BAGUIO CITY BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with DIY itinerary, top attractions, tips and how to get there)

Summary: This blog updated as of April 2019 shares a comprehensive travel guide for Baguio which includes a sample DIY itinerary with best attractions and top things to do. Estimated cost is P1,270 which covers for transportation, entrance fee and food. All needed details for each featured tourist attraction are laid out in the post including operating hours, entrance fee, location and information on how to get there. The blog is intended for DIY budget travelers, either solo, family or traveling in group.

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BAGUIO AT A GLANCE

Before all other top destinations in northern Philippines jump on the tourism bandwagon, there already was BAGUIO CITY.

Over the years, this veteran in the field of travel has earned praise worthy appellations from tourists being “the city of pines,”the breezy city,” and “the summer capital of the Philippines” for its sweeping pine forests and year-round cool atmosphere. Yes, the city of Baguio is cold primarily because of its location. It rises to an elevation of 1,500 meters in the highlands of Benguet and is 8 degrees cooler on the average than any place in the country which makes it the go-to destination during the hot days of summer.

A traditional Ifugao hut in the middle of a pond at BenCab museum.

More than its climate and panoramic landscapes, Baguio is most visited for its diverse culture. It is an old-meets-new kind of place where there is a strong presence of ethnicity intertwined with a modern way of thinking. It hankers to remain relevant time and again, a pursuit made possible by its homegrown talents in the likes of national artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera who is known for his contemporary arts, mixed-media artist Santiago Bose who co-founded the Baguio Arts Guild, and sculptor Ben-Hur Villanueva who is notable for his metal and wood works.

Baguio’s constant reinvention has produced a surplus of delights that even extends to its food and shopping scenes. Go hip, chic, rock or sweet, Baguio has enough choices for you.

The Stobosa Art Mural at La Trinidad, Benguet – 10 kilometers away from Baguio.

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Days may come by, but for certain, with the beauty its bright morning, misty afternoon, and romantic evening bring, added with a vibe of light and tourist-friendly people, the city of Baguio will remain a top destination in the Philippines no matter what.

The strawberries of Benguet sold for P200 outside the strawberry farm.

QUICK TIPS AND FACTS ABOUT BAGUIO

Here are few facts and tips to consider when traveling around Baguio.

  1. The best time to visit Baguio is during the months of February to May when the place is drier than usual.
  2. A flower festival called Panagbenga or the “season of blooming” in the words of the Kankanaey ethnic tribe is celebrated month-long in February. The festivity includes street dancing and parade of floats covered in creatively designed patterns of flowers.
  3. On an average, the temperature in Baguio ranges from 15˚ to 26˚C and can drop to 8˚C on the cold days of November to January. Adding up its altitude and forest situation, the place can go pretty foggy and damp and visitor may need to wear thick clothes, and a pair of socks or gloves.
  4. Baguio is the gateway to the highlands of Cordillera region where a number of notable rice terraces are located.
  5. Never go out without bringing an umbrella during the rainy season. Days may appear bright in the morning but may rain at a later time in the day.
  6. Public transportation in Baguio observes a curfew at 9PM except those that are traversing to Trancoville and Pacdal roads. You can take a taxi or go on foot to roam around the city passed curfew time.
  7. Baguio has a city ordinance prohibiting the use of styrofoam and plastic. Bring an eco-bag or your own container when buying souvenir items.
  8. Like in Metro Manila, there is a number coding rule for private vehicles traveling around Baguio City on weekdays. To get a coding exemption pass, visit the tourism office at City Hall Loop or contact them at (6374) 300 6500.
  9. There are five (5) major highways that lead to Baguio City. Kennon road with an entry point at Rosario, La Union is the most popular for its zigzag road and short route that takes you to breathtaking views over hills and mountains. While taking the road, take extra caution of the ravines and cliffs especially during night time and in wet season. On the other hand, the Marcos Highway which also has an entry point at Rosario, and another in Agoo, La Union is favored for its wider and safer lane.
  10. The rainy season posts danger while travelling to Baguio because of its road situation and cold atmosphere. Before travelling, know the weather condition and check your fog lights if the day goes likely to be damp and foggy. The streets of Quirino hill are prone to landslide, drive slowly and take extra careful while traversing.
  11. Baguio is a small town and oftentimes becomes very crowded. While here, it is advised to be aware of the surroundings for pickpockets specially when you are too occupied while walking or buying souvenirs at the public market or at the Session road.
  12. Igorots in native costume may ask that you take a photo with them for souvenir. You are expected to pay in return. Politely turn down the offer if you don’t have the money to pay.
  13. It is advised to buy a return ticket as you arrive or during weekdays to avoid the long lineup that usually happens on a weekend.
A float covered in statues of colorful flowers during the Panagbenga festival.

