Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet – Part 1

I haven’t been to anywhere north of Metro Manila ever since so my trip to Baguio and other places in northern Luzon was a first for me.

After not being able to go to Antique on December 13, I immediately planned for my Christmas trip. One person suggested on my Facebook page to go to Sagada and another suggested Baguio. I decided to not only go to both but also to other provinces in the north.

When I started looking for hotels, everything was fully booked. Fortunately, after four hours of searching, something came up in Agoda – Manhattan Suites. Without second thoughts, I immediately booked a room. It was quite pricey so I wouldn’t recommend this. After I finished this trip, my view about traveling has changed. On my next trips, I would really take extra effort to find the cheapest accommodation.

I expected a few hiccups along the way but I didn’t expect it to come too soon. While I was booking my flight, I made an error in my return date. I was going home on January 5 but I instead entered January 11, so I paid extra rebook. I would rebook this again to be on an earlier flight.

As for the bus to Baguio, I found out that one can book a seat on a Victory Liner bus online, but later read that they require the booking to be made at least eight business days in advance. It was already December 18 at that time and I was heading to Baguio on December 25. With the weekend and two holidays in between, I was worried but I took a chance anyway.

I booked an afternoon first-class trip from the Pasay terminal but they came back to me the next day saying that trip was fully booked but they could put me on an aircon (not first-class) trip instead. I took it and paid the P445 fare plus the P100 handling fee plus the Paypal fee for a total of P557. They mailed the ticket to me promptly and I received it on December 22. When I got the ticket, I found out they placed me on a bus coming from the Cubao terminal.

So I left Sagay early on December 25. My flight to Manila was scheduled at 8:45am but the plane was only able to leave at 9:55am. I guess this was just the beginning of the Cebu Pacific holiday nightmare I heard on the news.

The taxi I took when I arrived in Manila sped away from the NAIA Terminal 3 to the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao. Tip: Victory Liner has two terminals in Cubao – the buses going to Baguio are stationed on the terminal at the left (when coming from the airport). I got there at 11:35am and I was scheduled on a 1pm bus, so I realized that all my fears about the EDSA traffic plus the flight delay earlier were unwarranted.

The bus trip was uneventful. We arrived in Baguio around 7pm. I imagined that there were a lot of taxis in Baguio (I read it somewhere) but I was so wrong. I had to elbow my way to get a taxi (there was no line at the terminal) after 30 minutes of waiting. When I finally got into a taxi, the driver was a little snarky bordering on rude (I read again from somewhere that Baguio taxi drivers are the nicest in the country), so I did not have a good first impression of Baguio. In addition, Manhattan Suites was not easy to find. The driver knew where Sepic Road was but was not familiar with the hotel. We got lost and had to ask for directions from other taxi drivers.

When I got to my hotel room, I ate the sandwich I brought from home for dinner and slept the night off. I was expecting to shiver from the cold but it was surprisingly comfortable.

The next day, I got ready to roam around Baguio. I left the hotel at 11am. I waited and waited and waited for a taxi but not a single one was available. After almost an hour of waiting, I started walking with the aim of going to SM. I felt embarrassed to ask other people – I was scared they’d look at me as crazy if they find out I was walking my way to SM – so I largely depended on Google Maps on my phone.

After a few wrong turns, I got to Burnham Park. I didn’t see anything special in there. To me, it was just another park. When I saw the lagoon with people on the boats, which I thought was a highlight in Burnham Park, I felt it was a little underwhelming.

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After a few minutes, I decided I had enough of Burnham Park so I continued my way to SM. I made a few wrong turns but I was able to find the crowd of people on their way to the mall. When I got to SM, I looked for a place to eat. After seeing that almost all restaurants were in full capacity, I resigned to the fact that I might not be able to have lunch. Until I found Sbarro! Yeah, I went all the way to Baguio just to eat in Sbarro.

After lunch, I decided to line up for the taxi. This was way better than to wait for a taxi on the side of the road. The line was moving along fast. When I was in front of the line, the first taxi driver that came up refused me because of the heavy traffic outside Mines View Park which I was planning to go to first. But then the next taxi driver was a friendly one who toured me around the tourist spots in Baguio for P300 an hour. His name was Sherwin.

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