Baguio, the Summer Capital of the Philippines, is found in the island of Luzon. It is a mountain town of universities and resorts. Also called the “City of Pines”, it is particularly popular during summer due to its unusually cooler weather. Visitors to the city will be treated to an array of scenic spots along the road as they travel up into this historic city.
1. The Lion’s Head
Getting to Baguio through Kennon Road, this sight signals that you are nearing the City of Pines. To anyone visiting Baguio for the first time, it is a “must” to have a photo with this iconic statue. There are small souvenir shops alongside the monument but with very limited parking, so get that quick photo and be on your way.
2. Session Road
Session Road, the main thoroughfare in the city, is a busy street parallel to Burnham Park. Tourists can enjoy local shopping in the market area located at the bottom of the 45 degree hill road. There are coffee shops, restaurants, banks, offices and various boutiques, along with vendors of all kinds located on both sides of the street. The area blends modernity and old ambiance evident in its mixture of architecture.
3. Baguio City Hall
Your tour within the city center should start at Baguio City Hall. The current building was built in 1949 – 1950. It replaced the one built in 1910 during the term of E.W. Reynolds, the first city mayor that was destroyed during World War II in 1945.
4. Burnham Park
Located at the heart of the city along Session Road, Burnham Park is probably the city’s prime tourist spot. There’s a lake and a garden and rides that can be enjoyed by the family. You can enjoy rowing on a boat in Burnham Lake, go biking around the park, or just enjoy a leisurely walk and admire the different flowers that are scattered everywhere. If you are adventurous, you can try a cup of hot strawberry ‘taho’ (soybean milk) while you take a stroll around the park.
5. Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden boats of a wide variety of flowering, herbal, and decorative plants alongside tall pine trees. The main entrance is along Leonard Wood Road, between Teacher’s Camp and Pacdal Circle. Outside the main entrance you can usually find a group of native Igorot in their national costume. You can take pictures with them for a price. Inside the park are pocket gardens dedicated to Baguio’s sister cities. You can also enter a network of Japanese tunnels that are built inside the garden. All kinds of souvenirs are sold by vendors all over the park. The Baguio Botanical Garden is just a kilometer away from the city center and Burnham Park.
6. Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral)
The Baguio Cathedral, located adjacent to Session Road, is one of the most photographed buildings and a major tourist attraction in the city. Built in the 1920, it depicts Gothic architectural influences in its twin spires, stained glass, pink exterior and rose windows. The church was dedicated to the Blesses Virgin Mary hence the name Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral. The atmosphere inside the cathedral is very serene, so if you are looking for a place of solemn reflection, this is the place to be.
7. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Another place of meditation, the shrine of the Lady of Lourdes is a ‘must’ for anyone visiting Baguio. Constructed to commemorate the Blessed Virgin Mary, the main altar is located at the top of the hill which can be accessed by climbing a stair consisting of 252 steps. For those who are not hearty enough for the climb, the top can be accessed through the parking area behind the hill, although from here is still a long way up climb to the top. Here you can offer flowers, light candles and say prayers asking for the Virgin Mother’s intercession. Since the grotto is on high elevation, the shrine also offers fantastic views of the mountainsides.
8. Mines View Park
Mines View Park overlooks the mining town of Itogon, particularly the abandoned gold and copper mines of the Benguet Corporation and a glimpse of the Amburayan Valley below. It is a top tourist attraction and no other spot encapsulates the city’s breathtaking scenery better than this park. The place has been largely commercialized and you can buy souvenir items and other Baguio products from vendors all over the area. Still, there is no other place in Baguio that will offer you a perfect view of the gold and copper mines of the Ibaloi tribe.
9. The Mansion and the Wright Park
The Mansion, built in 1908, is the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines. Although relatively small compared to the Malacanang Palace, it is very elegant with its white edifice fronted by a beautiful wrought iron gate. Tourists are not allowed inside the gate but you can take all the pictures you want with the mansion as the background.
Across the mansion is the Wright Park, a favorite of kids and adults alike where a group of pony boys offers horseback rides inside the riding area. From here, a stone stairway leads to the “Pool of the Pines”, a 100 m quiet stretch of shallow and narrow pool walkway lined on both sides by towering pine trees. The park is named after Luke Edward Wright, an American governor-general of the Philippines (1904-1906).
10. Bencab Museum
The museum houses the permanent collection of Benedicto “Bencab” Reyes Cabrera, a celebrated modern Filipino painter and printmaker. The collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture, as well as works of other rising contemporary artists. An interesting spot for mature visitors is the Erotica Gallery where drawings, paintings, sculpture and other artworks by various artists with an erotic subject matter or theme are displayed. The museum is located at Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan.
11. Central Market
A massive market area which is well organized and clean, you can local products as well as canned to bottled items in the Central Market. One cannot leave the city without buying food preserved, fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as native products and wood carvings, and souvenir items that are all found in this area.
12. Ketchup Food Community
The Ketchup Community, located on Romulo Drive, is a new restaurant concept featuring several start-up Baguio food establishments that encourages simple outdoor dining with good food, ambiance and distinctive architecture. Several restaurants serve variety of food from Asian to European cuisine. The area has now become a favorite among tourists and locals especially since it is located right beside the Wright Park.