Back in my early 20s, I used to take spontaneous trips to Baguio with my friend Ruth at least every other month. We would take the midnight bus in Cubao, arrive in Baguio around 5am, visit our favorite cafes and restaurants, buy some books at Diplomat Bookstore, raid the ukay-ukay racks, take the bus to Manila around 3 or 4pm and be back home by 10pm.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Baguio but just before Christmas (one of the absolute worst times to get a seat on a Baguio-bound bus), I managed to squeeze in 2 whole days to our busy schedule.
By some stroke of luck, we managed to visit some of my regular Baguio haunts. TIP: Grabtaxi works in Baguio, and it’s only an additional 25 pesos on top of the meter. No Grab Car though, and I didn’t test Uber.
Our hotel was just at the back of Cafe by the Ruins so we just walked there. I’ve been to their restaurant post-renovation before and even with the expansion, there is still some waiting time for tables. The downside of their growing popularity is the tendency for some of the staff to forget some orders. For some reason, they never write anything down, and they forgot one of our appetizers, and a main dish at the next table. The quality of the food is still great though and they’re a sentimental favorite so I stand by them.
One thing I always do when I’m in Baguio is drop by the public market. Benguet coffee, strawberries, ube jam, and chichacorn, name your favorite Baguio pasalubong and the market will have it. Even the (in)famous man in a barrel. I just really find it clean and accessible, so it’s never a bad idea to drop by.
Another Baguio tradition I have is to have hot choco at Chocolate de Batirol inside Camp John Hay. I did not realize that they have peanuts in their drinks, and the boyfriend is allergic to local peanuts, so unfortunately, I was unable to share the awesomeness of the hot choco with him. He did enjoy the suman we had for merienda though.
This year, I added a new favorite to my list: the BenCab Museum. I have always been curious about the place, even before the movie That Thing Called Tadhana, but I had just never been to that part of town before. Be warned that some cab drivers will try to make you agree to pay 200 pesos from downtown (happened to us). I got Grab and it was only around 100-120. Going back, your best bet is to wait for the cabs dropping off tourists to the museum. Apart from the museum which hosts artworks and Benguet artifacts, there is a restaurant called Cafe Sabel. Food is a little pricey for the serving size but quite good and the interiors are nice. There is also a garden with a koi pond with a nipa hut at the center. There’s a lot to see, both inside and out.
- Cafe by the Ruins. 225 Upper Session Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet. Open from 7am-9pm.
- Baguio Public Market. 38 Rajah Soliman, Baguio City, Benguet.
- Chocolate de Batirol. Igorot Park, Camp John Hay, Baguio, 2600. Open from 7am-10am.
- BenCab Museum. Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet. Open from 9am-6pm. As most museums around the world, closed on Mondays and holidays.