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Baguio: Your Local Neighborhood Guide

The northern parts of the island of Luzon boast a number of beautiful panoramic provinces, each with its breathtaking features and unique stories. We have the well-preserved Spanish town of Vigan, the land of smiling beauty that is Cagayan, and the country’s “Home of the Winds,” Batanes. And then of course, we have the summer capital of the Philippines: Baguio City. 

As of this posting, around 6,000 new visitors arrive daily (or almost near pre-pandemic levels) to experience the city’s famed cold weather, tourist landmarks, pine tree-dominated highlands, famous nightlife, delectable gastronomic delights, and rich culture.  

Because of its cool and refreshing weather and laid-back vibe, Baguio has also become one of the more popular places in which to have a second home or to invest in properties, especially among Metro Manila dwellers and even expatriates. 

In this article, we will help you get to know Baguio City better so you’ll know what to expect when you visit and/or invest in Baguio real estate.

Baguio City: A Brief History

Fancy a little story?  Baguio’s cool breeze will lull you into slumber but its rich history will blow you away.  

Pre-Colonial Period 

The city was originally called “Kafagway” meaning “wide open space,” and its first settlers were the Ibaloy and Kankanaey tribesmen, who are both natives of the Cordillera region.  

Spanish Colonization 

When the Spaniards first arrived and colonized the Philippines, they failed to conquer the natives of Benguet. It was not until 1846 when Guillermo de Galvey finally succeeded. They then put up military bases in most of Benguet’s towns and cities, but didn’t touch Baguio as much.  

American Colonization 

When the Americans took over, stories about Baguio’s great weather, lush vegetation, and pine-filled scenery reached the United States. This attracted a lot of their citizens to come over and spend their holidays in Baguio. Their frequent visits led to the city getting its famous moniker “Summer Capital of the Philippines.”  

Because of the increasing number of visitors to the city, Kennon Road, the first roadway connecting Baguio to Pangasinan, was built in 1903. This made going to Baguio a lot easier and opened more trade opportunities to its residents and even outsiders. Kennon Road is often hailed “a supreme feat of engineering” due to its mountainous nature and durability.  

Baguio City’s physical development was designed by the legendary American urban planner Daniel Burnham, who also spearheaded the design of Chicago’s One Magnificent Mile and Metro Manila’s Roxas Boulevard. Yes, he is the namesake of the city’s most popular park. 

Japanese Occupation 

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941, Baguio was bombed and attacked as well, being the home of the Philippine Military Academy and Camp John Hay, which they used as their military base.

Four years later, the Battle of Baguio was waged by the combined American and Filipino forces against the Japanese as part of the liberation of the Philippines. The first Allied forces successfully set foot in Baguio on April 22, 1945, marking the end of the Japanese occupation of the city. 

General Yamashita formally announced Japanese surrender in the Philippines on Sept. 3, 1945 at Camp John Hay, giving Baguio its iconic place in the country’s history.  

Late 1900s to the Modern Day 

After the war, it became a regular practice for the Philippine government to use Baguio as its base of operations when the heat of the summer season proved unbearable in Manila. It’s a tradition that has been dropped by most everyone except for the Philippine Supreme Court. 

The national government actually owns these properties in Baguio: Cabinet Hill, Engineer’s Hill, Supreme Court Compound, Court of Appeals Compound, and COMELEC Compound. 

Camp John Hay was turned over by the Americans to the Philippine government in 1991 and then it was leased to a private developer in 1997. 

How To Get to Baguio 

Baguio is one of the easiest places to go to whether you’re traveling by private vehicle or public transportation. Accessibility is also one of the reasons why the city has become one of the go-to places whenever you want to take a vacation or just spend a weekend away from Manila.

From Metro Manila 

Public Transportation 

Baguio is located 250 kilometers north of Metro Manila. To get to Baguio from the metropolis, you can take a four- to eight-hour bus ride. The length of the trip varies depending on the traffic and number of stops, so make sure to get a ticket for the earliest or the latest trip available when there are relatively few vehicles on the road on the way to Baguio. 

The two most popular bus lines going to Baguio are Victory Liner and Joy Bus.