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HOW TO GET TO BAGUIO

The city of Baguio can be reached only by land from different areas in Luzon. Here are buses and vans that you can find for each location.

Via Metro Manila – travel time is 6 hours, fare is P450. (If you are looking for a travel guide for Manila, check this link: Manila Budget Travel Guide)

  • Dagupan bus at Cubao (02) 727-2330
  • Genesis bus at Cubao (02) 709-0803
  • Joy bus at Cubao and Pasay (02) 733-8622, (02) 853-3115
  • Victory liner at Pasay, Caloocan and Cubao (02) 727-4688

Via Aurora – travel time is 8 hours, fare is P300

  • D Liner bus at Maria +63 919 622 1649
  • Lizardo Trans at Baler

Via Bataan – travel time is 7 hours, fare is P530

  • Genesis bus at Mariveles (047) 237-3310

Via Clark – travel time is around 4 hours. From the airport, take the shuttle service to Dau terminal. Fare is P100, travel time is close to 20 minutes. At the terminal, take a Victory Liner bus with trips at 2:00PM and 4:00PM to Baguio City. Bus fare is P300.

Via Cagayan – travel time is 6 hours, fare P350

  • Dalin bus at Tuguegarao and Aparri (074) 424 4301
  • Gabriel trans at Aparri+63 927 515 0170
  • Van at Tuguegarao+63 947 148 2544

Via Cavite – travel time is 7 hours, fare is P500

  • Saulog at Cavite City (02) 727-2330

Via Laoag – travel time is 6 hours, fare is P480

  • Farinas trans (077) 772-0126 to 27
  • Gabriel trans +63 927 515 0170
  • Partas (077) 771-4898
Early rise at Mines View Park. Indeed, this was a good morning! 😉

Via Ilocos Sur – travel time is 5 hours, fare is P480

  • Partas at Vigan and Candon (077) 771-4898
  • Philippine Rabitt at Vigan
  • Van at Candon +63 930 326 5492

Via Ifugao – travel time is 6 hours, fare is P480

  • Ohayami at Banaue and Lagaue +63 916 600 9333

Via Isabela – travel time is 7 hours, fare is P500

  • Northern Luzon bus at Santiago +63 977 339 8480
  • Van +63 947 148 2544

Via La Union – travel time is 3 hours, fare is P250

  • Van at San Fernando +63 930 326 5492

Via Nueva Ecija – travel time is 4 hours, fare is P240

  • Solid North at Cabanatuan
  • Van Ban Trans at Cabanatuan and San Jose (074) 304-2795
  • Van at Gapan +63 926 637 9697

Nueva Vizcaya – travel time is 4 hours, fare is P240

  • Van at Isabela +63 947 148 2544

Via Pangasinan – travel time is 3 hours, fare is P200+

  • Dagupan bus at Dagupan
  • Genesis bus at Dagupan
  • Victory liner at Dagupan
  • Victory liner at Bolinao
  • Van at Dagupan
  • Van at Carmen +63 916 588 1845

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BAGUIO

Here are top 11 tourist spots in and near Baguio that you can cover in one-day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days.

BURNHAM PARK

The heart of Baguio city, this historic urban park reservation which was built in 1905 is located at downtown Baguio. It features an athletic bowl, garden and leisure areas, an orchidarium, a playground, skating rink, and a big lake where one can embark on a boat ride for 30 minutes for P100. A side car rental is also available for P40 good for 1 hour to tour around the vastness of the park. To get here, go to lower Session road and walk towards Hotel Veniz. From the hotel, the park will only be a sight away.
Rating: 3/5

MINES VIEW PARK

A ridge overlooking the once gold and silver mines of the Cordilleras. The park has loads of gift shops and food places. Activities in the park apart from looking over the outskirts of Benguet include dressing up in traditional costume for P20, photo opportunity while backriding on a horse. There is no entrance fee. To get here, go to the lower Session road in front of Danes bakeshop and take a jeepney with a Mines View sign. Fare is P10. Come here early in the morning to avoid the crowd. Additional note: The Good Shepherd is only a walking distance where you can buy the cheap Baguio favorite ube jam.
Rating: 3/5

BOTANICAL GARDEN

A garden of flowers and pine trees. At the site, you will spot a bas-relief sculpture that bears the name of the garden with cement figures showing different Igorot rituals. There are also native Igorots in the same corner who will be willing to pose for a photo souvenir in exchange of a small fee. The garden is notable for its Japanese tunnel and large statues of Cordillera tribesmen and symbols. There is no entrance fee. To get here, you can either take a jeepney that goes to Pacdal with a Plaza signboard at Lakandula street beside Metrobank Magsaysay avenue or the ones with Mines View sign at lower Mabini street fronting Danes bakeshop. Fare is P10.
Rating: 3/5

