Tag Archives: Philippines

Ilocos Norte: Bangui Windmills

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Ilocos Norte: Bangui Windmills

Travel transpired May 2015, details may change from present time.

One of the highlights of our Ilocos trip, the famous windmills of Bangui. It wasn’t difficult to track since you’ll be able to see them from afar already. On our way, I was in awe when I saw its scale against the woman in the photo below. I know it’s big, but never thought it would be really huge in person.

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See how huge it is?!

As we enter the beach, we saw the magnificent row of windmills from left to right.

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It’s such a delight to finally be there. However, I had mixed emotions when I got the chance to go near and see one up close!
I was amazed, happy and scared all at the same time! The wind was very strong and the windmills make a screeching sound which gives you a chilly thought that it would break! Of course, it didn’t happen!

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So we just stayed in a safe area and took lot of pictures. Just a note that we were there around lunchtime, the sun is scorching hot. Wear comfortable clothes, hat, bring drinking water and the likes. Better yet, go early morning or before sun down.

Another info that could save someone’s time and might be good to highlight. We went there in a small car. Though cars are allowed to enter the beach area, best to stay where the sand is firm. The sand near the beach tends to be loose, thus it caused our wheel to be buried in sand. Good thing the locals helped us out of our plight. So unless you are driving a 4×4, please do not try that. I’m also not sure if it’s safe to swim, better ask around first.

Again, details may have changed. Travel happened May 2015.

Ilocos Norte: Malacañang of the North

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Ilocos Norte: Malacañang of the North

Posting an outdated blog from May 2015, details might have changed already but I still hope this helps someone’s itinerary.

Malacañang of the North is located at Paoay, Ilocos Norte which used to house the Marcos family. The house is well-maintained, judging by its mint condition. Should be worth including in your list of sights to see if you pass by Ilocos.

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Malacañang of the North - Facade

They require an entrance fee of (around) P30.00/head. At the entrance, you’ll be welcomed by a grand staircase and the living room.

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Living Room

The house is well-ventilated with an open design. Must be the weather, as it could be very humid in Ilocos especially during summer season.

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Dining Area

It somehow represents the lavish lifestyle of the Marcoses. From the chandeliers, furniture, designs and paintings to name a few.

The rooms are open for viewing too, each opens up to large window views with the master bedroom facing the lake.

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The Bedrooms

Former President Marcos’ office is also open for public viewing (this one is air-conditioned). There’s also a mini museum inside, which could be very informative for kids and adults too.

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Former President Marcos' Office

The backyard opens up to a large patio surrounded by lush garden and the serene view of the Paoay lake.

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Paoay Lake

Our visit was brief since there’s a big group of tourists during our visit. But I recommend this place especially if you’re into history.

A minor note that it also has a clean and functional toilet, if this information helps.

Again, details may have changed from current time as travel transpired last May 2015.

Ilocos Norte: Mama Aket, Dawang’s Place

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Ilocos Norte: Mama Aket, Dawang’s Place

I’m doing back dated blog posts to hopefully help traveler’s itineraries. Ours happened May 2015, please note that details may have changed from current time.

When we travel, it’s a must that we try local delicacies. And since this eatery generally acquired positive reviews around, we decided to give it a shot.

First of all, please note that this is a “carinderia”, not a fancy restaurant. The place is located along Maharlika Highway, San Nicolas. It looks like a house transformed into an eatery. You’ll pass by their kitchen should you choose to sit in their enclosed area. Someone will attend your orders, do not hesitate to ask for translations as some terms are in local language.

Their menu is quite limited to house specialties. Some of them are Tinuno (grilled pork), Igado, Dinardaraan (crispy dinuguan), Papaitan. I must say everything is so good! Not to mention that you’ll get your fill within very little budget (P 100.00 or less per head).

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This place is highly recommended especially for budget travelers. We will surely include it under our list in our next Ilocos trip!

Note that parking is scarce and information provided were based on our trip last May 2015. Details may have changed.

