Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival – Baguio Panagbenga Itinerary

After last year’s Hot Air Balloon experience, I am all set now for another adventure up, up, and away.

Clark Hot Air Festival 2012

Clark Hot Air Festival 2012

Together with 5 more buddies we’ll be attending the grand and colorful festivity on the 22nd of February (see the Hot Air Balloon Festival 2013 Schedule of Activities here), then off to Baguio for the Panagbenga Festival on the 23rd, my first time to attend such flowery festival.

And so here’s our itinerary for this budget trip, taking place on February 22-25, 2013.

Date & Time Activity Est Cost
February 22, 2013 (Friday)
4pm Arrival in Clark
Jeep to Downtown 50
Stroll in Nayong Pilipino / Air Force / Clark Malling
Dinner 100
Camp in Clark Air Field for the overnight stay
February 23, 2013 (Saturday)
Hot Air Baloon Festival
Entrance 250
Lunch 100
9pm Depart to Baguio 300
Overnight in Victory Liner Baguio
February 24, 2013 (Sunday) Est allowance for the day 700
5AM Early Morning Strawberry Taho
Eat breakfast
Burnham Park | Session Road | Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral) Downtown area
Session Road – Cathedral tour – Attend Early Morning Mass
615AM Short walk in Session road to find a good spot for the parade
8AM Start of Grand Float Parade
945-10AM End of Grand float Parade (at upper session road/SM Baguio)
10AM-1030AM Deposited our bags at baggage counter at SM!
Lunch at Good Taste (Behind Baguio Center Mall)
Pizza Volante located in Session Road. The house specialties are Pasta Puttanesca and Vegetarian Pizza. For a budget of only Php300-Php500
Botanical Garden | Wright Park | The Mansion | Mines View Park | Good Shepherd (Leonard Wood Area)
Walk down to Session Road
Reach McDo Session at the lower Session Road, turn left to Mabini Street (marker is Danes Bakeshop) and look for the jeepney terminal with jeepneys going to Mines View Park
Ride and tell driver to “Mines View Park”. Fare is “long trip”.
Mines View – Ketchup Community Series
1PM To Mines View Park
120PM Mines View Park
Arrive in Mines View Park for some photo ops with horses, the view deck and big dogs. No entrance fee but there is charge for photo ops with the animals.
Then ride same jeepney (going back to downtown), tell the driver to drop you off to The Mansion.
Photo ops “The Mansion”. Walk to the side of the mirror lake until you reach the gazebo. By this time you are already in the Wright Park.
Picture taking with the horses or ride the horse (for P200).
Lunch time in Ketchup Community. By this time it’s already noon. If you are on a budget you can get back to town and eat in cafeterias or fast food restaurants.
The Botanical Garden – Haunted White House Walk Tour
From Wright Park, head to Leonard Wood Road passing through Pacdal Circle. Walk until you reach the Botanical Garden.
Photo ops inside Botanical Garden.
Walk out of the park and continue walking until you reach the Baguio Haunted White House.
Get inside it. *This is an update: the Haunted House is now open to public since late last year. Entrance fee is P50.
The Camp John Hay Tour and Adventure
From Wright Park, you can turn left going to The Baguio Country Club and finally Camp John Hay. You can take photos of the wide green fields there.
You can also check out there Cemetery of Negativity (where you bury your negative mind setting and being there).
Baguio City Market
Baguio City Market sells almost anything. The place boasts its cleanliness and cool environment. You can also find great deals and bargains for items (especially if you are good with haggling). This place is ideal for last minute shopping for souvenirs and gift items.
Your stay in Baguio may be short but you know that the memories will be treasured forever. The long ride can be tiring but the environment and weather of the city can relieve you from your pains and aches.
Evening – Night Market
Wait for the Night Market to open along Harrison Road. Night Market opens at 9PM.
Ukay-ukay to the max (second-hand goods and thrift goods market). This is where you can buy jackets, hoodies, pants, shirts, bags and more…at the cheapest bargain!
After the Night Market, you can try café or night bars (with or without dance floor). Paddis Point and 18 BC are night bars.
February 25, 2013 (Monday) Est allowance for the day 700
4am Bell Church | Strawberry Farm (La Trinidad Area)
Jeep to La Trinidad (Market)
Walk to La Trinidad Strawberry Farms
Souvenir Buying at Strawberry Farm
to Bell Church in La Trinidad, Benguet
visit Rito’s along Marcos Highway. This restaurant serves bulalo and crispy pata.
Option 2 The Grotto-Diplomat-Tam-Awan Tour
From Lourdes Grotto, you walk your way to Diplomat, or ride same jeepney, then drop off to the foot of the Diplomat Road.
Photo ops inside Heritage Park. Diplomat Hotel Ruins and the World’s Largest 10 Commandments Tablet is there.
On going back, you ride same jeepney (Dominican Hill) back to downtown. Near the Abanao Square, the terminal of Jeepney going to Tam-Awan Village is at Shagum St cor. Kayang. Signboard says “Quirino Hill” or “Quirino Hill via Tam-Awan”. You can also ride jeepney going to “Long-Long”.
Walk a bit to Tam-Awan Village (driver will instruct you).
Photo ops inside Tam-Awan Village. It’s another hiking thing so you have to prepare for this. Picture taking of the different artworks is strictly prohibited.
Visit Arko ni Apo that is just across Tam-awan Village. Different metal works and wood works art gallery are showcased in this place.
Continue your tour with a visit to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and this has 252 stairs before you reach the top of the grotto.
The last place to visit is the Ben Cab Museum
On going back, ride the same jeepney going back to downtown.
Departure from Baguio 300
Arrival in Clark 100
Terminal Fee (Back & Forth) 400

