Laid-Back Weekend in Baguio

I had a pretty solid weekend with my work friends in Baguio. We have always toyed with the idea but never got around to setting a date until this month. I will soon leave my company for greener pastures and I didn’t want to miss this chance to hang out with the gang outside the office.

BagYOLO was the official hashtag of the trip. No itinerary to stick to and no pressure to tick off to-do lists. For a big group like ours, this is the only pace that works. It’s better to realize up front that a group of 8 people won’t be that nimble. Plus, Baguio weather = all day bed weather. You’d just want to hibernate under the sheets after a long work week.

CHAYA (BUDGET: ₱ 400 / $ 8.75)
72 Legarda Road, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 744244726

One of my friends is from Baguio so he knows where we can find good restaurants besides the usual 50’s diner and Good Taste. Japanese food is always a good idea so he took us to Chaya, located along Legarda Road. We ordered Temaki Sushi for sharing and I ordered one of their miso-based ramens.

It was fun to roll your own sushi. Plus some yummy sashimi too. Not a fan of the ramen though. It looks like a house turned restaurant so there’s a cozy feel to it. The interiors reminded me of The Shining for some reason.

We skipped the parks on our first day and just chilled at Camp John Hay. I wanted a woodland photoshoot anyway. Sorry friends, for exploiting your faces.

CHOCO-LATE DE BATIROL (BUDGET: ₱ 150 / $ 3.27)
Igorot Park, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 916 375 6510

No doubt a mug of hot chocolate drink is perfect to shake off the cold weather. This tiny garden café is conveniently inside Camp John Hay near the Igorot Park. They serve tablea chocolate drinks (both hot and cold) that you can partner with Filipino delicacies like their bestsellers bibingka (a type of Filipino rice cake) and suman sa lihiya (another type of rice cake). My favorite was their almond-flavored hot chocolate drink.

We decided to do The Phone Stack game just for the lulz. Whoever grabs their phone first pays the bill.

BENCAB MUSEUM (ENTRANCE FEE: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)
Km 6 Asin Road Tadiangan, Tuba, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 (74) 442 7165

I said we didn’t have any to-do lists for this trip, but personally, I really wanted to visit this museum. I’ve heard good things and I’m a sucker for art museums. Especially beautiful ones with a minimalist interior design and high ceilings.

The 4-storey museum houses some of the National artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera’s artworks of various media and galleries of many Filipino contemporary art pieces and indigenous art and artefacts.

The Erotica gallery is pretty interesting.

CAFÉ SABEL (BUDGET: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)

Bencab Museum’s in-house café, named after the artist’s muse. It overlooks the picturesque forest and duck pond.

MINES VIEW PARK (ENTRANCE FEE: FREE; BUDGET FOR STREET FOOD: ₱ 70 / $ 1.5)
Outlook Drive, Baguio, Philippines

What more can I say, it’s a Baguio staple. The park overlooks Benguet’s gold and copper mines, hence the name. It’s not so obvious though. All I saw was mostly greenery with sprouting houses here and there.

It’s usually overcrowded like what Baguio as a whole has become. So expect a lot of tourist traps like overpriced photo ops with big St. Bernards in shades and the pink haired horse or wearing an Ifugao costume (which I think is really depressing).

One thing I looked forward to was street food. They’ve got some really tasty grilled dried squid. If you’re not a fan, you can find grilled corn or strawberry taho.

Why not bring home some wooden keychains of strawberries and male genitals?

GOOD SHEPHERD CONVENT (BUDGET: ₱ 700 / $ 15)
Gibraltar Road, Baguio, Philippines

I cannot go back home without bringing any delicacy. I know, Pinoys and their pasalubong tradition. So, we went to Good Shepherd Convent to buy their legit products. The ones they sell in the stores outside are also legit but they sell it for a higher rate.

All these goodies for a little over ₱ 700.

PIZZA VOLANTE (BUDGET: ₱ 300 / $ 6.55)
Ayala Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

We went back to Camp John Hay to have dinner at Volante. Actually, there are branches along Session Road and near Wright Park but my friend wanted us to try a nearby café for dessert. Delicious pizza and pasta and quite affordable too. Their new flavor Feta Tomato Olives pizza is a must-try.

FOG PHOTO CAFÉ (BUDGET: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)
Ayala Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

Affordable, yummy cakes! One slice starts as low as ₱ 60. We bought one slice each of different flavours and had a mandatory cake rigodon. The rumors are true, their strawberry shortcake is the tits.

I just realized that our Baguio trip has been a food crawl after all. Anyway, there’s nothing like getting together with a bunch of awesome friends gorging on good food all day in a great city.

Watch our travel video here.

How to do Bali in 3 Days: Day 3 (Tirta Empul + Tegunungan Waterfall + Sanur Beach)

Backtrack // Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.

We saved the best activities (or the ones that involve getting wet) in our itinerary for last. We were down to our last whole day in Bali and it hadn’t rain. We hit the road at our usual 10 AM call time and headed to our first destination: Tirta Empul Temple.

  1. WE HAD A SORT OF SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE AT THE TIRTA EMPUL TEMPLE.

It was a bit of a long drive from Kuta to Tirta Empul Temple but I felt that our Bali trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting this place. It’s not like any other temple. It’s known for its holy waters where both the locals and tourists go for spiritual cleansing.

Tourists are allowed to dip in the spiritual pools and participate in the prayer rituals. Bring a towel or extra clothes if you decide to take a dip in the spiritual pools.

Tourists who don’t wish to get wet are allowed to watch and take photos, which I find quite awkward. But I guess there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s done sensitively.

There’s a big and really cool koi pond inside.

Entrance to the temple was 15.000 IDR ($ 1.11/ ₱ 50). This already includes the sarong rental.

  1. WE TREKKED DOWN THE TEGENUNGAN WATERFALL.

After our 40-minute drive from Tirta Empul Temple, our driver parked the van and we paid the relatively cheap 10.000 IDR ($ 0.74/ ₱ 34) entrance fee per person. There’s a small canteen before you start the mini trek that’s got a splendid view of the waterfall.

If you don’t have the energy to walk up and down a flights of stairs or balance on some rocks and bamboo bridges, you can just stay here and have a drink. But if you went there specifically to get up close with the waterfall and take a dip then you have to do it. Coming from a person who is physically inept for anything related to trekking or hiking, I tell you it was totally worth it.

  1. WE SPENT THE AFTERNOON RELAXING AT SANUR BEACH.

Sanur is your average beach. It can be a bit underwhelming but if you’re here to just relax, this is the perfect place. Not a lot of tourists compared to other beaches in Bali and there are lots of affordable beach restaurants and bars. Entrance to the beach is free but if you decide to rent a beach lounger, you can pay 50.000 IDR ($ 3.70/ ₱ 170) for the whole day.

  1. FINALLY, WE SPENT OUR LAST NIGHT IN BALI TRYING OUT SOME STREET FOOD.

Touristy places tend to hike prices even for street food. So if you want to try a lot of them at their reasonable prices, then hit the night markets. On our way back from Sanur Beach to our villa in Kuta, we passed by a market to eat some for dinner.

All of these skewers and iced tea for 45.000 IDR ($ 3.33/ ₱ 152).bali street food

Chili corn for 5.000 IDR ($ 0.37/ ₱ 17).