Strawberry picking and more in Baguio City
Nine years ago, we were blessed with a smart and talented baby girl. Now, she wants to see the world, with visiting London topping her list. But first, we fulfill her wish to go strawberry picking in Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines.
Our eldest daughter Dindin turned 9 years old last Sunday. One of the items in her bucket list is to experience strawberry picking in Baguio City. Okay, I know the strawberry farms in Benguet are in the town of La Trinidad, but it is easier to reference Baguio City. So for this article, I will be mostly referring to the City of Pines mostly.
As we are a family committed to homeschooling in Bacolod, part of our learning process involves travel. These need not be expensive or very frequent, but the itinerary that we set is always intentional and planned around maximizing learning and having a fun family adventure. For our entire 5-day trip to Baguio City, we never set foot in the mall, just a local grocery store to buy milk for the kids.
What to do in Baguio City
Our family trip to Baguio City was carefully considered because we have a nine-year-old and also a four-year-old. We have to keep both safe, interested, rested, and also well-nourished. These are three main things to consider when having a family trip anywhere, like our Hong Kong vacation and subsequent two days in Hong Kong Disneyland.
Our primary purpose of the trip to Baguio City was strawberry picking in La Trinidad, a neighboring municipality to Baguio. We took a taxi that we arranged to hire per hour. We agreed on the rate of P300 per hour. Strawberry picking in La Trinidad is P450 per kilo, which includes a basket and the experience.
Since we have two kids, the staff allowed us to carry two baskets–one for Dindin and one for Shane. But since we are only paying for 1 kilo, only one basket was given to us to take home. She would not let me pay for the second basket only because they are being audited.
I think that all in all, we stayed there for 30 minutes only. It was 10am and was very hot already. So if you will bring kids here, it is best to apply sunblock especially on their face. I put some SPF 50 sunblock on the kids’ faces, especially their noses.
The strawberry farms are already open from 7am to 6pm, so you may want to visit there early in the morning or in the afternoon so that it’s not so hot.
After the strawberry picking, we had the best, the creamiest, and the fruitiest strawberry ice cream we’ve ever had. And it’s only P30 on a sugar cone! Don’t miss it on the way out of the strawberry farms. Someone should pack this and market all over the Philippines as artisanal ice cream!
When we visit a place, we try to give the kids a taste or a glimpse of the culture of the city or province. And the best places to go to would be the museums. The learn so much knowledge in museums, whatever subject it covers.
So first up in Baguio City was, of course, the Baguio Museum, which was located at Dot-PTA Complex, Governor Pack Road Baguio City. Entrance is only P40 for adults and P10 for elementary school kids.
The Baguio Museum is quite small and it took us only about 40 minutes to leisurely finish the entire three-level exhibit. But we were able to explain to Dindin the different facets of life in Benguet. The kids were also able to appreciate the three scale models of Baguio City that showed how the place developed from 1909 to 2009. You could see how Baguio City was a vast forest in 1909 and how it has become an urban center. This exhibit is located on the second level.
Another cultural exposure trip in Baguio City was at the Tam-awan Village (Garden in the Sky), located at Long Long Benguet Rd, Baguio City. The whole park was re-created using original Igorot huts. This gave us a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Igorot because of how their houses looked.
A guide is available to explain the different huts on display. There are many areas where you have to go up and down the steep outdoor stairs. Also, have mosquito repellent handy, as there are mosquitoes in the dense gardens.
Art Gallery Visit
Since this is Baguio City and home to National Artist of the Philippines Ben Cabrera, we wouldn’t miss a visit to the BenCab Museum, located at 6 Asin Rd, Tuba, 2602 Benguet. We did this because Din also paints and loves art. We are hoping she can also draw inspiration from the different works there.
I have seen the pictures of the BenCab Museum on the internet and seen footage in TV features but it’s different when you are there. It has the feels of the Getty Museum that I have visited in Los Angeles, California, albeit smaller. It features the works of the national artist plus it has become a venue for other artists to showcase their works.
And the best thing in the entire experience was, Mr. BenCab himself was there at the cafe. So I mustered enough courage to ask him for a photo opp with the kids and he kindly obliged. Wooohoo!
So aside from museum visits and cultural exposure, we went around the city, the public market, and the Burham Park. They sat at the Burnham Park and ate a local snack called taho, which is made of soya beans, tapioca balls, and syrup. But since we are in Baguio City, they not only have regular taho but strawberry and ube taho as well.
We allowed them to be kids, to play with the other local kids at Mine’s View Park. Our daughters can just make friends wherever they are. It’s heartwarming to hear local kids trying their best to talk in English just to play with the girls. They are breaking the stigma of the socialization part of homeschooling that worries many people because they are able to socialize and hold their own among kids and even grown ups.
We had some breaks in our schedule so we just let them play, like letting them pick up pine cones and needles at Camp John Hay. They got their hands dirty and it was fine. We just wiped them off until our ride was ready and then we were off to our next destination.
Being Kiddie Tourists
Whenever we travel, we try to have fun while learning. We cannot shake the fact that they are kids and would enjoy fun breaks. Here are some other fun activities we had.
Dindin and Shane both enjoy horseback rides and so we didn’t miss a visit to the Wright Park where they had horseback riding. Dindin’s horse had a pink-colored mane. What a lovely experience it is for a little girl.
