The capital of Negros Occidental and nicknamed the city of smiles, Bacolod is the perfect trip to have when:
(1) there is a seat sale;
(2) you need a really quick getaway, if possible without having to take a leave; and / or
(3) your budget is really tight but you absolutely need a breather.
Why? Because Cebu Pacific’s flight schedule allows you to be in Bacolod at 5AM and leave at 8PM the next day – meaning you have two full days to tour Bacolod, just enough to cover most of the “must do/see/eat.” And most activities could be done for free or minimal amount! You could do the 2D1N for just Php2,300-Php2600 (excluding airfare) without having to sleep in a dorm or run-down hotel – meaning there is still room for more savings depending on you tolerance level! Add another night and a day at a lovely resort with lots of activities and you could still survive with Php4,000-Php4,500 quite comfortably.
For our trip, we did the activities I suggested in the 2D1N itinerary, but we did it for 3days and 2 nights – a bit more relaxed, because we aren’t in our early twenties anymore. Haha. We spent around Php3,200 each (excluding airfare).
Bacolod Travel Guide
What to do / Where to Eat in and Around Bacolod
1. The Ruins
Despite its relatively compact size compared with more famous ruins, the Bacolod Ruins has its own charm that will make you realize that a trip to Bacolod is worth it if only to see this gem. I have to warn you, though: despite the many attempts at comparing it to India’s Taj Mahal, The Ruins does not measure up. The similarity ends with the fact that both structures are monuments of love of a man to his wife. The Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum that houses the tomb of the Mughal emperor’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, whereas The Ruins is just a mansion built by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in memory of his first wife, Doña Maria Braga, who died of a little accident – she slipped in the bathroom while pregnant, and it took four days to bring a physician to see her: two days to go to the physician to relay the message that Doña Maria is sick, and another 2 days to bring the physician to their house.
The more interesting part is its history, and how it came to be “The Ruins” that it has become. Just a little over two decades after the mansion got built, World War II broke, and the Japanese invaded the country. At that time, the Philippines was under the transitional administration established to prepare the country for full independence, called the Commonwealth of the Philippines, still under the control of the United States. To prevent the Japanese from using the mansion as one of its headquarters, the American guerilla fighters convinced the Lacsons to burn the house down. Because the material used for construction was the best of its kind, the columns stood perfectly still even after three days of continued attempt to completely bring the mansion to ashes.
Tip: Don’t miss the free 30-minute tour that comes with the Php-95 entrance ticket – very informative.
2. Mambukal Resort in Murcia
In a nutshell: refreshing, affordable, and commendable especially for a government-owned-and-maintained resort. Good for solo travelers, couples, families, and barkadas. Will write full review soon.
3. Silay Heritage Houses
There are twenty-five of them if you manage to hunt them all down – all doable in a half day or even less, as they are all clustered relatively close together. The ones you could enter are the Balay Negrense, Hofileña Ancestral House, and Jalandoni Ancestral House.
I’m not sure, but perhaps the relative dearth of truly interesting things to do in Bacolod City (the city itself, not the nearby Silay, Talisay, Mambukal etc) paved the way for its food scene becoming quite famous. Here are some of the restaurants you could try:
So named because it is located in 21st Street cor Lacson Street (fyi, almost everything you will go to in Bacolod City is in Lacson Street)
Its bestseller is pork ribs for only Php150! Sadly, both me and my friend don’t eat pork. But we did drop by Cafe Bob’s in SM for some dessert!
Old Pala Pala Market
Similar to Dampa, you need to go to the Old Pala Pala market to buy raw seafood, and then have one of the nearby restaurants (there are around 5 restaurants in the area) cook it for you. Cooking fee ranges from Php70 to Php110 per half-kilo. Our experience wasn’t so good: the seafood wasn’t that fresh (we went dinner time) and there was confusion as to how we wanted our food cooked.
FYI, there is an upscale version called 18th Street Pala Pala Restaurant.
Where else to best eat Bacolod inasal, right? This is actually a compound of many individual restaurants / stalls. My friend who is from Bacolod recommends Aida’s. The place is just beside SM. And if it matters to you – it’s not airconditioned, so probably best to go for dinner.
Recommended by a fellow blogger: chocolate cake and ensaymada
For your pasalubong needs. They also have some value meals and breakfast options as well.
Another pasalubong-cum-value-meal center. The one just outside the airport departure area is perhaps the most convenient location – and good place to have really cheap meal before the flight (we’re talking Php40-Php90!).