Fruity Experience at the Baguio City Public Market

Before heading back to Manila after our Mt Pulag trip, we’ve had a quick stop over at the public market of Baguio City for some fruity finds.

Find out what we found!

Of course Baguio won’t be Baguio without the Strawberries!

Baguio strawberry

Baguio strawberry

Baguio Public Market

Baguio Public Market

Baguio Market



Baguio City


Baguio Pasalubong

Baguio Philippines



Baguio Flowers

Ambuklao Dam: The Biggest Rock Filled Dam in Asia


Do you just love dams?

I sure hope you do! For our next stop will be no other than the the Biggest rock filled dam in Asia, yes – it’s the Ambuklao Dam in Benguet!

Philippines Dam

What is Ambuklao Dam?


Ambuklao Dam is a dam that supports a hydroelectric plant in the mountains of Bokod, Benguet province of Philippines.

It is the is the first among the largest hydroelectric power plants constructed in the Philippines, made of earth and rockfull which measures 129 meters in height and 452 meters in length – and is one of the oldest.

Ambuklao Dam

Ambuklao Dam

The facility was constructed for power generation and flood control and runs along the upper portion of Luzon’s third largest river, the Agno River.

Dam Benguet

Aside from generation of electric energy, the water held by the dam is used to irrigate the agricultural fields of Pangasinan. The dam helps minimize floods by absorbing the high peak flows by releasing water over longer periods.

Ambuklao Dam Spillway

Ambuklao Dam Spillway

The Ambuklao Hydroelectric power facility stands as a symbol of one of the biggest accomplishments in power development by the Philippine government, an engineering feat which Filipinos are proud of.

How to Get There

Go to Ambuklao Dam

From Baguio City, take the jeepney or mini bus at Dangwa Terminal (infront of Baguio City Market at the back of Centermall) or at Slaughter Compound in Magsaysay. Take the Kabayan trip. This will take you to Ambuklao Dam using the Ambuklao Road in Baguio near Pacdal Circle. This will usually take you 3-4 hours. Another way is to take the short cut way using a private vehicle: From Baguio, take magsaysay road passing by Trinidad. From the Benguet Capitol Building, take the road going to Halsema Highway. The travel time will be around less than 45-minutes, and there will be a junction point and on the right a rocky road going down. This will take you more than an hour to reach Ambuklao. The Ride will be a bumpy and a “death-defying-cliff edge” experience.

How to go to Ambuklao Dam


The Unique Badekbek Sulfur Spring

As part of our Mt Pulag Adventure, after the hike we found ourselves in a bonus tour around Benguet.

First stop is the Badekbek Sulfur Spring.

Trek to Badekbek

Trek to Badekbek


The sulfuric bubbling muddy hot spring

The sulfuric bubbling muddy hot spring

Badekdek Sulfur Springs in Benguet

It is a potential natural attraction found in Daclan, also known as Daclan Hot Spring.

It is a sulfuric bubbling muddy hot spring, hence the name “Badekbek”.

Badekbek Hot Spring

Badekbek Hot Spring

The smoke and sulfuric scent emitted could be seen and smelled from a distance. The hot water from the spring is believed to have some therapeutic effects.



