Although a popular summer holiday escape for people from Manila, Baguio is too much like Manila and offers very little for the foreign tourist. One recent Friday night when I was traveling from Sagada to Baguio, it took the bus nearly an hour to travel the last one kilometer, due to the heavy traffic.
There is color coding in Baguio, which means that there is a certain week day and times that a vehicle cannot be on the road. It is determined by the number plate last digit. Plates ending in 1 & 2 cannot drive on Monday, 2 & 4 cannot drive on Tuesday, and so on.
When traveling by bus Manila/Baguio, I always go with Victory Liner. They have buses going every half hour from a number of locations in Manila. Their buses are in good condition, and there is also a deluxe bus with on-board toilet which goes to Baguio several times a day.
Catch the Victory Lines bus from either Pasay, which is nearest to the Manila airports, or Cubao if you are coming from Makati or Ortigas. The Cubao terminal is on EDSA on route to Baguio. I try to avoid the Pasay terminal because buses leaving from there need to go a long way south along EDSA, almost to Manila Bay, before going north, as there are no U-turn slots on EDSA. After sometimes 15 minutes in the bus, you will pass on the other side of the road the Pasay bus terminal you left from. If going to the Cubao terminal, make sure that you tell the taxi driver that you are going to Baguio because there are two Victory liner terminals in Cubao.
When I am traveling to Baguio, it is always just to pass through on my way to Sagada. I like to catch the deluxe bus to Baguio because it does not stop on route. This way I can get in about 5 hours sleep and have not had to pay for overnight accommodation. After arriving in Baguio, it’s a short taxi ride to the Sagada bus terminal. I will catch the first bus to Sagada at about 6:30am. There may be a one and a half hour wait but there is breakfast available in the terminal.
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of Session Road, right next to Greenwich Pizza, you will find Pizza Volante. The owner migrated from Lebanon many years ago and his restaurant serves a variety of freshly made, oven baked pizza with homemade (by him) tomato sauce and a variety of toppings to tempt. My favorite is Mushroom and Pepperoni. Hot from the oven, delicious, juicy, crunchy, with just the right amount of mozzarella, it is the perfect companion for the carrot salad - a pile of freshly grated carrot atop a bed of fresh (in season) lettuce, lightly dressed with lemon/calamansi and olive oil. The hot sauce on the table is the real thing! The prices are very reasonable and you can enjoy a coffee or a nice cold beer while Session Road seethes outside.
The Department of Immigration is no longer in the Centrex of town. It has moved out to a road with the ridiculous name of Military Cutoff. A taxi costs about P50 from the center. Look out for the building with the sign, as the driver may not know it. The Immigration staff are efficient and friendly and visas can be processed quickly, usually within 20 minutes. Although office hours are from 8:00am – 12:00, 1:00pm – 5:00, don’t get there before 9 in the morning, or before 2 in the afternoon as the department head will probably not be there to sign the papers.
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