If you plan to visit the Summer Capital of the Philippines for a quick break and you want to experience something new; then why not try going up on a mountain and enjoy a cup of hot beverage in an overlooking coffee shop in Baguio City? Sounds like a dreamy place isn’t it? That place actually exists and its located at the southern outskirts of Baguio named as Café in the Sky. But let me tell you, this place is elusive. It’s very difficult to visit but I think it’s all worth it. Here’s our travel guide and experience in Cafe in the Sky.
This post was updated on November 16, 2020. Cafe in the Sky is temporarily closed to the public due to the current worldwide pandemic. We’ll update this post once we received news from the local government. For now, feel free to read and save this post for future reference.
A Cold Morning in the City
Leo and I took a short vacation in Baguio City and it was 4:30 AM in the morning when we arrived. After alighting from our bus in Victory Liner Station, we braved the cold and sauntered to our hotel. The whole city was still shrouded in darkness and the sky was painted with silvery stars glistening in the morning night.
The Nuisances going to the Café
Part of our itinerary is to visit Café in the Sky before sunrise, but there are nuisances associated with this controversial coffee shop. First, visiting Café in the Sky is troublesome due to political issues. It is seated on Mt. Sto. Tomas in Tuba, Benguet, and its territory is protected by the local government. Access to this place for tourist is difficult because of strict regulations for conserving the environment implemented on the area. Officers are already patrolling the checkpoint going to the café as early as 4:00 AM and only the locals living in the area are allowed to go in and out of the place.
Second, going to Café in the Sky is expensive. What’s even more irritating is the hefty price tag going to this place. I did a lot of research prior to visiting the café and the people who shared their experiences have similar situations. Some rented a taxi for PHP 600-1,000, while others took an FX from the checkpoint going to the café for PHP 600 to 700.
Lastly, the café is sometimes closed due to random reasons. During my research across blogs and social media sites, there were times that the coffee shop is closed for a period of time due to issues relating to the first predicament.
Amidst the issues circling in this unique café, I still wonder how it feels to spend quality time in this place while seeing the panoramic view of the city with a cup of hot brewed coffee. Nevertheless, we pushed on to our plans.
The Adventure going Up
I contacted Café in the Sky before leaving the hotel at around 5:00 AM; I got their phone number on their Facebook Page (apparently, the page is already inactive as of September 17, 2019). A woman with a sweet tiny voice answered the call. I asked if the coffee shop was opened that day and she affirmed. Nuisance number three is out!
I also asked for ways on how to visit their café. Well, she replied with a sound of doubt in her voice. She mentioned that the local government was strict that time and the police manning the checkpoint might prohibit us in visiting the coffee shop. Since I was so determined that day, I asked for possible alternatives. I asked her if it’s okay to hike from the checkpoint going to the café and she chuckled saying, “Kung kaya niyo po, sige po.” (If you can do it, why not?).
The challenge? The hike takes about 4.2 kilometers in distance with 1,200 feet of elevation from the checkpoint going to the cafe. The temperature was another challenge; dipping to 10 degrees Celsius (that’s 50 F in case you prefer imperial) that morning. So not a problem at all eh?
After our conversation, we rent a taxi going to the café. We asked the driver if it’s still possible to visit the café at that time. He answered yes without hesitation but we have to pay a one-way fare of PHP 600 going up. Nuisance number two: it’s really expensive.
Reaching the Checkpoint
As we approached the Santo Tomas Road (the long winding road going to the café), I became anxious and questions started to flood my mind. The officers were already patrolling the area when we reached the checkpoint. Our taxi driver did the talking and to my surprise, the officers let us through. Big thanks to our taxi driver! All nuisances are now eliminated!
My heart was filled with excitement as we rode along the convoluted road of Santo Tomas. I saw a number of people walking down the street while defying the freezing mountain wind. As the path leveled, we finally reached Cafe in the Sky.
Café in the Sky Experience
The sun was not yet up when we arrived in the place and the chilly wind was howling in discord. We found warmth and comfort inside the cafe and there were a few travelers inside.
The coffee shop generally looked like an old lodge made up of lumber and concrete. The interior was embellished with wooden furniture and indigenous Cordillera art. The cafe has a welcoming atmosphere and its quiet interior is peaceful.
There’s also a balcony at the northern side of the coffee shop overlooking the panoramic view of Baguio City. I went outside and conquered the wintry breeze while seeing a different perspective of the city at a height of 6,500 feet. The towns were covered in mist as it slept and waited for the sun to rise.
