The month of February is usually the busiest time of the year in Baguio City because of the Panagbenga Festival. And although the month-long flower festival is definitely one for the books, there are some, especially the locals of Baguio, who use this opportunity to travel outside the city and give way to the tourists who want to witness the prestigious main events.
So if you want to find yourself in the Cordilleras, but also want to avoid the influx of tourists going up to Baguio City this weekend, here are five places you can consider visiting beyond the beautiful summer capital.
Camp John Hay
Since the main parade routes will be along the Central Business District (CBD). this is a good opportunity to hang out at Camp John Hay. You can have a picnic with your family, or go hiking and forest bathing along Yellow Trail (they have horseback riding there, too) or Eco-Trail. There also a number of food and drink establishments you can choose from in case you’re feeling hungry.
Going further, just a few minutes away from the city of Baguio is La Trinidad, Benguet, the strawberry capital of the Philippines. On your way to La Trinidad from Baguio City, watch out for a whole valley of pastel-colored houses called the Colors of Stobosa. You can stop here for an Instagram-worthy photo or two. Another famous attraction is the Strawberry Farm along KM 5 La Trinidad Benguet. Here, you can experience picking strawberries that you can take home as pasalubong. Among the vicinity, they also sell different kinds of strawberry-flavored delicacies such as ice cream and taho (silken tofu). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go for a mini hike at Mt. Yangbew with your friends instead.
Going a little more further North, passing by La Trinidad, is a gem that was once hidden but is now slowly being discovered. 2 hours from Baguio City are the towns of Sayangan and Paoay in Atok, Benguet. You can visit the Northern Blossoms Farm, where the famous rose cabbages and a lot more beautiful species of flowers are being grown. It is also home to the Sisterhood Sakura Farm, where Sakura trees are currently being grown.
If you want to feel like you’re on top of the world, you can take a photo at the Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System which is 7,400 feet above sea level, or if you’re feeling more adventurous about heights, hiking at Mt. Timbak or the gigantic rocks at the Lourdes Grotto might be just for you. You’ll also be greeted by panoramic views that will truly take your breath away.
Another famous tourist attraction in the Cordilleras is Sagada, Mountain Province. There are a handful of attractions you can visit such as Echo Valley’s hanging coffins, Sumaguing Cave, and Bomod-ok Falls. However, to regulate the influx of tourists coming in and also to preserve the town’s beauty, they have released new rules and regulations such as tours must be run by the local guides’ organization and must register, so before going, make sure to be aware of these rules in respect to the town’s effort to conserve Sagada’s beauty and also as a practice in being a responsible tourist.
About two and a half hours from Baguio City is the town that has a lot of gems that are yet to be discovered. If you love spelunking, trekking, and camping, Kapangan has a number of caves and attractions waiting to be discovered. Some of which has a significant part in the history during as they served as campsites for Japanese Soldiers (Bubongna Cave) and evacuation sites during the World War I and II (Bolingaongao Cave). Also along Kapangan is the majestic Amburayan river, which is the primary water source of the agricultural areas nearby. Here, you can go swimming, rafting, fishing, and also go camping along the riverbanks.
Find Yourself in the Cordilleras
Aside from the beautiful city of Pines, there are still a lot of beautiful discoveries you can check out up north. And just as any place you’re visiting, it is important to practice responsible tourism. You know what they say, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and kill nothing but time.”
Have you been to these places? How was your experience? Share it to us in the comments below!