Escaping to Baguio City, Staying Away From SM Baguio

Baguio City is the first place that comes to mind as one thinks of an escape from the sweltering El Nino heat in Manila. Baguio is also currently experiencing summery heat during the day, but it’s not at all like the shocking and unbearable temperatures in Metro Manila.

Baguio is all about mountain-cool air, pine trees, flowers.
Baguio is all about mountain-cool air, pine trees, flowers, among other things.

Most people go to SM Baguio now, perhaps for lack of worthwhile tourist attractions or maybe they just don’t know where to go. When we went there, however, we tried to stay away from SM Baguio and to stick to good ‘ol Baguio – taking the Session Road, Pacdal and Camp John Hay way.

Inside spacious Teacher's Camp, perfect for large-group events and conventions.
Inside spacious Teacher's Camp, perfect for large-group events and conventions.

A lot has changed in Baguio since my last visit. Traffic has somehow eased with re-routing schemes that allowed only private vehicles to traverse Session Road. Café by the Ruins (see Related Post) had a make-over as it expanded the restaurant. Champorado wasn’t as decorated as before.

Cafe by the Ruins had a lot of changes from our last visit.
Cafe by the Ruins had a lot of changes from our last visit.

We didn’t eat a single meal from a restaurant in SM Baguio. There was a weekend sale happening that time, so it was stressful to stay in SM. There’s good American food in 50’s Diner, and we also enjoyed the bulalo served at Kalapaw restaurant.


Session Road has been filled by the usual fast food restaurants found in Manila, but there are still cheap or unique alternatives. Made me reminisce of the time when Don Henrico’s can only be found in Baguio’s Session Road. Now that there are branches in Manila, it’s not as exciting to eat there anymore.

What's good about SM Baguio is the natural air-conditioning system. Its architecture provides large view decks for people to view Baguio City and for ventilation purposes.
What's good about SM Baguio is the natural air-conditioning system. Its architecture provides large view decks for people to view Baguio City and for ventilation purposes.

Good American food served at the 50's Diner
Good American food served at the 50's Diner

Art lovers will enjoy Oh My Gulay located at Azotea on Session Road, although this may not be ideal for people with difficulty walking up to the fourth floor of the building. Oh My Gulay is a creation of renowned artist Kidlat Tahimik and offers vegetarian meals. The Manor in Camp John Hay offers buffet breakfast for 500 pesos. If the rate seems too much, it may be nicer to eat at Chocolate de Batirol, also inside Camp John Hay.

Lots of people were enjoying picnic inside Camp John Hay. There were a lot of grilling going on.
Lots of people were enjoying picnic inside Camp John Hay. There were a lot of grilling going on.
Horses for rent inside Camp John Hay
Horses for rent inside Camp John Hay

Our trip was just all about experiencing some respite from Manila heat, but we did fill it with a bit of fun and the usual activities vacationers do in Baguio. We visited Bell Church to lit incense in the Chinese Buddhist temple. We roamed around Camp John Hay for some fresh air and bought ube jam from Good Shepherd. We didn’t go to Baguio’s public market this time around. Instead, we opted to buy fresh vegetables at La Trinidad Public Market, right after a trip to Strawberry Farm, also in La Trinidad, Benguet. Vegetables are much cheaper in La Trinidad.


It was a refreshing and fun trip overall. We, of course, dreaded the time we were about to go back to Manila. I just wish, fervently wish, that there’d be more affordable hotels in Baguio. That way, it would be a fairly easy option to regularly escape to Baguio.

We tried to get a cottage in Teacher's Camp, but unfortunately, it was to be used by a large group of people. Teacher's Camp offers one of the cheapest lodging in Baguio.
We tried to get a cottage in Teacher's Camp, but unfortunately, it was to be used by a large group of people. Teacher's Camp offers one of the cheapest lodging in Baguio.


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