Baguio City remains as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. With its scenic views, lush forests, and chilly temperature all year long, it's a favorite go-to place for Filipinos looking to take a break from the struggles brought by the pandemic.
As the country sees a decline in COVID-19 cases, domestic tourism is slowly returning, and visiting Baguio City tops the lists of many. Traveling during a pandemic can be taxing, but with the right information and proper planning, it can still be as fun and refreshing.
Whether you’re planning to spend Valentine’s Day up north or just wanting to escape the Manila heat, here’s a guide on everything you need to know before visiting Baguio City.
What are the travel requirements?
First things first. Secure a QR-coded Tourist Pass or QTP by registering through Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A., the online registration system for Baguio tourists. This pass will be your ticket to enter the city.
Currently, Baguio City allows a maximum of 5,000 travel requests per day, so it’s better to register ahead of your travel date to get a sure slot. Tourists with no QTP will not be allowed to enter.
If you don’t have a friend or relative in Baguio City where you can stay, book an accommodation from any of the approved establishments by the city government in advance, as this is required when applying for a QTP.
How can you get a QTP? First, create an account at the Baguio V.I.S.I.T.A website and submit a proof of identity. Once finished, schedule your trip through the same website indicating your intended date of travel and your place of accommodation.
Many hotels and accommodation establishments in Baguio City have their own triage (see the list here). If you booked any of these places, you can proceed there directly for health screening and document verification. This will save you time as triaging at the central triage at Baguio Convention Center and Camp John Hay can take a few hours.
Aside from a QTP, you also need to present proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are coming from an area under Alert Level 3 or higher, a negative RT-PCR test result, which is valid within 72 hours prior to arrival, or a negative antigen test result, valid within 24 hours prior to arrival, is also required.
If you are coming Metro Manila and other provinces are currently under Alert Level 2, there is no need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result. Minors who have yet to complete their vaccination are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, except for children aged 11 and below.
What do I do when I arrive at the hotel?
Once you’ve reached your hotel or place of accommodation, present your QTP, proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test result (if required), and a valid ID at the triage. You will then be asked to accomplish a health screening form, and if there are no health-related issues, you can proceed to check-in.
Even if a negative COVID-19 test result is not required for travelers from areas under Alert Level 2 and below, some hotels may still ask for one on their prerogative, so it’s best to touch base with your accommodation establishment before your visit.
If your hotel requires a negative COVID-19 test result and you don’t have a valid one, ask where you can get an antigen test. If you are staying at Camp John Hay, you can get an antigen test at the Camp John Hay Trade and Cultural Center near the camp’s entrance for P500.
What places can I visit?
While you can create your own Baguio itinerary, here are some of the places you can visit and the COVID-19 protocols in effect:
Mines View Park
A trip to Baguio City is never complete without visiting Mines View Park, which boasts a picture-perfect view of the Cordillera mountain range. There are no strict protocols when vising the open-space park except for wearing a face mask.
Entrance to the park costs only P10 for adults and P5 for children. Make sure to visit in the early morning to see the mountains still covered with mist.
Just seven minutes away from Mines View Park is another popular destination in Baguio City --- the Wright Park. The park is famous for being adjacent to The Mansion, the official summer residence of the Philippine president.
Entry to the park is free of charge, but you may need to pay a minimal fee to enjoy some of its attractions. For one, you can enjoy horseback riding for P500 an hour or P250 for 30 minutes, regardless of how many from your group will ride.
At the center of the city lies the Burnham Park, the most famous tourist destination in Baguio. Many of the attractions at the park are now open to public, including boat riding which you can enjoy for only P200 for 30 minutes for the entire group, and bicycling for only P50 for 30 minutes.
Activities at Burnham Park continue until the evening for as long as there are visitors. Find some time to walk around the park at night to experience an extra chilly weather.
Bamboo Baguio Sanctuary
Perhaps one of the newest attractions in Baguio City is the Bamboo Sanctuary located at Liteng, Pacdal, 15 to 20 minutes away from Burnham Park.
The row of bamboo trees along a curved pathway is reminiscent of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan and gives visitors the feeling of traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun without leaving the Philippines.
Entrance to the bamboo sanctuary is free of charge, but you can make a donation to the St. Francis Xavier seminary which manages the attraction.
Camp John Hay
With a sprawling landscape of 213 hectares, Camp John Hay is a popular picnic and camping destination for tourists and locals alike. Feel one with the nature by surrounding yourself with the camp’s tall pine trees or by just walking around the area in the early morning or evening where temperature is at its coolest.
Entry is quite strict due to COVID-19, so make sure to pass through security properly. It also helps if you have a booking in one of the hotels at the camp for easier access.
Many of the attractions in the park, like the Cemetery of Negativism and the Tree Top Adventure, are currently closed to the public, so it’s best to inquire first about the available amenities before your visit.
Other things to know before your visit
If you are traveling with your own vehicle, take note that Baguio City follows Metro Manila’s number coding scheme from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that applies even to tourists. So make sure to travel only when your car is not covered by the day’s number coding scheme so you won’t get caught and pay a fine of P500.
Visiting Baguio City is always a memorable experience. So if you are thinking of traveling to the City of Pines this Valentine’s Day, plan your trip accordingly.
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