, Baguio City
The Summer Capital has something for all adrenaline junkies out there – the Tree Top Adventure, nestled inside Camp John Hay, boasts of suspension bridges, jungle trails and a motorized canopy tour (the only motorized zip line in the country!), and Baguio’s only team building facility. Slow and fast- moving activities and breathtaking views – 100 feet above ground – are sure to delight the adventure seekers.
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Location: Km 5, La Trinidad, Benguet
Dubbed as the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines”, the strawberry farm in La Trinidad is one of the city’s attractions. Elevated at 1,300 meters above sea level, the valley is perfect for growing these bright red and juicy fruits, as well as vegetables like pechay, broccoli, lettuce and other leafy vegetables.
Strawberry-picking is a fun activity and a nice experience for the kids and kids-at-heart.
Photo credits: @jvee_77 via IG
Baguio Botanical Garden
Location: 37 Leonard Wood Rd., Baguio
Surrounded with towering pines and vibrant, multi-coloured flowers, the Baguio Botanical Garden is a picturesque spot located near Wright Park and Teachers Camp. Officially called the Centennial Garden, the Botanical Garden is a lovely park filled with giant sculptures, friendship gardens and pavilions and a tunnel used by the Japanese army during WWII.
The Baguio Botanical Garden, with its various flowers and shrubs, is a perfect spot to practice your macro photography skills.
Photo credits: @malilong_po via IG
Location: C.P. Romulo Dr., Baguio
One of Baguio City’s most recognizable landmarks is The Mansion, the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines. Tourists never fail to drop by this no-fee tourist attraction, taking “mandatory” selfies in front of its iconic ornate main gate. Inside The Mansion is a mini-museum, with beautiful gardens surrounding the stately building.
Photo credits: @wella.wella.oh _ via IG
Alongside these places, make room for other activities when in the Summer Capital:
Go to Session Road to have a taste of Baguio’s nightlife.
Session Road is home to local bars and restaurants that present live performances. Chill and make new friends while listening to the different genre of music that fits you.
Check out the ukay-ukay shops.
During nighttime, Harrison Road transforms into a shopping district. Forage through the many stalls selling pre-loved items, or locally known as ukay-ukay, like branded clothing, signature bags, shoes and a lot more.
Go fruits and vegetables shopping.
There’s no scantiness of freshly picked fruits and veggies in the City of Pines. Load up on greens and don’t forget to take pictures of that delicious salad you eventually whip up!
Drop by Good Shepherd.
Ube jams, peanut brittle, strawberry jams and juices and other delicious baked goodies are found here. Any pasalubong from this famous souvenir shop always elicits good cheer as their products draw out childhood memories from a well -loved vacation city.
Take a peek at the Philippine Military Academy.
The home of the country’s premier military school, the PMA grounds is not only for military aficionados, but for everyone who’s curious about the meticulous training of these young military men. There are old tanks and planes on display in the area that provide a perfect backdrop for selfies.
Baguio City has and will always be one of Filipinos’ favorite go-to places — to escape the city heat, to unwind or simply to experience a change of surroundings. Now only a 4-hour drive from the city, it is more accessible than ever, so there is no reason to ever say you’ve never seen a real pine tree, or never tried strawberry jam, or that Philippines is too hot – because Baguio City is waiting for you!
Cover photo credits: @frustr8ted_phtgrphr via IG