Years ago, the only way to go up to Baguio City was by going through various mountain highway systems that were more commonly known to the locals as “zigzags”. Tourists and locals getting to Baguio had to go through a snaking route of scenic mountains and hills that followed the course of rivers and transverse bridges. Today, because of the construction of a number of expressways and highways, getting to Baguio by land has become much easier.
Local and foreign tourists coming from Manila should take the North Luzon Expressway or the NLEX up to Exit 85. From there, enter the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, which is better known as SCTEX. Shift to the right lane and head to Baguio via Tarlac. Know that heading straight will take you to Subic instead. Drive the entire length of the SCTEX until Tarlac City and exit where you’ll be turning left to a country road. Drive for about 10 kilometers more by following road signs until you reach MacArthur Highway.
Next, take a right turn to MacArthur Highway and pass through the four remaining towns of the Tarlac province. Continue to pass the entire length of Pangasinan province without making any turns until you reach the town of Rosario in La Union.
From here, you will need to choose from two zigzag options: Kennon Road or Marcos Highway. Kennon Road is the old road that visitors from Manila love to take. If you decide on this pathway, take a right at the Rosario junction to Kennon Road. The Marcos Highway on the other hand is much favored by some for its wider lanes. From the town of Rosario, take a right to the new entrance to Marcos Highway if you choose the latter and be up your way to Baguio City.
These are actually just the most-used roads. Aside from Kennon Road and Marcos Highway, there are in fact three other options to get to Baguio by use of the zigzags: the Naguilian Road is the road taken by travelers coming from northern Luzon provinces; the Halesema Road passes through the La Trinidad Valley and connects Benguet to the Mountain Province of the northeastern regions of the Philippines; and the Baguio-Nueva Vizcaya Road connects Benguet to Aritao and Nueva Vizcaya, thus making it a great option for people coming from the east.
Although lying completely within the province of Benguet, Baguio is a government unit independent from the province. Baguio City is around 240 kilometers from the City of Manila and is the gateway to the vast Cordillera region of the Northern Philippines. It takes about 4-5 hours by private transport to get to Baguio from Manila. It may take even less time to get there at night due to less vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Overtaking is much easier as well but drivers should particularly take caution for oncoming vehicles.
Travelers have many options when getting to Baguio, depending from where they are coming. Any of these mentioned routes only proves how important Baguio is as a top tourist destination to the Philippines, as getting there is said to be as easy as 1-2-3.