Known as the sugar capital of the Philippines and the City of Smiles, Bacolod City is the capital province of Negros Occidental. The city’s size spans almost half of the entirety of Negros Island is located in the Visayas part of the Philippines.
Apart from having a bountiful sugar industry, Bacolod has quite the history which traces back to its rise, downfall, to rising again from the ashes. However, it is primarily known for its sweet food, even sweeter people, and the Masskara Festival, which typically falls on the third weekend of October. As one of the charming and progressive cities in the country, it is inevitable for Bacolod to be hailed as one of the most livable cities in the Philippines. More importantly, there is a myriad of attractions and things to do in the City of Smiles. Apart from its rich history, Bacolod is rich in stunning sights, beautiful and monumental attractions, as well as man-made and natural wonders. So, if you have been planning to see and visit the city for yourself anytime soon, below are some of the things you should not miss out on as a first-timer in the City of Smiles:
1.) Take in the view of the Capitol grounds and Lagoon
Located along the busiest street of Bacolod, the Capitol Grounds and Lagoon sits at the heart of the City of Smiles. Incidentally, this is also where the Kilometer Zero marker or point of distance reference of the city is situated. While there is not much you can do at the lagoon; it does make for a relaxing visit as you can drink in the sights you can see. The provincial capitol complex consists of the capitol building and an artificial lagoon that is fronting it. Many locals take to this place for their morning jogs or meet up with friends in the late afternoon. It is an ideal place to relax and just hang around.
2.) Be awed by the beauty of “The Ruins” in Talisay City
Regarded as the Taj Mahal of the Negros Island, “The Ruins” is considered one of the most fascinating ruins in the world. This historical and monumental landmark is located in Talisay City, a city that sits between Silay and Bacolod City. The Ruins is rich in history and is an exciting tale to newcomers who have never set foot in the area before. Prior to its destruction, The Ruins was the ancestral house of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a rich and young Filipino Sugar Baron. It was built in the early 1900s to honor the memory of his wife, Maria Braga, a young Portuguese lady he met on one of his many trips to Hong Kong. At the time, his mansion was the biggest and the grandest in the province. History is quite muddled with rumors as to why it met its violent end. While many believe that it was torched during the early part of World War II when Don Mariano found out the Japanese were planning to turn his mansion into their headquarters, there are some that believe he went mad after the death of his wife and burned his house down. Whichever version is true, it has been said that it took days to burn down most of the structure. The mansion’s remains are what stand today as The Ruins.
3.) Swim and hike at the Mambukal Resort in the nearby town of Murcia
If you have the time, you should never miss out on visiting Mambukal Mountain Resort. The government-owned piece of paradise is a favorite among local and foreign tourists owing to its proximity to Bacolod City. The resort is located in the town of Murcia, which is only 31 kilometers east of Bacolod. The area has its generous share of natural resources and is blessed with unparalleled scenic views—definitely something you should never miss while in Bacolod.
4.) Indulge the foodie in you with a food trip
Bacolod City is one of the many cities in the Philippines known for its food. The city has plenty of homegrown restaurants that cannot be found elsewhere, so you should definitely eat to your heart’s content and worry about your diet afterward. The City of Smiles is mainly known for its delicious chicken inasal, which you can sample at Manokan Country, located just across SM Bacolod City. Of course, while you are in the sugar capital of the country, you should not miss out on sweets from Calea and Felicia’s, where the cakes and pastries are absolutely the best. Other things you should definitely try are the cheap seafood finds at Palapala and Silay recipes of Pili Bars, Fresh Lumpia, Guapple Pie, and Empanada.
5.) Go on a Lakawon Island Day Trip
While visiting Lakawon requires a bit of a trip, it is one of the places you should never miss if you visit Bacolod. It is located off the coast of Cadiz in the northern portion of Negros Occidental and is known for its clear waters and white sand. The banana-shaped island is also known for the TawHai floating bar, which is considered the largest floating bar in Asia. Apart from that, Lakawon Island offers a myriad of activities such as kayaking, banana boat, snorkeling, and other exciting water activities.
6.) Enjoy the Rides at Campuestohan Highland Resort
Campuestohan Highland Resort is known as one of the top tourist destinations near Bacolod City. You can drive to the Highland resort and enjoy its breathtaking views. The resort has several swimming pools and a variety of exciting activities you can do with the whole family.
7.) Go Island Hopping at Sipalay Island
If you are a beach enthusiast, you should never miss out on a visit to Sipalay. However, getting to Sipalay Island takes four hours, so it would be more practical to stay the night than go on a day trip. The beaches and islands of Sipalay are regarded as jewels of the sugar island. There are plenty of things to enjoy, from relaxing at the beach to island hopping. With so many beach resorts to choose from, you need not worry about where to stay, as you will definitely find one that will fit your budget.