Victory Liner has buses offering one-way trips to Baguio in its Caloocan, Cubao, Sampaloc, and Pasay terminals. We’ve listed down the address of each terminal and the contact number for your reference. You can also book tickets online

Metro Manila VL Terminals Terminal Address Contact Number (For Reservations) 
Caloocan City 713 Rizal Avenue Extension, Brgy. 72, Caloocan City (02) 361-1506 
Cubao, Quezon City 683 EDSA, Brgy. Immaculate Conception, Cubao, Quezon City (02) 727-4534 / (02) 727-4646 
Sampaloc, Manila 551 M. Earnshaw St., Brgy. 401, Sampaloc, Manila City (02) 559-7735 
Pasay City 712 EDSA, Brgy. 143, Zone 15, Pasay City (02) 833-5019 / (02) 553-8815 

Victory Liner Bus Trips to Baguio

Origin Terminal (To Baguio) Frequency of Trips per Day Earliest Departure Time Latest Departure Time Fare (in PHP) Bus Class 
Caloocan City 7:00 AM 11:00 PM 479 Regular Air-Conditioned 
Cubao, Quezon City 30 12:30 AM 11:55 PM 485 Regular Air-Conditioned 
Cubao, Quezon City 12:15 AM 11:15 PM 800 First Class 
Sampaloc, Manila 3:00 AM 11:00 PM 487 Regular Air-Conditioned 
Pasay City 32 12:30 AM 11:55 PM 496 Regular Air-Conditioned 
Pasay City 8:00 AM 6:00 PM 525 Deluxe 
Pasay City 1:15 AM 11:45 PM 800 First Class 

Joy Bus is also another option if you want a “happy” and luxurious bus ride to Baguio. The company has buses stationed in Avenida, Cubao, and Pasay. You can choose between Executive and Deluxe Buses. 

There is an onboard restroom and Wi-Fi in both, but the executive has an individual entertainment system, complementary drinking water and biscuits, a warm blanket, and wide leg space. We’ve made a table listing about everything you need to know about them. 

You can also book Joy Bus tickets online via iwantseats.com.

Metro Manila JOY BUS Terminals Terminal Address Contact Number(s) (For Reservations) 
Cubao, Quezon City 704 EDSA Cubao corner New York St., Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila   +63 (02) 8421-1425 +63 933-852-7648 +63 933-852-7638 
Pasay City 101 Epifanio de los Santos Ave., Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila – 

JoyBus Trips to Baguio

Origin Terminal (To Baguio) Frequency of Trips per Day Earliest Trip Departure Time Latest Trip Departure Time Fare (in PHP) Bus Class 
Avenida, Manila City 12:30 AM7:00 PM 720 Executive 
Cubao, Quezon City 13 12:01 AM11:00 PM 720 Deluxe 
Cubao, Quezon City 13 12:01 AM11:00 PM 740 Executive 
Pasay City 12 12:01 AM9:30 PM  730 Deluxe 
Pasay City 12 12:01 AM9:30 PM 760 Executive 

As of this writing, there is no information regarding commercial plane flights from Metro Manila to Baguio.

Private Vehicle 

If you want a hassle-free and private ride, you can either drive your own car or rent a van to Baguio. If you have your own private car, you have the freedom to travel anywhere and anytime in the city. It will also save you some headache from commuting, especially if you plan to go to a lot of places that are out of the way of PUV routes. 

By Car 

If you plan to go there by car, Google Maps and Waze are your friends. From Manila, people usually take NLEX and proceed to Exit 85 to get to SCTEX, then TPLEX. From there, just drive straight to MacArthur Highway until you get to Rosario, La Union. Traveling by car takes you to Baguio in three hours (if you don’t stop along the way).

Now you have two options: the scenic Kennon Road or the wider and less steep Marcos Highway. Although Kennon Road is the faster route, it might be a difficult course to drive for some because of it being steep and narrow, with numerous twists and turns. However, it offers the best views of the mountains and at the same time gives you an overwhelming feeling when you look down as you move up the mountain. 

Meanwhile, Marcos Highway is the longer route but it’s much wider and has a gradual ascent. It also has views of the West Philippine Sea.

By Van 

You can also rent a van to Baguio. Some even offer tour packages. If you avail of this, you’ll have an expert driver with you, so you and your companions can relax and enjoy the scenery during the trip. 

These packages range from around Php3,500 to Php10,000 a day. And you’ll have to pay for the gasoline and toll fees separately. 

From the Rest of the Philippines 

As of February 2022, there are no available commercial flights to Baguio. The Loakan Airport is reportedly being repaired to accommodate flights that will make it easier for residents from the farthest parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to visit.  

For now, a local flight to Metro Manila or Clark, followed by a bus ride would be the fastest way to Baguio if you’re not from Luzon. Plane tickets start at Php2,000 per adult. If you want to think about your trip itineraries on the way, you should consider riding a ferry instead. 

