My first visit to Baguio happened during an educational tour back in high school.

It was eight years ago. We spent a week visiting many spots in Luzon.

Although my memory of the trip had already become hazy, most of what I could recall were my experiences in Baguio.

My revisit to the City of Pines was very special to me. I could still remember the feeling I had during my first time in Baguio. I was curious to know how I’d feel returning to those familiar places and retracing the steps I made as a kid. How much change in perspective, I’ve developed in seven years.

View on the bus ride from Vigan to Baguio at 3:30pm

Vigan to Baguio Bus

I traveled to Baguio from Vigan, Ilocos Sur. The bus left the terminal in Vigan at 10:30am. Took a turn at Agoo, La Union and followed the Aspiray – Palispis (Marcos) Highway all the way to Baguio.

I had been asleep for most of the trip. I noticed it was getting considerably colder inside the bus. When I looked out the window, we were already high up the winding roads of the Cordillera Mountains.

I felt like a kid again getting excited that we were on the same level with the clouds.

Arrival in Baguio

It became impossible to sleep knowing we were already getting closer to Baguio.

We arrived in Baguio at 5:00pm thanks to the horrendous traffic jam at the city boundary. You could just imagine my relief when I finally got out of the bus.

The huge SM Baguio Mall was a welcome sight. The bus terminal was situated along Gov. Pack Road just beside the SM mall.

I had been frustrated not finding any cheap accommodations in Baguio during my online research. Thankfully, Gael mentioned about Baden Powell Inn. It was conveniently located along Gov. Pack Road also … just beside the bus terminal.

Didn’t really know any good choices besides Baden Powell Inn, so I spent the night in one of their dorm beds. After 15 minutes of getting settled, I went out to explore the city.

SM City Baguio

I’ve been tracking mall developments in the Philippines and was particularly excited to visit the SM City Baguio Mall. From photos, SM Baguio certainly looked very different compared to the usual SM Supermall.

It’s totally the best provincial mall of SM. Other malls may be bigger and have wider shop options but they can’t beat mountaintop location and awesome views of SM Baguio. The tenant mix was also better than most provincial malls.

SM Baguio was completely “open air.” No need for air-conditioning because of Baguio cool climate.

SM City Baguio

Loved the tent roofing. 

They had to make modifications during the first year of mall operations because rain fall would occasionally flood the mall. 

Awesome view

Session Road

Loved the gritty urban atmosphere of Session Road. Baguio is the most “walkable” city in the country. I appreciate not having to endure the tropical heat when I’m in Baguio. Feels very safe walking along the sidewalks unlike most Philippine cities.

Although it seems to be more crowded now, nothing else has changed. The row of American-colonial looking shop houses are still there and have not been replaced by modern buildings.

Baguio’s Session Road at Dusk

Dinner at Cafe by the Ruins

Wanted to splurge on my first dinner in Baguio. Had the location of Cafe by the Ruins down thanks to Google Maps saved in my iPod touch. I had some trouble finding it though. My sense of direction always gets fuzzy at nighttime.

Interiors of Cafe by the Ruins

Kamote Bread (P80). I only ordered this because of the novelty. Didn’t exactly like the taste of Kamote-flavored bread. The strawberry jam was good though.

Tapuey (80), the local rice wine ^_^ First tasted Tapuey in Batad, Banaue 

Pinikpikan with local rice (P210). Pinikpikan is prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick prior to cooking. 

Total bill was P407 including 10% service charge. 

Baden Powell Inn

The dorm bed at Baden Powell Inn costs P400 per night (with free breakfast). Pricey for a dorm bed especially since the place wasn’t exactly recommendable.

Then again, accommodations in Baguio are noticeably more expensive. P400 elsewhere could already afford me a single room.

The dorm room at Baden Powell Inn contained 3 double decked bunk beds. There were lockers inside the room. Guests have to bring their own locks.

The bummer part was not having an electrical socket inside the room. There were a few sockets at the hallway but a sign on the walls says that guests are not allowed to use them. HELLO!? I’d die if I couldn’t charge my camera.

There was supposed to be FREE WiFi but they to turned it off most of the time.

Wasn’t able to take a photo of the dorm bed but here are some day shots of Baden Powell Inn:

“Fire Place”


Beside Baden Powell

Artsy interiors of Ayuyang Bar, where breakfast was served. 

If I had found a better deal than Baden Powell Inn, I would not have stayed there.

It wasn’t all bad though. The location was still great and I really liked the artsy Ayuyang Bar and Coffee shop at the basement floor.

A dose of loneliness

Maybe my resentment was also influenced by personal reasons. My first night sleeping in an empty dorm room was a bit tough. It was the first time that the loneliness of solo travel affected me.

When I first thought about solo backpacking, I imagined myself staying at hostels, sharing the room with like minded people, and meeting new friends. Sadly, this wasn’t what I experienced in Baguio … a place I expected to be a popular backpacking destination.

I realized that these kind of situations were bound to happen sometime. It was not enough to make me repulsed at traveling solo of course. I just had to get through the night. I still felt assured of more promising days ahead.