It is situated two kilometers away from the Bokod-Kabayan national road and is accessible to vehicle transport.


By public or private transport, it is two hours ride from Baguio City.

Mt Pulag: Trekking Luzon’s Highest Peak

A journey to the clouds – that’s what I aimed for my birthday trip this year.

Picturing myself standing in Philippines’ third and Luzon’s highest peak with a sea of clouds behind me is how I wanna start this 2013 – aiming for the highest as high as the clouds in my remaining travels and adventure.


Taking Up the Challenge

The trek to Mt Pulag is a long and arduous one.


No, there were no heavy snowfall, gusty winds or mighty boulders along the way, but heavy forest mist and a tough trail instead when we went there on Friday, February 1. These can be quite challenging for first-time hikers.

In addition to that is the freezing weather that looms as you reach higher and higher.


There’s even a recent news that the climate in Mt. Pulag had reached below zero-degree. Wow! Imagine that!

But for sure Adventuroj wouldn’t let that stop a dream of climbing the third highest peak in the Philippines!

Challenging Rough Roads

To reach the top you have to pass through several pit stops –

  • a 4am meet up at the Victory Liner Baguio City with the group we’re coming with
While waiting for the group .. a quick coffee at 7/11

While waiting for the group .. a quick coffee at 7/11

Trying the Taho at Baguio City

While waiting at Victory Liner I’ve had my first taste of the popular Strawberry Taho in Baguio. Indeed a must try for the sweet tooth!

strawberry taho

  • After the meet up, we boarded a 4×4 Jeepney then proceeded to the Mt Pulag Tourism Office for the registration and the orientation.
Pt Pulag First Stop

Pt Pulag First Stop

Mt Pulag Tourism Orientation

Mt Pulag Tourism Office

Mt Pulag Tourism Office

Mt Pulag Orientation

Mt Pulag Orientation

mt pulag tourism

  • Then off we go for another zigzag slippery ride on a narrow road that with just a single mistake will send your Jeep rolling on a cliff. Scary huh?
4x4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

4×4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

Aboard the jeepney, one could also witness the unique construction of the houses here to combat the cold weather.

Unique Houses in Benguet

Unique Houses in Benguet


4×4 Jeepney Ride to Mt Pulag

  • After a challenging ride, we reached the 2nd stop at the Ranger Station.
Mt Pulag Ranger Station

Mt Pulag Ranger Station

Mt Pulag Ranger Station


Here the trekkers will be dropped off and the hike will start.

Mount Pulag

In the ranger station also is where you’ll hire your tour guide to accompany you through the night and towards the peak.

  • Tour guide fee – 500 / guide / group

You could also hire a porter to carry your things if you want the trail to be a lighter one.

  • Porter fee – 500 / porter

*Tents can also be rented at 200php.

Hike to Mt Pulag: The Start of the Adventure

At around 1pm, the hike began.

Hiking to Mt Pulag

Hiking to Mt Pulag

At first an easy one, enjoying ourselves to the luscious green and scenic view from the mountain tops.


Mountain Climbing

What to do in Philippines

Mountain Climbing Philippines


baguio mountain

Where is Mt Pulag


Wild Berries in Mt Pulag

Wild Berries in Mt Pulag

But as time passed, our bags got heavier.

We realized we should just opted for a porter. Probably that way we could have enjoyed the hike more.

Reaching Camp 1

Mt Pulag Camp 1

Mt Pulag Camp 1

Camp 1 Mt Pulag

Camp 1 Mt Pulag

After 2 or more hours, we reached the first camp.

Here one could rest in a man made shelter, and could also set camp if you want to spend the night.

Spending the Night at Camp 2

Mt Pulag Camp 2

Mt Pulag Camp 2

But we proceeded to Camp 2 and stayed there for the night, an hour or two away from Camp 1, but nearer to the summit.

Sunset Snapshots at Camp 2

We were also lucky to witness the sunset at Camp 2 , and so here are some photo ops.

Mt Pulag Sunset

Mt Pulag Sunset






The Fatal Challenge: Surviving the Night

The trek is nothing compared to the challenge we’ve endured as night time approached.


Night-time be a true test of grit with the cold reaching near-freezing levels. I even thought that I’ would die in the cold.

Having 5 shirts and a thick jacket plus 3 jogging pants sure DID NOT made me warm enough to have a comfy sleep. The winds are horrible and scary, they are howling making as if the tents will fly away in any second.