Super Batchoy House
Said to be the oldest and the best in Bacolod. The location is quite off-putting as it’s beside the market, but the batchoy is decidedly better than the one I had in Mambukal.
Perhaps the most famous dessert place in Bacolod, and for only Php100 or less per slice!
5. Masskara Festival
The best month to go to Bacolod is definitely October for its annual Masskara Festival! Tickets and hotels are of course accordingly more expensive, but if you could afford it – I think it would be a fun experience!
6. Bacolod City tour
As with many old cities, you would often find the Municipio, the Cathedral, and the Plaza together in one compound. Though not always breathtaking, these are usually still a worthwhile visit and a reminder of the Spanish influence in the Philippines. There’s also the Negros Museum and a Taoist temple, if you’re interested. You could also drop by the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation’s Biodiversity Conservation Center beside the Capitol Lagoon, which aims to ensure the survival of endangered species like warty pigs, leopard cats, spotted deer, bleeding heart pigeons, among others.
6. Campuestohan Resort
This is a relatively new resort which is nice for families. They have a zipline, rope course, sky bicycle, horseback riding, hamster wheel, grand carousel, etc etc. There’s a plan to also have a wave pool! But what I REALLY wanted was to stay at their Bonita Hut!
Anyway, check their site if you wanna know more.
A suggestion to Campuestohan management: since it is currently quite difficult and expensive to go there by public transportation (1-2 jeepney rides plus a potentially highly-overpriced tricycle ride) please make your Php100-per-person shuttle service available on long weekends as well.
7. Don SalvadorBenedicto (DSB)
Quite a challenge to go to by public transportation, but if you could rent a car or know someone in Bacolod who’s willing to drive you, this could be a worthwhile day trip. I saw a photo of what looks like a mini-rice terraces, and a balikbayan we met in The Ruins said they enjoyed hanging out in DSB. This is in the highlands so bring a jacket.
8. Organic Farms
There are many organic farms in Negros if you. There’s even one in DSB if you’re headed there – check this post by a fellow blogger. There’s also one in Silay called Punong which serves lunch and dinner on Saturdays. Reserve thourgh their facebook site here.
9. Hike Mt. Kanlaon
10. Sipalay / Iloilo / Guimaras / Dumaguete
These ones are quite far already, but if you have more than 3 days in the area, why not check one of these places out! Sipalay for its beaches; Iloilo for its beautiful churches, batchoy, and Gigantes Island; Guimaras for its beaches and mangoes; and Dumaguete for Apo Island – these, among others.
Here’s a map that could help you visualize your itinerary:
Suggested 2D1N Bacolod Itinerary and Budget (as low as Php2,300!)
5:30AM ETA Bacolod
5:45AM Shuttle to North Bus Terminal (Php150)
6:30AM Bus to Silay (Victorias-bound) (Php15 ordinary)
7:00AM Alight at Silay Plaza / El Ideal
Heritage Houses (Php150)
10:00AM Tricycle to Talisay (Php50-100)
10:30AM The Ruin (Php95)
12:00PM Tricycle to jeepney stop / terminal (Php20-50)
12:15PM Jeep to Bacolod City (Php7)
1:00PM Lunch at 21 (Php250)
2:00PM Jeep to Libertad Market (Php7)
2:15PM Minibus to Mambukal (Php35)
3:00PM Mambukal entrance (Php50)
Mambukal Tourist Lodge (Php600 – good for 2 pax)
6:30PM Dinner (Php85)
11:00AM Minibus to Libertad Market (Php35)
Bato-bound jeep, alight at Bob’s Restaurant in Lacson Street (Php7)
Jeep to Calea (Php7)
Calea cake (Php100)
Jeep to plaza (Php7)
Jeep to Manokan Country (Php7)
Early Dinner – Manokan Country (Php100)
Walk to SM
5:30PM Shuttle to airport last trip (Php150)
Alight at Bongbong’s within airport compound for pasalubong
Silay Airport Terminal Fee (Php200)
Suggested 3D2N Bacolod Itinerary and Budget (as low as ~Php4,000!)
Follow Days 1 and 2 above.
2nd night hotel (Php900 – Negrense Suites good for 2 pax)
Transpo to and from Campuestohan (Php250)*
Campuestohan Resort activities (Php300)
*Shuttle to and from are provided only on weekends. 9AM from Villa Angela Arcade in Bacolod and 4PM from Campuestohan
How to go to The Ruins, Silay Heritage Houses, Mambukal, Campuestohan from Bacolod City by Public Transportation
-Can be gleaned from the suggested itinerary above – read, it’s all there! Questions? Ask me in the comments section below!