Weekend tour to Baguio City, Panagbenga Festival

My mom wanted to celebrate her golden birthday in Baguio, and so we did. Last February 25 to 26, my family and I traveled to Baguio City just in time for the Panagbenga Festival.

Instead of renting our own vehicle and planning our own itinerary, my mom decided that we try those tour packages you often see on the internet. After searching for a trustworthy travel agency and a reasonable travel package price, we decided to avail Travel Galore‘s Baguio Tour package for ₱1,699.00 per person. The package includes transportation, overnight accommodation, tours, and a driver. The tour package is available until June this year, so if you are interested, you may check the details hereIn this post, I will share our Baguio tour experience as well as my random thoughts along the way.

The adventure began in McDonald’s Mindanao Ave. (near TriNoma) at 11PM (supposedly). Call time was 11PM but the van arrived around 12AM because the driver needed to wait in SM Mall of Asia to pickup those passengers who came late. My family and I were a group of eight people, so we have to share the van with four other people. All in all, we are 12 people travelling to Baguio. We departed Manila 12:30AM. I spent the whole van travel sleeping until we reached our last stopover around 8:30AM before arriving in Baguio.

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After breakfast, my mom discussed our supposed itinerary with our driver, Kuya Ulysses. There have been issues because the travel agency failed to communicate the itinerary with the driver. According to Kuya Uly, they were just instructed to drop us off at the grand street parade and pick us up in the afternoon to check us in our transient house. Of course, my mom did not accept that and asked Kuya Uly to talk to the travel agency. After minutes of discussion, it was agreed that we stick to the original itinerary.

For comparison, here are the photos of the itinerary from Travel Galore. The one in the left is the original itinerary posted in their page, the very reason we chose to avail the package from them. The one in the right is the second itinerary they have given.

Moving on, we went to our first destination – the Lourdes Grotto. In this place, you will have to go up 252 steps to reach the chapel where you can light up a candle and pray. The place were full of trees and flowers, at the top of it was a scenic view of the city. We did not do the 252 steps though, because Kuya Uly dropped us off somewhere near the chapel. You can expect flower vendors, souvenir shops, candle vendors, as well as taho vendors in the place. You may also rent a traditional katutubo costume and take photos wearing it.

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After that, we drove to our next destination – the Diplomat Hotel. The place is an abandoned hotel and believed to be haunted by ghosts. Through the city government’s efforts, the place is being rehabilitated and is presently named as Heritage and Nature Park. I have quite an interest in horror stories, roaming around the place made me wonder about the events that took place within the vicinity. Since we went there at day time, it was not creepy wandering around the place.

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Our next destination was the Tam-Awan Village. In this place, you will witness a showcase of indigenous crafts and activities of the Cordillera culture. Getting around the place requires a lot of walking up and down on slopes, a wee bit slippery at the time we went because of little rain showers.

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After that, our group took a break to rest and to eat our lunch. Then, we proceeded to our next stop which was the Strawberry Farm. There were various souvenir shops and vegetable and fruit vendors. Inside the farm, you will see hectares of strawberries, flowers, vegetables, and fruits.

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It has been exhausting touring on those four first destinations in our itinerary. If you are planning to tour around Baguio, prepare yourselves for a lot of walking. Also, bring a cap, bottled water, and a face towel. Sure, the breeze was cool, but at the time we went, the heat of the sun was also felt. After walking around the farm and buying souvenirs and some pasalubong, we finally headed to our transient home. Here are some photos of the house:

The place was a 3-story house and we stayed at the attic with four different rooms. We settled down our things, washed ourselves, and rested. Around 7PM, Kuya Uly fetched us and drove us to Burnham Park. We took our dinner and planned to go ride bicycle but since it was already kind of late and we’re tired, we just walked around the park. At 9PM, we started walking around the night market in Session Road. The night market was jam packed, we could barely roam around. We did not stay long due to the number of people, Kuya Uly drove us back home.

The next day, we packed our bags and left the house early in the morning to continue our tour. Our first destination was the grand street parade. Our driver dropped us in Panagbenga Park, from there we walked our way to where the floats were parked and where the parade will start.

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All the floats were individually beautiful, the effort and creativity in making those are truly amazing. There were also celebrities, sports personalities, and a beauty queen. The place were, of course, crowded.

After seeing the float parade entries, we walked back to Panagbenga Park to rest a bit. Here are some of the photos I took from the park.

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Our next destination was the Mines View Park, one of the most popular places to visit in Baguio. In the park was a deck from where you can see a breathtaking view of the city. There were also a variety of plants and flowers sold in the park, you may as well take photos with horses and St. Bernard dogs as souvenirs. This was my 3rd visit in Baguio, I cannot help but notice that Mines View Park became bombarded with souvenir shops. I was not able to take decent photos from the park but here are our group shots and some random photos! 😛

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After going around the Mines View Park, we walked our way to the Good Shepherd Convent, a place known for different pasalubong products made by the convent nuns. Some of the most sought for products are their ube jam, lengua de gato, and peanut brittle. Aside from the variety of products you can buy, the convent also has a chapel, an observation deck, and mini gardens.

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We took our lunch right after buying pasalubong from the Good Shepherd Convent. After that, we went to our next destination — The Mansion. The Mansion is usually used by Philippine presidents for official engagements in Baguio. Not much activity around here, sightseeing and taking photos only. Just across The Mansion is the Wright Park where tourists can enjoy horseback riding. Since we only had limited time and we were already kind of tired walking from a place to another, we just took photos and went back to our van.

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Our next stop was the Botanical Garden. You may leisurely stroll around and appreciate the beautiful plants and flowers surrounding the place. Here are some photos of the place:

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After roaming around the beautiful gardens in Botanical, it was finally time to head back home. We made side trips to the Teachers Camp and Camp John Hay, but we did not actually went down, we just sat and went sightseeing from our van. We were all so exhausted from the non-stop walking we did in each of the places we visited.

After hours of driving, we stopped at the famous Kennon Road Viewpoint where you can see the breathtaking panoramic view of the zigzag road.

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We also stopped by the Lion Head but I was too tired to get down the van for photos. After that, we drove home.

Overall, our Baguio trip has been great, fun, and exhausting. Touring in Baguio requires a lot of walking, so you gotta be prepared for that if you’re planning to visit. I hope that Mom enjoyed the trip for she was the reason we went out of town, for her birthday. It is always lovely to go out with family, after all, they are the people who will stand by your side ’til the end.

I would like to commend our Baguio trip driver, Kuya Ulysses, for being such an accommodating and patient driver for us. He was easy to talk to, approachable, understanding, and he has been a great tour guide to us. Though it was not his job to guide us, he was hired to just drive us, he still went extra in taking care of us. He was never late in our pickups and I never heard any complaints from him. We were all witness to his experienced and safe driving as well. Seriously though, I believe that a big part of the reasons why our trip went well was because of Kuya Uly. He is a driver, a care taker like no other.

So, yeah. Basically that was all. A memorable Baguio family trip. ☺

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