Baguio is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Philippines every Christmas. Between its climate that's colder than usual for a tropical country, and its countless tourist spots you can see during the holidays, the City of Pines is the perfect place to celebrate the Yuletide season Filipino-style.
Not sure what to do in the Summer Capital of the Philippines? Print this list out, and keep it along with your Baguio itinerary!
Take a selfie with the Lion's Head
Along Kennon Road is a 40-ft sculpture of a lion (pictured above), one of Baguio's most notable landmarks. The sculpture was conceptualized by the city's Lion's Club, and carved by Reynaldo Lopez Nanyac, an Ifugao artist. Although the Ulo ng Leon was devastated several times by natural and man-made disasters, it also underwent several restoration projects to shape it into the work of art that it is today. If you see this on your way to Baguio, you know you're on the right track!
Stroll along sprawling green parks
It's hard to run out of places to experience nature in Baguio. For example, the 32-hectare Burnham Park (named after its American architect Daniel H. Burnham) is just a few minutes away from the Baguio City Hall. At the park, you can go biking, ride on boats shaped like dragons and other mythical creatures, and be entertained as you watch the three water fountains "perform" every hour from 12 P.M. onwards.
Likewise, the Mines View Park near the northeastern edge of Baguio offers a panoramic view of the city, plus the ore mines after which the park was named. You can purchase Baguio's famous silver jewelry around the area, as well as souvenir items to bring home to your loved ones.
If horse-riding is your cup of tea, Wright Park is the place to be. Located northeast of the city center, the park is home to a local organization that allows children and adults to ride ponies and their larger equine counterparts. You can also climb up a stone stairway near the horse-riding area, which leads to a pool lined by Baguio's famous pine trees.
Check out stunning works of art
Love paintings, sculptures, and the like? Take a trip to the BenCab Museum, which houses works by National and contemporary artists in Tuba, Benguet. BenCab Museum's Cordillera Gallery is also a must-visit, as it contains unique arts and crafts by people from all over Cordillera. If you're lucky, you can catch one of BenCab's regular exhibitions of Baguio-style art.
Another museum you can visit is the aptly-named Baguio Museum. This one's a little more accessible, since it's along the major Governor Pack road, and (like the BenCab Museum) exhibits a wide range of Cordillera art and media. Sometimes, the museum holds seminars and workshops, so be sure to drop by and ask the staff for more details.
In case the name "Kidlat Tahimik" rings a bell, head over to the Ili Likha Artist Village near Assumption Road. There, the filmmaker (who's also known as "Eric de Guia") has a space carved out specially for those looking for eclectic food and art. You'll find works made from recycled materials like bottles and bikes, as well as shops that sell local delicacies like hot chocolate and rice meals.
Beat the Christmas shopping rush
If you still haven't done your Christmas shopping, and don't mind doing it late at night, you might want to drive to Harrison Road. Situated between Session Road and Burnham Park, Harrison is a haven for food, clothes, and other items you can grab for pocket-friendly prices. The place tends to get packed with people, however, so brace yourself for a night of pushing and shoving with the local crowd.
Know more about the local culture
Want to see indigenous cultures and practices in action? Tam-Awan Village along Lt. G. Tacay Road might fit the bill for you. The village features, among others, nine huts — seven Ifugao ones, and two Kalinga. Also, there's a trail you can climb that's high enough to let you see the South China Sea from its peak.
There's also the Wood Carvers' Village, a stone's throw away from the BenCab museum. In case you want to give away one of Baguio's most iconic wooden sculptures as a Christmas gift, the village is a good place to start.
Join local festivals
What better way to have fun in Baguio than to do it the way the locals do? As of this writing, the Silahis ng Pasko 2016 just kicked off in Baguio, marking the start of the Christmas season in the city. Expect cultural presentations, beauty contests, and — wait for it — the annual "Baguio's Lucky Foreign Visitor." Yes, you read that right: The Silahis ng Pasko welcomes not only locals who are in a festive mood, but also foreigners who want to join in on the fun.
Surely this list doesn't cover everything there is to see in Baguio. So why not help us out, and give us your recommendations for things to do in the City of Pines via the comments section below!