When in Baguio: Travel Guide

Early February this year, my friends and I went to Baguio. Since we’re traveling with a tight budget, transient houses and pension houses are our options. However, we opt for the tried and tested recommendation from a friend of a friend–the La Brea Inn.

Getting there
From the Victory Liner Bus Terminal, taxis are available. If you get lucky, there are van for hires waiting outside. We got a ride from a kind man who drives a van and asked for Php 100 going to Lower Session Road. La Brea Inn is just a 10-minute ride from the terminal.

The inn is situated in the downtown area in Lower Session Road, a tidier version of Colon Street. Food is not a problem, as it is surrounded by different food establishments and it’s just a walking distance to the night market in Burnham Park.

In case you missed it, the stairs leading to the inn is located beside Yellow Cab. La Brea Inn is located on the 4th floor, guests have to climb to the 2nd floor to ride an elevator to the 4th floor. Be sure you’re not bringing huge luggage with wheels unless you don’t mind lugging it around a few steps.
Left side view of La Brea Inn.
More food establishments.
Right side view of the inn–this way to the Malcolm Square.

Accommodations
La Brea Inn requires down payment. They offered a group price of Php 1,960 per night for six people. That gives us Php 326.60 per night. They charge Php 200 for the extra person with bed. Prices may vary as we went there during the Panagbenga Festival (Flower Festival) month.

Our room has no air-conditioning (the weather is cool enough), has an electric fan (if you think the weather is not enough), TV,  bathroom with hot and cold shower. If you want hot water or drinking water, make sure you bring a spare empty bottle or tumbler to fill it with. Water refill is available at the reception area which saves me moolah. The friendly attendants were kind enough to give us a flyer and tips on getting around the city on foot.

Alfresco dining at Happy Tummy.

Where to eat
Going hungry is not an option. We were surrounded by fast food chains such as McDonalds (right across the street), Chowking (just a few steps from the building) and of course Yellow Cab (below the inn), to name a few. They also have Mang Andok’s where we had our super late lunch on our first day.

Convenience stores like 7 Eleven is also a stone’s throw away from the inn–their Hershey’s Hot Chocolate is addictive! For a chilly weather with sweater-wearing citizens, they have a knack for cold delights. Ice cream houses, bars and discotheques are everywhere.

Must-sees
There are so many places to visit but we stick to the spots where visiting tourists frequent. Here are some of the sites and landmarks we’ve visited:

Burnham Park – This is just a few blocks from the inn, right across Session and Harrison Roads. Boating and bicycling are some of the tourist attractions. We went there on our first day in Baguio. Since it was Panagbenga Festival, there was a night market beside the park. I was able to buy my bonnet, scarf and souvenir items.
Mines View Park – A must-see attraction. It has breathtaking views of the mountains, Igorot women with costumes for rent, more souvenir items and a bonsai haven.
Good Shepherd Convent – Be prepared to fall in line to buy Baguio’s famous strawberry jam and other preserves.
The Mansion – Not much to see except the President’s signature yellow ribbon spread across the manicured grounds and the mirrored pond across the intimidating presidential gates.
Camp John Hay – We just toured the place while riding a taxi since basically it’s just a huge hilly private area with celebrity rest houses and tall trees.
Philippine Military Academy – The country’s military school. We also encountered a freaky incident in the ladies’ comfort room near the grotto, so you better bring a friend along if you want to do your business. For inquiries, you may call them at (74) 447-2634.
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral (Baguio Cathedral) – Whenever you are in a different place, it couldn’t hurt to pay a visit to the city church. We attended an anticipated mass the night before our trip back to Manila. You may give them a call for the mass schedule at (74) 442-4256.
Happy Tummy – A humble hole-in-a-wall alfresco dining carenderia that serves Thai and other Asian dishes. This is located across Wright Park. Cost is around Php 150 per dish.

Aside from the places I’ve mentioned, here are some of the places I want to visit whenever I go back to Baguio in the future:

Lourdes Grotto – It has 315 steps to the church and offers  a top view of the City at the peak.
Tam-Awan Village – It has Ifugao native houses and art exhibits. They are open 24 hours and has an entrance fee. For more details, call them at (74) 446-2949.
Strawberry farm/plantation – I want to go there for one reason: strawberries.
BenCab Museum – I know that he (Ben Cab) lives somewhere in Baguio, it would be nice to see him in person (again) and his works.
Cafe By The Ruins – I heard they serve exotic local and native dishes. They are located in No. 23 Chuntung Street and opens from 7am to 9pm. You may call them at (74) 442-4010.

Baguio is also famous for Wag-Wagan or Ukay-Ukay (thrift finds). Here are some of the popular spots (according to La Brea Inn’s tourist information guide):

– Bayanihan Hotel near Burnham Park
– Cypress Hotel along Abanao Street
– Stores beside Malcolm Square
– Stores at the Skyworld along Session Road
– Sidewalk along Harrison Road (6pm)
– Sidewalk in Kayang and Hilltop Streets at the Market (3pm-4pm)

La Brea Inn
Address: 4/5/6 Floors, AYK Bldg. 24 Lower Session Rd., Baguio City, Benguet
Phone: (+6374) 446-6061
Fax: (+6374) 446-6062
Mobile: (+63917) 508-7800, (+63923) 280-0395
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