Latest Baguio Travel Requirements in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic 

The local government of Baguio requires visitors from other areas to present these documents before being allowed entry: 

1 . A Valid Government-issued I.D. (any of the following): 

  • Philippine Passport 
  • Driver’s License 
  • PhilHealth I.D. 
  • SSS UMID Card 
  • Postal I.D. 
  • TIN I.D. 
  • Voter’s I.D. 
  • PRC I.D. 
  • Senior Citizen I.D. 
  • OFW I.D. 
  • National I.D. 

2. A Negative RT-PCR Test Result (only required for visitors coming from areas under Community Alert Level 3) 

3. A QR-Coded Tourist Pass (QTP) 

4. A Vaccination Card (Full Dose Vaccination) 

5. Confirmation of Hotel/Transient Accommodation 

6. Confirmation of Itineraries 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for non-Baguio residents: 

Step 1. Create a Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A. account 

Go to https://visita.baguio.gov.ph/sign-up. Fill out the form with your information like your address and your contact details. A  photo of your valid government ID and a current photo will also be asked. An email will then be sent to you. 

Step 2. Test negative for COVID-19 

If you’re getting tested before your trip, it should be at least two or three days before your trip. Note that you have to be tested in recognized laboratories for your results to be accepted.  

Step 3. Finalize your hotel or transient stay 

Book your stay in these Department of Trade-accredited hotels or transients to prevent any hassle upon your arrival in Baguio. 

Step 4. Finalize your itinerary (optional) 

Now, you will need to arrange your itinerary if you’re going on an organized tour with an accredited travel or tour agency.

Step 5. Book your visit and upload required documents 

Go to https://visita.baguio.gov.ph/ and click Schedule a Visit. A Log-In prompt will appear, so just enter your account username and password you created in Step 1. You will be asked about your destinations and your accommodation (Step 3)

After that, fill out the health declaration form. The website will ask you to upload the negative results of your COVID-19 test 48 to 72 hours before your travel date (Step 2). If successful, Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A. will send you an email of approval.  

Step 6. Download or print your QTP 

At this point, you’re almost done. All that’s left to do is download a digital copy of your QTP from the approval email that Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A. sent you. You can save it as a pdf file or a screenshot on your smartphone. You can print it on a piece of paper, just don’t lose it. And now, Baguio awaits. 

Where To Stay: A Transient’s Paradise 

The Best Baguio Neighborhoods 

Burnham Park 

For first-time visitors, the vicinity of Burnham Park has a lot of hotels. It’s very convenient, has easy access to the tourist attractions and bus stations, and is very safe to walk around in. Check in a b&b or hotel here if you want to focus more on the beauty of the city. 

Camp John Hay 

For visitors with tight budgets, Camp John Hay is your place. It offers a lot of affordable sleeping quarters. Bonus: Ghosts–-perfect for those looking for cheap thrills. 

Salud Mitra 

If you’re coming with your family or friends, Salud Mitra offers a lot of shareable rooms that won’t break the bank. The place is also near everything, from restaurants to shopping centers so you can walk most of the time.  

Patrick Roque | Wikimedia Commons

Engineers’ Hill 

If you came for Baguio’s famous nightlife, then book your stay at Engineers’ Hill. It’s close to bars, restaurants, and pubs, so you won’t have to think of where to go to enjoy the night. Maybe think of how you’re gonna get home instead? 

Shopping for Essentials in Baguio 

Here is a list of the shopping locations for all your daily needs (Tip: make sure to check the ukay-ukay places for great bargains!): 

  • Session Road 
  • SM Baguio City Mall 
  • Baguio City Market 
  • Maharlika Livelihood Center 
  • Mile Hi Center 
  • Ayala Technohub 
  • Baguio Center Mall 
  • Abanao Square 
  • Porta Vaga 
  • Hilltop (Ukay-Ukay) 
  • Bayanihan (Ukay-Ukay) 
  • Skyworld (Ukay-Ukay) 
  • Side Streets between Harrison and  Session Road (Ukay-Ukay) 

Shopping for Baguio Pasalubong 

Aside from these places on our list below, there are souvenir shops in almost every tourist attraction in the city. There are also pasalubong for sale in the city market, which is near the bus terminal, in case you suddenly remember your office mates’ “pasabuys.”  

  • Mines View Park 
  • Good Shepherd Convent 
  • Narda’s (Authentic Woven Cloths) 

Recreational Activities in Baguio 

If you love the highlander lifestyle, Baguio is the perfect place for you. There are so many fun things to do regardless of your agenda and whether you’re visiting with company or not. 

