I may be gone for such a long time, but I’m back. And that’s all that matter
– Koi Miazaki
So me and my family decided to go to Baguio/ Sagada/ Benguet this February. It had been a long time since we went to one. And what I can say about the trip was, it was the most challenging, life-threatening, Survivor Philippines style trip that we ever had. (That is of course considering that we’re “pabebe” Manila people and we’re not used to the mountains.)
The way I will write my experience about this trip is kind of like a diary/ trip adviser style. 🙂
From Manila, we took the JoyBus of Genesis Bus which will take you to from Cubao to Manila and vice versa in 4 hours more or less. That’s right, Baguio is no longer 6 hours, it’s just 4 hours.
I’m not sure about the other prices, but what we took was:
Deluxe – P650
Semi-deluxe – P550
- Looks like an ordinary bus (but of course, nicer): Almost the same as Deluxe but with no lazyboy chairs, more seats, still has biscuits and water bottle, blanket, and comfort room.
Please contact Genesis for more details and reservation
Upon reaching Baguio, we stayed at Manhattan Suites
Manhattan Suites is actually good. With the price of P3,000 a night for three people, it’s very clean and quiet. Breakfast is included with various options of -silogs, like Tapsilog, Longsilog, and Tosilog and also a hot chocolate. The elevator buttons are so cool. The room has a television, very clean bathroom with heater, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, electric outlets (about 8 outlets), an electric fan (I didn’t notice if there is an airconditioner because it’s already cold in Baguio), and a veranda overlooking Baguio.
Downsides are: It’s not “near” or by the tourist spots like Burnham Park. But, I don’t think it’s a problem since you will get a lot of taxis one block from Manhattan Suites. Another downside is that, when the staff knew that we were 4 people but we just availed a room for 3, he does not want me and my sister to just share on bed. The staff said that we have to avail a mattress, which we did although we didn’t think it was necessary. So there had to be 4 beds for 4 people and you had to avail for a mattress which was P500. Good thing, for some reason, the mattress was not delivered, so we didn’t have to pay for it. Other than that, it’s a nice suite and I truly recommend it.
We went to Mines View Park, a famous place to get an overlooking view of Baguio. Entrance is for free. You can also ride a horse and take a picture with it for P50 per 3 shots (if I can remember correctly). We didn’t see much though because it was getting dark. So, I suggest to go there early.
Not far from the park, we ate at Ketchup Food Community. It is a must to try the Lomo Ribs in Ketchup Food Community’s Canto.
One Lomo Ribs is for P400. It’s super soft, and tasty, sided by a super tasty salad. Don’t let its size shock you though. The first time we saw it coming to our table, it was huge! We thought we wouldn’t finish it and we were so worried because we ordered two servings. However, you’ll be surprised by how piranha-ish you and your folks can be when you realize that the food was so tasty, you’ll see it in bones in no time. Two servings is just right. For the drinks, we ordered Gulaman, which was also good.
A little walk from Ketchup Food Community, there are also activities like Horse Back Riding at Wright Park. Price is P350 for 2 people (not sure what are the other prices). Me and my sister were both riding our own horses. We had a guide who walked beside the horse. After some time, the guides taught us how to “drive” by pulling the strings while the horse was walking. I think we had about 5 rounds till the horse got tired.
We went back to Burnham Park and relaxed ourselves in the boat ride in the middle of the park. For P100, you get to ride the boat with no time limit, drive it yourself or with a guide. I suggest to just drive it yourself since you get to enjoy privacy.
There were also night markets around Burnham Park since we went there in February: month of the Panagbenga Festival, which is the Flower Festival in Baguio.
Early morning, we woke up and we went went went to Sagada. It will take you 6-7 hours of driving from Baguio. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about public transportation to Sagada since we had a friend who took us there. We didn’t reach Sagada though, since we were with photographers (since my father is also one), they wanted to reach Sagada at sunrise. So, we just stayed in Bontoc for the night.
A must try in Bontoc though is the Caja Pizza Cupcakes and more.
The pizza was delicious and unique! The staff was super acommodating. The chocolate-banana pie was heaven!!! We had 7 orders of it~ It was super addicting, delishious and yum yum yum ❤ Super recommended! I just wished I can eat that dessert again ❤
Now, for the real Sagada! From Bontoc, it will only take a jiffy to get there. Maybe about 30 minutes? Anyways, there are 2 options to choose from: Kiltepan View or the 360 view on top of Marlboro Hills which we chose, since again we’re with the photographers.
