More of Benguet

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Up next is Benguet, which is the third stop of my solo backpacking trip. After soaking up some much wanted sun and salt-water, it was time to go back to the mountains. As someone who loves both beaches and mountain, I need equal doses of each to keep me sane. LOL.

After my Hundred Islands trip, I rested for a bit and then got ready for another few hours on the road this time going to Benguet. I left Alaminos, Pangasinan in the afternoon and boarded the bus going to Dagupan. From Dagupan, I caught the last bus going to Baguio. After about a total of four hours on the road, I finally arrived at Baguio around 8pm. I checked in at the transient house where I booked and went out to have a late dinner followed by a stroll at the night market in Burnham Park.

The next day, I met up with Laiza, a Baguio-based friend, and went on a tour with her to visit some of the famous tourist spots in Benguet. First up on our itinerary was the Tam-Awan Village in Pinsao Proper in Baguio City. The Tam-Awan Village showcases the Cordilleran culture through paintings and sculpture displayed in the galleries. It also has Ifugao houses that can accommodate tourists for a complete experience.
Bul-ol sculptures here and there decorate the landscape in the Tam-Awan Village.
some of the artwork portraying the Cordilleran culture

We then had lunch at a restaurant near the Tam-Awan Village. After that, we left the city and headed over to the Bencab Museum, which is located in Tuba. This was my second time here. The Bencab Museum houses the artworks of well-known contemporary artist Benedicto Cabrera. It also features the works of other artists like Victorio Edades, Fernando Zobel, and Roberto Chabet, just to name a few. The premises also has a cafe and restaurant called Cafe de Sabel, named after Bencab's muse, and a garden and fishpond at the back.
 some of the artworks in the museum

After our museum tour, we headed to a cafe in La Trinidad, Benguet for some afternoon coffee and snacks, followed by dinner back in Baguio city.

The next day, I woke up early to go for a run. I met up with Lily, another Baguio-based friend, for a morning run and stairs-training at the Lourdes Grotto. The Lourdes Grotto is a shrine for prayer and meditation, and is also considered as another attraction in Baguio City. It is usually crowded during weekends, especially on Sundays. To reach the shrine, one must go up 252 steps, which makes it a great place to do stairs-training.

After my morning run, I went to Camp John Hay to meet up with my aunt and cousin, who were also in the city at the time. We had breakfast at The Manor and I must say, their breakfast buffet is one of the best I've ever tried. 
 The Manor has a beautiful garden on its landscape.
You can also get a beautiful view of Benguet from Camp John Hay.

The following day, I was on photography assignment for a trail-running event in Itogon, Benguet. One of the perks of going to out-of-town races is being able to go to remote places. I got to enter the Binga heritage site in Itogon and got an eyeful of mountains, rice terraces, and other breath-taking views.

Since the trail-running event lasted for the entire day, I didn't have much touring done for the rest of my stay in Benguet. I rested well that night to get ready for my next destination: La Union.

Travel Notes:

How to get there:
  • If you will be coming from Manila, just board a bus going to Baguio from Victory Liner in either Pasay or Cubao. Travel time ranges from 5-7 hours depending on the traffic. Minimum fare is Php455 for regular air-conditioned bus.
  • Getting around Benguet is easy. Cabs can take you anywhere, and are relatively cheaper compared to the cabs in Manila. You can also take the jeep. Just ask around which jeep to take when going to a particular place.
Where to stay:
  • There are lots of hotels in Baguio City, ranging from Php1000 to Php7000 per night. Just make sure to check the reviews first. My go-to site for booking hotels is Agoda, which offers special discounts for accommodations, and is a source of reliable reviews  of hotels.
  • For a cheaper alternative, you can also stay at transient houses, with prices ranging from Php250 to Php500 per bed per night. You can also book at transient houses through Agoda.
Expenses:
  • Bus fare - Php455 (coming from Pasay, x2 for roundtrip)
  • Accommodations - Php400 per night at Le Monette B&B
  • Transportation - minimum fare for jeepney is Php8, flag-down rate for cabs is Php30
  • Entrance fee at Tam-Awan Village - Php50
  • Entrance fee at Bencab Museum - Php120
  • Food - meals range from Php100 to Php500 per meal, depending on where you will eat, check out my Baguio food crawl series for options
Other attractions in Benguet (that I've been to before but not on this post):
  • Mines View Park in Baguio City - free admission, but you have to pay for photos with the colored horses and big dogs
  • Wright Park and The Mansion in Baguio City - free admission, while horse rides can cost up to Php300 per hour
  • Burnham Park in Baguio City - free admission
  • Laperal White House in Baguio City - Php50 to enter Baguio's most haunted house
  • Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City - free admission to visit this once famous hotel that's now abandoned and haunted 
  • Botanical Garden in Baguio City - free admission
  • Stobosa Art Mural in La Trinidad - free
  • Straberry Farm in La Trinidad - free entrance, but minimum of Php450 per kilo for strawberry-picking

This is definitely not the last of Benguet that you will see on this blog as I frequently go there. Plus I have more of my food-trips there to tell you about. But that's for another day, once of I'm done blogging all about my solo backpacking trip. Three provinces down, three more to go! :)
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