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Bacolod

A vacation in The City of Smiles in the country’s Sugar Capital is as delightful and sweet as you imagine it to be.

Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental, is a laid-back traveler’s dream. The cultural and historical sights are charming, the people even more so, and the food is equally affordable and unforgettable. Bacolod has so much more to offer than the spirited festivities of the annual MassKara Festival. Here's your cheat sheet to everything you need to see, eat, and do in this colorful destination.

SEE

Capitol Park and Lagoon

INSTAGRAM: skurjhoey

The local park, located right across the Provincial Capitol building, is a landmark not just of Bacolod, but of Negros Occidental. One of the highlights of the provincial park is the pair of sculptures by Felix Garzon and Italian artist Francesco Riccardo Monti, as well as the monument “Ang Paghimud-os” (“The Struggle”) by Eduardo Castrillo, a tribute to the resilience and perseverance of the people of Negros. It's a popular spot among locals and tourists alike, so expect to see runners, joggers, dancers, and martial artists in action, as well as locals who simply like to feed the tilapia in the lagoon. The Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol building was formerly a house donated by Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga and was reconstructed with neoclassical architectural details.

Entrance fee: Free

Capitol Park and Lagoon
Corner Gatuslao and Lacson Streets
Provincial Capitol Complex, Bacolod


Negros Museum

INSTAGRAM: anna_montibon

Originally opened in 1996, the Negros Museum is now housed in the old Agricultural Building close to the Provincial Capitol building. The museum exhibits artifacts and artwork that illustrate Negrense history and culture, from the pre-colonial era to the pivotal Negros Revolution all the way to the Negros we know today. The museum is also noted for its vast, private collection of children’s toys. After getting your fill of culture, grab a bite at the Negros Museum Cafe next door, where you can sample locally-sourced dishes.

Entrance fee:
General Admission: P100.00
Senior Citizens: P80.00
Students and Children: Php 70.00

Negros Museum
Gatuslao Street, Bacolod
(0934) 433 4764
(0934) 708 5080
Mondays to Sundays, 9AM - 6PM


Dizon-Ramos Museum

INSTAGRAM: ninzeec

Built in 1950, the former home of Raymundo Lumanlan Dizon of Porac, Pampanga and Hermelinda Villanueva Ramos of Bacolod City was converted into a museum in 2007. The museum houses photographs, glassware, crystal, and jewelry from bygone days as well as the private collection of the owners’ descendants, including a large array of angel figurines that take center stage during the Christmas season.

Entrance fees:
Adults: P50.00
Senior Citizens: P40.00
Students: P20.00

Dizon-Ramos Museum
42 Burgos Street, JRR Foundation, Bacolod
(034) 434 8512
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10AM - 5PM


Bacolod Public Plaza and San Sebastian Cathedral

INSTAGRAM: makirifrvr

The Bacolod Public Plaza is also known as Plaza del 6 de Noviembre, named after the day in 1898 when the Spanish surrendered to Negros revolutionaries. The Plaza is considered the heart of the MassKara Festival and, the bandstand in the center, constructed in 1926, has been the stage of many historical and cultural activities. Just across the plaza is San Sebastian Cathedral, made of coral stone and built in 1876. The church was consecrated on January 19, 1882, on the eve of the feast of Saint Sebastian. Though the bell towers no longer function, the bells are displayed in the churchyard for guests to appreciate.

Entrance fee: Free

Bacolod Public Plaza and San Sebastian Cathedral
Rizal Street, Bacolod


EAT

Chicken House

INSTAGRAM: nikkohuelgas

If you think the commercialized version sold outside of Bacolod is already good, one bite of the authentic chicken inasal will change your mind. The “best” inasal in Bacolod is a point of discussion, but nearly all locals can agree that the inasal of Chicken House is a strong contender. Expect simple, no-frills dining here, and don't forget to drench your serving of paa or petso with a generous amount of the famous chicken oil. While you’re there, make sure to try their spare ribs, too.