Marlboro Hills is a great spot for photographers. It has a 360 degree view of the sea of clouds on top of the mountain. It’s also freezing cold on top. When we went there, it dropped to 12.2 degree Celsius. The hike is on a different road than Kiltepan View. It will take about 1 hour and a half of walking time. Just be prepared for mud and exhaustion. An exhaustion in which you will feel hot even though it’s freezing cold.
However, once you get there, the view is marvelous! As for us, it’s all fog and we didn’t see the sea of clouds. (Aw…). Still, I’m sure that the view would be marvelous if we just saw the famous view instead of all fog.
Other tourist spots in Sagada are the Hanging Coffins and Sumaguing Cave. We didn’t tarry there though. We just took a picture with the Hanging Coffins from afar.
Sagada is also a nice place for souvenirs. There are a lot of stores to choose from.
From Sagada, it will take 3-4 hours to go to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. Unfortunately, when we went there, the terraces was also shy and was covered with fog 😦
We then went to Batad Rice Terraces and stayed at Hill Side Inn in which my father had a reservation from Agoda. The place was famous for the view of the terraces. There are a lot of foreigners staying in the inn. The room that we got was for the ones with the view – P2,500 good for 4 people.
Going to the inn was… life changing. Here’s my review of the place which I also posted at TripAdvisor:
Good things first, the view of the Batad Rice Terraces is great. Except if there are thick fogs. When we went there though the fog cleared up at about 10am.
*Please please don’t go at night and when it’s raining/muddy. If you don’t want to experience “Survivor Philippines”, don’t do so. I also don’t recommend the inn if you’re with an elderly or with children. There is only one way to get there, a 30 minute walk by a cliff side. It was muddy, the road was very very poor, the “cemented” road in some parts of it was also poor. The road was fit for only one person if you don’t want to fall off the cliff. There were also zero railings. It is really recommended that you use their walking sticks (P10) for balance. Still, the walk was very tiring, dangerous, and … we really felt that we should have a medal in the end. Walking at night when you can’t see anything and the ground was really muddy and slippery was a nightmare. But, if you can do it, why not? As long as you have the courage or spirit to try going to the inn. For us, going there was an unforgettable experience, mainly because of the road getting there.
*The food was also expensive though they had a lot of choices you can pick.
*The room was also poor in the sense of (let me describe it): blankets were cozy but it was short and it was hard to keep cozy. The room was plain square clearly made out of wooden walls and yero (galvanized iron sheets). The door’s lock was very ancient and it didn’t have a door knob. There were moths everywhere. It was really a provincial experience and not very “relaxing”. The bathroom was public too and they were not very clean. To get to the rooms and the dining place, there were also a lot of going up and down the stairs.
I’m not sure why no one had reviewed about the experience going there. Some reviews also said the bus stops by the inn. It’s not true. You have to walk beside a cliff on a road that was poorly made. Other than that, it’s fine if you’re in it for the view. Who knows, I might just be a Manila girl that’s why the experience of the road had a large impact on me. But I’m just saying, not everybody would appreciate the road.
From the inn to Baguio, it will take about 9 hours of traveling by car.
The trip for me and my family was very life-changing. It was seriously the most challenging trip we had ever experienced, with all the hikings, the cliff, the zigzags, the hiking again. But it was good! We also get to visit a lot of locals of Ang Dating Daan. Got to attend Worship Service in Lokal of Banaue, and got to sleep at Lokal of Bontoc.
It was nice to experience how cold the Philippines can be. It was a lot for us Manila people. Manila was very hot, overcrowded, and quite dirty (not badmouthing Manila here, I love Manila, I’m just saying the truth), while Baguio was cold, overcrowded, but clean. It was also nice to see “cities” on top of the mountain. You can’t help but appreciate the up and down inclinations of the road. You also can’t help getting amazed by the view and thought that you were on top of a mountain, and there were houses everywhere on different layers. It’s nice. 🙂
Knowing now that going to Baguio only takes 4 hours from Manila, I’d definitely love to go back again some day ❤