Nicknamed the summer capital of the Philippines thanks to its comparatively cool temperature, Baguio City is one of the most popular places to stay on the island of Luzon. From strawberry picking to craft beer to Mines View Park, here are the top things to do and experience there.
Like something from the stage show of The Lion King, this cartoon-like statue of a lion’s head is unmissable, standing 40ft (12m) tall and painted gold. Located on Kennon Road, Luzon’s major highway that leads to Baguio, the fearsome beast is a popular photo op for travellers. Constructed in the 1970s through the initiative of the Lions Club (a local community-service organisation), it’s now considered a guardian of the city.
When Baguio was still in its planning stage, during American occupation in the early 20th century, one of its central features was to be Burnham Park. Now a designated heritage site, the 33ha (81 acres) space features a man-made lake with rowing boats for hire, a children’s playground, a skating rink, a rose garden and an orchidarium. You can roam around the park’s paved walkways or rent a bike to take it all in.
A United States Armed Forces military base during most of the 20th century, Camp John Hay was handed back to the Philippine government in 1991. These days, it’s a 213ha (526 acres) recreation ground featuring outdoor activities at the Tree Top Adventure centre, including a seated cable ride, motorized zip lines, and a free-fall vertical 60ft (18m) zip line. Back down on terra firma, pay a visit to the Bell House, a historic building that exemplifies American colonial architecture.
One of the most-visited spots in Baguio is Mines View Park, thanks to its panoramic views that take in the city, the old town of Itogon with its abandoned gold and copper mines, and the Amburayan Valley. Located on a ledge 4km (2mi) from downtown, it’s worth the hardship of coming here for a sunrise. Add to the sense of a spiritual experience up here by renting Cordillera-region indigenous clothing on-site, headdresses and all.
Baguio City is the strawberry capital of the Philippines. Thanks to its cool climate, strawberries grow easily here – which explains the delicious strawberry ice cream in every café and restaurant. See where they come from by checking out the strawberry farm that’s located in La Trinidad, Benguet, around a 15-minute drive from the centre of town. From November until May, you can pick as many strawberries as you want and pay based on weight.
One of the masters of Filipino contemporary art is Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (also known as BenCab), whose elegant, figurative work often features women wrapped in swirling fabrics and capes. His four-level private museum in Baguio, the BenCab Museum, houses all his paintings, sculptures and installations. The entrance fee includes access to the sprawling gardens, which have a meandering river and mini waterfall. Located in Tadiangan, 15 minutes from the city centre, you can take a jeep from Baguio market.
Thrift shoppers delight: Baguio is a dream with its ukay-ukay stalls, where secondhand clothes (often shipped from the West) are sold at cheap prices. Almost every part of Baguio City has ukay-ukays, but the best spot is the Baguio Night Market on Harrison Road, which stays open from 9pm until 4am and has great jewellery and shoes for sale as well as bargain clothing. The street food will keep you fuelled with enough energy to shop into the small hours.
The craft brewery trend is alive and well in the Philippines. Head to Baguio Craft Brewery, where festoon lighting and outdoor wooden seats at the tasting room create an enchanting atmosphere as you sip the produce that’s made on-site. Craft beers are poured from 18 rotating taps – the signature brew being a strawberry beer. The bar snacks focus on fresh ingredients sourced in the Cordillera Region, such as crispy chicken skins marinated with pinakurat (a spicy dressing).
Head to Session Road to get a feel for Baguio’s nightlife. This 1.7km (1mi) stretch is at the heart of the action, with bars, restaurants, shops and hotels lining the thoroughfare of mid-20th-century America and art deco buildings. A fun spot for groups is the Rabbit Hole, an Alice in Wonderland-themed bar and karaoke lounge with private VIP rooms, where you can belt out all the classics.
A few minutes from the hustle and bustle of Baguio’s Central Business District is a whole other world: the Baguio Botanical Garden, with its towering pine trees, tropical greenhouses and water features. Tourists and locals brush shoulders here to bask in the peace of nature. Climb the stone steps to the garden’s art gallery, browse the stalls selling handicrafts, and dip into the huts that represent the region’s Igorot culture.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.