Baguio Birthday Bash

If there’s one place that my husband and I love the most, it’s Baguio City. We’ve been teased by friends to try other places, saying nothing much has changed about Baguio since I was seven. It’s the same ol’ Burnham Park and Mine’s View. True. But – there’s something about this place that makes us go back every chance we have.

The last time we visited the place was 2012, days after our wedding. We decided to go back last December, this time tagging along our little one, his mom, sister and nephew. I call it our #BaguioBirthdayBash (since my daughter and I were celebrating our birthdays during our trip).

Tagging along little ones is ALWAYS difficult if you have to commute. The bus trip was painful for our daughter. She kept on throwing up on our way to Baguio. (Looks like she won’t be going back for a few years)

Here are few details about the trip. Hopefully, it can be of help if you’re going up north.

Accommodation
To maximize our funds for food and lakwatsa, we decided to get into a cheaper hotel. We couldn’t find Reyalta Inn along Engineer’s Hill, in front of NBI. We realized that it has been remodeled and now called Le Fern Hotel. We took the Violet room and availed extra beds to accommodate the 6 of us for 3 days and 2 two nights.

Here’s what I love about this place.
1. Location. The place is in proximity with Victory Liner, SM Baguio and other tourist spots in the city. You can easily get a cab in front of the hotel.
2. Convenience. Breakfast is served at the bar, a floor below our room. And there’s a convenience store downstairs open till 11 PM.
3. Excellent Service. The staffs are courteous and very accommodating. Very friendly bunch.

Things I didn’t like:
1. The stairs are too high. Going up and down carrying my biik of a daughter is painful!
2. The sheets seem outdated. They look a little old and shabby.
3. The bathroom has no exhaust fan and there’s a leak in the unit that we had.
4. The room has no aircon. It was December when we stayed so it was manageable. Not sure if it’ll be as comfy if you stay during the summer.

This is Luthien's proxy cake for her birthday

This is Luthien’s proxy ‘cake’ for her birthday

 

Foooood!
We were able to try new must-eats during our short stay. Note: Not much photos. It’s hard to get decent shots when you dine with a toddler.

Café by the Ruins. The ambiance is above average – quaint and cozy. Their chocolate shake was okay, but it seemed a little too strong for kids. I enjoyed watching how our siphon coffee was prepared. Their bread selection is awesome. The warm ensaymada was perfect for the coffee.

 

Rancho Norte. Admittedly, I was eyeing on Canto’s ribs for lunch but the lines are unbearable so we decided to dine in Rancho Norte. It’s one of the four restos in the Ketchup Food community near Wright Park. I can’t believe that I can’t remember what we had. Boo!

 

Hill Station. I’ve been reading about their Death by Chocolate dessert and it’s the only reason I wanted to check out the place. I wasn’t disappointed, but neither surprised. It tasted almost the same as Linguini Fini’s Hot Chocolate Affogato. I thought I was up for something new. But their Irish coffee was good. It was my first time to have one. Nevertheless, the intimate ambiance was perfect for our birthday date.

Birthday date at Hill’s Station

 

Pizza Volante. This is one of our favorite spots in Baguio. Go here for their signature apple pie. However this time, some of the meals we ordered are not appealing to kids so we had to get another set. Lesson learned: go to Jollibee if you’re with kids who are picky eaters *sighhh*.

Pizza Volante's famous Apple Pie

Pizza Volante’s famous Apple Pie

 

18BC Music Lounge. This is our go-to bar whenever we’re in Baguio. It reminds me of the night life in Tarlac when I was younger – simple but a lot of fun. Food and drinks are affordable, and the bands are really good. What I like about bands outside Metro Manila, they play for guests to enjoy, and not the other way around.

At 18BC (sorry, very lousy photo of the place, but the food is cheap, see!)

At 18BC (sorry, very lousy photo of the place, but the food is cheap, see!)

 

The regular go-to spots…
It’s obligatory to visit the usual tourist spots in the city when travelling with the family. This trip is not a honeymoon hence we obliged.

On our first day, we went to Burnham Park to go biking. The place is crowded since it’s a Saturday. Bike rental goes from 80-100 bucks. It’s nice to see Baguio City’s tourism still appealing to Filipinos.

Next is Panagbenga Park. We’re hoping to see the butterfly sanctuary since our daughter loves them. To our dismay, the place looked rundown and unmaintained. The butterfly sanctuary is closed and we couldn’t find any.

Inside the Butterly Sanctuary with NO butterflies :(

Inside the Butterfly Sanctuary with NO butterflies :(

 

We headed to Mine’s view after. There’s a lot to do in this place. You can go shopping for souvenirs and silvers, or wear full Cordillera regalia. We opted to have a picture with one of the Saint Bernard dogs in scarves for P50. The view of the Cordillera Mountains is as magnificent as before. There are binoculars for rent for 10 bucks.

Mine’s View Park near the gazebo

One of Mine’s View Park’s famous Saint Bernard dogs

 

We dropped by Good Shepherd convent for our Alfajor and Strawberry Jam. Too bad they’re out of strawberry jams for almost three months during our visit so I decided to get Ube Jam for P200 per regular jar and a tub of Alfajor for around P 140-160. Move away from the usual Peanut Brittle pasalubong. Alfajor cookies are heavenly buttery shortbread filled with caramel. Best eaten when chilled.

Alfajor cookies!

Alfajor cookies!

 

Our daughter’s favorite part was the horse ride in Wright Park. The 30-minute horse rental cost us P220, but her reaction and sheer joy was priceless! She didn’t even want to get off. I was hesitant to let her, but we just can’t make her miss such an experience.

Luthien with her Lola Mommy at Wright Park

Luthien with her Lola Mommy at Wright Park

 

On our last day, we visited Baguio Market for some vegetables, fresh strawberries and local ground coffee. We bought a kilo of Arabica Sagada medium roast for P300 a kilo at Kape Umali. It wasn’t bad. Next time we visit, I’ll make sure to bring home more.

Strawberries at the Baguio Market

Strawberries at the Baguio Market

Coffee!!!

Coffee!!!

 

Going home…
Taking the bus isn’t a problem, if you’ve planned well. Sadly, on our case, we didn’t. We spent around 4 hours at the Victory Liner bus station. I spent more than an hour lining up just to get tickets alone, and another few hours waiting for the bus assigned to us. Here’s an important tip, when travelling during peak season, secure bus tickets few days before you decide to go home. Better yet, buy your tickets for departure as soon as you arrive in the city. And try not to get late afternoon trip during the December holidays. It scared the hell out of me when descending the mountains. It was zero visibility! The kid’s safety is always a cause for worry.

Overall, the trip was a memorable experience. It was a secret wish of mine to spend my birthday in Baguio. Although it wasn’t entirely relaxing, it leaves new happy memories for our young family.

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