The city of Bacolod is the capital of Negros Occidental. It’s known for its friendliness which has led to it being nicknamed ‘The City of Smiles’. It’s a big, modern city but for those who are willing to take the time to explore it, there are lots of great hidden finds and some great day trip opportunities. Ready to explore this Filipino city?
1. San Sebastian Cathedral
An impressive church in Bacolod, San Sebastian Cathedral was completed on January 20th in 1882 and became a cathedral in 1933. There are some plaques around the Church depicting some of the history.
2. Pope John Paul II Tower
The Pope John Pau II Tower is a seven story building and a very important landmark in Bacolod. It was from this building on February 20th of 1981 that Pope John Paul II gave mass in front of a crowd of about one million people. Today, this building has been dedicated to him and there is a sculpture of the late Pope in front of the building.
3. Bacolod Public Plaza and The Bandstand
Located within the centre of downtown Bacolod, the Bacolod Public Plaza is a popular place to come and walk around. There are four fountains, plenty of trees, and a structure called the Bandstand. The Bandstand, which is located in the centre of the plaza, was built in 1926 and is inscribed with the names of world-famous musicians including Mozart, Beethoven, and Wager. Bacolod Public Plaza is also considered to be the heart of the famous MassKara Festival.
4. Negros Museum
The Negros Museum is a privately owned museum which aims to tell the story of Negros Island by using contemporary artworks. It’s dedicated to promoting local culture and history and is family friendly. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and artworks from local artists can be purchased at the museum shop.
5. Capitol Grounds
Capitol Grounds is a park area that houses the capitol complex as well as an artificial lake. It’s a popular place for locals and tourists alike to come for a walk or to relax and people watch.
6. The Ruins
The Ruins of Bacolod are nicknamed as the Taj Mahal of Negros. Like the Taj Mahal, the ruins here tell the love story between sugar plantation owner Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and his wife, Maria Braga. The original building was a neo-roman mansion from the 1920s, but it was burned by the Americans during WWII to present the Japanese from using it. Today. It’s the most photographed attraction in Bacolod.
7. Day Trip to Bago City
If you have a vehicle, or are willing to rent one, it’s worth doing a day trip to Bago City. It’s only about a 30-minute drive away and has a number of sites and attractions that will keep you busy for a few hours. Another highlight of Bago City is the Tinago Mountain Resort which offers stunning views. As you make your way here you can also stop at Kipot Twin Waterfalls.
8. Day Trip to Silay City
Another great day trip from Bacolod City is Silay, about a 35-minute drive away. Silay City is known for its beautiful European architecture and stunning colonial houses. The architecture here, so different than elsewhere in Negros, has led to Silay City being nicknamed ‘The Paris of Negros’. There are several ancestral houses worth visiting along with the San Diego Pro-Cathedral.
9. Pick up Some Souvenirs at the Negros Showroom
If you are looking to pick up some souvenirs from your time in the Philippines, then head to the Negros Showroom which. The sell products from across Negros including clothing and fashion, home décor and hours wears, food, décor, gifts, and more. It’s a great place to pick up something authentic to this area.
10. MassKara Festival
MassKara Festival is one of the most famous festivals not just in the Philippines, but in the world. It takes place every October in Bacolod City and is an experience to remember. Expect plenty of colorful costumes and performances and competitions along with lots of dancing, food, and fun. If you are in Negros during the month of October, make sure you come to Bacolod for this festival.
11. Mambuka Mountain Resort
Escape the city for the mountains to spend a day at the relaxing Mambuka Mountain Resort. About 40 minutes outside of Bacolod, Mambuka Mountain Resort has cottages to rent for the night, restaurants to dine at, a sulphur pool for bathing and some short treks with several waterfalls. It makes a great day trip or even an overnight getaway.
How to get to Bacolod
Depending on where you are coming from, the easiest way to get to Bacolod City is usually by air. There are regular flights from both Manila and Cebu to Bacolod-Silay International Airport which is 15km from Bacolod. If you are already on Negros Island, then you can take a bus. Ceres Liner is a popular bus company that services many cities and towns in Negros. Or, you can also arrive by boat if you are coming from Manila or Iloilo. Once you have arrived, you can get around the city by using taxis, the jeepneys, or buses.
If you are looking to visit one of the biggest city in the Philippines with some of the friendliest people in the country, then definitely consider spending some time in Bacolod during your trip to the Philippines.