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Baguio Tourist Information

Situated amidst the mountainous region of Cordillera, 1,400 meters above the sea, 250 kilometers north of Manila, Baguio City is one of the few places in the Philippines blessed with a cool climate.  On average, Baguio is at least eight degrees cooler than any place in the lowlands.  Not surprisingly, Baguio has become the "summer capital" of the country.  It is gifted with a variety of cultural, historical and scenic attractions which make it an important and interesting destination.  As early as March, tourists and locals take the six-hour trek up the zigzagging Kennon Road.  Within a mile of thec ity, the sweet scent of pine trees and flowers already permeate the air.

Artists are particularly drawn to this serene city.  The annual Baguio Arts Festival attracts aspiring painters and sculptors from all over the country.  Writers convene in Baguio to meet and recharge.

However, Baguio wasn't always a place of peace and leisure.  In the early 19th century, the Spaniards stumbled upon this ore-rich valley and fought feverishly with the local tribes to gain control of the land's bounties.  While the Spaniards succeeded in founding some form of governance in the area, the mountain tribes proved too difficult to rule.  Thus, the Spaniards parceled out the province to the landed gentry.

It was the Americans, perhaps longing for colder climes, who saw the vast recreational potential of Baguio.  After building Camp John Hay, the Americans proceeded to carve Kennon Road from out of the mountain - and linked Baguio to Manila - and eventually to visitors of all creeds and races.

If you only have a day to spend in Baguio, start your tour with a walk down Session Road.  The city's commercial artery, Session Road is where you get your first bite of the charm and serendipity of Baguio.  Apart from a smattering of one-of-a-kind curio shops and fashion boutiques, Session also features an interesting array of culinary delights.  Restaurants specializing in Chinese, Italian, American, Japanese and Mongolian can be readily found along Session Road.  From Session, take a cab to any of Baguio's prime attractions. Go horseback riding at Wright Park.  Climb up the 252 steps to the Lourdes Grotto.  Play a round of golf at Camp John Hay.  Cook a tasty chopsuey with the freshest of veggies from the Baguio City Markey.  Visit the Mansion.  Stock up on strawberries.  Or curl up under a warm blanket with the crackling of burning wood lulling you to sleep.  For night-owls, Baguio is alive with pulsating music and warm spirits.  There are a number of bars and discos that swing until the wee hours of the morning.

Tourist Attractions / Things to Do

Baguio Cathedral
Rising above the city skyline are the pinkish hues of the Baguio Cathedral.  The cathedral is but one of a number of religious landsmarks which dot the city.  There is the Bell Temple, north of the city; the Maryhurst Seminary with its brillian gardens; and Lourdes Grotto with its 252 steps to heaven.

Although Banauo is nine hours away from Baguio by bus, the tourist who takes the time to see this marvel of culture and architecture would be greatly rewarded.  Regarded as the eight wonder of the world, the Banaue Rice Terraces were carved from the mountain ranges centuries ago by the Ifugaos, one of the oldest known mountain tribes of the province.  The Banaue Rice Terraces have been declared a "World Heritage Site" by the UNESCO.

Burnham Park
Situated at the heart of the city, Burnham is the traditional venue of the city's numerous festivities.  The Park is named after the city's planner, Daniel Burnham.  Its man-made lagoon is the site of many boating excursions.  Bikers, hikers and skaters delight in the park's criss-crossing walkways.  And for the romantic, a walk in the rose gardens is an absolute must.

Camp John Hay
A tour of Baguio is incomplete with a bite of the jumbo-sized burgers and sundaes at the Club which was formerly the R&R center of the United States Armed Force personnel in the Philippines.  Today, this privately-managed club features hotel type rooms, seven food outlets, an 18-hole golf course, six tennis courts, a six-lane bowling center, basketball and volleyball courts, a heated swimming pool plus more for a definitely sporty weekend.  For more information, contact the developer at telephone numbers 637-0111, 637-5348, 637-5332.

Mines View Park
Over the years, the Park has been transformed into a shopping showcase of sorts.  It's here where you can load up in the province's bounties: hand-woven jackets and blankets, silver knickknacks and jewelry, and various jams and preserves.  Of course, none of these goodies could compete with the Park's breathtaking view of the hills and valleys of the Cordillera and the gold mines of Benguet.

One of the ten towns comprising the Mountain Province is Sagada which is known for the numerous subterranean burial caves of their ancestors.  The Sagada area is a must-see for the archeology buffs.  Added attractions include the natural  clear waters of Bokong Waterfall for a quick morning dip and the studio of lensman Eduardo Masferres, renowned for his stunning photographs of the Cordilleras.


Flowers and Vegetables
The Baguio City market is a sanctuary for the most colorful of floral blooms.  It's also where you can find the freshest produce straight from the farms of La Trinidad and Benguet - from strawberries and giant red tomatoes to bright green lettuce and lvely mushrooms.  Baguio City market also features handicrafts of all kinds from baskets to backbacks.

Hand-Woven Fabrics
The tribesmen of Bontoc, Benguit, Ifugao and Kalinga weave beautiful cotton fabrics with elegant ethnic motifs called lepanto.  You can find such fabrics at the city market.  If you'd like to see the actual weaving process, visit the Easter Weaving School down Easter Road where threads are magically transformed into bags, blankets and blouses.

Ifugao blacksmiths and Baguio craftsmen are renowned for their interesting collection of silver jewelry.  The St. Louis University Silver Shop, just a few paces away from Baguio Cathedral, allows visitors to watch young silver craftsmen at work.  Visitors can also purchase the pieces they want.  Wright park also feature row upon row of stalls selling silver accessories. For best buys, Ibay's Silver Shop and Phil. Treasure are recommended.

Sweets and Preserves
If it's strawberry jam you want, proceed to the Good Shepherd Convent.  The nuns of the Good Shepherd raise funds for their various charities (including unwed mothers and their babies) by cooking some of the most delicious tasting fruit preserves this side of the earth.  Try the nuns' strawberry and ube jams, casher and peanut brittle and coco jams.  During peak season, visit the convent in the morning as there's bound to be a long line for the jams.


Getting There
From Manila, visitors can take a 45-minute flight via Air Philippines or Asian Spirit landing in Baguio Airport.  Or take the six-hour bus ride through Kennon Road, Marcos Highway or Naghuilian Road.  From the airport or bus terminal, it's easy to flag down a cab to get to your accommodations.  Further down, Ambuklau Road leads to Banaue, and Halsema Highway to the rest of the Cordillera.

Getting Around
Jeepneys and taxis negotiate the city's winding road network with ease.  But if you really want to see and smell Baguio, take long leisurely walks.

Staying In
As for accommodations, there are at least a thousand and one choices: from luxury city hotels, homey apartelles and pension houses to quaint little country inns.  First-time visitors are advised to make reservations before going up.  During summer the number of visitors can go as high as 200,000.  The peso is the medium of exchange - although the dollar is also widely accepted.  Major credit cards are recognized in most establishments.  And if you're a little short of cash, there's always a friendly ATM machine at Session Road.

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