The rate is P400 per hour so we just paid for 30 minutes for each of them. What was nice about the horseback riding is that it is done around a trail in a forest of pines.
While the Wright Park has some animal smells, I appreciate the fact that there is a stand by cleaner that sweeps the trail after the hoses makes a mess.
From the Wright Park, we took the short but really exhausting climb to The Mansion. The distance was only 500 meters but going up the steep hill can make you breathless. When we reached The Mansion, we just had the mandatory photo opp, as The Mansion is not open to the public anyway.
A trip to Baguio City would not be complete without having a photo while wearing Igorot costumes. There are many areas in Baguio City where you can have photo opps wearing Igorot costumes, such as the Mine’s View Park, the Lion’s Head at Kennon Road, and Burnham Park.
We did our Igorot photo shoot at Burnham Park. We didn’t have to pay for the costume rental. We just had to pay P10 per shot in our camera while wearing our costumes. Since we had four shots taken with our camera, that amounted to P40 only. I gave the attendant P50 because she labored to dress the four of us up. It’s so nice that those in the tourism industry of Baguio don’t take advantage of tourists.
But if you want a souvenir print of your photo, it’s going to be P75.
Boating and Pedal Go-Kart
A lot of our activities center on play. We believe that fun, play experiences, whether structured or not, helps kids learn. We passed through the Burnham Park several times during the course of our Baguio City vacation, so we were able to do many things there.
One of which is the boating in their lagoon. There are several boating operators there, each one with a differently designed boat. Boat rental is P150 per 30 minutes. If you prefer the pedal swan boat, it’s P200 for 30 minutes. You may want to hire somebody to row the boat for you and you just got to give them a tip. Our dad preferred to do the rowing.
On our first night in Baguio City, as we really had nothing to do yet, we went to Burnham Park. That was our second stop for this trip. When the kids saw the pedal go-kart lane, they just had to ride. And we let them, too, because they like riding that here in Bacolod. The rental was P50 for 30 minutes.
Lion’s Head Photo Opp
We are thankful to have hitched a ride with our cousin Caleb to Baguio City, so we were able to pass by Kennon Road. Because of that, we stopped over the Lion’s Head at the entrance of the city and had our photo opp. You can have your Igorot costume photos here, too.
Most of the time, a stop here may be missed because it’s out of the way if you’re commuting. But since we rode on a private car, we were able to stop here.
But the best part was their strawberry taho. It was soooo good and had lots of whole candied strawberries in it. And the best thing is, it’s only P20. Dindin exclaimed that it’s the best part of the day because the taho was sooo good. hahaha
We passed by Kamiseta Hotel and hoped to check out the place. It turns out they have the Vanilla Cafe where we had cupcakes and a lot of photo opportunities. We tried their red velvet and bubblegum cupcakes and they are all sooo good!
Local Food Appreciation
We introduce the kids to different cuisines because their parents are food trippers. We visited homegrown restaurants and ordered Cordilleran food. Dindin especially liked the chocolate at Tsokolateria, the pork sausage with red rice at Cafe Yagam, and also the Vigan longganisa at Choco-late de Batirol. She also tried dipping strawberries in her hot chocolate.
And of course, strawberry taho!
Cafe in the Sky
We had a special trip to the famous Cafe in the Sky. It wasn’t much of food appreciation as it was an appreciation of the place. Sitting 3,000 meters above sea level, it was pretty cold up there and we got a nice view of the valley below. It’s not easy to come up here anymore, as the DENR is already controlling the crowd of people in the area.
Bell Church and Valley of Colors
Since they are on our way to La Trinidad, we let the taxi stop at the Bell Church and the Valley of Colors for a quick photo opp.
Thankfully, we missed the shooting of Coco Martin in the area, otherwise it would have been very crowded.
Baguio Country Club
We had an overnight stay at the Baguio Country Club, courtesy of our cousins Hansel and Hollan. That was a much-needed break in the middle of a hectic week. This iconic hotel is already more than a hundred years old but it’s well-maintained and still speaks much of the legacy of the Americans in Baguio City.
Attending a Birthday Party
One of the reasons why we timed our Baguio City trip last week was because it’s also the 1st birthday of our niece, Zoey. The celebration was held at the Hotel Supreme Convention Plaza, located at Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City. We stayed mostly at the home of our cousins so the kids had a great play times with their young second generation cousins.
The highlight of our Baguio City trip is, of course, Din’s birthday that we quietly celebrated with cousins and a few friends at the Tsokolateria, located at the Igorot Stairs, Upper Session Road, Baguio City.
Din had a lovely fondant unicorn cake by Cassandro’s Catering and Cakery, which was ordered for us by Baguio blogger Ane Fallarme. We would also like to thank Ms. Grace Bermejo of the Happy Concept Group for facilitating our reservations at Tsokolateria. We really enjoyed their chocolate creations!
This about sums up Din’s 5-day Baguio City birthday adventure. The only thing we missed doing is playing mini golf at Baguio Country Club. It would have been a really nice experience for Dindin, as she is practicing to be a jungolfer.
We are all liking the idea of traveling as a family for her birthday. Too bad we are not sure if we can do it on Siobe’s birthday as it falls on the rainy month of August. But maybe, we can work something out for our second daughter, too.
Happy 9th Birthday, Dindin!