If you fancied visiting 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 this mountainous city; named as Café in the Sky.
A Cold Morning in the City
It was 4:30 AM in the morning and the wind was freezing cold when we arrived in Baguio City. I was with my brother, Leo, when I took a short vacation in the city of pines. 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. With strict regulations implemented on the area for conserving the environment, access to this place for tourist is difficult. As early as 4:00 AM, officers are already present patrolling the checkpoint going to the café; 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 almost faced 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, and sipping a cup of hot brewed coffee. Nevertheless, we pushed on to our plans.
The Adventure going up
Before leaving the hotel, at around 5:00 AM, I contacted Café in the Sky; I got their phone number in their Facebook Page. 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!
Then I asked for ways on how to visit their café. Well, she replied with a sound of doubt in her voice. She mentioned 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; and the temperature was dipping to 10 degrees Celsius 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.
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 pathway 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.
After taking random pictures, my brother and I 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 have never been so ecstatic.
There’s nothing really special in their set of meals. We ordered the usual Filipino silogs for breakfast. Their longanisa 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 place.
After breakfast, we also 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 in 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 with their cozy interior, and grandiose panorama of Baguio City in their balcony, 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 prohibited; 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 did 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 12.00)
- 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 14.00). 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.
Best time to go
The best times to visit this coffee shop is before sunrise or before sunset for a 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; 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, since there are no patrolling officers at that time.
Going Back to the City
After spending a great time in the cafe, 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 in the main highway and from there, took a cab going back to the city.
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