Wednesday, March 9, 2011

13 Travel Tips: Panagbenga Festival

Truly, experience is the best teacher. And having experienced the thrill of Panagbenga myself, I would like to share a few things I learned during our 3 day stay. For those who are planning to go to Baguio for upcoming Panagbenga Festivals, read these reminders/tips below.

1. Reserve your bus ticket at least 2 weeks before your scheduled trip.
I was able to book our plane tickets from Laoag to Manila for our return flight four months before the festival but failed to book our bus ticket to Baguio. Huge mistake! We waited 6 grueling hours at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Cubao before finally making it to the bus. Nothing can be more scary than after all the preparations you did, you'll end up missing your trip.


Here's Victory  Liner's website - http://www.victoryliner.com/

2. Travel light but don't miss the important things you need to have when going to Baguio. Especially when you're just going to commute, please try not to bring your whole closet - you'll end up not using a lot of it anyway.

3. If you're a certified ginawin like me, be ready for the cool Baguio weather during Panagbenga season. Arm yourself with a cozy jacket and hat. I even wear handgloves during those cold chilling nights.

4. During the Grand Float Parade, do not ever attempt to skip on your breakfast.
Please eat something before going to see the parade. I was horrified to see a number of people near our spot fainted just because they missed their morning meal. It's horrible! Good to see medics are very much feasible within the area but it pays to be tummy ready.

5. Watching the parade is not for the weak of hearts.
I don't even recommend going there with your little kids and grandparents. Leave them behind, don't bring them there. The foot traffic is unbelievably overwhelming - human traffic at its worst. This year's festival alone, an estimated half a million were there to witness the event. And making your way to the crowd just to catch a good spot is no laughing matter. I feel sorry for that little kid beside me crying and begging for his mom to just go home. And the mother, carrying the boy on her shoulders would scandalously shout telling him he'll miss half of his life if he don't get to see the parade. My goodness! Dear parent, your kid is still young enough to even remember this day so why bother showing him the parade!!! Can't you see, there's literally no space to walk! People were screaming and pushing! It feels like a stampede is waiting to happen,  it really scared the heck out of me.

6. What's the best spot to watch the parade?
Well, according to a taxi driver we asked on our first day in Baguio, one of the best spot to consider is the roof top in Maharlika building. Some said the roads along session road (just be sure to be there early to be on the front row, but it could get a little hot there by noon), while some said it's the footbridge. Our feet bought us to the footbridge near Maharlika building. (click here to see my shots taken from the footbridge)

7. Beware of pickpockets.
I can't count how many Baguio residents warned us about nasty thieves during the parade. These bad guys would take advantage of the crowd traffic so watch over your belongings, better yet leave the important things at home. Bring just enough cash for the day and place it in your front pockets, never at the back.

8. Get ready for long walks. It's good if you could book in hotels/lodging houses near the city proper. However these hotels are much pricey compared to transient homes. 

9. Be a taxi magnet!
With a flag down rate of just Php25, Baguio taxi drivers are well known for giving back changes whether how small it is. But getting taxis during Panagbenga season can really be frustrating. Many would refuse to pick up passengers and if they do, imagine competing with thousands of tourists trying to catch a cab as well. Our love and hate relationship with taxis made my 5 year old pamangkin desperately plead for many manong drivers to take us out of the city. When all else fails,  you have jeepneys to count on.  

10. Dining in restaurants and fast food chains in the city area can be a challenge so I suggest you buy a little something to fill you up. Burnham Park offers an array of street foods.

11. Do your research on your desired tourist spots and note their complete addresses. If you can, keep a map handy at all times. Not all taxi drivers know all of Baguio's tourist spots. Getting lost in Baguio can be tricky considering all of its winding roads.

12. Deal with motion sickness
If you tend to get dizzy in the roads of Manila, you'll definitely get more dizzy in the roads of Baguio. So be ready with your Dizitabs :)

13. Book your return bus tickets in advance. How I wish the Baguio Terminal would someday expand their booths to accommodate thousands of tourists leaving Baguio. For those heading to Vigan/Laoag, you can get your tickets at Partas Terminal, walking distance from SM Baguio. Note though, Partas going to Vigan/Laoag doesn't accept reservations.


Experiencing a well-known festival has its ups and downs. Cheer up and don't fret. Make the most out of those inconveniences. Good luck on your Panagbenga Festival experience.



2 comments:

  1. Great tips! I was there too but didn't see anyone pass out where we camped. Thank goodness I had breakfast then! We were at Burnham park 3am pa lang, then secured our seats at 5am. Excited much ang kasama ko :)

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  2. Wow Gay, 3am?! I'm not sure kung kakayanin ng katawan ko ang lamig ng Baguio ng 3am, ginawin kasi talaga ako. A group of young teens from Manila yung nakatabi namin, we overheard na hindi sila nagbreakfast, ang dami nila nahilo and nagpass out yung mismong katabi ko. From the footbridge, we could see yung mga binubuhat sa stretchers at inaasikaso ng mga medics.

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