Chicken House - Mandalagan
Art District, Barangay Mandalagan
Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 11AM - 10PM

Chicken House - Lacson
24th Street corner Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 11AM - 10PM

Chicken House - Capitol Shopping
Capitol Shopping Center, Yakal Street cor. Hilado Street
Daily, 11AM - 10PM


Bob's Restaurant

INSTAGRAM: bobsbcd

What started out as a drive-in restaurant in 1965 is now one of Bacolod’s most iconic and beloved restaurants. Bob’s is considered a reliable food spot for locals, whose favorites include the Cheeseburger, Sate Babe, Baby Back Ribs, Fruit Punch, and pastries.

Bob's Restaurant
North Drive, Bacolod (across Riverside Hospital)
Daily, 7AM - 10:30PM


21 Restaurant

INSTAGRAM: 21restaurantbcd

If you happen to be in Bacolod on a rainy day, there’s no better way to seek comfort from the wet and cold than with a hot bowl of batchoy at 21 Restaurant. If you still have room for more, you’ll want to sample their Crispy Kare-Kare and Bibingka as well.

21 Restaurant
Lacson Street corner 21st Street, Bacolod
Daily, 11AM - 11PM


Roli's Cafe

INSTAGRAM: judeskolorde

One of the oldest mainstays of Bacolod dining is Roli's Cafe, which recently got a revamp. The beloved menu still features merienda cena favorites like their Chicken Sandwich, Pancit Malabon, Chicken Pie, and Napoleones.

Roli's Cafe
Roli’s Arcade, La Salle Avenue, Bacolod
Daily, 7AM - 10PM


Sharyn's Cansi House

INSTAGRAM: miss.liza7

This modest establishment was awarded as one of the Top 50 Food Masters during the 2017 World Street Food Congress—and for good reason. Cansi, a dish of boiled beef shank and marrow in a sour broth, is an Ilonggo favorite that's best defined as a cross between bulalo and sinigang. Its rich, tangy, comforting flavor is something you'll definitely keep coming back for.

Sharyn's Cansi House C-58 Capitol Shopping Center, Narra Avenue
Brarangay Villamonte
Daily, 7:30AM - 8PM


Kuppa

INSTAGRAM: piggingoutonsundays

You might have spotted Kuppa's branch in Bonifacio Global City, but did you know that it actually originated from Bacolod? Take your pick from their coffee section, and don't forget to try the Wimpy’s Burger, practically a local legend. The branch in O Residences is a great spot for some craft cocktails—we recommend the Keyser Soze and Whiskey Sour.

Kuppa Coffee and Tea
Capitol Shopping Center, Tindalo Avenue, Bacolod
Daily, 7AM - 11PM

Kuppa Coffee and Cocktails
G/F O Residences, Lacson Street, Bacolod (beside Robinson’s Place)
Daily, 8AM - 11PM

Kuppa Coffee and Tea
SM City Bacolod - North Wing, Rizal Street, Bacolod
Daily, 10AM - 10PM


Italia Restaurant

INSTAGRAM: italiarestaurantbacolod

A favorite for special occasions is fine dining spot Italia Restaurant, which serves the most authentic pizza and pasta in the city. While a little pricier than most Bacolod restaurants, their baked oysters, Pizza Margherita, and Farfalle al Funghi are worth it. You'll also find Charlie’s Art Gallery, which showcases art from local talents, inside the restaurant.

Italia Restaurant
Paseo Verde, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 11AM - 11PM


Maria Kucina Familia

INSTAGRAM: mariakucinafamilia

A relative newcomer, Maria Kucina Familia has already become a favorite among locals. This former family home is now a fine dining Spanish-Filipino restaurant, whose specialties include Garlic Spare Ribs, Beef Fileto, Chorizo Risotto, and Dulce de Leche Cake a la mode.

