The Philippines best-kept winter secret
Baguio is a high-altitude summer refuge for Filipinos and local tourists alike, thanks to its cool, crisp mountain air. In the summer months, you can expect to find a bevy of beautiful Catholic churches, gardens, markets and natural wonders, all packed full of visitors. In the winter, however, you’ll find all the same attractions—as well as fewer crowds and a few special gems other travellers rarely get to see. Here are some of the best reasons to visit Baguio in the off-season.
Mild Temps for Travellers
Unlike the rest of the Philippines, Baguio and its island location of Luzon experience a refreshing climate due to an average altitude of 1,524 metres above sea level. While the average temperature during the hottest part of the year is 21 degrees Celsius, Baguio boasts a perfectly reasonable average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius during its coldest period.
Travel to the so-called “Summer City” during this time, and you’ll not only enjoy mild temperatures, but relatively mild prices for many travel expenses such as airfare and hotels! All you’ll need is a light jacket, at most. But you’ll be able to pick up a trendy one at the Night Market, so don’t worry.
Harrison Road Night Market
One of the most satisfying activities for any newcomer to Baguio is a session at the Harrison Road Night Market. Open from 9pm to 2am every night (and open until midnight on Sundays), this public market is an enormous mixture of secondhand clothing, household items, trinkets and food. Pick up a sizzling-hot shawarma when you arrive, and leave with a bag full of peanuts, roasted fish, hot soup and a cup of coffee to stave off the chilly night air. In cooler months, vendors will bring out their best in warm clothing, making this the perfect place to shop for local winter fashions, so take your time rifling through the merchandise to find something perfect!
For visitors with a special place in their hearts for a traditional Christmas, the Baguio Country Club creates an unforgettable Christmas Village each year that is open to the public. The Village opens during November and runs for several weeks, allowing locals to experience a brightly-lit, artificial-snow-covered holiday fantasy. Members of the Country Club recycle all kinds of items to create their themed Christmas displays, from plastic spoons and key cards to forks and water bottles. The overall effect is heartwarming, particularly given the artificial falling snow, the Christmas lights on the city’s famous pine trees and the happy carolers.
Panagbenga Flower Festival
One exception to the relative quiet winter season in Baguio is the famous, month-long celebration of Panagbenga – otherwise known as the Baguio Flower Festival. There are two underlying themes to Panagbenga: to honour a season of blooming flowers and to commemorate the city’s rebirth following the devastating earthquake in 1990. The events, which take place in February, include displays and competitions for the best blooms or flowering trees, plus two Grand Float Parades followed by a night of fireworks. Throughout the month, you’ll even have the chance to participate in games, tournament Scrabble, trail-running and ceremonial tree planting.
Baguio is home to a sensational mixture of cuisine, culture and natural beauty. In fact, there’s so much to do on your winter visit to Baguio, it’s hard to fit it all in one place. While you’re there also consider checking out the Wood Carver’s Village and the Easter Weaving Room for incredible local art, and the Asin Hot Springsx“—the perfect place to spend a cool afternoon!