I am so glad I decided to stay a week in Baguio! The thing is, even though we have had this planned before COVID even happened, I was not even supposed to go cause they decided on dates that would fall during my Siargao trip. As we all know, a terrible typhoon hit many provinces in Visayas and Mindanao in December including Siargao. As a result, my flight to Siargao has been canceled (it has now been rebooked to May) so I could join my friends in Baguio.
I ended up going a day before them because I had to time it with the vacation leaves I filed at work. Also, less than two weeks before our trip, Baguio changed its requirements and started requiring swab tests again.
So what are the requirements? QTP from Visita Baguio, vaccination card, and negative COVID test.
This is probably the most important requirement. You need to log in to Visita Baguio and schedule your visit. Depending on what your accommodation is, you will be given a color-coded QTP. They have a list of AEs (accommodation establishments) who apparently have their own triage, so if you are booked with one of those, it’s the establishment that will approve your QTP. They have a list on the Baguio Tourism Facebook page.
Since I had two different accommodations (well, three, but Le Chateau and Balai Martina have the same owner and I just needed one approval for both), I thought of getting two different QTPs so my entire visit is covered. However, only the QTP upon entry was scanned. I never got to use the second one, and there is no more triage upon exit. So, comparing it to when we traveled to Boracay, it is definitely not strict at all in Baguio. I only used that QTP when I got on and off the bus – that was it.
For Valleypoint Campsite, since this is located in Tuba, I was told to fill out the form as if I’m staying with a friend, they provided the contact person, address, and phone number that I can input on the form. That was approved right away by Baguio Tourism.
I suggest scheduling your visit as soon as you have booked your accommodation to make sure that you will be included in the tourist limit. Currently, they have brought it down to 3,000 per day due to Omicron. However, if you are booked with an AE that has its own triage, then no need to worry about it because they do not count towards the limit.
Since I was traveling after work and wanted to be comfortable (and it is my normal go-to anyway), I booked a Joy Bus from Cubao to Baguio. I want to be able to really get my foot up and lie comfortably. I booked my ticket via PinoyTravel, the fare is PHP30 + PHP60 booking fee and paid via direct deposit. The fees add up depending on what payment method you use, so choose wisely. LOL. You can also book via IWantSeats, but when I was booking my tickets, they no longer had Joy Bus listed.
Since I get off work at 6am, I still booked the 7am bus even if I know I will have to rush to the terminal as soon as I clock out because I really wanted to take the Joy Bus. However, when I got the voucher, it said that I needed to be there 60 minutes before departure because there is a mandatory triage at the Cubao terminal. So I had to leave at 5:30am and I was literally working inside the Grab on the way. I was very dizzy. LOL.
So, I dunno how it works if you are driving to Baguio, but if you are commuting, there is a mandatory triage at the bus terminal. Genesis Transport has a triage room on the second floor of the bus terminal. This is where you go first upon arrival. I can’t remember how long it took but probably 5 to 10 minutes. They just looked at my requirements and took my information like address, mobile number, etc. And then they provide you with a slip confirming that you are done with triage.
Upon arrival in Baguio, the bus will no longer go to the Central Triage, it will go straight to their bus terminal on Gov. Pack Road, where you will be given another triage slip, and if you have a QTP from Visita Baguio, they will scan it. The person will go on the bus and you can get off, as soon as you have been provided the slip. Unfortunately, it is strictly terminal to terminal. In my case, since my destination is Tuba, under normal circumstances, I can get off on Palispis Highway but I couldn’t do that. It is the same going back, some passengers wanted to get off somewhere in EDSA but they weren’t allowed.
Going back, I took Genesis Transport’s normal aircon bus, but I also got to sleep comfortably since it was one seat apart. And I was traveling during a weekday so there weren’t really a lot of people traveling.
It is so crazy that traveling to and from Baguio now only takes 4 hours, even if you are traveling during the day. That is freaking amazing! I still prefer traveling at night though (since I can sleep better), but traveling during the day is really not that bad anymore.
Upon learning that a negative COVID test is a requirement, I immediately quarantined myself – this was a week before I left. I didn’t want to go far and it’s a good thing Savepoint Plus is very close, it is in a parking lot on 30th St. I booked via their website, it usually opens 5 days before your preferred date.
The antigen nasal test costs PHP950, and you just pay in cash on the day of your appointment. It was a very quick process, I was out of there in less than 20 minutes. Waiting for the result drove me nuts though. Antigen test results usually take 20-30 minutes only. I was advised they will email it within 1-2 hours and I was like, “Ok, they must be swamped and are dealing with a lot of tests.” They swabbed me at 2:10pm and I got the email at 7:30pm. That was crazy long. So that’s just something to keep in mind if you would like to do it at Savepoint.
I wrote about Valleypoint Campsite in a separate blog post here.
