Save for transportation costs and strawberries, not much else is cheaper in Baguio than in Metro Manila. The place is a full-fledged city like any other, except that it is structured uniquely (like a spiral, with the center being Burnham Park/City Hall area) and everything else structured around it as arms of a spiral. There is something unique and interesting about each of those arms, so Baguio is a heaven for Dora-wannabes who just want to get lost and explore (but not really get lost as it’s brain-dead easy to find one’s way once you get the feel of the place).
So shall we discuss the details of the budget?
Victory Liner is hand-down the most popular commuting option going to and from Baguio. The buses are clean, new, spacious, and stop at convenient bus stops, although there’s not much options for cheap-eating in those stops.
Riding jeepneys in Baguio is very easy as well. When starting from the typical KM-0 mark at Burnham Park/City Hall, just know and ask around for which jeep goes where, there’s not much else to it. The fare is determined by the distance of the destination from the KM-0 mark.
While taking cabs can be tempting due to the lower rates, and that most destinations are always often less than a hundred Pesos away, doing so for every stop will bite you in the ass come computation time. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the cabs unless you absolutely have to, or are dead-tired at the end of the day.
- Manila to Baguio – Php 480 Adults / 384 Student
- Baguio to Manila – Php 320~ Student
- Jeepney: Php 8 for the first four kilometers
- Taxi: Php 35 flagdown, Php 2 for every subsequent 200 meters
All of the renown fast food chains you find in Manila exist in Baguio. If fast food is your idea of saving, then you’d have no problem finding them. However, I personally refrain from eating from food chains that exist where I’m from, so it was a no-brainer for me. I would have eaten at the shady carienderias in the back-alleys if my companion didn’t have serious doubts about the hygiene and freshness of the food, and also that the prices weren’t remarkably cheap. I’d suggest grabbing any and all veggie-based dishes in Baguio, as they’re often genuinely fresh.
- Expect to spend anywhere from Php 50 – 300 per meal in Baguio, that’s the full range from just-to-get-you-by to Cafe by the Ruins price.
- Then again you can always try my personal favorite, Crave & Shop.
- My personal favorite — watching movies outside Manila! A movie ticket in Baguio costs about Php 145 compared to the standard Php 210 of Metro Manila. So on those lazy vacation days where you have absolutely nothing better to do, you may wanna head to the mall and catch a blockbuster or two, for 3/4 the price.
- Horseback riding can be pretty steep for beginners. An hour’s ride is a standardized Php 300, plus another Php 300 for a guide. Most trails are beginner trails and are kid-friendly. For those who just want to try it just for the sake of, a half-hour ride is at Php 150.
- Take note of Baguio’s propensity for charging entrance fees. I find this really annoying and unnecessary. Pay restrooms, Nevada Square (their equivalent of Eastwood, I suppose) charging entrance to access a couple of dead bars and grill places, what’s the point? Other establishments that have events charge entrance fees too, which, when you think about it, is disproportionate to the kind of experience you’ll get when entering there. I suppose they do it to trap customers into not changing establishments and feeling like they have to stay longer in order to get the best out of the entrance fee, while ending up spending more on commodities inside the establishment. It’s really bizarre.
Now the most difficult part: Lodging
Well, I lied. It isn’t really difficult to find lodging in Baguio. The locals know that they live in a tourist hotspot, so many hotels, inns, and vacation houses cater to such tourists. On the low-end, Baguio is teeming with “transient” homes — a unique way to call hostel-type, per-head-based-rates accommodation. It’s usually rooms and beds within a home.
- Owing to the who-needs-aircon culture in Baguio, rates can go as low as Php180 per head per night to the more realistic and common standard of Php 400 per head per night.
Then again, luxury accommodation is just as easily available in the City of Pines, and to be honest, it’s one of the few places I wouldn’t mind paying more for accommodation, especially ones offered among the pine trees and hills of Camp John Hay/Mines View, in order to milk the unique Baguio environment for all its possibilities.
Baguio as a whole is not very cheap, at least not compared to other provincial cities, but it is charming and thus can easily seduce you into spending wantonly. My best advice to maximize budget would be to stay longer than 3 days — this is non-negotiable. This may seem counter-intuitive, but think about it — when will be the next time you’d be visiting Baguio, and taking that 6-hour roadtrip to get there? By the same logic, that combined 12-hour trip to and fro must be taken into account. Subtract that from your whole planned stay. If you stay only 3 days, the equivalent of half-a-day would be gone from travel alone, not to mention the associated rest time after it, and a bed time of let’s say, 8 hours per night for 2 nights . How much is left? Believe me, there are absolutely so many things to do in Baguio that one cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, explore it all in 2 days. So to make that Victory Liner fare/gas, time, energy, and hyping-up worth it, do yourself a favor and STAY LONGER. You may end up spending marginally more, but come home satisfied knowing you have explored Baguio to the extent that you need not come back to it in the immediate year/s, rather than having to go back every now and then when you could be spending the time and money on your next destination instead.
For a “comfortable budget-trip for two” (yes, it’s possible), expect to spend Php 3,000-5,000 per head. Could be cheaper by subsisting on cheap shady food and never ever taking cabs, but I do like my budget trips to have some level of comfort or luxury every now and then. And I never not-have beer at night when out-of-town, especially when the weather outside is a whopping 17°C that in all honestly felt like a 13°C (with the help of having ice-cold below-zero beer al fresco). And a cigarette, back when I used to smoke. Oh, the art and glory of smoking in Baguio!
You feel me? Let me know what you guys think in the comments below. :)
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