Maria Kucina Familia
24th Street, Bacolod (beside Sky Cable) Daily, 8AM - 2PM
5:30PM - 10PM


Calea Pastries & Cake

INSTAGRAM: bhert1126

Being the top dessert place in Bacolod, the Sugar Capital of the Philippines where all kinds of sweets and pastries are available, is no small feat. Calea easily takes the honor (and the cake—literally!), with scrumptious offerings such as their Semifredo, Chocolate Mud Pie, Chocolate Cake, and Blueberry Cheesecake to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Calea - Lacson
Balay Quince, Lacson Street corner 15th Street, Bacolod
Daily, 10AM - 9PM

Calea - Robinson's
Robinson’s Place Bacolod, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 10AM - 9PM

Felicia's Pastry Shop

INSTAGRAM: feliciaspastryshop

This is one Felicia you won't say bye to any time soon. Their buttery, cheesy, melt-in-your-mouth ensaymada is a popular choice for pasalubong, and their sans rival, which comes in interesting flavors like chocolate, caramel, and ube, is a bestseller you won't be able to get enough of.

Felicia's - 6th Street
6th Street, Bacolod
Daily, 9AM - 10PM

Felicia's - SM Bacolod
SM City Bacolod, Rizal Street, Bacolod
Daily, 9AM - 10PM


Ann Co Cakes

INSTAGRAM: chefjayps

Run by renowned painter Charlie Co's wife Ann, this charming spot features menu offerings that are just as vibrant as the decorative artwork and murals. Their Chocolate Cake is perhaps the most indulgent in the city, and their Frozen Brazo is an absolute must-try. Looking for something savory instead? Their all-day breakfast meals are your best bet.

Ann Co Cakes - Paseo Verde
Paseo Verde, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 7AM - 9PM

Ann Co Cakes - Lacson
Lacson Street corner 12th Street, Bacolod (beside Bank of Commerce)
Daily, 7AM - 9PM


Mushu

INSTAGRAM: marlrypri

If you’re familiar with Sarsa by Bacolodnon Chef JP Anglo, you’ll love his take on Asian fusion at Mushu. Try their Sizzling Kansi, Chicken Inasal Sisig, Salt and Pepper Squid, and, for dessert, Banana Chocolate Spring Rolls with vanilla ice cream. On weekends, you’ll want to stick around and grab a beer at this popular drinking spot for locals. Planning a trip at the end of October? Mushu’s Halloween parties are notoriously fun!

Mushu
2/F Azotea Building, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 5PM - 1AM


Quedan

INSTAGRAM: quedanbcd

A popular newcomer in the nightlife scene is watering hole and tapas bar Quedan. Serving up excellent craft cocktails, such as the signature Quedan (gin with a chunk of sugarcane, which you should properly chew on), and featuring a well-stocked wine bar, this hip and happening spot is the perfect place to hang out with old friends and make some new ones.

Quedan
Paseo Verde, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 5PM - 12AM

Tippy's Bistro

INSTAGRAM: eduardd3rd

For the economical traveler looking for a laid-back evening with local flavor, you’ll want to hit up Tippy's Bistro. The al fresco area in the back is a hotspot for open mic nights, poetry readings, and jamming sessions. Also worth checking out inside is Maya Art Space, a small local art gallery. Best of all, Tippy’s serves their ice-cold house beer at only P100 a pint!

Tippy's Bistro
10th Street, Bacolod
Sundays to Thursdays, 5PM - 1PM
Fridays to Saturdays, 5PM - 2AM


DO

Immerse yourself in art at Gallery Orange, Block 17 Art Space, and House of Frida

Bacolod’s art scene is storied, exciting, and vibrant. Painter Charlie Co owns Gallery Orange, where older and younger generations of artists are regularly exhibited. A few steps away is the newly opened, artist-run Block 17 Art Space, where works of up-and-coming artists in Negros take center stage. House of Frida, just above Cafe Bob’s, holds shows by contemporary artists and is run by a group of young local talents.

Gallery Orange

INSTAGRAM: galleryorange.ph

2/F Art District, Lacson Street, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod
Mondays to Saturdays, 2PM - 9PM

Block 17 Art Space

INSTAGRAM: block17.artspace

Art District, Lacson Street, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod
Daily, 2:30PM - 8:30PM


House of Frida

INSTAGRAM: houseoffrida

2/F Cafe Bob’s, 21st Street corner Lacson Street, Bacolod
Mondays to Saturdays, 2PM - 8PM


Shop for local crafts at The Negros Showroom

INSTAGRAM: jojovito

The Negros Showroom is your go-to spot for all your souvenir and memorabilia needs. You’ll find the usual souvenir T-shirts, keychains, magnets, and some preserved delicacies, but keep an eye out and you’ll also discover locally-made crafts, from furniture to decor to jewelry.

