Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016
The Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail of Itogon
The Easter Weaving Room


O N   T H E


Baguio City is a home away from home for regular visitors. Although it's part of the province of Benguet, it's a world of its own. For fear of missing out on new attractions to visit in the city, some tourists tend to scope it on foot. They ultimately suffer a stressful itinerary that's wasted on epic walks. Some, however, prefer to plot their destinations aboard a vehicle to experience them in a specific set of days. Although this technique may seem easy peasy, it can leave the tourist rather oblivious of appreciating people and places instead of achieving travel bliss.

Beyond the minor issues of congestion and traffic, the city of pines can still impress a traveler. Unlike other popular tourist spots in the country, it's highly urbanized. This makes having new discoveries quite attainable. Unfortunately, residential and commercial structures have obviously been rabidly swapped for the foliage in the past three decades. This is why venturing to nearby towns can be a great idea for viewing nature.

Is it still worth escaping your familiar terrain for a whiff of chilly Baguio City? Is it also possible to make it one's base for side trips to nearby attractions?

One can choose to linger in Baguio or make quick side trips to accessible towns. The escape doesn't have to be expensive as I've ascertained in part 1 of my "Taking Benguet On A Budget" tour in 2015 when I stayed in the city and enjoyed the strawberry and rose farms of La Trinidad.

Baguio-bound aboard Victory Liner with Jherson Jaya
This 2016, I'm encouraging the appreciation of highland houses, staying in a quaint community of the city, and hiking an eco-trail in the next town of Itogon, 45 minutes away from the city proper. Along the way, like I did the last time, I tried to eat cheap without sacrificing nutrition and taste. Check out how I did it and make it as your own:

Commute Via Victory Liner

Save yourself from the hassles of taking your own car or renting one just to experience this side of Benguet by taking a commute. For those coming from Metro Manila, a Baguio-bound Victory Liner bus leaves its Cubao station every hour on a daily basis. For less than P500 per person, the air conditioned ride is cheap but comfortable for six hours with a couple of necessary stopovers for bathroom breaks.

Santa Fe Ridge in Itogon
Mt. Cloud Bookshop
Peredo's Lodging House
Peredo's Lodging House; Photography by Jherson Jaya

Stay In A Highland House Or A Value Apartel

An iconic Baguio immersion is one that includes staying the night at an American-style highland home for a nostalgia of the old city. The perfect setting for this ideal is the century-old Peredo's Lodging House. The 6-room, two-storey ancestral home of the Peredos has been cited by the National Museum as a national heritage site, making the 1915-built structure an important cultural property and treasure of the province.

Read more about Peredo's Lodging House.

If you want a more modern accommodation that doesn't break the bank, an apartel may just do the job. To avoid the tourist trap of ending up in a dingy and theft-prone inn or lodging, choose to stay at an apartel owned by long-time residents themselves. The newly-built Baguio GM Apartel is highly recommended for its fully-furnished units that allow access to a kitchenette. Its third level unit that's loft-type has its own private balcony. And since it's located at a quaint community next to Camp John Hay, there's a fantastic pine tree-filled view of the city from the common balcony.

Read more about Baguio GM Apartel.

Baguio GM Apartel
Easter Weaving
Easter Weaving
Immerse In Ethnic Culture With A Visit of Easter Weaving

The city's public market may have all the cheap finds that the province of Benguet has to offer, but it's at Easter Weaving where its ethnic culture is most palpable and you don't have to leave Baguio for it. The facility is a modern structure that started as early as 1908. On the ground floor, visitors can shop around for fabrics of various ethnic designs from Sinanbituin to Kinen-ew-inspired. At the basement is the actual weaving room where ladies are assigned in their respective textile-equipped weaving stations.

Contact Easter Weaving here.

Mt. Cloud Bookshop
Mt. Cloud Bookshop

Chill Out At Mt. Cloud Bookshop and The Coffee Library

For book finds in the city, it's better to patronize the neighborhood bookstore called Mt. Cloud that's located next to Casa Vallejo along Upper Session Road. Bibliophile or not, any guest can consider a step into its charming space as a break from touring the streets of the city on foot. With a selection of about 80% Filipiniana, it's also a chance to shop for artisan books and contemporary reading materials about the Cordillera Region. Being just a little more than 5 years old, the independent bookshop is considered a thought sanctuary in the city for hosting book launches of local authors.

Contact Mt. Cloud Bookshop here.

As the fog descends on the city, you can make a detour to a coffee shop before heading back to your booked accommodation. The newest one in Baguio is called The Coffee Library and it's located behind the cathedral, inside the Rex Residence Hall at the corner of General Luna Road and Upper Bonifacio Street. What it offers is something different from the typical Western brew. Customers have been raving about its roster of Italian, Vietnamese, and the local Kapangan blends.

Read more about The Coffee Library.

The Coffee Library
The Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail
The Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail
The iconic Gungal Rock of the Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail

Have A Day Hike of The Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail In Itogon

If La Trinidad's strawberry and flower farms are not your type of Benguet side trips from Baguio, the next town of Itogon has Santa Fe Ridge which offers tourists a more intrepid experience. A day hike of the Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail is possible because it's just a jeepney ride away from the city proper. Experienced hikers can tackle trail in as short as three hours. Beginners are expected to breeze through it in three hours more. This means that if you leave Baguio at 7:00am, there's a big chance you can still return at 5:00pm to have a late afternoon snack at Choco-late De Batirol in Camp John Hay or a delicious early dinner of Lechon Mami at Sab-atan Restaurant.

Read more about the Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail.

Late afternoon snack at Choco-late De Batirol
Lechon Mami at Sab-atan Restaurant
Dinner at 50s Diner

Have A Hefty Meal At 50s Diner

The city has a couple of 50s Diner branches and both serve the same quality of American-style treats. For a reasonable price, each order comes in a hefty serving like my order of the so-called Grandma's Fried Chicken which set me back for P140 only. With four pieces of deep fried chicken in a set, it could have easily satisfied two customers.

With so much to experience in Baguio City, you don't have to schedule a visit to coincide with the Panagbenga Festival. Any day in the city of pines can be a terrific vacation that you can set out for on your own pace and time.

More Photos Below:

The scene at 50s Diner
Visiting Mt. Cloud Bookshop
Chilling at the front porch of Peredo's Lodging House
Choco-late De Batirol
At the summit of Mt. Ulap


  1. That looks fun. It looks like you're visiting another country because of its beauty. Thanks for sharing your trip! :)


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