Ilocos Norte: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

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Ilocos Norte: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Summer vacation is almost here, so I thought of posting some sights that might help your itinerary.

Our journey’s back dated May 2015, thus pictures and details might vary from present time.

One of my most favorite spot would be Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, located at Burgos Ilocos Norte. It was built from the 1800s and now known as a historical marker.

We passed by before lunch en route to Bangui and let me emphasize that the sun is scorching hot. It is recommended that you wear comfortable clothes, bring drinking water and the likes.

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Cape Bojeador Lighthouse - Facade

Parking is scarce, so it might be a problem during peak season. There’s a short uphill climb before you reach the steps of the lighthouse. It’s manageable though, no problem even if we have two small kids with us.

The stunning view from the top is all worth it. The wind should help you relax a bit before you descend the tower. There’s a viewing area where you can have a good view of the sea.

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Tower

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The view!

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The view!

There are vendors at the foot of the lighthouse that sell souvenirs (keychains, ref magnets, shirts, etc.) and ice scramble which was a hit for us since it was very hot then.

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Souvenirs

Our visit was short and brief but the memory will surely last.

Again, details might differ from current time since our travel transpired May 2015.

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte: Chalet Bami

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Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte: Chalet Bami

Summer is just around the corner! The cold wind is gone and up came the sun, literally! I just thought about posting a blog that could be useful this season. For those who want to go to the beach up north, then you can consider going to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Travel may cost your time so better plan during long weekends or holidays, it may take you 10-12 hours from Manila. Quite a number of sights worthy of stopover too, so consider leaving early.

Just a note that I’m sharing our 2015 trip so details might stray from current time. Best to still check ongoing rates and updated hotel policies.

We browsed through a lot of hotels and homestays sourcing for the most inexpensive but good and clean one. Chalet Bami is located at Saud Beach, not located in the beach itself but 2-3 minutes walk won’t hurt you. I contacted them through their Facebook page and behold the owner sends timely replies in good English! What surprised me more? They didn’t even asked for a down payment, which is very rare nowadays. I’m quite skeptical at first but I must say communication is their asset. On our way I still called to ensure the reservation is in place.

When we arrived, we were immediately escorted to our rooms. Not extravagant just the basics but very clean! No smelly aircon, no smelly rags and no smelly sheets! I’m more particular about the toilet/bathroom, but then again it is clean! The 2nd floor room also has its own veranda. Aircon works well. They do not offer free toiletries and towels so better bring your own.

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Photo from Chalet Bami FB page

Wi-Fi is available in their lobby area. Unfortunately I do not remember using it or noting how the speed was, etc. They do not have a restaurant so food service is not available, but they have a common kitchen/dining area which you can use for free (also clean by the way), with stove/condiments/utensils. They also have a grilling station at the back. Mineral water and coffee are free of charge too.

We settled our payment before check-out. This hotel is definitely worth every buck (range is P1500-4000 depending on room type/season). We’re pretty much satisfied and would surely consider going back.

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Photo from Chalet Bami FB page

Again, please note that details may have changed as we were there last 2015.

For more info, you may contact them through their Facebook page – Chalet Bami.

Cebu City | Philippines ~ Part III

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Our last full day is pasalubong and city tour day! 🙂

1st stop of the day would be the Lapu-lapu monument since it’s very near our hotel and is also situated beside the rows of restaurant that offers Sutukilsugba (ihaw), tula (tinola), kil (kilawin).  Since it’s already lunch time, the sun is scorching hot!  I suggest you bring your own umbrella for protection and to do away with those people who offer umbrellas for a fee.  After several pictures, we picked the best sutukil restaurant that offers the freshest seafood around the area.  Glad we found an air-conditioned one, what a relief!

