As with every year-end, we looked for a more tranquil and safe place to escape the crazy New Year celebrations in Metro Manila. To me, it is like escaping a war zone. And Baguio City seems like a place to test. This year, Baguio is implementing a ban on firecrackers, considering the danger they pose. Part of us wanted to know if the ban worked.
The bigger deal to some people from Manila is the pollution the day after. On New Year’s day, Metro Manila gets covered by thick smoke from the previous night’s firecracker-filled festivity. Another big deal is the danger of getting hit by a stray bullet. Tragic but true. Hopefully, the next New Year celeb will see a total ban on firecrackers, and more importantly, a stop to gun firing.
Because of the long weekend at the end of year 2013, we got to enjoy 4 days of vacation in two nice tourist spots: Baler, Aurora and Baguio City. The first 2 days in Baler and the last 2 days, including New Year, in Baguio.
It’s my second time to visit Baler, so this one’s more relaxed. There’s something about the provincial setting, the smell of the earthy rural land set between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean that makes it so appealing. Baler is situated on Baler Bay, but even with the protection of the bay, the area enjoys big waves, thus making it one of the top spots for surfers.
The most prominent beach in Baler is Sabang Beach. There are several accommodations available along the shoreline. I would suggest Aliya or Bay’s Inn. But for the more discriminating, there are hotels like Costa Pacifica, although this is not located on the shoreline.
Baler, Aurora to Baguio
The last part of the year’s end, we decided to spend in Baguio City, primarily for the promise of firecracker ban. We took a van going to Cabanatuan and from Cabanatuan, another van to Baguio. Because we were travelling as a big group, we got the van all to ourselves. The driver charged 2,600 pesos for the van from Baler to Cabanatuan. The van to from Cabanatuan to Baguio is 230 pesos per person. There are regular trips from the terminal starting 6 am.
Asin Hot Springs
One full day, we spent in Riverview Resort in Asin. Asin is known for its hot spring resorts. It’s a sure fun way of spending a day in Baguio, swimming in the warm spring waters. Because of the chilling temperature in Baguio, many people do retreat to Asin to swim in the warm waters.
We thought of Tiptop, Baguio for our New Year retreat. As the name suggests, the place is located up the mountains in the Pacdal area. This place is a bit secluded and quiet compared to the downtown area. We got a great view of the mountains from our place of accommodation, Tiptop Vacation Homes. The accommodation is perfect for groups and especially for families with children. Pets are also allowed to stay with vacationers here, so good news to those who wish to have their pets with them.
Our place makes it easy to go to tourist areas such as Wright Park. In fact, one day we walked all the way down to Wright Park from our place. Good exercise, I should say.
So, on to our findings on the newly implemented firecracker ban in Baguio. It’s not a total ban as there were still firecrackers that could be heard during the night. But it was not as crazy as in Metro Manila, and being at Tiptop, Baguio took us away from the noisier part of the city.