Celebrate Nature in Baguio: Panagbenga and Other Gems

Cool mountain air, lush greenery, strawberry fields, truckloads of fresh vegetables, and a flower festival that lasts for almost two months, all make Baguio a top destination for those who need a break from Metropolitan Manila.

Not to mention that this is where you’ll find Team Lakay, if you’re into mixed martial arts. But that’s another story; this month I was in Baguio for different reasons.

Panagbenga Flower Festival

It’s no wonder Baguio has such a long and extravagant celebration of flowers: all you have to do is wander through town to find a wealth of color and beauty.

Panagbenga is more than a tribute to Baguio’s flowers: the festival was created as a way to rise from the ashes of the 1990 Luzon Earthquake.

The world Panagbenga comes from a language spoken in the Cordilleran region and means a season of blooming.

Check out the official Panagbenga website for the schedule of events. There’s still a whole month left before it ends!

While you’re in the city center to catch the flower parades, you can enjoy popular spots such as Burnham Park and the Public Market. Besides that, there are some places a little farther out that are absolutely worth a visit as well.

Baguio Botanical Gardens

I ventured here for the first time on this recent trip to Baguio and the surprise gem got an immediate spot on my must-revisit list.

The botanical garden is in a beautiful corner of Baguio City, near Wright Park, piney slopes, and the greenery of the country club. It’s an ideal spot to enjoy the plant variety that makes the mountain region of the Philippines unique.

You can also buy all kinds of local products at the stores by the entrance, from stately swords to a sampling of fruit wines. While you’re shopping, don’t forget to grab some strawberry preserves and local peanut butter.

La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post

While celebrating nature, you must head over to La Trinidad to sample goods at the vegetable trading post. Simply catch a ride at the La Trinidad Jeepney Terminal near the Baguio Public Market.

This spot is veggie-lovers heaven. Good luck not buying more than you can carry!

Cauliflower, anyone?

This bountiful land of vegetables speaks for itself. If you’re tired of exorbitant prices for lackluster produce back in the metropolis, journey up the supply chain and sample the goods closer to the source.

If you hadn’t already fallen in love with the friendly and helpful nature of Baguio locals, their veggie bargains will certainly win you over.

Tips on Getting to Baguio by Bus

If you’re not in too much of a hurry, getting to Baguio by bus can be fairly easy and affordable. Victory Liner has two bus terminals in Metro Manila, Pasay and Cubao, and trips to Baguio and back up to every hour.

The fare for a regular airconditioned bus from Pasay to Baguio is 501 pesos per person, with a 10% discount for children only if they can present a valid student ID.

Typically, it’s sufficient to show up at the terminal and buy a ticket on the spot. However, you never know when it might get unusually busy and you’ll end up waiting in a long line at the ticket booth only to find that the upcoming trips have been sold out.

Worst case scenario, you end up waiting at the terminal for a few hours and maybe lining up in the “chance lane” for an empty seat on an earlier bus. Fortunately, the terminal has a charging station (and some buses have outlets by the seats).

To purchase a ticket in advance, you have two options. One is to come to the terminal ahead of time and buy the ticket. The other is to book or reserve online, but I can’t confirm how or if this works as I didn’t realize it was an option until too late.

According to the website, you can only book online 5 days or more in advance. You can find everything you need on the Victory Liner website as far as routes and schedules.

If you’re taking the regular air-conditioned bus, keep in mind that some take the highway (T-Plex) and others go along provincial roads, stopping more frequently to drop off and pick up more passengers.

If I’m not mistaken, the bus that goes to Baguio via Urdaneta takes the highway, whereas I believe the “via Luisita” and “via Gerona” buses take the slower route. You can confirm this by seeing if the bus has a “T-Plex” sign in the front window. If you are on a T-Plex bus, you’ll only have one rest stop in Sison before heading up into the mountains. Expect 6-7 hours on a T-Plex bus and 7-8 for the others.


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