Lapu-lapu Monument

Choose the freshest seafood around Sutukil

I know the picture below isn’t really photogenic, we were dead-hungry that we forgot to take a picture of our very own seafood fiesta. 🙂  Ordered the raw ingredients and asked them to cook the following for us —sinigang na hipon, sweet and sour lapu-lapu, chili crab and buttered shrimp.  You may ask from mineral water, fruit juices, soda or even fresh coconut for drinks.

Seafood galore!

After the gastronomical treat, we headed to the Taoist temple.  This one is quite far from Lapu-lapu city, atop Beverly Hills.  It feels like we were in China!   A short walkway that is patterned to the Great Wall of China awaits you at the entrance.  The temple is open to visitors but always observe silence. Picture taking is not allowed inside the temple or if you are taking photos against their religious images.

Am I in China?

Facade of the temple

Taoist Temple

View from Beverly Hills, Cebu

The huge gate of the Taoist temple

I’m not sure if this would be accessible to commuters, cabs can take you here but it would be best to rent or bring your own vehicle.

Off we went to the city after this.  We passed by the Heritage Park, this is not a big park.  It’s actually more of a mural or a gated monument.  A few walks away is the Yap-San Diego ancestral house, dating back to the 17th century.  One can enter the house for P50 and see the antique pieces that they preserved overtime.  The structure itself is not in its glorious condition anymore.

Heritage Park

Yap-San Diego Ancestral House

Along the way, we spotted several architectures that is still intact despite their age.  The University of San Carlos is still operating at this time and has been lined up among the tourists spots of Cebu.  We stopped by Cebu Cathedral, the church is in its mint condition and they have a museum too.

Old buildings are still standing despite their age

Old buildings are still standing despite their age

One of the oldest universities in the Philippines

Facade of the Cebu Cathedral

After the sight seeing, we went to Tabo-an Market.  This market has a wide array of stores selling dried fish and squid.  They also sell dried mangoes and otap.  Prepare to smell like the sea here, it won’t matter though once you taste the fried danggit.  I recommend you buy otap at Shamrock store (near Fuente Osmena circle), they have the best otap and is relatively cheaper.  We bought our dried mangoes (small packs are sold around P40-50) at the mall since we were reluctant to buy from Tabo-an.  Do not forget to drop by CNT for their sumptuous lechon or roast pig.  They have a branch inside the mall and another one which is a short walk from SM Cebu.  Fret not if you forgot to since Zubuchon is now available at Mactan airport.

Prepare to smell salty

Dried mangoes are available at the malls

So that wraps up our Cebu trip, went home the next day.  Explore the Queen City of the South ~Cebu, explore the Philippines! 🙂

 

 

Cebu City | Philippines ~ Part II – Plantation Bay Resort & Spa

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The 2nd installment of my Cebu blog will mainly focus on Plantation Bay.  Since we wanted to go to Bantayan Islands for swimming, we’ve decided to celebrate my son’s birthday here.  We were budget-conscious travelers so we availed the Day Trip Package and picked Goldberry Suites as our main accommodation.  For P2000 per head, you’ll get to utilize the following amenities from 9AM-5PM –lagoons & pools, wall climbing, bicycles, nip floaters or kayaks, access to their game room, children’s center and shower rooms.  You are also entitled to a set lunch with a choice of drink, courtesy of Kilimanjaro Cafe.

We went straight to the registration area and were immediately attended by their staff.  The receptionist was talking in straight English even though we were obviously Pinoys, their resort’s policy maybe.  Payment settled, off we went to the pools!

We need to squeeze everything from 9AM-5PM

View from the reception area

Plantation Bay has man-made lagoons

Plantation Bay has several swimming areas –man-made lagoons, freshwater pools and beach.  We chose our best spot and went for a swim.  A friendly reminder, the man-made lagoon has decorative rocks that might cause injuries because they are not that obvious.  There are parts too that leads you to deeper areas of the lagoon, so it pays to keep an eye on your kids.  Kayaks are included in the package but for 15-minute use only.

