Baguio Travel Guide
Nestled 1500 meter (5100 ft) above sea level is the summer capital of the Philippines. Baguio is also dubbed the City of Pines, due to pine trees growing abundantly on this altitude in the tropics. Despite its nicknames parts of the city are plagued by traffic jams, causing sometimes intolerable noise and air pollution. Baguio is a relative young city and was developed by the Americans in the beginning of the 20th century as the residence of the governor-general and a rest and recreation facility, named Camp John Hay for military personnel. In 1941 the city was captured by the Japanese, but recaptured by American and Filipino forces in April 26, 1945. On September 3, 1945 the Japanese surrendered to the allies in Camp John Hay, ending WWII in the Philippines. Heavy bombing during WWII caused havoc in the city and most the infrastructure had to be rebuilt. In 1991 a severe earthquake with a magnitude of 7. 8 again devastated the city. With the help of foreign donors reconstruction started and today the city is booming with both domestic and foreign students
The city is laid out around Burnham Park with a manmade lake and orchidarium. Boats are for rent to peddle on the lake and bikes to cycle around its grounds. Most attractions of the city are in walking distance from the park and it is a good place to start exploring the city.
When to go
The city has a moderate tropical highland climate due to its high altitude and location close to the equator. Average temperatures ranges between 19°C and 23°C (66°F - 73°F). The best time to visit Baguio is in the dry season from end November to the beginning of April. Both the lowest and highest average temperatures occur during this time. Around Christmas temperatures can drop to 9°C / 48°F and can climb up to 35°C / 95°F in April/ May. The rainy season is more intense in Baguio compared to other places in the Philippines with most of the rain dropping in July and August.
Philippines major telecom operators Smart and Globe have good coverage in the city and provide reliable voice connections and less reliable data connection. Prepaid cards are widely available in convenience stores throughout the city. SM Mall offers free Wi-Fi to visitors, but speed can get excruciating slow during peak hours.
Visa extension can be arranged at the field office of the Bureau of Immigration located at 38 Military Cut Off a few minutes walking south of the Victory liner bus station. You will need to bring your passport and two photocopies of it, a return ticket home and pay a fee of 3050 PHP. A dress code applies and applicants wearing shorts, sandals or T-shirts will not be allowed to enter.
ATM's, banks and money changers abound in the city center. Most convenient location to take out money from ATM's connected to international payment network of Cirrus (MasterCard) or Plus (VISA) is in the SM mall in the middle of the city. Most banks levy a charge of 200 Peso to guest users.