Here’s Your Best Baguio Itinerary For A Weekend In The Summer Capital
More than 7,000 islands and with all kinds of water and landforms, the Philippines has a million things to offer to those who wander through it. Some Philippine locations have only recently gained popularity while others have long become a favorite destination. Baguio City is the latter. Known as The Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City has witnessed tourists flocking to this plateau nestled in the mountains of the Cordilleras for several decades. We figure the best time to visit is on a weekend, so here’s a little bit about the place and a Baguio itinerary for your next trip up!
From becoming a Spanish settlement, to serving as a mining camp turned rest and recreational facility during the American occupation, to witnessing the war between the Japanese and the Americans, Baguio has gained itself significant amount of history. After the war, it was re-developed but preserved its colonial aesthetic adopted from the design and plans of the Americans.
Baguio has been a must-see destination for many Filipinos for decades. In fact, many have spent childhood vacations up here, and even more decide to take the 5-hour bus ride from Manila on a whim just to spend the weekend. But has its novelty finally waned? We’ve heard stories that it is not like the way it was, so we took the chance, packed our bags, and headed for a road trip up for our Baguio itinerary all in one weekend.
How to get to Baguio City
Baguio City is located 240 kilometers north of Manila. Getting there would entail a bus ride from any of Manila’s major bus terminals with routes to northern provinces of Luzon. Victory Liner, Genesis Bus, Partas Bus, to name a few, have such trips. Major terminals are in Cubao, Avenida, and Gil Puyat. Fares will depend on the bus liner and seat type.
Travel time to Baguio also depends on the fare type. First class trips cost PHP 750 for a one-way ticket and can take around 5 hours to reach your destination. Regular trips cost about PHP 400 and up for a one-way ticket and can take around 6–7 hours. You can avoid the traffic by taking an evening trip, and you’ll arrive in Baguio in the early morning.
What to do on your first day in Baguio City
When we went up to Baguio, we were sure of one thing—we were going to eat till we couldn’t anymore. So first things first on our Baguio itinerary:
1. Have breakfast at Café by the Ruins.
To kick off your first day in Baguio, have breakfast at the famed Café by the Ruins. Serving the truest taste of Baguio, this place is a must-visit on any Baguio City trip. They serve food that’s so faithful to Baguio’s local ingredients! Don’t forget to have Rizal’s Tsokolate-e with your meal which is a wonderful blend of local carabao’s milk and good, pure chocolate.
2. Appreciate art at BenCab Museum.
Although Baguio is a lot more developed than it had been the past decade, one cannot deny that Baguio is still ardent in trying to keep the culture that thrives in the city alive. You must include a cultural experience in your Baguio itinerary. After that comforting cup of chocolate, soak up some art at BenCab Museum, another of Baguio’s best-loved spots.
3. Have a leisurely late lunch at Grumpy Joe.
If you love cheese and pizza, you should visit Grumpy Joe. Deviating from local cuisine, Grumpy Joe serves American comfort food. Their 5-cheese pizza and spicy seafood pesto pasta are winners!
4. Thumb through Filipino-authored books at Mt. Cloud Bookshop.
A Baguio itinerary wouldn’t be complete without scoring some vintage items. Continue your day with a visit to Casa Vallejo for Mt. Cloud Bookshop. Pore over volumes upon volumes of local books in this kitschy bookstore and buy something to read on your way home.
5. Catch a free screening at Baguio Cinematheque.
While you are at Casa Vallejo, try to catch a free screening at the Baguio Cinematheque. They usually have weekly exhibitions for different Filipino and foreign films. Check out their screening schedules here.
ALTERNATIVE: Not into books and movies? Don’t worry because you can always choose to go to Camp John Hay instead. Here, you can enjoy treetop adventure rides, trek, visit the Bell House and the butterfly sanctuary, and even set up a picnic!
6. Have dinner and drinks at Session Road.
Known to come alive at night with its food and drinking spots, Session Road is the best place for street food delights and a night out. Head on over to the food stalls mostly found along Session Road and Burnham Park and grab a snack or 10! Catch some live bands in some dining spots and order a bucket or two to wind down as the first day of your Baguio itinerary comes to an end.
ALTERNATIVE: If you’re not into drinking, then go thrift shopping instead! Harrison Road in Baguio turns into a thrift shopper’s paradise once the clock strikes 9 p.m.
What to do on your second day in Baguio City
Rise and shine! After a long day of exploring Baguio City, take it easy for day two of our Baguio itinerary!
1. Try out the famous strawberry taho for breakfast.
You’ll find lots of taho vendors at Burnham Park!
2. Chill at the park and gardens.
Baguio was the ultimate vacation spot for the Americans during their settlement in the Philippines. Daniel Burnham, an architect and urban planner, designed the city. Several of the structures in Baguio are highly reminiscent of colonial architecture, and there’s a lot of open spaces that people can enjoy. Make the most of these spots in your Baguio itinerary and hill at one of the numerous parks in the city: Wright Park, Burnham Park, and Mines View Park. Visit the Botanical Gardens for some swoon-worthy nature that you’ll enjoy time and time again.
PHILIHAPPY PRO TIP: It’s also nice to have some local strawberry ice cream while relaxing at the park! Strawberry all day—yum!
3. Have lunch at the Ketchup Food Community.
Ketchup Food Community is a small food compound that has five restaurants serving different cuisines. You can go for standard burgers and ribs at Canto, gourmet food at Green Pepper, Thai dishes at Happy Tummy, Filipino fare at Rancho Norte, and Indo-Malay goodness at Rumah Sate.
4. Visit Tam-Awan Village, a traditional artist village.
Be sure to take the time to appreciate Baguio City’s rich culture and heritage. Tam-Awan Village offers a glimpse of the Cordillera region’s history and culture and numerous local art exhibitions. Here, you also get a perfect view of the sunset where you can reminisce and think about what you’ve explored so far on your Baguio itinerary.
5. Have a lovely dinner at Hill Station.
Saved for a treat, Hill Station serves cuisine in the fine dining spectrum. Although the prices of their food are steeper than the usual Baguio food, this place is definitely worth trying.
6. Enjoy a nightcap at Baguio Craft Brewery.
What would a Baguio itinerary be without a little alcohol? Serving beer brewed on site, Baguio Craft Brewery offers a true beer experience. They also serve food that perfectly complement their beer. This, plus the view from their deck makes for an unforgettable experience. Be sure to check out our review on this place!
Keep coming back to Baguio City
How lucky are Filipinos to have that comforting tropical country warmth while also having a charming little city high up in the mountains? And this is what feels so good about Baguio city—literally. It’s like a whole other world up there where the air is cool. To experience this a few times in a year, away from crazy Manila, is something worth driving up to the mountains for.
If there is anything we learned from this Baguio itinerary, it’s that you should never turn your back on places whether they are old and new to you. With a country that has so much to offer, you’ll be surprised with how a place can make you feel so good no matter how much it has changed. We have to remember that the Philippines is like this—it is timelessly beautiful.