Free 15-minute use of kayaks

Natural beach

They have a small beach, the natural one.  They prohibit swimming that time because there’s no lifeguard on duty.  The beach is clean and we easily spotted several kinds of fishes near the dock.  We took advantage of the jet ski and took pictures of the guys aboard it! 🙂

There are fishes all around

After several hours of swimming and exploring the different areas of the resort, we went to Kilimanjaro Cafe to claim our free set lunch.  Excited we were since we already researched about it and we already have our choices in mind.  We ordered different sets of lunches so we will be able to share and taste a variety.  So to start with the appetizers, bread and butter were served plus we had a choice of the following –mushroom soup, mixed green salad and chicken & beef satay.  I recommend the latter if you are a heavy eater, very tasty!

Appetizer ~ Bread & butter

Appetizer choice #1 ~ Mushroom soup

Appetizer choice #2 ~ Mixed green salad

Appetizer choice #3 ~ Chicken and beef satay

For the main course, they only offer two choices from –Lechon Kawali and Roasted lemon chicken.  The potato wedges are given in place of rice but since I wasn’t informed, I got both.  Thank you very much for the consideration! 🙂

Main course choice #1 ~ Lechon Kawali

Main course choice #2 ~ Roasted lemon chicken

They offer ice cream (strawberry, mango, chocolate) for dessert, we had ours but my husband ordered coffee instead.  No problem with them anyway.  For drinks you can choose from –ice tea, mineral water, soda, local beer and fruit juices.

Dessert ~ Ice cream (strawberry, mango, chocolate)

We were so full and we can’t hardly breathe after eating lunch.  So we rest a bit and went for a walk around the resort.  We spotted an E-jeepney and was thrilled to try it out.  The driver also took our group picture aboard the vehicle.  After our round trip, the boys tried wall climbing and we brought the kids to the children’s center.  The children’s center is air-conditioned, packed with toys and amenities that would cater the needs of the toddlers, babies and moms.  They also have a washroom and diaper changing rooms inside.

Riding the E-jeepney

Free wall climbing

Children’s center – has fully loaded amenities

Archery and shooting areas are available but for a fee, so we skipped them.  They also have a tennis court and mini golf area.  We resumed swimming at the freshwater pool and opt to spend the last hour in the game room.  Game room offers –billiards, darts, arcades and Wii area.

We really enjoyed our stay but everything has to end.  To conclude, their service and amenities serve your money’s worth.  So drop by Plantation Bay some time when you go to Cebu!:)

For inquiries, contact:

Plantation Bay Resort and Spa
Marigondon, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines
http://plantationbay.com

Cebu City | Philippines ~ Part I

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Cebu City | Philippines ~ Part I

July 2011 – We have decided to celebrate our youngest’s first birthday in the Queen City of the South, Cebu.  After grabbing a good deal from Air Philippines two months ago, the long wait is finally over!  Off we go the first of July!

The original itinerary includes Bantayan Islands, but we fear that it’ll be a wet season so we took it off our to-go list.  So our flight was scheduled at around 5AM.  It’s our first time to fly that early and the sun has not risen yet.  I’m glad we did and I’m going to share the view from our plane window.

Riding the plane to Cebu

We arrived past 6AM.  And how prompt can our hotel driver be?!  Glad we were to see him with a well-maintained van, a Mercedes-Benz.  We headed to our hotel, Goldberry Suites which is situated in Pusok, Lapu-Lapu.  The hotel is just 10-minutes away from the airport and 5KM away from the city proper.  Doubt came first, but was dissolved immediately after we entered our suites.  Whoa!  A king-sized bed, mini bar, working table, high-speed internet and LCD TV await us.  But what makes them unique was their glass-walled T&B, IMO.  The cleanliness of the room is commendable, since their rate is very affordable (let me repeat that, as in very affordable) we were not expecting something as good as this.  Customer service is also top-notch!  Hubby and kids were already enjoying the bed and I am loving my (temporary) workstation! 🙂

Glass-walled T&B

Loving my temporary workstation!