The Negros Showroom
Robinson’s Place Central Citywalk, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 10AM - 8PM


Purchase pasalubong at Pendy’s and El Ideal

If you enjoyed all the treats Bacolod has to offer, it's time to share the love! Brands like Merzci and BongBong’s are already found in most supermarkets, so take your cue from the locals and get your pasalubong at Pendy’s in Bacolod or, on your way to the airport, at El Ideal in Silay. Piaya, Napoleones, caramel boat tarts, mango tarts, and barquillos are just some of the sweets you can bring back home. While at Pendy’s, grab a box of Half Moon Cakes and, at El Ideal, buy some Guapple Pie for your friends and family to indulge in.

Pendy’s

INSTAGRAM: a.ndijuli

Rolling Hills Compound, Lacson Street, Bacolod
Daily, 7:30AM - 9PM

El Ideal
INSTAGRAM: elidealbakery

118 Rizal Street, Silay City
Daily, 6:30AM - 6:30PM


Take photos at The Ruins

INSTAGRAM: herickpotter

The former home of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga Lacson is now one of Negros Occidental’s most popular tourist destinations. Located in Talisay (the city next to Bacolod), The Ruins is what’s left of the grand, Italianate mansion built in the early 1900s, after it was burned down during World War II to keep Japanese soldiers from occupying it. It’s been nicknamed the “Taj Mahal of the Philippines” since Don Lacson built the house to commemorate his wife’s passing. The grounds are now landscaped, there’s a cozy cafe, and it’s become a favorite spot for photo shoots and wedding receptions.

Entrance fees:
Adult: P100.00
Children: P20.00
Students: P50.00

The Ruins Hacienda Santa Maria, Talisay
Daily, 8:30PM - 9PM


Drive down to the beach...

INSTAGRAM: lakawon

One of the many great things about Bacolod is how easy it is to get to the beach from the city. A two-hour road trip (and a 20-minute boat ride from the mainland) brings you to Lakawon Island, with its creamy white sand and calm, clean turquoise waters. Because of its convenient location and easy access, Bacolodnons often take day trips to Lakawon. The TawHai (“relaxing”) Floating Bar beside the island also happens to be the largest floating bar in Asia.

Entrance fees:
Adults: P140
Boat fare (round trip): P150/pax
Terminal fee: P20/pax

Lakawon Island Resort and Spa
Barangay Cadiz Viejo, Cadiz
(0917) 502 2625 (Booking & Reservations)
(0949) 113 2202 (Booking & Reservations)
(0932) 396 4453 (Booking & Reservations)
(0917) 555 6979 (Island Reception)


...Or drive up to the mountains

INSTAGRAM: arcaine_louise

Mambukal Mountain Resort in the town of Murcia is a favorite among tourists who are seeking a cooler getaway from the city. The resort is about 45 minutes outside of Bacolod and has several swimming and dipping pools as well as hot sulfur pools. You can go boating, zip-lining, or trek up the seven waterfalls.

Entrance fees:
Adults: P50.00
Children: P20.00
Light Vehicles: P15.00

Mambukal Mountain Resort
Barangay Minoyan, Murcia
(034) 473 0610


Gaze at gorgeous views

INSTAGRAM: cge0213

If you’re pressed for time and simply want to take great photos overlooking a nice vista, the recently-opened Duyan Cafe in Silay is a great choice. It's situated along the same road you’d take to the airport and is about 40 minutes from the city, so it’s a fitting last-minute stop before your flight home. Duyan Cafe is a charming little roadside place with surprisingly good food and fantastic views of the mountain area of Patag in Silay.

