Baguio City is, for most of us, the City of Pines or the Summer Capital of Philippines. Baguio is also the gateway to the Cordilleras primarily because most travelers opt to start their adventure to the highlands by spending a night (or day) in this urban mountain city.
Baguio is about 247km north of Manila or a 6-8hrs trip depending on your chosen mode of transport. There are plenty of options on how to get there. There are several bus lines that ply the Manila-Baguio route. Victory Liner is one of the most popular bus companies.
I am from the South and I usually take a flight to Manila first and start my Luzon adventure from there. If you start from Manila, it is recommended that you take the bus trip from Pasay. Traffic in Manila is notorious and oftentimes unpredictable. Most travelers would rather take the late evening or early morning trip to Baguio City to avoid being stuck in EDSA or NLEX.
Travelling from NAIA to the Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Pasay was a challenge in itself. But after a few hours, I got into an air-conditioned bus and slept for almost the entire duration of the travel.
I never quite remembered well where the bus stopped for either a pee break or a quick meal. I think the bus stopped at Urdaneta and Sison in Pangasinan and Rosario in La Union. The bus then took the Marcos Highway. For a few hours more, I set foot in Baguio once again.
It was dusk when I got off from the Victory Liner Terminal along Gov. Pack Road. The cool breeze reminded me why Baguio is the Summer Capital. I needed to go to my hotel. At least the taxicabs are conveniently accessible. I asked for the cab to bring me to my hotel at Carino Street. After checking in, the first order for the night was to go food-tripping. The 8-hour bus trip definitely got me hungry. With the limited time I got in the city (had to take an early bus trip to Sagada next day), I decided to get to know Baguio thru its food.
So when in Baguio, try the Bulalo. For those who do not know, Bulalo is a Filipino beef marrow stew. A light colored dish composed of beef shanks, marrow and cabbage and is said to be one the most popular dishes in the country. The soup is an easy favorite in elevated places such as Baguio and Tagaytay or anywhere in the country on a rainy day.
There are a lot of restaurants in Baguio that serve Bulalo. Rito’s Bulalo was said to be one of the best in town but I learned (but couldn’t quite confirm if) they transferred from their spot at Engineer’s Hill and it seem difficult to spot where it is at that time. So I just settled for that one Bulalo at a Bulalo House along Session road.
Across the Bulalo House, at the G/F of Puso ng Baguio Building is a branch of Starbucks Coffee. One cannot miss this branch when you stroll the length of Session Road. It is located right where the Robinson’s Store is. At that time, I only planned to get the Starbucks icon mug and tumbler.
Exiting Session Road and into Abanao St, there’s a little Korean street food corner near the Baguio City Hall that serve odeng, tukbokgi, gun mandu for just Php 10-20. Odeng is a processed seafood made of fish, starch and vegetables served with a spicy soup. Tukbokgi or Tteokbukki is made from soft rice cake, fish cake and sweet red chili sauce. Gun mandu on the other hand are fried dumplings.
Walking a bit further, at Chuntug St. is Café by the Ruins. Almost everyone make it a point to visit CBTR for their desserts and drinks. I settled for the tsokolate del agua and a serving of leche flan. They also serve popular Filipino meals and local dishes.
It was a one full night of food tripping in Baguio City. Hopefully in the years to come, I want to re-experience Baguio with much time and opportunity to explore it’s food, culture and the places of interest. By that time, I must be able to drop by Rito’s for its Bulalo.