 After lunch, we headed to the town proper cantered by a rented van from Cebu Executive Rent-a-Car.  I’ve been to Cebu before but since most of my trips were work-related, I was not able to explore its famous landmarks.  Cebu is actually known for its buildings and monuments dating back to the Spanish era.  So first stop, the legendary Magellan’s Cross.

Magellan's Cross ~ Built 1834

Magellan's Cross

The Basilica del Sto Nino is just beside it, so we walked through the crowd and saw the huge area where you can light candles and offer a prayer.  We aren’t really Catholics but there’s no harm doing so, that’s why I lighted two candles for my two kids.  It was actually a common thing with Catholic churches but this one’s really huge.  We went inside the church and there are lots of images of Jesus and other saints.  Lots of people go to the Basilica thus the need for them to conduct the service inside and outside the church itself.  There’s a small museum which is free to the public, but taking photos is not allowed.

Light up a candle and offer a simple prayer

Free candles are provided for devotees

The church's facade

A few steps away the Magellan’s Cross lies one of the oldest BPI branch.  A proclaimed tourist landmark and was built 1940’s, we persuade our cousin who works for BPI to pose in the facade and beside their history badge. 🙂

One of the oldest BPI branch

About several minutes away is Fort San Pedro.  Stepping here is like stepping in Intramuros.  We only took pictures of the facade, there’s a minimal fee for those who wanted to wander around the fort.  While a mini gallery of antique stuff and pictures are free for public viewing.

Fort San Pedro

The facade of Fort San Pedro

We were already tired and it’s dinner time!  Hence we went to the popular Larsian BBQ joint.  Prepare to smell all smokey as a circle of BBQ stands and vendors await hungry travelers.  Since there are many to choose from, take your time and choose the best and freshest BBQs around.  The food is relatively cheap –pork BBQ is sold for about P5, rice “puso” is sold for P3 and the soup is free.  The thrilling part here is that they provide plastics for your hand, since there are no visible washroom around.  You can also request for utensils if you are not comfortable with that.

Lots of BBQ stands to choose from

Rice or "puso" sold for P3 per piece

Prepare to smell like BBQs

We went back to the hotel at around 8PM and prepared for the next day.  And that ends day 1 in Cebu.  🙂

Baguio City | Philippines

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There were only few days left before the holidays when my family decided to go to Baguio. It wasn’t hard but instead impossible to get a hotel booking. So since we are a pack of ten, we opt to look for a transient house. I am the one in charge to look for a place and God knows how many sites I’ve already checked just to find one. Preference would be a budget friendly place, clean, near the town proper and it has to have the “Baguio” feel. So yes, we got one. Placed several texts and calls and then we deposited half of the payment to the bank.

The big day came and off we go! We left Manila at around 3AM and reached the zigzag at around 8AM. At 9AM, we were at Baguio’s famous landmark –the Lion’s head. Lots of travelers stopped to take a shot, Baguio vacation won’t be complete without it. We also dropped by the Kennon view deck, not much to see. But the view is worth one’s appreciation.

Baguio's famous landmark ~ Lion's head

Spectacular view of the mountain

City of Pines

As we are about to enter the town proper, we noticed lots of buildings, houses and construction along the road. They were blocking our view and it was far from what I remembered! Not to overreact but I would like to conclude that mankind has taken over the mountains. And did I mention how bad the traffic has been over the years??

When we finally reached Baguio Vacation Apartments at Pines Garden Villas, we were really relieved. Our accommodation is like a row of townhouses on top of a hill. Wonderful! They have a guard-house too, so you are secured 24/7. We booked a three bedroom villa (which includes a kitchen, living room, two T&B and a terrace area). So everyone went up and unpacked their luggage. At around 3PM, the fog is already touching the foot of the hill and we were so thrilled!

Baguio Vacation Apartments

Whoa, fog at 3PM!