  • Horseback riding in Wright Park
  • Exploring places like Camp John Hay, The Mansion, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, the Botanical Garden, and the Baguio City Museum 
  • Going on a spooky adventure in Diplomat Hotel, Laperal White House, Teacher’s Camp, Casa Vallejo, Hyatt Terraces Hotel, or Loakan Road 
  • Cycling in Burnham Park 
  • Boating in Burnham Park 
  • Sky-high viewing at Mt. Sto. Tomas 
  • Visiting the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad 
  • Eating strawberry-flavored taho 
  • Hiking up Mt. Ulap
  • Hiking and seeing the sunrise (or sunset) from Mt. Yangbew  
  • Exploring mountain trails and forest bathing in Camp John Hay
  • Touring the PMA Campus 
  • Attending the Panagbenga Festival (starts every February 1) 
  • Strolling along Session Road 
  • Supporting local artists in the Baguio Craft Fair and Mandeko Kito artisans’ fair 

Best Dining Spots in Baguio 

“Great living is the offspring of great dining.” We’ve made that quote up, but these must-try gastronomic experiences in Baguio will tell you what we mean. 

  • Glenn’s 50s Diner 
  • Cafe in the Sky 
  • Oh My Gulay! 
  • Good Taste 
  • Baguio Craft Brewery 
  • House of Chops 
  • Habibi’s Grill 
  • Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant 
  • Cafe Sabel 
  • Canto Baguio Bogchi Joint 
  • Agara Ramen 
  • Chaya 
  • Red Rustikz 
  • Vincent’s Place 
  • Craft 1945 
  • Ili-Likha Artists’ Wateringhole
  • Cafe By The Ruins
  • Hill Station
  • Ozark Diner
  • The Other Office
  • Good Taste Cafe & Restaurant
  • Arca’s Yard
  • Lemon and Olives
  • Chocolate de Batirol
  • Balajadia Kitchenette
  • Amare La Cucina

Neighboring Areas and Transportation Routes 

Neighbors – Baguio is surrounded by La Trinidad and Tublay in the north, Tuba in the west, and Itogon in the east. The nearest provinces are Nueva Vizcaya, La Union, and Ilocos Sur. 

Baguio-Rosario (via Kennon Road) – One of the pros in living in Baguio is that you are close to La Union, which has a lot of beaches. If you want a change of climate, you can take a one-hour drive down Kennon Road and you’ll end up in the municipality of Rosario. You can decide where to go from there. 

Baguio-Kabayan (via Nueva Vizcaya Road) – If you want to visit Mt. Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak, it’s only a two-hour drive from Baguio if you take the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya Road.  

Transportation Around Baguio City 

You can get around Baguio via taxi, jeepney, or by foot. We recommend taxis as they are mostly available day and night. The taxi rates start at around Php35 for the first 500 meters, while jeepney rates start at Php9. 

Be warned that traffic can be heavy during the peak months (February to May), so if you’re only going a short distance, we suggest walking (it’s good exercise too, and is a highly pleasurable experience when the weather is cool). 

Cost of Living in Baguio City 

The cost of living for a single person in Baguio City is Php67,918.23 per month, while the cost of living for a family of four is Php135,967.91. Costs may change depending on the number of your family members, your food consumption, and whether you’re renting a house or not. 

Why Should You Invest in a Property in Baguio? 

The most important thing to consider when choosing a new city to call home is the location. Baguio is estimated to be at around 1,600 meters above sea level, making it the highest city you can live in in the country. If you want clean air and better health overall, this is the way to go. 

Also, if you prefer living in places with cool climates, know that temperatures in the city usually range from 15 to 23 degrees Celsius and are almost always 8 degrees cooler than the rest of the country.  

Despite the city’s predominantly green environment, it still keeps up with other commercialized cities in the country. Baguio has taken the good parts of being both rural and urban, making it a versatile area. Properties in the city center will only grow in price as time goes on, so an investment here today might be profitable when sold in the next few years or so. 

Baguio Neighborhood Guide

Final Thoughts  

Because of its distance from Metro Manila, Baguio prides itself as a good, if not better, urban replacement in the north. It is a unique place because it combines the best of both rural and highly urbanized lifestyles. People wishing to visit or call this place home will never run out of things to do and places to explore and enjoy.  

We hope this article has helped you decide if a temporary visit or permanent vacation in the Summer Capital is for you. Looking for more articles like this and more life hacks for your home? Make sure to visit www.enta.ph/blog for all your real estate needs, and then some. 

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