The lights coming from houses and buildings flickered like stars in the sky. At the crack of dawn, the city became more visible like a gigantic mural slowly revealing its marvelous beauty.
I’ve been visiting Baguio City regularly since 2015 and I’ve never seen something like this before. I stood on the balcony and looked at the stunning landscape of the city. The sky was painted with shades of yellow and blue as the first light of the sun greeted in awe. The city became alive as the mountainous plains were flooded with colors.
So, What’s Special?
After taking random pictures, we decided to take the seats in the balcony. We had our breakfast outside the café while enjoying the stunning view. With this unique experience, breakfast has never been so ecstatic.
There’s nothing really special in their set of meals. We ordered the usual Filipino silogs for breakfast. Their longganisa was both garlicky and sweet, and their bangus was petite but not short in flavor.
What’s really special about Café in the Sky is the experience itself. Although we faced predicaments in the first place, I suddenly forgot all the nuisances we had when we stepped foot in this lovely cafe.
After breakfast, we had a chance to talk and share stories with the staffs of the café. Their friendly and accommodating nature signifies genuine Igorot hospitality.
At around 0900H, we were the only travelers left inside the cafe. This is a usual situation according to the staffs and the influx of visitors vary across the day. After our small talk, we bid our gratitude and farewell to the staffs and started hiking down back to the city.
Cafe in the Sky has nothing special to offer when it comes to their cuisine, but their cozy interior and grandiose panorama of Baguio City make a lot of difference. I will never forget our wondrous sojourn in this coffee shop in the mount. A cup of hot brewed coffee and quality time spent while enjoying the scenic view is an experience worth remembering.
How to Get to Cafe in the Sky
Cafe in the Sky is located in Sto. Tomas – Mt. Cabuyao Road, in Tuba, Benguet. You can find this cafe on the outskirts of Baguio City, and visiting this place is not easy.
The territory where the coffee shop is located is protected by the local government with a purpose to preserve the environment. Since the release of the hit local TV show Forevermore, the place gained mass interest due to its scenic and picturesque view. Reports vary across social media sites regarding the strict implementation of environmental rules in the area, but one prominent reason is the will of the local government to maintain the cleanliness and beauty of the location.
With this rule, the influx of travelers going to the cafe is limited and only the residents of the city are allowed to go in and out of the place. Amid the strict regulations, there are still ways on how to visit the cafe and savor its unique experience it has to offer.
There are a lot of ways to visit this place. There are methods that might not work due to unavoidable circumstances; like sudden rule changes in the area. Here are three ways on how to get to Cafe in the Sky.
Hire a taxi from Baguio City
This is the method that we tried when we visited Cafe in the Sky.
- From Baguio City, hire a taxi going to the cafe
- We hired our taxi for a one-way ride going to the place for a hefty price of PHP 600! (USD 12)
- We went to the area at around 5:00 AM
- Although police officers were present at that early time, our taxi driver did all the talking just to let us through.
If your taxi is prohibited from passing through the checkpoint…
There’s an FX vehicle from the checkpoint going to the cafe and the fare costs PHP 700 (USD 14). The fare is good for a round trip ride from the checkpoint going to the cafe and back.
If all else fails…
Then start hiking from the checkpoint going to the cafe. I estimated the hike would take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your fitness level.
(UPDATE) Try calling the cafe a day prior to your visit…
One traveler who recently visited Cafe in the Sky said that they contacted the cafe first. The staff then arranged their transportation but the normal pickup time is every 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM. The fare costs PHP 800 for a round trip from the city to the cafe. Contact numbers are displayed at the end of the post.
Best time to go
The best times to visit this coffee shop is before sunrise or before sunset to witness the majestic golden hour scene of Baguio City. Others wanted to experience sea of clouds on top of the city. This sight usually occurs during noon time according to the locals, but having this experience can happen by chance. You can call the staffs of the cafe before visiting their place to know if the clouds are already setting in.
Other travelers mentioned that it is advisable to visit the place earlier than 0400H to avoid the patrolling officers in the checkpoint.
Going Back to the City
Going back to the city can be another nuisance. Since we only hired a one-way taxi going up to the cafe and there were no available transportation, we decided to hike down. Along the way, there were locals driving down with their private vehicles. Thankfully, we managed to hitch a ride with one of the residents. We alighted at the main highway, paid the driver as a form of gratitude, and took a cab going back to the city.
Did you find this post helpful? Share it to your friends and spread the news! This post is updated on November 16, 2020.