Le Chateau and Balai Martina
I stayed in two other accommodations after Valleypoint Campsite, but they have the same owner. Le Chateau is located in Upper Rock Quarry. It was so close to my very first home when I initially moved to Baguio, so it was a bit nostalgic. I also passed by the other rooms we lived in QM. I stayed here for 3D2N with Cy and our other friends. The apartment is actually really big for its price. It has two rooms and have 8 beds in total. The big room has 6, and the smaller one has two. I stayed in the smaller room. It was okay, I love that we had a kitchen and the bathroom was huge, too. There was also a common room, and we had a blast having lunch at the rooftop. However, we encountered some issues with the water supply and we can’t figure out how to turn the TV on.
When they left Baguio, I transferred to Balai Martina. Ok, I really enjoyed my stay here, I seriously wanted to stay longer. I do not have my own room at home so I enjoy getting my own room when I travel by myself. Balai Martina is like a huge home with tons of rooms. They have a common kitchen and living room, but the rooms have their own bathroom and toilet with hot water. I also had my own TV, which I enjoyed. I am obsessed with watching American Ninja Warrior during vacations. LOL. The only thing that’s missing I think is a desk. I had a chair, but didn’t have a desk. Also, maybe something for your clothes. But the bed was really comfortable and pretty. I would definitely stay here again.
It is located in Trancoville and even if I stayed in Baguio for 5 years, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Trancoville! Commuting was easy though, because it’s just one jeepney away from Session Road. The only time I took the cab was during my transfer from Le Chateau and when I went to the bus terminal.
GOING AROUND BAGUIO:
I tried my best to use public transportation here. I researched where the terminals were (for example, going to Igorot Stone Kingdom and Arca’s Yard), however, you’d really have to wait long for passengers so I ended up taking the cab a few times. Although, it’s still not so bad because a 5-6km cab ride is just a little over 100 pesos.
We spent half a day in Atok, Benguet and I wrote about that in a separate blog post here.
Ili-likha Artists’ Village
Essentially, it’s a food court, but we went there so early that only one coffee shop was open then. If you’ve been to Oh My Gulay, it’s pretty much the same as this one because both being the brainchild of Kidlat Tahimik. It’s like being transported to another world. So many favorite pieces like the fake tree branch! I was so fooled by that until I got a closer look.
It’s so crazy that this place is in the middle of Assumption Road. Well, I guess that’s Kidlat Tahimik’s schtick, creating out of this world food places in the middle of the city.
Obviously, I have passed by Laperal House so many times, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually gone here intentionally to take a look at the house. I don’t know, I always just stayed away from the haunted places in Baguio. I have never been to Diplomat Hotel either.
This was close to Laperal House so we walked here from there. I have been to the Pink Sisters in Tagaytay and I’m so glad we did. I got the chance to pray for the plans I have for this year.
Camp John Hay
It was so surprising to see Camp John Hay this empty that it made me really sad. We went to the Mile Hi Diner area and almost everything has been closed. It was so freaking sad. We wanted to go inside The Manor but unfortunately, the side (or back) entrance is now closed. This was during the height of Omicron in January so we weren’t sure if we were going to be allowed in.
Igorot Stone Kingdom
I intended to take the jeepney going to Igorot Stone Kingdom – the terminal is near Good Taste on Otek St. However, when I got there, there is no jeepney that was taking in passengers, so I decided to take a cab instead. It is around 4.5kms from there and the fare was PHP120. It is just slightly farther than Tamawan Village. Entrance fee for adults is PHP100.
Igorot Stone Kingdom is one of the newest tourist attractions in Baguio, and was definitely one of the two places I really wanted to visit. It is a man-made stone park, and you can see that they are continuously building parts of the park. What I liked about the park is that you don’t realize your way high up and then you get this amazing view of the whole stone kingdom. It can be pretty hot in here since it’s an outdoor, really open area so I suggest going as early as you can. They are open from 6am to 6pm so I really should have gone at 6am like I planned. LOL.
Mirador Heritage Park
From Igorot Stone Kingdom, I walked to Tamawan Village to take some photos and then took a cab from there to Mirador Heritage Park. Mirador Heritage Park is in the same area as the Lourdes Grotto and Old Diplomat Hotel. The entrance fee for adults is PHP100.
Mirador Heritage Park has different attractions and I guess, you can enter from different points. I entered from the Mirador Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (the name makes me laugh tbh, LOL). The entrance fee is also PHP100. The Bamboo Grove was quite a long walk, but it is pretty and there was shade due to the bamboos.
The Rock Gardens was even more tiring because you need to do a bit of hiking. The Bamboo Grove was going down, but the Rock Gardens was going up. After walking some more, you will then arrive at the Peace Memorial, where you will see a torii gate and an amazing view of Baguio. I was here in the middle of the day so it was really clear and beautiful.
Melvin Jones Grandstand
I actually crossed this field quite a few times – when we went to the night market, when I went to Yolk Food Truck, and after Arca’s Yard while waiting to meet up with a friend. It’s so peaceful here.
It’s so funny because I have been looking for this street for days and, turns out, it’s just beside Tiongsan! I was going to the wrong Carantes Street all along. LOL.
I really enjoyed this one-week trip and I realized it’s the perfect length of trip for me because it’s not too quick and I have time to just take it easy and just take a break.