Baguio’s Old and New Charms

1. Camp John Hay

Photo courtesy of Ian Francisco

Formerly a recreational center for US soldiers, Camp John Hay is now one of the major attractions in Baguio City due to its open spaces and quaint architecture. Walking between its fragrant pine trees affords even city slickers a delicious closeness to nature within Baguio’s urban limits. Avid golfers regularly return to its golf course, which was designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus

2. Choco-late de Batirol

Photo courtesy of Laura’s Yard

One of the best ways to enjoy Baguio’s cool weather, especially on a lazy afternoon, is to have a light merienda at Choco-late de Batirol in Camp John Hay enriched by a warm cup of traditionally prepared hot chocolate. A chocolate paste is melted in milk with a little sugar and salt and the mixture is then beaten in a batirol (pitcher) with a molenillo or wooden whisk to make a creamy, frothy, and delectable drink.

3. Tam-awan Village

Photo courtesy of Gerald Gloton

To get a small glimpse of the rich culture of the Cordillera region, tourists can visit Tam-awan Village, an artists’ colony that contains reconstructions of Ifugao and Kalinga huts and showcases the work of local artists. The huts are also used to house workshops and exhibits and are situated on a hillside so a beautiful view of the South China Sea can be seen on a clear day.

4. Strawberry Farm

Photo courtesy of Gerald Gloton

Only a thirty-minute ride away from Baguio is the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, where people can pick and buy their own strawberries. The berries thrive in the cool weather and, from November to May, visitors are allowed to come to the farm to try their hand at harvesting them. Picking strawberries comes at a premium, since it takes expertise to do it without damaging the delicate fruit, so prepare to pay twice the market price for this unique experience.

5. BenCab Museum

Photo courtesy of Joy Santos

Drive fifteen minutes from the center of the city to visit BenCab Museum for an artistic reverie in the heart of the mountains. Owned by National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, who is famously known as BenCab, the museum houses his studio and showcases his work along with those of other contemporary artists. Adjacent to the museum is a garden leading to the artist’s farm and a short eco-trail hike through a forest.

6. Baguio Craft Brewery

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Lapid

To witness how Baguio is embracing new food trends, warm up a cold evening by having strawberry craft beer, called Lagud, at Baguio Craft Brewery. Taste sixteen different craft beers as you survey the city lights from the terrace while snacking on their versions of beer match, including fish tacos and grilled capsicum.

7. Baguio City Market

Photo courtesy of Ian Francisco

Not only is the Baguio City Market “Pasalubong Central”—where you can get popular sweets like choco flakes and delicate peanut brittle—it’s also a great place to get fresh produce that only the region’s cool weather conditions can grow. Fill your bayong (woven basket) with the lushest greens and juiciest vegetables, along with other quality Cordillera products such as rice wine and handicrafts.

8. Mountain Maid Training Center (Good Shepherd)

Photo courtesy of Pierre Marius

Known widely to tourists who flock back to it every year as Good Shepherd, the Mountain Maid Training Center (MMTC) is now a full-fledged social enterprise run by the Good Shepherd Sisters, who started making strawberry jam in the ‘50s to support their youth program. Today, the MMTC produces a wide range of delicious cookies, candies, and preserves that have become a take-home must for Baguio’s visitors.

9. Burnham Park

Photo courtesy of Ynad Miranda

Just to get a classic taste of Baguio’s original appeal as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, round out your vacation with a visit to Burnham Park. Named after the city’s original planner, American architect Daniel Burnham, Burnham Park is home to a wealth of recreational activities that have attracted vacationers from around the country for many years. Bask in nostalgia as you row across the man-made Burnham Lake, or rent different types of bicycles for some active fun with the whole family.

This article was originally published in EXPLORE Philippines Magazine February – March 2016 Issue.

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Our journey began with an idea to discover what it means to travel the Philippines, beyond the alluring images of sparkling blue waters and powder white sand. We seek to share travel stories to inspire the wide-eyed traveler, moving them deeper into the destination with stunning images and narratives about its sights, tastes, textures, smells, and local life.

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