Off to our 1st stop The Mansion and Wright Park. We took a lot of pictures and even asked Manong Taho to take our group shot. There are Sagada orange vendors and artists trying to sell their stuff along the man-made pond. The kids strut their horse riding skills and we wrapped the day with a hot Bulalo dinner, perfect for the cold windy night.

Wright Park

Second day is a tough one. We need to squeeze everything in one full day. First post, Lourdes Grotto. We aren’t really devotees, we just wanted to check out the place and brave the hundred steps of the grotto. After that we went to Tam-awan Village. Intrigued by the artificial Ifugao village on top of a hill, I ensured that this is included in our itinerary. My mom was not really thrilled about this place, but still I am happy to see it for real. There’s a lot of Bul-ol statues around and artistic stuff like paintings are in exhibit.

Lourdes Grotto

Tam-awan Village

Next station, the Philippine Military Academy. We came before lunch and I nearly forgot that we were in Baguio. The sun was scorching hot! So, that calls for a round of ice cream in the cooperative store near the parking area. My son was really amused with the old planes and helicopter displayed around the military compound. Other sites to see includes a chapel, tree house and old fighting machines.

Following a quick nap, we went to Burnham Park. My cousins along with my husband and my son rode a boat for rent and row around the lake. The sun was about to set at that time, but it was still fun. My mom and my sister looked around the thrift stores set up in tents beside the lake. Biking is another fun activity to consider. Though utmost care should be observed especially if you are biking beneath dim lights. There’s a lot of bike rentals to choose from at a fair price of P40 per hour –solo, big, small or bicycles with sidecars.

Philippine Military Academy

Burnham Park

Burnham Park

A sumptuous dinner at Rose Bowl completed the day. Their dishes are highly attractive. Rose Bowl has gained and kept its popularity in Baguio for several decades now. When you are around the town proper, consider going to Maharlika and the public market. It is more ideal to buy there than in malls or souvenir shops found in hotels or tourist destinations. You can buy an array of stuff — from silver works, blankets, walis tambo, Baguio delicacies like peanut brittle and strawberry jam. Souvenirs like key chains, ref magnets and the legendary Baguio souvenir –the man in the barrel.

Third day is going back to Manila day. We were trapped for hours in really bad traffic! We were surprised that what caused this traffic was the newly built SM Mall at Rosales Pangasinan. There were no police officers to guide those who wanted to take a turn to the mall. Then another line of traffic awaited in Tarlac, this time caused by a small intersection. It’s a happy thing that provinces are becoming more civilized. But I hope that they will also be able to keep up with peace and order. And so to put it, our ride home was really annoying and exhausting.

To sum this up, Baguio is still a place to be. But since it is not getting any better, I have decided to put Baguio at the end of my traveling list. I might consider going back some day but not soon. Change is constant but I hope that it will be positive changes. So, till we meet again City of Pines!

Note: Condition as of Dec 2010 ~ 6/10

Baguio City | Lourdes Grotto

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When you visit Baguio City, drop by their famous Lourdes Grotto.
Though in its glorious condition no more, the place is more maintained compared to other tourist spots around the city.

Catholics and even non-devotees go there to brave the steps of the grotto. Some say it has a hundred-step staircase (too bad I was not able to count it myself). When you get there, vendors will approach you and persist that you buy candles and flowers as offering.

Lourdes Grotto ~ Mirador Hill, Baguio City

Brave the steps of the infamous Lourdes grotto

Offer lighted candles as a sign of devotion

Kneeling benches

Halfway the high staircase, there’s a row of stores selling various souvenirs. Ranging from bags, key chains, knitted sweaters and many more. You can also ask native Igorots to pose with you for a fee.

Row of stores selling souvenirs

After your trip around the famous landmark, check out various silver works at Ibay’s which is situated right at the foot of the grotto. Other souvenir shops can be found beside it too. Not to mention an army of transient houses, ready to accommodate cluster of tourists especially during peak season.

Note: Condition as of Dec 2010: 8/10

Related Posts: Philippine Military Academy, Tam-awan, The Mansion & Wright Park