Benguet Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

The city of Baguio is found on a mountain at lofty heights, reachable from the lowlands only after several hours of driving. Still, the attractions packed densely into its small area drew 1.6 travelers in 2017. Dubbed as the City of Pines and the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio fascinates partly because of its cool weather--but also because of its thriving culinary scene and its pockets of nature amidst the urbanized chaos. As it is with mountains, the artistic spirit runs strong here, from creative communities to works of beauty in surprising places. Its overall effect is refreshing, both for the senses and the spirit.

Where to go in Benguet

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1300 Level Hot Spring

Itogon, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2604, Philippines

Adoration Convent of Divine Mercy

Brent Rd. Chaplains Residence Baguio City, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2600, Philippines

Agno River

Itogon, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2604, Philippines

Ambacuag River

Sablan, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2614, Philippines

Ambuklao Dam

Brgy. Ambuclao Bokod, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2605, Philippines

Amburayan River

Kapangan, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2613, Philippines

Amlangit Rice Terraces

Batad Rice Terraces Barangay Cadapdapan Kapangan, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, 2613, Philippines

How to Get Here

By Bus
The usual mode of public transportation to Baguio is via bus; there are no direct flights.
If you’re flying in from somewhere else, the standard route involves getting dropped off at the Manila Ninoy Aquino International airport. From Metro Manila, you can easily get a bus going towards Baguio.

Victory Liner is the most popular, with stations in Caloocan, Cubao, Pasay, and Manila. Alternatively, you can opt for Viron Transit or Genesis, also in Cubao and Manila.

Going from Manila to Baguio by bus takes around six to seven hours, with daytime trips taking around an hour longer than nighttime trips.

For travelers departing from somewhere else in Luzon, there are plenty of buses leaving from the following provinces too:
Ilocos Norte
Ilocos Sur
La Union
Nueva Ecija

You can look into Victory Liner, Partas, Jac Liner, and Philippine Rabbit for trips from other provinces. There are also more specialized buses like Northern Bus Line, which caters to the northern regions.
By Private Transportation
Aside from the distance, driving by yourself to Baguio can be challenging--you’ll be sloping up a mountain, following a foggy, zigzag path that can be dizzying (and almost always causes car sickness) and dangerous. Make sure to familiarize yourself as much as you can with the roads you’re going to take, and stay alert during the trip.

If you’re coming from Manila, you’ll most likely go through Kennon Road, which starts off from Rosario, La Union, or Marcos Highway, which you can enter through Bauang, La Union. Travelers from eastern provinces can try the Baguio-Nueva Vizcaya Road; for Northern Luzon as an origin point, go instead through Naguilian Road, also starting at Bauang, La Union.

Popular Food

Preparing authentic pinikpikan is rather brutal. A chicken is beaten to death slowly so that the blood coagulates inside; its feathers are burned off, and it’s cooked in a broth along with etag (cured meat). It hails from rituals in Cordillera tribes, but you can find it now in some restaurants in Baguio, frequently with lettuce, ginger, and chayote.

(c) John Ryan Recabar /

Taho is a classic street snack all over the country--especially for kids!--but Baguio gives this soy bean curd delicacy a unique spin. Given the abundance of strawberries in the nearby La Trinidad, Baguio’s taho eschews the classic arnibal (caramelized brown sugar topping), replacing it with strawberry syrup made from preserves.

(c) Mermaid Wanders /

Pinuneg is the Igorot version of blood sausage. Compared to its longganisa (sweet sausage) cousin, it’s made of a headier, more strong-tasting mixture of pig intestine and blood. As with pinikpikan, preparation of pinuneg is treated as a ritual and traditionally accompanied with prayer.

(c) The Lifestyle Avenue /

Ube (purple yam) jam is most commonly found in halo-halo, but have you ever tried eating it from a jar? A favorite pasalubong sought out by traveler in Baguio, the best variation can be found in the Good Shepherd convent, where the nuns have perfected the recipe over time--creamy and smooth, especially when warm.

(c) Dude for Food /

Benguet Arabica has been described as world-class, earning the respect of international coffee connoisseurs and bagging a place in coffee shops all over the country. Its rich, full-bodied flavor lands it in high demand, even though it’s becoming increasingly rare because of dwindling trees in the Cordillera forest.