Duyan Cafe
Silay-Lantawan Road, Sitio Lantawan, Silay
Daily, 7AM - 7PM


DG TIPS

  • If you plan on taking trips to the beaches or the mountains, the best time to visit Bacolod is during the dry or summer months (March to May). You’ll want to avoid the rains, which can cause slippery roads or waves that result in canceled boat trips. MassKara Festival lasts all throughout October, but the festivities peak on the week of the 19th (Bacolod Charter Day).

  • Speaking of MassKara: while there's lots of fun and merrymaking, it’s good to know that the festival was born out of a bad time for many Negrenses. In 1980, the sugar industry was suffering and the boat MV Don Juan sank while Negrenses from many prominent families were aboard. The local government and artists came together to create a “festival of smiles,” MassKara.

  • Public transport in Bacolod is limited to jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs (trisikads), and buses to other parts of the island. If you plan on taking public transport, it’s good to do a little research or ask the establishment you're going to for the best travel routes (Bacolodnons will readily give you assistance!). If all else fails, taxi cabs and Grab services are available in the city.

  • Most establishments close early at night or are closed entirely on Sundays, so make sure you stick to your schedule. Alternatively, you can designate your Sunday for an out-of-town trip.

  • Traffic isn’t as bad as it is in Manila or Cebu, but be prepared for when rush hour and rainy weather strike. Otherwise, it’s relatively quick to get around Bacolod.

  • Bacolodnons are fiercely protective of their people, culture, and heritage. Avoid any slip of the tongue about certain people or you could end up facing more than unfriendly stares.

  • Technically, people from Bacolod and Negros are not Ilonggos, but it’s been a catch-all term for people who can speak the language. If you want to get technical, Negrosanons actually speak Hiligaynon and “Ilonggo” is more of a colloquial term. Hiligaynon is spoken in most Western Visayas regions, so, if you cross over to the eastern side of the island, Negros Oriental, you’ll find people there speak Cebuano.

WHAT TO WEAR

Bacolodnons are more laid-back than cosmopolitan Manileños or Cebuanos, so simple, casual clothing is your safest choice. Bring a sturdy pair of shoes if you want to go trekking in the mountains, and don't forget to pack swimwear for when you head to the beach. Whatever you're wearing, comfort is key. Bacolodnons want you to relax, enjoy, and keep it fuss-free, even when it comes to dressing up. And, no, you don't need to wear a mask during MassKara—but you can if you want to!

HOW TO GET THERE

PLANE

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines offer daily flights from Manila and Cebu to Bacolod-Silay Airport. Duration of the flight is around 1 hour and 10 minutes from Manila and 40 minutes from Cebu.

FERRY

From Cebu, a fast craft from Cebu City Pier to Dumaguete City will take around 3 hours and 40 minutes. From Dumaguete City, a bus ride to Bacolod City will take 5 to 6 hours.

Check out Ocean Fast Ferries, WEESAM EXPRESS, Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc., and George & Peter Lines for ferry schedules.

WHERE TO STAY

L’Fisher Hotel has all the amenities any discerning traveler needs for the most relaxing stay, with three restaurants, a spa, a fitness center, and a roof deck pool. Best of all, it’s strategically located along Bacolod City’s main thoroughfare and a short distance from restaurants like Calea, Felicia’s, Ann Co Cakes, L’Kaisei, the Capitol Park and Lagoon, and more.

L’Fisher Hotel
Lacson Street corner 14th Street, Bacolod
(034) 433 3731

Conveniently located near SM City Bacolod and Bacolod Baywalk is Bacolod Business Inn, where you’ll find simple, but top-notch accommodations. Locals often come here for the food, especially their kansi steak.

Bacolod Business Inn
Lacson Street corner 28th Street, Bacolod
(034) 433 8877

The newly-opened Seda Capitol Central is a business hotel offering views of the Capitol Park and Lagoon. Within walking distance are several restaurants and the soon-to-rise Ayala Capitol Central.

Seda Capitol Central
Lacson Street corner North Capitol Road, Bacolod
(034) 703 8888

The Hostelry offers simple but pleasant and stylish accommodations for the traveler on a budget. This hostel is located in the same building as Roli’s and along busy La Salle Avenue, close to shops and restaurants.

The Hostelry
La Salle Avenue, Bacolod
(0966) 368 3296

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