Sometimes, you just have to go for it. Even when the idea crossed your mind just 24 hours ago and you didn’t have a clear plan or Baguio itinerary.
In fact (as we all have proven time and time again), the trips that usually push through are the ones we didn’t overthink.
This was the story of our quick Baguio trip and our loosely planned itinerary.
My brother, who was celebrating his birthday (coincidentally a day before his wife’s birthday), blurted out while we were chatting about something totally unrelated, “we want sana to celebrate our birthdays in Baguio.” Without much thinking, I replied, “So why not? Sama kame! Let’s go!”
The next 24 hours looked like this: An excited approval from my husband. Hitting my Agoda and Airbnb apps to find and book accommodation. Quick trip to the nearby supermarket to buy some snacks and toiletries. Rummaging our closets for long-sleeved shirts, scarves, and knits. Getting the girls all hyped up for the trip, and then forcing them to sleep early. Packing up clothes for 4 people. Alarm clock at 3am. Up and running just before sunrise.
We would figure out where to go and what to do when we get there, but I’d really like to accomplish a few simple things:
- Eat strawberry taho
- Have some strawberry cake at Vizco’s
- Maybe get some strawberry ice cream too, if there’s time
- Take home some fresh strawberries
Spoiler alert: I got everything in my simple strawberry bucket list checked!
Here’s our loosely planned, anything-goes Baguio itinerary
- 4:30 AM – Start trip from Manila. We drove a private vehicle so we had the luxury of time, leisurely taking pit stops whenever we need.
- 10:00 AM – Arrive at Baguio. First stop, Camp John Hay.
- 10:30 AM – Brunch at Pizza Volante at Techno Hub.
- 11:00 AM – Drive around Camp John Hay, get coffee.
- 12:00 PM – Check-in at Azalea Residences, drop off bags.
- 2:00 PM – Botanical Garden, find strawberry taho and take photos (annnnd we stop taking photos at this point).
- 3:30 PM – Off to SM Baguio for snacks, and the first round of pasalubong shopping. (We lost so much time waiting for parking space, tsssk!)
- 5:00 PM – Early dinner.
- 6:00 PM – Coffee and dessert at Pamana.
- 7:00 PM – Back at Azalea to rest for a bit.
- 8:30 PM – Leave the kids at the hotel with their Lola so that the adults *ehem* can double-date. Off to Session Road to buy some drinks and take home some strawberry cake from Vizco’s.
- 10:00 PM – Take out some Korean beef and noodles from Samgyeoppocha for midnight snack.
- 11:00 PM – Back at Azalea in time for birthday eve celebration.
- 12:30 AM – Lights Off.
- 9:30 AM – Late breakfast buffet.
- 11:00 AM – Pack-up and early checkout.
- 12:00 NN – Bike at Burnham Park and pasalubong shopping at the Baguio City Market.
- 1:30 PM – Late lunch at SM Baguio.
- 2:30 PM – Back at Camp John Hay for one last round of photo sessions, plus a visit to the old picturesque Starbucks.
- 4:30 PM – One last drive around Baguio to hunt for strawberry taho, and strawberry ice cream.
- 6:00 PM – Drive back to Manila, stopover at NLEX for dinner.
It’s been more than a decade since the last time I’ve been to Baguio but, other than the massive existence of SM City on top of Session Road, Baguio doesn’t really feel different all that much.
When we were kids, our parents took us to Baguio frequently. To them, Baguio trips were part of church ministry; to us siblings, those were some of our most treasured childhood memories. So it made me happy to have Dawn and Rain experience some of the things we loved about Baguio growing up.
First stop, Camp John Hay (of course)
Our first stop was Camp John Hay Techno Hub, had brunch at Pizza Volante, dropped by Vizco’s for some pastries-to-go, and then some coffee-to-go from Starbucks. We also stopped by the butterfly sanctuary for the kids. Needless to say, we drove around Camp John Hay with our windows down so we could feel the cool Baguio breeze.
We know there are a lot of things to do in Baguio but we kept it chill and familiar for this trip. :)
Off to find those stawberries.
Found strawberry taho at Botanical Garden.