(c) Out of Town Blog /

Best Time to Go

One of Baguio’s major perks is its consistent climate--you can always expect it to be colder and less humid than the rest of the country. However, while bringing a jacket before was an absolute necessity, global warming has left its mark. Just as the Philippines as a whole has become prone to sweltering heat, especially in the summer, Baguio’s average temperature has also risen steadily through the years--although, of course, we’d still recommend getting extra layers to wrap yourself in, just in case.

Baguio has the summer refuge a century ago, and until now, it still is. While the more tropically inclined would be making a beeline for beaches from April to May, just as many will head off to Baguio and cool off amidst nature and restaurants. Other popular times are February, during the month-long celebration of the Panagbenga Festival, and December, which is the most crowded month of the year because of homecomings and Christmas vacations. Of course, if you’d rather avoid the crowd, you can take the opposite approach and choose the other months--take into account the rainy season, though, since it might make exploring inconvenient.

What to Do

Visit a bookshop
Bookshops are defined by their books as much as their ambience, and Mt. Cloud Bookshop stands out on both counts. It’s whimsical all throughout: colorful origami cranes cascade down the walls and windows, handicrafts and paintings complement the stacks of books, and quaint touches such as its unvarnished floor and a tall wooden ladder give the shop a homey ambience. There’s often a crowd inside its cozy, intimate space, such that you risk bumping into either a shelf or another person. The founders are writer-anthropologists, and that shows in their curated selection of books--Filipiniana, indie, and academic works abound, with rare comics for rent as well as a smattering of more mainstream novels.
Find some quiet time and meditate
Nature, art, and mountains--these characterize Baguio, and it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that it’s also a lovely place for meditation and prayer. The Pink Sisters Convent is a peaceful sanctuary, the abode of nuns known as the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters. Literally clad in pink habits, they lead cloistered, contemplative lives, with their own prayer space in the chapel marked off by wrought iron gates. Despite this, people are drawn to the convent, coming by for Sunday Mass, lighting candles in solemnity, or writing down their requests for the nuns to pray over. An especially captivating experience is hearing the nuns singing and praying, their gentle voices soaring all around the space.
Learn about traditional handicrafts
There’s something spellbinding about watching someone create with their hands from scratch--the more intricate the motions, the more the process itself becomes art. This holds true for traditional handicrafts such as pottery, woodcarving, and even instrument-making. Don’t miss out on the chance to appreciate these age-old arts in Baguio, which offers a lot of opportunities. Drop by the Ifugao Woodcarvers’ Village, where shop after shop of delicately hand-carved wares runs along Asin Road. Alternatively, the Easter Weaving Room gives you a firsthand glimpse of the traditional weaving process, where a single piece of cloth can take months or even years to develop.
Go shopping
Shopping in Baguio is unique. We’re not going to point you to the usual glitzy malls that can be found in almost every bustling city. Here, if you know where to look, it’s like stumbling onto a daily sale--ukay-ukay or thrift shops are found in abundance, with endless rows and heaps of clothes and shoes presumably from Filipino expats. These normally enjoy a healthy flow of customers, but it gets intense during holidays as both travelers and locals determinedly look for good finds. Try the Baguio Night Market at Harrison Road, Hilltop at the Baguio City Market, or Skyworld on Session Road. But even if you’re not into clothes, you’d still probably have to bring an extra bag. Quirkily enough, the Baguio Public Market is an unexpected attraction. The cool climate lends itself to fresh produce that’s not as common anywhere else in the country--and the market itself is air-conditioned and exceptionally orderly.
Go to the Panagbenga festival
Initially meant to last only two weeks, the Panagbenga Festival has expanded into a thriving one-month celebration--it’s one of the grandest festivals nationwide, attracting around 2 million visitors in 2018, and it stands out among the rest because it doesn’t have a religious backstory. Baguio, already a beautiful city in itself, comes into full bloom during the Panagbenga. Flowers are the centerpiece of the festival, incorporated in dazzling displays for exhibits, landscape and flower arrangements, and parades with stunning dancers and ornate floats. You’ll never run out of anything to do here--from main performances to trade fairs, the celebration spreads out into every nook and cranny of the city.

Estimated Costs

Bus to Baguio (One-Way)
P400 (standard aircon) to P800 (deluxe) from Manila; P300 below for closer provinces
P1000-P3000 (three-star hotel) to P7000 (five-star hotel) per night
Regular Inexpensive Meal
Three-Course Meal, Mid-Range
Around P35 (base) + P13.50 / km + P2 / min