Rising Up for a New Journey to the Summit

But we did it! We survived the freezing atmosphere!

The heavens were filled with a cacophony of stars as we woke up at 4 am to bravely make that trek towards the summit to catch the sunrise. It was awe-inspiring.

We were awoken by our guide for the early trek to the summit in expectant of a sunrise and to see the majestic sea of clouds that every Mt Pulag climber wishes to see.

A Slippery and Wet Journey to the Clouds

But as we proceeded the weather didn’t seem to cooperate.


It started to drizzle. And when we reach the summit it’s freezing though it’s already 6am.

Zero visibility and yes – NO sea of clouds 😦

A Rewarding ‘Heavenly’ Experience

Although I did not get to witness the sea of clouds, the journey, however, is more than rewarding.




The experience of a rich flora along the trail – it’s like entering an entirely new realm as the sight of wide open slopes give in to that of closely-huddled trees, ferns of different shapes, and other rich vegetation.

Alas, even a most courageous heart is no match for the elements when one is not properly-geared. Warm clothing and sturdy shoes aside, though, one can never match the company of people with happy dispositions when taking on such a tough adventure. Bring lots of them when you make that journey to the clouds.

For those who’ve reached Mt. Pulag’s peak, meanwhile, the reward, as they say, was “heavenly.” And they’re being literal about it.

At 2,922 meters above sea level, after all, reaching Mt. Pulag’s peak is like reaching the heavens. They have photos of the clouds behind them to prove it.

Mt Pulag Philippines

Mt Pulag Philippines

A Birthday Trip on Top of The Clouds

Ever wondered where I’ll be heading?

Fret no more, for it’s somewhere high that many are dreading,

Ever heard the news?

That the temperature there’s less than zero degree celsius?


Where else could this be?

Known as the rooftop of Luzon,

And dubbed as the third highest mountain peak in the country,

None other than, the beaming Mt. Pulag.


Yes, there’s nothing more adventurous for Adventuroj,

Than to take on this challenge,

So here’s the itinerary that’s prearranged,

Stay tuned for the future photos, posts and more!


Hike to Mt Pulag

At the summit of Mt. Pulag. (Photo courtesy of Tin Fuentebella)

Checklist / What to Bring on Mt Pulag?

  • Clothes (2+1 pairs)
  • Fleece Jacket/Down jacket/Shell (must be suited to temperatures of 0–7 degrees Celsius/32-45 Fahrenheit )
  • Raingear
  • Trekking Pants/Jogging Pants
  • Extra socks
  • Trekking Shoes/Rubber Shoes/Sandals
  • Gloves
  • Bonnet/Head gear/Scarf/malong
  • Plastic bags (for water proofing of your bags, clothes, cameras and other items)
  • Sleeping bag / Tent
  • Large Garbage bags (at least 2 pcs)
  • Flashlight/Headlamp (plus, extra batteries)
  • Personal whistle
  • Personal meds and First Aid Kit
  • Tissue Paper
  • Mess kit (Plate or container bowl, utensils)
  • Water bottle (at least 3 liters if you’re sensitive to unfamiliar water; or just a 1-2 liter container, easily refillable with cool, fresh, clean and potable mountain water)
  • Personal Trail food (candies, chocolates, cookies; to share!)
  • Camera (for photo ops!)



Day 0

  • 2200 Take bus to Baguio City

Day 1

  • 0400 ETA Baguio City. Breakfast then proceed to jeepney terminal/chartered jeep.
  • 0530 Take chartered jeepney to Ambangeg.
  • 1000 ETA Visitors’ Center. Registration / Orientation
  • 1130 Set out for Ranger Station 1230 ETA and lunch at Ranger.
  • 1300 Start trek 1430 ETA Camp 1
  • 1600 ETA Camp 2. Set up camp; optional summit assault.
  • 1800 Dinner at campsite; socials

Day 2

  • 0430 Early morning trek to summit for sunrise
  • 0545 Arrival at summit just in time for sunrise
  • 0700 Start descent from summit
  • 0800 Back at Camp 2; heavy breakfast
  • 0900 Decamp; start descent to Ranger Station
  • 1130 Back at Ranger; Settle guide fees; jeepney descent
  • 1230 Back at Visitors’ Center; tidy up and log out
  • 1400 Head back to Baguio City
  • 1700 ETA Baguio City. Dinner.
  • 1900 Head back to Manila

Tour Package and Itinerary courtesy of Roadtrip Adventure Travel and Tours for 2,500php (all in).