There are a lot of taho vendors on the streets of Baguio, but that’s the challenge right there—they’re on the streets, roaming around. We didn’t know specific spots. They say there’s a hub of taho vendors near the strawberry farm in La Trinidad so we had that in our list. But as we drove past Botanical Garden (which wasn’t really part of our itinerary), we spotted a taho vendor by its entrance. Score! We didn’t need to go to La Trinidad after all.
Happy camper. ;) Strawberry taho, check!
And since we were already at the Botanical Garden, might as well take photos. Of course.
We thought of going to Ben Cab Museum to get a bit of Baguio art and culture. But obviously the strawberry taho could not wait, hence the Botanical Garden became the closest thing we got to some Baguio history. It was also very close to Azalea Residences—our homebase for the duration of our stay.
Stayed at Azalea Residences, Baguio
It wasn’t the most affordable choice you’ll find in Agoda, but we didn’t want to risk on budget accommodations in such short notice. You do get what you pay for with this one. We were very happy with our 2-bedroom unit at the Azalea Residences! :)
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Plus points for having a 24-hour Korean restaurant just outside the Azalea compound! We went to get some takeout Samgyeopsal and Ramen for midnight birthday salubong snacks—just what the birthday celebrants ordered. ;)
Earlier we also got some strawberry cake from Vizco’s because that’s just what you do if you’re celebrating your birthday in Baguio. (Strawberry shortcake, check!)
Happy birthday Kuya Nikos and Ate Kaye!
We loved waking up to pine trees and mountains by our window, and the natural Baguio cold inside our aircon-less room. Also, a big breakfast!
Thank you, Azalea Residences for that memorable stay!
Loved this quaint Starbucks at Camp John Hay
Ahh, one of the cutest Starbucks I’ve seen! I love how Starbucks—with its hundreds of branches around the world—preserves a city’s unique culture and tradition through the architectural and interior design of select shops (like this one in Kyoto).
I mean, even the electrical wires are very telling of its location! (Only in the Pilipins haha.)
Kidding (and electrical wires) aside, this Starbucks branch maybe a little worn out around the edges but still very charming and picturesque. If you’re in Baguio for the quiet, or you’re in a reflective mood, the old Starbucks at Camp John Hay is worth the trip!
For the family album
Lastly, a quick photo session by the pine trees. These are the photos that will make it to the family photo album, for sure. ;)
Photographs by the pine trees, check.
On our final stretch, we went for a quick bike ride at Burnham Park (because, as my brother says, every child needs to experience biking at Burnham Park), dropped by the public playground, and did pasalubong shopping at the Baguio market. This is also the part where we stopped taking photos, haha.
On the way home, we kept our eyes open for strawberry ice cream vendors. It was already getting dark and the chances were very slim but just before we made it to Kennon Road, we got the final item on our list checked!
One for the road! Strawberry ice cream, check.
I’m fully aware that my Baguio bucket list mostly involved strawberries, but where else can you find an abundance of strawberries in this country??!
The Quest for Strawberries
Just to review my strawberry bucket list (because there seems to not have enough info about these on travel blogs):
- Strawberry taho. There is a stall in SM City Baguio that sells all sorts of taho, and we tried that too. HOWEVER, there’s nothing compared to the ones being sold in the streets. We found a taho vendor at the entrance of Botanical Garden. We hear there are some taho vendors also in Ben Cab Museum. Of course, if you don’t mind making the trip to La Trinidad, the strawberry farm is a sure hub for all things strawberry, so I’m certain there are taho vendors there also.
- Strawberry shortcake. Vizco’s Restaurant and Cake Shop is the only place in Baguio I would buy Strawberry Shortcake from. They have a branch at Ayala TechnoHub, Camp John Hay. We got ours from their branch along Session Road.
- Strawberry ice cream. Sorry I couldn’t say an exact spot for this one. Keep your eyes open for manong sorbetero!
- Fresh strawberries. Again, if you don’t mind going to La Trinidad, that’s the place to be for all your strawberry needs. :) But the Baguio Public Market is also complete with every pasalubong you can think of, including fresh strawberries. That’s where we got our stash.
Hope this helps!
Today as I was looking at these photos, I couldn’t be more grateful for strawberries, family, and childhood memories we can share with our kids. Til now, Dawn and Rain still thank Jesus for taking them “to the mountains” in their bedtime prayers and tell us “we should go back to the mountains!” every now and then. We really should. :)
Baguio 2018, in the books!