Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Strawberries at The Strawberry Farm of Benguet
La Trinidad's Strawberry Farm from a high elevation point


F O R 

P I N E   T R E E S

A Benguet getaway need not be expensive. The province may have the highly-urbanized terrain of Baguio City to set you back a few thousand pesos more than what is expected but even that can be arranged. Where you stay and where you eat... those can be on the cheap without sacrificing the authentic touristic experience. It will depend on how you do it. For starters, you can take my cues here on this set of budget Benguet travel chronicles that I personally tested for myself.

Travel Aboard Joybus of Genesis Transit Through The I Want Seats Website

The first shackles to take off the overbearing load of a travel stress is the way you arrive at your destination. I managed to cut short the conventional 9-hour commute to roughly 6 hours by riding Joybus, the executive coach of the popular Philippine north-bound bus company, Genesis Transport. Even more relaxing was how I booked my seats -- online!

Homestay at a residential area of Baguio City

Simply go to this booking website for such purpose and settle related payments thereafter. What set me back P900+ at a competing bus company for a one-way trip to Baguio City from Metro Manila a few years ago actually only cost me P715 to book online recently. I was even surprised to find out that the seats were quite comfortable and there were even free snacks (mamon and mineral water) during the trip! The bus terminal for this is located along EDSA between Nepa Q-Mart and the corner of Aurora Boulevard.

Stay Where The Pine Trees Are (Or Do A Homestay)

As for accommodation rates in Baguio City, the jump-off point to any destination in Benguet, the figures vary depending on the season but most often there is an all-year round popular rate that prevails. Plus, you perceive them in terms of range and not exact figures. For example, any hotel room that costs lower than P900 is definitely of motel-quality or nowhere near lush pine trees even if it's a decent one.

The lobby of Mountain Lodge
I certainly didn't want to stay at a slab of cement that doesn't have the rustic charm of old Baguio, so I made to sure to spend almost a full day calling different city-based hotels for rates and inquiring room availability. The painful booking ritual did not stop there though. I still have to check out their corresponding websites or any online presence (like a Facebook fan page) that can give me a hint of what the bed or lodging looks like and where it is exactly in the area.

After narrowing my options, I settled on the old budget inn called Mountain Lodge (P1,700+ overnight rate) which I discovered to be operating in the city for decades already and is just conveniently next to the popular Teacher's Camp. Plus, it's surrounded by pine trees -- lots of them! It's also near Session Road where I planned to take my gustatory experimentation to budget levels. I managed to split the total cost with a fellow travel blogger friend I was traveling with for that season.

Mountain Lodge
Steaks & Toppings at Session Road

Since an overnight stay in the city would not suffice, I opted to arrange a homestay with the same friend of mine who has a family friend that's based there. It's not customary with being a guest for homestays to contribute something but a bag of groceries or a token will come in handy to foster relations with strangers that you intend to make friends with. In my case, my friend did the bidding. For my second night at the city, I stayed at this creek-side bungalow in a residential area that were surrounded by more pine trees to my delight!

Dine On A Budget In Baguio City

In Baguio City, the bustling Session Road is where tourists can sample food with decent pricing that will still make you feel that you're in vacation mode. It was where I actually had an affordable meal of a sizzling sisig and a dessert of carrot cake at the newly-opened Ebai's Cafe & Pastry when I arrived in the city. If you still feel that most restaurants there are expensive for your taste, you can conveniently walk from it to nearby destinations like what I did.

Discovering the newly-opened Ebai's Cafe & Pastry
After having dinner and lunch at the Benguet-institution Sizzling Plate (P100+) and the newly-opened Steaks & Toppings (pricing starts at P80+; located across Sizzling Plate in Session Road), respectively, I did a necessary food crawl in the city with my friend to check out where most Koreans eat since there are a handful of them already in the province for cheap English studies. Near Burnham Park is where we found a set of food stalls that sell varied tasty novelties from coconut drinks (buko juice), including affordable Korean dumplings for no more than P10 per piece. I truly enjoyed two pieces of each of those sizzling and crunchy Gimmari and Gun Mandu that were being patronized by Korean students with nostalgia in the area. To satisfy our traditional Pinoy merienda, we headed to Otek Street on foot to sample fresh bread from the newly-opened Panadero Street Bakeshop. Soon, after a few more strolls past Burnham Park, we reached a decent Korean-owned restaurant cum coffee shop called Cafe Will (located at M.H. del Pilar St.) where we had an incredible but delicious plate of P90-strawberry-dressed waffle (price inclusive of the cup of brewed coffee).

Ebai's Cafe & Pastry
The busy Session Road
Lunch at Session Road's Sizzling Plate
Korean dumplings of Gimarri and Gun Mandu

The newly-opened Panadero Street Bakeshop at Otek Street

Side Trips To La Trinidad

For our second day in the province, we hied off to the next town of La Trinidad which is just an hour of jeepney ride away to check out the Strawberry Farm and strawberry-related commodities. When I became less satisfied of being at the farm itself, I dragged my friend to a distant visible high elevation where I thought we could have a spectacular view of the town proper and a different gaze of the panorama.

Cafe Will
Cafe Will
The Strawberry Farm of La Trinidad from a high elevation point
The Bahong Rose Farm

Next thing I knew, we were heading to another farm in the town that's touted for its rose plantations. Called the Bahong Rose Farm, the area was actually just a few minutes of FX ride away from the town capitol.

For the complete story of my Bahong Rose Farm experience, check out this blog post.

All in all, my 3-day/2-night budget Benguet getaway cost me no more than P3,000 and the amazing thing about it was that it included more than Baguio City, a remarkable homestay with new friends, and memories of lush pine trees!

More Photos Below:

A high point in La Trinidad
Having a P7-Long John (tasty bread at a local bakery) in La Trinidad
A typical vegetable transporter in La Trinidad
At the Strawberry Farm
La Trinidad's Strawberry Farm
Strawberry Farm
Arriving at the Mountain Lodge


  1. Hello, if you need to know some other places to visit in Baguio City, visit this link to learn more:


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