Baguio with kids
So like everyone else, I heart Baguio. I feel like my kids become their true selves there and I am the mom I always hope to be there. Fresh air, cool air, ease of getting places, Cordillera culture. Here are some of my fave things to do with kids;
1) Picnic near tree top adventure in Camp John Hay at the picnic tables that are for rent (the price is painted on the picnic table itself- 150 php?). Kids can run around the hill and trees. The Manor hotel is within walking distance for bathrooms.
2) Horseback ride from the spot next to Le Monet hotel (to the right of it if you are facing it). Two kids can even ride together on one horse. Or parent can ride with child.
3) The butterfly sanctuary near the paint-balling in Camp John Hay. Short visit of about 20 min. The man who runs it is so animated and hilarious (across the street from Le Monet). (These first 3 things mentioned could be done on same outing).
4) Have a meal at the Manor. Great food, and great kids meals. Kids can run around in the grass and beautiful grounds, even play at the playground. Near Christmastime, they have a Christmas village set up outside. At Easter time, they had a pen with chicks and bunnies in it.
5) Enjoy the kid activities at the Manor. On our last visit, we stayed at a different hotel but pretty much lived at the Manor during the day. Over Holy Week-end, the Manor has an Easter Village set up for kids. One price (around 450 php) for craft, snacks, face-painting, and photo booth. It wasn't crowded and the staff were so great with the kids. Then in the evening, there was a movie screening outdoors (free to anyone). AND also a bonfire and smore kits on sale. So great!
6) Other hotels have their Easter activities too. We stayed at Azalea (and loved it for being able to have a 1-bedroom apartment, with kitchenette. There's a pull-out couch in living room, so kids in separate room. Breakfasts there are great and staff so accommodating of kids. Great playground just outside hotel) Because of the short cut through teacher's camp, we didn't deal with Holy Week-end traffic to get to Camp John Hay. And it is walking distance to Teacher's camp and Botanical Gardens). They also had family activities during Holy Week-end like a Black card hunt (their version of Easter egg hunt) and a face-painting activity.
7) Botanical Gardens. Only pedestrians are allowed in and it's not that big - so kids can roam freely. Great grounds. Big trees, amphitheater for kids to jump around in. Favorite part is paying 20php for all of us to get unlimited shots of us in Igorot traditional clothing. And just outside Botanical Gardens are local Igorots in traditional clothes who you can take your picture with (they charge 10 php for every local in traditional clothing in your photo--- so don't let too many jump in there with you). And okay, there are also people selling taho- but not just any taho- strawberry taho. We love ;)
8) Mine's View Park. Can be crowded with tourists during the day/evening. But one time went there at crack of dawn when baby was awake. So great to see sunrise views there! You park up where the shops are and then walk down stairs to the view. But now there's a ramp for wheelchairs and strollers. Even early in the morning, the stalls were all open there for buying Baguio souvenirs. Can also get photos taken wearing traditional clothing here.
9) Burnham Park. We did this on our way out of Baguio on a Sunday. So great for seeing how locals enjoy a park. Big groups of families having picnics. The park surrounds a small lake that you can walk around. Or rent paddle boats in the shape of swans on. And, there are also kiddie bicycles and pedicabs to rent and an area for kids to ride in.
10) Balatoc Mines. This was awesome. It is 25 min drive from Camp John Hay so really not that far. It is a tour of an old gold mine (mining still takes place at same site). You dress up as miners with boots and helmets (kids loved that aspect), and you walk through a tunnel and see all the equipment used, with a guide. The guide even showed us how they blasted tunnels and gave us a demo with dynamite (we were a lot further down the tunnel). We didn't' realize that they were serious about giving us a demo until the last min and didn't really get a chance to prepare our kids - so prepare your kdis if you can, and ask to forego it if you think it will ruin the experience for your kids. It wasn't loud, but we did feel the shock!
11) Strawberry picking in La Trinidad (check road for traffic or construction heading there, bc it can be a very slow road). Strawberries aren't particularly cheap or anything. But so fun for the kids to be able to pick fruit and to see the agriculture scenery in Baguio, and ALL the strawberry products. Our 3 year old at the time fell in a ditch next to the strawberry fields- we did not realize how deep those are- her head went underwater. So, be careful!
12) Easter weaving showroom. This is a weaving business that has a shop to buy their products on the ground floor, and in the basement they have a weaving room where women are at work, weaving away on their large looms. It is impressive and moving to watch, and so neat for the kids to see the process and finished product. And fun to see all the materials needed lying around. In the shop, you can buy woven material by the yard.
13) Lunch at Ben Cab museum (cafe Sabel). Great food made with local, fresh ingredients - that is also kid-friendly. E.g. kamote fries, carrot/pumpkin soup, and specials like a creamy mushroom mountain rice dish. But what's great are the grounds - it's up in the hills, so misty views. Kids can walk/play on landscaped grounds of duckpond and grassy areas. This is not close to the center of baguio city center so make sure you look up how to get there and allow time for the trip.
14) Winaca Eco-cultural Village. This is on the way out of Baguio if you are heading to Sagada/Banaue afterward. It is located just before the toll gate of Halsema Highway that goes to Sagada. A friend told me about this place. It is owned by Narda's weaving company. It has a weaving warehouse that you can go and visit (similar to Easter weaving). They let my children try the looms. It is also a place for team-building so had things to do like an obstacle course, rops course (for adults) and a rock climbing wall that leads you to a zipline to come down. My 4 year old even did it. There are also Igorot homes there transported from different parts of the region, e.g. a Bontoc house, a Sagada house, and a Banaue house. (These houses are for rent to stay in, if you want the experience). What I loved seeing were the replica of assembly areas that every village in the Cordillera region has: a circle with a bonfire in the middle, surrounded by seats made from rocks. How local courts used to be held.