VALENCIA, Negros – Have you been thinking about temporarily leaving the stressful city life and spend some time on a soul-searching journey but you don’t have the money to go to Bali and do your own version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love?
If your answer is a resounding “yes,” then you can opt for the affordable alternative in Cebu’s neighbouring province, Negros Oriental!
The destination is the Forest Camp Mountain Resort in Barangay Apolong, Valencia town, which is located 11.5 kilometers west of Dumaguete City. It is the perfect getaway for solo backpackers, couples, barkada and family members!
The resort sits in a 2.5 hectare property, a “valley” that is sheltered by a canopy of local tree species.
How to get there
The resort’s tropical vibe is accented by its instagrammable spots, an absolute gem for photography enthusiasts who want to practice their photography skills.
From Cebu City, visitors can reach the Forest Camp via the following options:
From Cebu City South Bus Terminal
– Take a bus from the CSBT bound for Liloan, Santander. The trip runs for four hours so it is wise to bring a neck pillow. Fare: P275/person
– In Liloan, board a fast craft headed to Sibulan, Negros Oriental. Travel time is about 30 to 40 minutes. Fare: P70/person
– Another option is to take a direct bus from CSBT to Dumaguete City. Buses are available from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fare: P345 including the ferry ticket that will take you to Dumaguete City. The trip runs for 5-6 hours.
You can inquire from personnel of Maayo Shipping Company for specific charges if you want to bring your own motorcycle or car.
From the Sibulan seaport
– From the Sibulan seaport, take a jeepney bound for Dumaguete. Fare: P10 and travel time is not more than 30 minutes.
– From Dumaguete City, take another jeepney bound for Valencia, Forest Camp. Fare: P12 and travel time is about 30 minutes.
– From Valencia town, there are tricycles or habal-habals around the Valencia Public Market that will take you straight to Forest Camp. Fare: P20 and travel time is no less than 10 minutes.
Once you reach the resort, you are required to pay an entrance fee of P120 for adults and P100 per child (eight years old and below).
The resort has various options for overnight accommodations.
Family and couples cottages. There are fan rooms and air-conditioned rooms for couples and families that only costs P1,500, P1,800 and P3,500 depending on the accommodation.
Hammock houses. There are hammock houses for P600/night, which can accommodate two persons and provides free sleeping bags and beddings and bonfire. Shared bathroom, yes! But you are free to use own hammocks or sleeping bags with no additional charge.
Campsite and tents. But if you really want an outdoor experience, you can opt to stay at the resort’s campsite and stay in tents. There’s a P300 camping fee per person. You can bring your own tent and they won’t charge you an extra fee but you can also rent from them at P300 per tent. They offer free sleeping bags and beddings too!
The resort’s website says you can book through AirBnb using your credit card or through the website and pay in cash.
You can bring your own provisions and spend time cooking your food. Grilling your food is allowed as the resort has designated area for cooking. But be sure to inform the staff in advance as corkage fee applies.
If you want to spend time lounging by the cold spring pools and just have the resort staff prepare your food for you, that option is definitely available! Especially for group outings, the resort can prepare lunch and dinner packages for you for P250 to P300 per person inclusive of two main dishes, a side dish, soft drinks or juice, dessert, unlimited rice and mineral water.
Filipino breakfast is also available.
What can you do in the resort
Forest Camp is a treat for everyone. Once in a while, they hold overnight events such as astrophotography or you can gather around the bonfire with friends and family members and swap stories and whatnots.
The resort has nine cold spring pools for you to soak in and enjoy. Several activities are in store for you including zip lining, wall climbing and horseback-riding for a minimal fee.
Take in the beauty of nature and spend a tranquil weekend (or whichever days your break falls) in this resort and then go back to city life with an invigorated mind and body. / with Gresheen Gift Libby and Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo