Spending nine hours every single day in the office can be exhausting. There will come a time when you will want to drop everything, go out somewhere else, and escape from all of your responsibilities. You will be filled with the urge to step out and just wander off. That happened to me in January. I received my 13th-month pay and my leaves were still barely untouched, so I decided to do something about it. The bug that may have bitten every working millennials finally bit me: I got the travel bug. So after a few days of contemplating on the logistics of my travel, I planned my first solo backpacking trip to Baguio.
Going on solo escapades is not new to me, but to go beyond Metro Manila is a different thing. Prior to Baguio, I was considering La Union, Baler, and Vigan. The impending summer heat helped me make up my mind. If this is starting to inspire you to do the same, then read along as I will be giving details about my transportation, accommodation, expenses, and itinerary.
It was Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the end of my shift, I was still undecided if I should push through with the trip. To be sure, I checked Victory Liner’s bus trips to Baguio. Their online ticketing system was down then, so I expected that I was going to be a chance passenger. I also checked hotels and inns that will be accommodating me for three days and two nights of my stay in the City of Pines. The Baguio Village Inn suited my needs and my budget. It is a perfect place for backpackers like me. The place is comfortable and cozy despite their cheap rates. It did not take me long to call them up to reserve a bed. Take note that the room will be shared among other occupants, lucky me, there were not many tourists then so I owned the room during the entire duration of my stay.
The following day, after a pretty stressful day at work, I decided to do my first solo backpacking adventure. I arrived at Victory Liner’s station in Cubao a little past 9 PM and it is packed with passengers and chance passengers. I was told that the next trip would be at 4 AM, and I cannot waste time due to my planned itinerary and room reservation. This is not ideal, but there are also passenger vans that are headed to Baguio waiting for passengers just outside the terminal. The fare (P 700) is double of the regular bus ticket but time is of essence here, so I took it. It paid off since we left Manila at around 12 and we were in Baguio (do not be surprised) a little past 3 AM. Byaheng-langit as they say!
DAY 1. Since it was still too early for me to roam around the city, I took a cab from the bus terminal in Baguio to the inn. The staff at the inn were nice enough to take me in despite arriving way too early for their usual check-in time. After a quick nap, I walked for about 15 mins from the inn to Burnham Park, as any tourists would do. Pictures here, picture there. I have never felt like such a tourist in my life. It has been years since I’ve been to this place and pure nostalgia took over me. Yes, travelling can spark people’s emotions up. After asking some of the locals for a good spot for breakfast, I had mine at Ganzo.
Once I explored every corner of the park, I visited the infamous Diplomat Hotel. My primary goal in the trip is to do as the Romans do, so taking a cab was a no-no, unless I really had to. The good thing is everything is accessible through jeepneys. The Diplomat Hotel is known for its creepy vibe and history and boy, does it deserve its reputation! The building is torn down, but there is beauty in its rubbles which I oddly loved.
The next destination in my itinerary is the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, a 200-step climb to the grotto. I remember conquering it when I was a kid, but it proved to be a challenge when I attempted it this time. The effort was all worth it because the view was breath-taking and the church on top of the hill gave me that much-needed retreat. It was almost afternoon when I descended and went back to the city. A few clicks later from my TripAdvisor, I found a spot for my lunch, Good Taste, not to mention the queue outside which intrigued me. They serve the usual Chinese dishes but the serving and the taste was very much worth the patience of getting seated. No wonder people flock to this place! Feeling full and exhausted from the trip, I decided to take a quick rest before I continue exploring Baguio at night.
Come evening, I headed back to the heart of the city and checked out SM Baguio. It is like any other SM Malls except for the Cordillera-product shops. It was not long before I got bored, I then attended the mass at the Baguio Cathedral. I overheard a group of friends talking about a cute coffee shop down the street so I searched for it. The Under The Tree Book Cafe was not easy to find, but the best landmark is a Korean-inspired food stall below it, near SM Baguio. Their mocha is not extraordinary but I was after the ambience, which I enjoyed. It was getting late, but the Night Maharrisrket is just starting to get fired up. Dedicated ukay-ukay fans will enjoy this as the whole stretch of Harrison Rd is turned into a giant bazaar full of clothes, bags, and whatnots. And oh, this was also a haven for foodies like me because a large variety of street foods, from Filipino lugaw to chapchae, were offered. A few munches later, I decided to call it a day.
Take a look at the breakdown of my itinerary and budget for my first day in Baguio:
Van (Cubao to Baguio)
Baguio Village Inn
P 375 / night
Taxi (Victory Bus Terminal)
P 60 (approx.)
Breakfast at Ganzo
P 150 (approx.)
Lunch at Good Taste
P 130 (approx.)
P 42 (P 7 fare)
Coffee at the Under The Tree Book Cafe
Street Food at the Night Market
P 70 (approx.)
Inspired yet to go on a solo backpacking adventure in Baguio? Look out for the conclusion of this trip with my Day 2 and 3 in the City of Pines!