Camp John Hay in Baguio City is a well-developed business-centric area. It was named after John Milton Hay, the Secretary of State under US presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. It used to be a getaway estate for the personnel and family of the United States Armed Forces and the US Department of Defense in the Philippines during the early 1900s. Despite the many changes that happened after it was converted into a private resort, the place still keeps its old school charm.
The surroundings in Camp John Hay are great for camping and trekking, with uneven terrains and forests of pine trees. The morning view is amazing, especially when the fog begins to fade away and the sun rays pass between the tall trees. The Manor is one of the high-end hotels in Camp John Hay. Its rooms are superior and fit for those who want a luxurious and relaxing stay. Walking around the surroundings of the hotel is a great way to enjoy the cool weather.
The restaurants and coffee shops in Camp John Hay are all ideal for the cold temperatures of Baguio City, but nothing offers a more unique experience than Chocolate de Batirol. The quaint eatery is located in a garden with floors of stones and pebbles. The house specialty is its creamy and bittersweet hot chocolate, brewed in the traditional way. It is paired best with Filipino rice cakes.
Another distinct attraction in Camp John Hay is the Lost Cemetery of Negativism. The cemetery is riddled with tombs where negative things are seemingly buried. The epitaphs have statues of animals, including clever names and quotes.
From Metro Manila, Camp John Hay can easily be reached via land travel, whether you are commuting or driving. For those who will be driving, Baguio City is only four to five hours away if you take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) route.
Meanwhile, if you're commuting, Baguio City is about six to eight hours away. There are many bus lines that serve Baguio City, and the fare depends on which route you'll be taking and the make of the bus. Victory Liner and Genesis' Joybus are just two of the bus lines that can take you there. After arriving at the bus terminal in Baguio, you can just hop on a taxi or jeepney to Camp John Hay.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys ply the main roads of Baguio City. So if you need an affordable and efficient mode of getting to and from Camp John Hay, riding a jeepney is a good choice. Just make sure to familiarize yourself with the signages. If you think you’re lost, don't hesitate to ask the driver or the locals for directions.
Another efficient mode of transportation around Baguio is the taxi. These taxis are nonaircon since there's no need for it because of the cool climate. Transportation network companies like Uber and Grab also operate in Baguio City.
What to See
Camp John Hay is a satisfying hub of the old and new. Featuring historical sites alongside commercial attractions, this destination is sure to capture the varied interests of all kinds of travelers.
Camp John Hay's Historical Core is a must-visit for history buffs. It has several attractions that will make you feel as if you're traveling back in time.
During the American period, Camp John Hay was a mountain resort for American soldiers in the Philippines and their families. The Bell House was built as a vacation house of the Commanding General of the Philippines. It was named after General J. Franklin Bell and now operates as a museum.
Step outside of the Bell House and you'll discover the Bell Amphitheater. This gorgeous multi-leveled structure is filled with lush greens and a variety of flora and fauna. It is now a popular site for weddings and other events.
The Liberty Loop is still part of the Historical Core and the small-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty found there is another interesting landmark in Camp John Hay. The monument is another indication of the influence of the Americans in the camp.
The Cemetery of Negativism is a unique attraction at Camp John Hay's Historical Core. Though not actually a cemetery, it features headstones that depict the "deaths" of various negative thoughts. It is a popular place where people dispel their pessimism.
For animal lovers, the Butterfly Sanctuary is a nice place to visit. And of course, horseback riding at Shalan Ti Kabadjo, is a must-try for kids and kids-at-heart. Make sure to enjoy the picture-perfect sceneries around you as you ride on horseback around a beautiful nature trail. But if you simply want a soothing nature commune on your Camp John Hay vacation, visit the Secret Garden near the Liberty Loop.
For adventurers out there, Baguio's Treetop Adventure will give you the adrenaline rush you crave. Choose from daring attractions like the Canopy Ride, the Silver Surfer, and the Tree Drop Adventure. You can also get an amazing view of Baguio's mountainside at Treetop Adventure's Skywalk. But if you're not too keen on heights, you can always join the trekking trips.
Lastly, Camp John Hay Golf Course is perfect for golfing enthusiasts.
Where to Eat
Fast Food Chains and Restaurants
Baguio-Ayala Land Technohub is home to many dining establishments. From fast food chains to restaurants, you will have lots of options when it comes to food while there. There's Yellow Cab, a famous local pizza joint that also serves delectable pasta and Army Navy if you're in the mood for a burger or burrito. Sumo Sam is great for Japanese food lovers, while Seafood Island is known for its fresh seafood dishes and Filipino food. For dessert, head to J.Co Donuts and order a box of their yummy donuts and one of their frappe creations.
Camp John Hay also has some homegrown restaurants if you want to have a taste of the local food offerings. Both Pizza Volante and Visco's are famous for their pizza, but the latter is also known for its yummy cakes, especially its strawberry cake. Another well-loved desserts place is Everything Nice. Aside from its delicious cakes, bread, and other sweet treats, it also serves savory local and international dishes.
The Mile Hi Center is another popular commercial center in Camp John Hay. It has branches of Brothers Burger and Dencio's Bar and Grill. Meanwhile, Tender Joe Steakhouse offers delicious steaks for a filling meal. Other dining places to check out in Camp John Hay include Carlo's Pizza, Baguio Deli, and Mr. Beans Cafe.
If you seek a unique place to eat, then Mile Hi Dinner will definitely capture your attention. This American-style diner is not limited to offering American dishes as it also serves great Filipino breakfast meals.
Lastly, a great way to stay warm in the cool climate of Baguio is to have a cup of traditional hot chocolate from Choco-late de Batirol. It also serves snacks like different variations of suman sa lihia and bibingka.
Strawberry taho is one of Baguio's unique street food offerings. You can get a hot cup of this from the vendors at Camp John Hay or the tourist spots in the city center like Burnham Park.
Where to Shop
The Mile Hi-Center has several duty-free outlets selling branded items like clothes and shoes at discounted prices. There is also a commissary where you can buy groceries and alcoholic drinks without being taxed. Meanwhile, you can buy assorted food products like the famous ube jam and peanut brittle at Baguio Deli.
You'll find ATMs near commercial centers like Mile Hi Center and Baguio-Ayala Land Technohub.
Fare: PHP 450.00 to PHP 750.00
Ordinary air conditioned bus rides with stopovers cost as cheap as PHP 450.00. Meanwhile, if you will be taking a deluxe bus with amenities, it will cost as much as PHP 750.00.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 500.00
While there are no carinderias in Camp John Hay, there are many fast food chains that offer pocket-friendly meals to fit the budget of backpackers.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
You can bring home a bottle of peanut brittle for as low as PHP 100.00.
Accommodation: PHP 2,500.00 to PHP 4,300.00
Most of the accommodations in Camp John Hay are upscale so for those who want to splurge, you can get an overnight stay for two at Le Monet Hotel for as low as PHP 4,330.72. Meanwhile, for those who want to save, a standard room for two at Aim Conference Center Baguio costs less than PHP 2,500.00 per night.
Activities: PHP 60.00++
There's a PHP 60.00 entrance fee if you want to explore the Historical Core at Camp John Hay. If you want to go horseback riding for half an hour, it will cost you PHP 250.00.
At Treetop Adventure, you can choose to pay for every attraction you try or you can purchase the adventure packages that range from PHP 500.00 to PHP 1,000.00.