Travel Duo Christmas Special: Baguio City
Magandang gabi! Two weeks ago, we went to Tagaytay City in Cavite and sampled what fun they had to offer this Christmas. We were still thinking about the fun we had at Sky Ranch, marveling at the beauty of Taal volcano and quite unrecovered from the many delicious food we sampled in the city when we booked bus tickets to Baguio City, the ‘winter wonderland’ of the Philippines.
Baguio is the top Christmas destinations for many years now. The main reason people flock to this lovely city is, just like Tagaytay, they want to enjoy the cool weather and get close enough to the feeling of winter. Baguio is one of the coldest places in the Philippines — the temperature could reach as low as 8 degrees Celsius by December, not very far from the temperature we have in Europe.
We read some months back that this year’s theme for the celebrations is ‘Golden Christmas in Baguio’. This explained the yellow-gold colours of the parols (lanterns) and the giant Christmas tree in Session Road, the main artery of the city. The giant tree itself is a wonder to behold, especially since it is not a tree but a structure fully decorated with lights. We heard about what the city did for Christmas this year. Actually they scaled down the festivities to raise funds for the victims of typhoon Yolanda which hit the countryside sometime last month.
Although the Christmas in Baguio this year is less showy than last year’s, this 2013 Christmas is all the more special because of the dedication the city made for the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
Anyway, the tree was beautiful to watch. It wasn’t just plain lighting: the lights danced away through the night. We suggest you shouldn’t miss this giant Christmas tree in Session Road, because it is the culmination of what the city stands for this season. There are many people here, tourists and residents alike. Expect a huge crowd, and if you’re bringing your car you’re bound to walk because the roads are closed near the tree. But with the cool weather, it’s quite comfortable to walk outside. We got to really feel the energy and excitement around us as families posed and took pictures with the tree.
Of course, we had to have ours taken too:
We didn’t expect to see snow here, but we and all the visitors of the Baguio Country Club were treated to one wintry spectacle in their ChristmasVillage. The snow was artificial, but it delighted the kids and grown-ups all the same. Well, us too… this is our first Christmas away from snow. Apart from the snow, the Christmas Village booths selling knick-knacks and food, a stage where performances like singing and instrument playing are held, Christmas trees with different designs, a life-sized Nativity scene, giant figurines and more.
One funny bit was during our early rounds in the area. We walked around a bit and looked at the booths, took pictures of the statues. We were surprised to see a thin Santa sitting quite comfortably in a sleigh. That was when we realised that Santa’s helpers were also entertaining a few visitors around the area: there was an elf and a giant rabbit wandering around, bringing smiles to kids’ faces. We thought the rest of the elves were back in Santa’s house busy making the toys!
This is definitely a must for visitors since the ChristmasVillage is an all-in-one venue where the family can experience the holiday spirit. It is also totally safe inside, as the area is enclosed. But visitors have to pay a fee, and flip-flops are not allowed… it’s not very huge though, which makes the village very accessible. The area is also not as crowded as the public spaces like Session road, so we had quite a relaxed and chill experience there.
The club is also interesting because it’s one of the historical sites in Baguio. We later learned that the club is already more than 100 years old… imagine such rich history!
The ChristmasVillage will be holding performances at certain dates until January. If you’re visiting anytime this month, plan ahead so you can catch the performances. The schedules can be found here.
This is where we checked in during our stay in Baguio, and it was a great choice because the Manor Hotel was all decked up for the season. Christmas was felt inside and outside the hotel. The hotel’s garden was also transformed into a giant, white Christmas with lighted snowmen, delicate lanterns and entertainment. In the morning, children will have fun with the garden because of the giant candy canes, animal statues and nutcrackers all around the area.
We loved the place because the service was very professional and the whole environment very home-y. It was actually very tempting to stay inside at night… we just lounged around and chatted with a few guests one evening. They were a family vacationing in Baguio, and listening to them talking about how fun their Christmas had been made us miss our family too. But we had a great night with them, they were a very friendly bunch. They asked us how our Christmas had been and we told them of our adventure in Tagaytay. They suggested we go to Pampanga, which we considered very carefully.