Why Baguio Is Good for Your Mental Health + What's New in the City of Pines

Igorot Stone Kingdom, HOHO Bus
PHOTO BY Igorot Stone Kingdom, Baguio PIO/Facebook

(SPOT.ph) Baguio is an easy escape for Metro Manila souls who need a breather that's easy on the GCash wallet. If you are planning to recharge in the City of Pines again this year, there are new things to try and new regulations to keep in mind so that it wouldn't feel like a replay of the last. 

The mountain city's #Breathe Baguio slogan captures how a change of pace and relaxing scenery can be good for mental health. For those coming from the metro, rest is just four hours away.

"Seeing nature is very beneficial. It can help you think clearly and you can focus on yourself and not work," clinical psychologist Joseph Marquez told SPOT.ph.

Also read:
10 Scenic Places in Baguio for the Best Sunrise and Sunset Views
It's Back: Baguio's Free Tourist Buses Are on the Road Again

Here's how we called a mental health break during our Baguio trip in late September 2022:

Ride the Hop On, Hop Off tourist bus

How about getting lost in the view from your bus seat window? Tourists on private vehicles can ride the free Hop On, Hop Off (HOHO) bus every Fridays to Sundays as the city aims to decongest its roads during the weekend.

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Free rides can only be availed by tourists who have an approved VISITA QTP and will park their vehicles at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center designated parking areas.

Parking fees are as follows:

  • Light Vehicles: P35 for first two hours, P10 per additional hour
  • Mini Buses (Excursion): P40 for first two hours, P15 per additional hour
  • Regular Tourist Buses: P400 for first two hours, P15 per additional hour
  • Motorcycles: P10.00 for first two hours, P5 per additional hour

Passengers of private vehicles will be given a bus pass which serves as their ticket to ride the HOHO bus. They will join a tour with stops at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center, Botanical Garden, Mansion House, Mines View Park, Wright Park, and Session Road.

The HOHO bus comes with an in-house tour guide and is on a first-come, first-served basis, Baguio Tourism said.

It has seven trips from Fridays to Sundays, the first leaving the BCC at 8:30 a.m. and the last trip leaving the same spot at 4:30 p.m.

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Visit the Igorot Stone Kingdom

You can also get time-warped to when you don't have to clock in for your 9 to 5. The Igorot Stone Kingdom, located at Long Long Road, Pinsao Proper, is the newest attraction in the City of Pines.

Opened in 2021, the man-made park that tells the history of the Cordillera people and showcases ancient and contemporary Igorot culture and stonework.

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It is open daily from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. with an entrance fee of P100 each for adults and P80 each for senior citizens and minors. It has parking available for visitors with vehicles, and allows pets as long as they are on leash.

Check out some of its photos here, as taken by its owner Pio Velasco:

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For your trip planning, here's what we found out:

More bus ride options

Genesis Transport, Pangasinan Solid North Transit, and Victory Liner offer daily trips from Cubao in Quezon City, PITx in Pasay City, Avenida in Manila, or Caloocan. Tourists can choose aircon buses with stopovers or the more expensive deluxe or premiere rides with reclining seats, a toilet inside and no pitstops for a faster trip.

Those who plan to book seats ahead of their trip can do so online via iWantSeats for Genesis Transport and the Victory Liner website. Also check out Biyaheroes website for trips by Pangasinan Solid North buses.

Emergency vacation? Bus liners also accommodate chance passengers when there are seats available.

ICYDK: You Can Take a Bus to Baguio Just Before Sunrise

Baguio VISITA registration is a must

As part of entry protocols under Alert Level 1, the city government requires tourists to register via Baguio VISITA for a QR-coded Tourist Pass (QTP) which is required for entry to hotels, Airbnb rentals and other establishments.

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In the VISITA website, visitors will be asked to register their arrival and departure days, where they will stay if its an overnight visit, and the COVID-19 document requirement (vaccine card or negative COVID-19 test). Those without vaccination cards or a negative COVID-19 test will be asked to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival at the Baguio triage centers for P500 per person, according to the website.

Tourists traveling as a group may also register as one, just make sure to register at least one day ahead

Don't use your gadgets while walking

Baguio visitors who heavily rely on Google Maps to guide them on their way around the city, heads up: Tourist police in the area might call you out for walking while using a gadget.

The Anti-Distracted Walking Ordinance bans the following actions:

  • Using a mobile device by texting or reading texts while crossing a pedestrian crossing or the street, or while traversing a sidewalk, which causes delay in the mobility of other pedestrians
  • Reading any reading material while crossing a pedestrian crossing, or walking on sidewalks, or the street
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First-time offenders will be reprimanded by the officers on duty, while repeat offenders will be fined up to P2,500 and ordered to do community service. Imprisonment is also possible.

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