WRIGHT PARK

Another scenic park in Baguio that is notable for its pink ponies, St. Bernard dogs and a long pond called “the Pool of Pines.” To get here, take a Mines view or Pacdal bound jeepneys at the lower Session road. Fare is P10.
Rating: 3/5

THE MANSION

The Mansion
The official summer palace of the President of the Philippines built in 1908. As of late, the Mansion is off limit to guests and can only be viewed from its gate. The Mansion is right across Wright park. To get here, you can take a Mines View or Pacdal bound jeepneys that can be found at the lower session road. Fare is P10.
Rating: 2/5

BELL TOWER

Bell Tower in Baguio
The bell tower is visited for its quaint temple design. Notable features in the temple are its vibrant archways and lily pond.
Rating: 3/5

TAM-AWAN VILLAGE

Located at Pinsao Proper, Baguio city – the village of Tam-awan is a repository of Cordillera’s exquisite crafts and indigenous aesthetics. If you are lucky, you might witness the male Igorots performing their dance rituals. The village has a cafe and a few Cordillera huts that can be rented as low as P500 per person for an overnight stay. Entrance fee is P50 for adults, P30 for students and P20 for children. Contact them at +63 917 510 8196, +63 921 588 3131. To get here, go to the lower Session road near the market area fronting Danes bakeshop. Take a jeepney bound for Quezon Hill with a Baguio Long-Long Tacay Tam-Awan sign. Fare is P10.
Rating: 3/5

BENCAB MUSEUM

Home to the artworks of national artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera and other indigenous Filipino artists. The place is a perfect marriage for art and nature. Entrance fee is P150. Operating hours is 9:00AM to 6:00PM from Tuesdays to Sundays only, no Mondays. The museum also has a cafe, the only area where food and drinks are allowed. To get here, take a jeepney bound for Asin at the terminal near Baguio market. Fare is P12.
Rating: 4/5

LION’S HEAD

A large rock with a natural shape like that of a lion, located at Kennon road. Over the years, the Lion’s head has gone several changes in its coloration. The most present is the one in the photo. To get here, go to Harrison road where you can find a jeepney terminal for Camp 7. Tell the driver to drop off at the Lion’s head. Fare is P15.
Rating: 2/5

STRAWBERRY FARM

A wide field of strawberry plantation notable for its strawberry picking activity for P400. The best time to visit is during November to May on its high picking season. Outside the farm, you can find local shops selling strawberry products of all sorts. To get here, ride a jeepney bound for Buyagan or Pico La Trinidad located at the Centermall. Fare is P14.
Rating: 3/5

STOBOSA HILLSIDE HOMES

Known as the “Valley of Colors”, Stobosa Hillside Homes is a community of rows after rows of 200 colorful houses at the hillside of La Trinidad, Benguet. It is an artwork village desinged by the Tam-awan Village group as part of Rev-Bloom Urban Redevelopment Tourism campaign in 2016. To get here, go to Magsaysay Street and take a jeepney with TOMAY signboard. Tell the driver to drop you off where there are colorful houses. Fare is P10.
Rating: 2/5

TOP THINGS TO DO IN BAGUIO

The Mt. Cloud bookshop at Casa Vallejo Bldg, DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio city.
The Mt. Cloud bookshop at Casa Vallejo Bldg, DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio city.

Here are top things to do and activities that are worth a try in the city of Baguio.

  1. Take a visit at the abandoned Diplomat hotel and experience the ghost stories it is widely known for.
  2. Jog around the famous parks of Baguio early in the morning, join in the zumba session, or just walk around to breathe the cold, fresh air.
  3. Try the strawberry taho, one of Baguio’s staple food.
  4. Test your wits, play chess with some of the bright locals at Burnham park.
  5. Stroll the hillsides of Baguio and appreciate the wild sunflowers that grow during the months of November to May.
  6. Feel Baguio’s vibe and join the Panagbenga flower festival in February.
  7.  Appreciate the local scene and artists at play by going around the Session road.
  8. Go on a reading spree at Baguio’s most famous bookshop, the Mt. Cloud Bookshop.
  9. Bargain for some vintage clothes, hip jackets and fine pair of boots at the Ukay-Ukay boulevard on a night market.
Some fine gentlemen during the Panagbenga festival parade.

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Diplomat Hotel in Baguio
Known for its ghost stories, the abandoned structure of Diplomat Hotel atop Dominican Hill in Baguio.

