How to Spend a Weekend in Baguio

by Robert Baker

Situated in the mountainous area of Northern Luzon, Baguio is a popular destination for Filipinos to escape the heat and get out into nature. If you want proof of that, note that the President’s summer residence is located in Baguio, and the city is commonly known as the Summer Capital.

It’s a shame if you only have one weekend or a day to explore this fascinating city because it has so much to offer. Whether you love exploring the great outdoors, learning about indigenous culture, eating authentic traditional food, or simply relaxing on your vacation, Baguio has something for everyone.

1. Admire otherworldly scenery

Baguio is also known as the City of Pines because of its relatively mild climate that is conducive to the growth of pine trees. This is in turn due to its high elevation at 4,810 feet above sea level. This makes the scenic areas around the city ideal locations for hiking adventures.

Mt. Pulag | Photo by Dale de Vera on Unsplash

One of the best places to hike is Mount Pulag National Park. Mount Pulag is the 3rd tallest mountain in the country and the tallest peak on Luzon Island at 9,600 feet. It is renowned for its view of the Milky Way at dawn and the frequent “sea of clouds” effect where people atop the mountain feel they are standing upon a small island surrounded by a sea of low-lying clouds.

Although there are 4 trails to ascend the mountain, only one can be achieved within one day. If you only have a day to spare, the Ambangeg Trail, which takes between 4 and 6 hours, is your best option. You’ll need to arrange a jeepney to the Badabak Rangers Station to start your hike. Try to keep your backpack light because the ascent can be demanding at times. 

Hiking in the park requires a permit from the Protected Area Office in Bokod on your way to Badabak. Many visitors to Baguio make the mountain their main priority and choose to camp near the summit overnight so they can experience the sunrise and famous dawn views. This means that you would have to dedicate two days of your weekend adventure to this one activity.

2. Admire the scenery without so much sweat

If you don’t have enough time to climb Mount Pulag but still want to experience camping and sea of clouds, visiting Valleypoint Campsite is an alternative option.

You can also enjoy the local scenery by visiting Bridal Veil Falls on Kennon Road south of the city. The drive along Kennon Road provides you with great views of the mountainous terrain, and a lookout near the waterfall is a great place to stop and take photos.

If you’re feeling brave, you can get closer to the falls by crossing a hanging rope bridge. Yes, a rope bridge like you see in the movies when an evil villain cuts the rope and leaves the hero hanging!

Another attraction on Kennon Road that’s less natural is the giant lion’s head carved into a mountainside. It is painted in vivid colors and acts as a welcome sign for visitors headed into Baguio from the south.

3. Learn about local culture

Baguio is a great place to learn about indigenous culture in the Philippines before the Spanish colonization. Many Ifugao people who have retained their traditional lifestyle, culture, and religion live in the mountains here.

Tam-Awan is an art village nestled in the mountains to the northwest of the city. It is comprised of 7 relocated Ifugao grass-roof huts and 2 Kalinga houses positioned in such a way that the modern site resembles a traditional Cordillera village. However, each of the structures was chosen and transported here because it represents a unique example of indigenous building the village aims to preserve for posterity. 

The huts and houses house arts and crafts galleries. The village benefits from nearby forest trails, a koi pond, and wonderful vistas of the city below. In fact, the name of the village means “vantage point”. An on-site guide explains the structure of the village and the meaning of the art exhibited and sold.

4. Visit the colorful houses

When you enter the municipality of Trinidad just north of Baguio, there is a unique line-up of 170 colorful houses on the hillside of Barangay Balili. The vivid paint on these houses, when viewed from the right angle, forms a giant mural of a sunflower. This urban artwork was created by Baguio City Artists’ Colony in 2019. 

5. Relax in geothermal hot springs

A much more relaxing activity than hiking through the mountains above Baguio city is bathing in the hot and cold spring pools at Asin. A 10-mile drive west along Ben Palispis Highway (National Route 233) takes you to this spa town where there are 3 hot spring resorts: Pooten’s Hot Spring Resort, Palm Grove Hot Springs, and Sinot Hot Springs.

The air is fresher in the mountains outside of the city, and the scenery is breathtaking. There are also restaurants in Asin where you can enjoy traditional Filipino dishes at a reasonable price. Another attraction in Asin is the Riverview Waterpark, which is a great place to take the family on hot days. It offers 4 large pools, 3 kiddie pools, 3 hot pools, and 6 waterslides, along with a restaurant that offers Chinese and Filipino cuisine.

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