There is an unfortunate reason why Bacolod is called the City of Smiles. Indeed, it is a friendly city, but in the 1980s, the government faced a financial crisis when sugar importation was halted. As if that were not enough, the luxury liner, MV Don Juan, collided with MT Tacloban, an oil tanker. It left 176 dead and several others missing. During such dark times, the government decided to create a festival, the MassKara Festival, to show the people’s resilience.
Then again, the nonstop influx of tourists gave meaning to the moniker anew. Now, people who visit Bacolod City cannot help but smile at the wonders of the place. These places to visit in Bacolod will surely delight you, whether you mean a quick weekend trip or staying longer.
Where to go in Bacolod City
1) The Ruins
The Ruins was once a mansion owned by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar baron. It was meant to be burned down to the ground during the Second World War. However, its structure withstood the fire. Even with what remains, The Ruins still look magnificent today, showing its architectural qualities for visitors like you to appreciate. Nonetheless, while it always appears on the list of top tourist attractions in Bacolod, it was actually located in Talisay, which is still a part of Metro Bacolod.
2) Negros Museum
Bacolod City is a historied place, and everywhere you look is a testament to this. But if you want an immersive experience, you must go to Negros Museum. Though the museum was built with the children in mind with its Toy Gallery, there are preserved artifacts that adults will surely appreciate. The museum aims to promote the history, culture, art, and life of the Negros island. For one, you will learn the formidable role of the province in how the Philippine Republic was formed. In addition, you may bring home some artworks on display as they are for sale. The museum is easy to find since it is a few steps away from the Provincial Capitol Building.
3) San Sebastian Cathedral
San Sebastian Church was originally built in 1825. It was a wooden church then, with one bell tower. When renovated in 1885, the new church had two bell towers, which are now being preserved in the churchyard. The church became a cathedral in 1933 when Bacolod City was converted into a diocese. Today, San Sebastian Cathedral serves as the bishop’s palace. The church is along the way going to Manokan Country.
4) Mambukal Resort
If you want to cool down, head to Mambukal Resort, located at the foothills of Mt. Kanlaon. The resort is famed for its beautiful spring flowing into seven waterfalls, but you need to trek if you want to see them. You may ride a motorbike going to the first and second waterfalls, but the rest will require a strong physique to conquer all. You will need at least 8 hours to cover all waterfalls. Mambukal Resort also has a hot spring, boating lagoon, and other water activities. There is also a picnic garden. Guests are welcome to camp or stay overnight by renting one of the cottages.
5) Manokan Country
Of course, Bacolod City is home to the tastiest chicken inasal. But there is one place in the city that pays homage to this delicacy: Manokan Country. It is a cluster of small eateries situated in the parking area of SM Bacolod. The place encourages diners to eat grilled chicken kamayan-style, which is the traditional way of eating it.
6) Pala-Pala Market
Do not be confused — there is an actual Pala-Pala Market, where fresh seafood is sold, and then there are pala-pala dining places. These diners actually cook seafood bought from the market. You can buy your seafood and have it cooked in one of the restaurants in the area (known as tulahan). Yes, it is the Bacolodnons version of dampa in Manila. You decide the cooking style and ingredients, though the main seafood ingredients are crabs, shrimp, squid, scallops, and fish.
From any of these famous places, you may have a side trip to Silay or Sipalay. You will actually pass by Silay if you go to Bacolod from Manila. Silay is known as the ‘Museum City,’ so expect to see ancestral houses, old churches, and actual museums. You may also visit El Ideal Bakery, the oldest bakeshop in Silay, Balay Negrense, and San Diego Pro-Cathedral.
On the other hand, Sipalay was once a hidden gem, but it was not so secret anymore. People flock here for its forest-fringed islets and resorts, including Tinagong Dagat, Campomanes Bay, Punta Ballo, Matlag Cave, and Sugar Beach.
Whichever you decide to visit first, the place will surely put a smile on your face!