BAGUIO SAMPLE ITINERARY

In getting around Baguio, you may avail a tour package or go DIY if you are on a shoestring budget. The sample DIY itinerary below is good for 3 days and 2 nights which assumes a party of two and will set back a budget of P1,270+ per person, excluding expenses for activities in the park, accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.

Side note: Here is a travel guide for Batad-Sagada-Baguio good for 5 days.

Things to note for this Baguio itinerary:

  1. BenCab Museum is closed on Mondays.
  2. The jeep terminals are mostly located near Baguio Public Market at the lower part of the Session road.
  3. The Harrison Night Market is the most known place to buy Ukay-Ukay clothes. Stalls will start opening at 9:00PM and closing at 2:00AM.

DAY ONE

ActivityTimeBudget
Arrive in Baguio1:00PM
Check in2:00PM
Burnham Park3:00PM
Explore Session Road5:00PM
Dinner6:00PMP200
Mt. Cloud Bookshop7:00PM
Ukay-Ukay (optional)10:00PM
At the entrance of Tam-awan village.

DAY TWO

ActivityTimeBudget
Sunrise at Mines View Park5:00AMP10
Try Strawberry Taho7:00AMP20
Buy Souvenir at Good Shepherd8:00AM
Wright Park9:00AMP10
The Mansion10:00AM
Botanical Garden11:00AMP10
Back to City for Lunch12:00PMP200
Strawberry Farm1:00PMP15
Stobosa Art Mural2:00PMP15
Lion’s Head at Kennon Road3:00PMP15
BenCab Museum4:30PMP200
Chill at BenCab Coffee shop5:00PMP200
Back to City6:00PMP15
Socials7:00PM
The Lion’s head at the Kennon road.

DAY THREE

ActivityTimeBudget
Lourdes Grotto8:00AMP15
Old Diplomat Hotel9:00AMP15
Bell Church10:00AMP15
Camp John Jay Eco Trail11:00AMP15
Lunch12:00PMP200
Tam-awan Village1:00PMP100
Check out and depart2:00PM

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WHERE TO STAY IN BAGUIO

Here are top picks when it comes to accommodations in Baguio City Proper:

RL Veranda Suites ideal for group and solo travelers. The Suite is a walking distance to Burnham Park, Agoda guest reviews is 9.5/10 and is noted for its cleanliness and great service. Click the photo for rate and availability.
Provides easy access to the city’s must-see destinations, The Orchard Hotel is known for its quality amenities and good customer service. Agoda guest reviews: 9/10.
Click the photo for the room rates and availability.

If you are heading to Baguio for the Panagbenga festival, a good base to stay is between Burnham park and Baguio public market for easy access to the road and transportation. Below are some of the accommodations around the area. Tip: Secure your accommodation ahead when travelling during the peak season in November to May.

Personally, this is the most-exquisite place to stay in Baguio: The Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay. Click the photo for rate and availability.

Baguio top-rated budget hotels near Session Road:

Accommodations near downtown area that are less than P1,000.00

Other popular accommodations:

A giant lizard at the stairways inside the Tam-awan village.

USEFUL PHRASES

Like in any parts of the Cordillera region, the locals speak Filipino and English in Baguio. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with the locals.

English to Ilocano (the most prevalent language among the locals in Baguio city)
Thank you – Agyamanak
Good morning – Naimbag a bigat
Good afternoon – Naimbag a malem
Good evening – Naimbag a sardam
How much is… – Sagmamano ti…
Where is… – Ayanna ti… 

A night market scene where people sift through piles of pre-loved clothes locally called as ukay-ukay.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

The highlands of Sagada is the nearest top destination from Baguio. Click the link for the travel guide.

Balabac Travel guide with top things to do, travel itinerary and sample expenses.
How about extending your trip to Balabac at the southmost part of Palawan. Personally, Balabac group of islands is the best place Palawan can offer. Plus, it’s not touristy. Check out this link for details: Balabac budget travel guide.
Tour around the city of Puerto Princesa on a budget tour. Click the link for details.
After Puerto Princesa, El Nido is always the next stop over. Check out this El Nido Budget Travel Guide to know more about this top tourist destination.
San Vicente Palawan is four hours away from Puerto Princesa. Check out the San Vicente Budget Travel Guide which includes a travel itinerary to Port Barton, its most visited barangay, and learn few things about this laidback municipality. And oh, did I mention that San Vicente has the longest beach in the Philippines? Just look at the photo.

Other top destinations in Luzon:

Other top tourist spots in Visayas:

Go to the surfing capital of the Philippines – Siargao! Budget Travel Guide here.

Or visit other countries in Asia using these budget travel guides:

Spend one day in Bangkok by going around its most-visited temples in a DIY style. Click the link for details.
Singapore is cheap if you know the ways to get around. Check out my Singapore Budget Travel Guide to learn some tips.

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