When you are driving up to Baguio City, you will smell the city a long time before you see it. As you wind up the approach roads in your car or bus, you will suddenly and pleasantly detect the tang, the smell of pine trees. For there are tens of thousands of these trees planted on the mountains and slopes surrounding Baguio, the summer resort of the Philippines. Let us explore this great destination!
Baguio, Philippines: The City of Pines
Up in the mountains of the northern Philippines is Baguio, the summer capital of the country. Baguio is an important educational, religious and vacation center.
Baguio is not far away!
Take a bus any morning from the Philippines capital, Manila, and you will be in Baguio by early afternoon. Take a plane and you will be there in less than two hours. Baguio could not be more different than Manila. Unlike tropical Manila with its ever high humidity and temperatures, Baguio is up in the mountains and often surrounded by swirling mists. Hardly any coconut trees in Baguio, but rather thousands of pine trees which scent the air with a fresh pine odor. Baguio is only a recent city. Its location was selected in 1900 by the Americans as the future site of a cool retreat for the American colonial administrators and business merchants. In fact, the aim was to create a hill station, such as the British had created in the Cameron Highlands in colonial Malaya and in Darjeeling and Simla in British India.
Burnham Park, Baguio
Burnham Park, Baguio
Places to See in Baguio
The main thoroughfare in Baguio is Session Road. It is a quite steep road, beginning at SM Baguio shopping mall at the lower end and ending up near the bus station at the upper end. Along the way are many pleasant restaurants and cosy pubs.
Towering over Baguio and just off to one side from Session Road is Baguio Cathedral. It is the worship center for Roman Catholics of this region and is painted in pastel colors. During the Second World War the cathedral sheltered hundreds of Baguio's citizens during the bombing attacks of the city.
Another religious destination is Lourdes Grotto at Mirador Hill in western Baguio. Reached by a steep staircase of 252 steps, the grotto contains a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.
A recreation area popular with locals and visitors alike is Burnham Park. This is a park with a boating lake in the middle. You can hire a boat for a quiet ride around the lake or visit one of the many attractions in the surrounding park -- such as the rose garden, bicycle lanes, basketball courts and the children's playground.
Mansion House -- with its elegant main building and guesthouse set in extensive grounds -- used to be the summer residence of the United States governors general and later was the home and office of the Philippine presidents when they were visiting Baguio. No tourist's visit to Baguio is complete without a photo taken beside the Mansion House's elaborate gates.
Mines View Park offers you a magnificent view over the mountains and valleys that surround Baguio. You can also see where copper and gold mines used to be located.
Mansion House, Baguio, Seen Through its Elaborate Gates
Mansion House, Baguio
Day Trips from Baguio
Camp John Hay was built as a recreation area for the American armed forces. It was also closely associated with the history of World War II: the first bombs in the Japanese invasion were dropped here and it was here that, on September 3, 1945, General Yamashita signed the surrender of all te Japanese forces under his command. Today Camp John Hay is a pleasant retreat with an excellent golf course, other sporting and picnic facilities, accommodation and restaurants.
Asin Hot Springs is a set of natural thermal springs and swimming pools, located 16 km outside of Baguio. A day at Asin involves is a pleasant trip through rugged mountain scenery.
The Philippine Military Academy (or PMA) is the top military academy in the Philippine Islands. It is open to the public seven days a week. Saturday is possibly the best day to visit as it is then that you can view a parade and review of the cadets, which always includes precision marching. There is also an interesting museum to visit at the PMA.
Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Museum, Baguio City
Baguio's Fabulous Panagbenga Festival
In February every year Baguio puts on a festival of flowers, the Panagbenga Festival.
The festival lasts a whole month and features parades (with each float designed to represent a different kind of flower), marching band and street dancing competitions, floral displays in Session Road, and a trade bazaar.
The Panagbenga Festival is popular with visitors from all over the country and from overseas.
Panagbenga 2010 Flower Festival
Baguio - Elsewhere on the Web
"Baguio is situated among pine-covered hills, and is often called the City of Pines. Also it is dubbed the City of Flowers in honor of its annual flower festival, the Panagbenga Festival."
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