The City of Smiles, or Bacolod, is a must-visit when it comes to exploring Visayas. It’s the biggest city in Western Visayas and the second-biggest in all of Visayas, so you can bet there’ll be something for every type of traveler, whether you’re in it for the history, for adventures, or for the food!
Located on the northwestern coast of Negros Occidental, Metro Bacolod (which includes the cities of Bacolod, Silay, and Talisay) is a city that looks to the future even as it honors its past. We’ve listed just a few of the must-see experiences to be had for any Bacolod-bound traveler—best plan a trip of at least a few days to get the full Negrense experience!
Probably the most iconic landmark in Negros Occidental, The Ruins in Talisay are the remains of the ancestral home mansion of the Lacson family. It was built in the early 1900s on a 440-hectare plantation by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in memory of his wife Maria Braga Lacson, who died in childbirth. It was burned down by guerillas in World War II to prevent its occupation and use by Japanese fortress, but its walls and foundations (and beautiful gardens) remain standing, infused with history and romance.Continue reading below ↓
Also known as the Negrense House or the Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House, this is Negros Occidental’s oldest museum. Built in 1897, this bahay na bato belonged to the Gaston family, one of the sugarcane haciendero families whose patriarch was well-known for being a pioneer in sugarcane production and cultivation.Continue reading below ↓
Assorted Heritage Houses
While the two heritage houses mentioned above are just some of the ones you can visit in Negros Occidental, the province is proud of its history, and several ancestral houses of its sugar barons are open for viewing. A few of these include Silay City’s Hofileña Heritage House, Bernardino Jalandoni Museum, Maria Ledesma Golez Heritage Building, and more.Continue reading below ↓
El Ideal Bakery
Dine out on both history and yummies at El Ideal Bakery along Rizal Street in Silay City. Established in the 1920s by Cesar Lacson-Locsin, this is the oldest restaurant in Negros. It’s a great place for a low-key breakfast, and their famous guapple pies are not to be missed!Continue reading below ↓
San Diego Pro-Cathedral
Even before its declaration as a pro-cathedral in the 1990s—the only one outside Manila—the St. Didacus Parish Church (now the San Diego Pro-Cathedral) was already a popular architectural destination. Built in the mid-1920s, it’s the only domed church in the province of Negros Occidental.Continue reading below ↓
Cinco de Noviembre Marker
Negros Day, the celebration marking the anniversary of the so-called bloodless revolution of November 5, 1898, is a special date in Negrense history. On this date, revolutionists armed only with nipa stalks carved to look like rifles and bamboo mats shaped and painted black to look like cannons marched toward Bacolod, bluffing the Spanish forces into surrendering. The Cinco de Noviembre marker can be found in Silay City, called the Cradle of the Negros Revolution, at the site of the Farmacia Locsin, which served as a donation center for revolutionary sympathizers.Continue reading below ↓
Balaring Mangrove Eco-Tourism Area (and Seaside Floating Restaurant)
This community-powered project with the joint goals of protecting local coastal resources and promoting livelihood has been in operation since the late 1990s. The Mangrove Eco-Park affords environmentalists, students, and more to study mangroves, while tourists can come here to picnic and explore. When in Balaring, it’s also a great idea to dine on the fresh, affordable seafood found in restaurants right above the water.Continue reading below ↓
San Sebastian Cathedral & Bishop’s Palace
Built in 1882, the San Sebastian Cathedral has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod since 1933. Its iconic double bell towers make this an architectural landmark as well as a historical and religious one. Although the bells were removed from the belfries in the 1970s, they continue to be displayed outside the church.Continue reading below ↓
Pope John Paul II Tower
This seven-story building was build to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s Bacolod visit in 1981. On its grounds are bronze statue of the pope, memorabilia displays, and more. The top of the tower features a viewing deck famous for its vista of the Bacolod cityscape.Continue reading below ↓
If you’re looking to catch the sunset in Bacolod, you may as well do it by the sea at the city’s baywalk, which features play areas for kids, street food vendors, bike and skateboard exhibitions, and more.
Capitol Park and Lagoon
This provincial park offers a great place to picnic and just chill and meet the locals. Some of its famous features include a lagoon (and the feeding of its tilapias) fronting the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol building, its two water buffalo sculptures, and large grassy area popular for various recreational activities.Continue reading below ↓
Bacolod Public Plaza
This wide trapezoidal plaza with its four circular fountains and iconic central gazebo can be found across the San Sebastian Cathedral. Known as the Plaza del 6 de Noviembre, it commemorates the surrender of Negros Island by the Spanish to the local revolutionaries.
No trip to Bacolod would be complete without dining on the city’s famous chicken inasal. But chicken isn’t the end-all and be-all of food tripping in the area. Indulge in cansi (a stew with beef, jackfruit, and lemongrass) at Sharyn’s Cansi House or Ehron’s, or warm your belly with a bowlful of batchoy at 21 Restaurant. For fresh seafood, go for the Pala-Pale experience (similar to Dampa in Manila or SuTuKil in Cebu) at places like Diotay’s Eatery and 18th Street Pala Pala.Continue reading below ↓
Give yourself a sugar rush!
Bacolod and Silay are known for their pastry shops—which is only to be expected, considering this is the land of sugar barons! Indulge your sweet tooth at Calea and Ann Co for assorted cakes and at Pendy’s Snack Bar for Halfmoon and Napoleones. And of course, take home some piaya for pasalubong!Continue reading below ↓
Masskara Festival in October
Held annually on the fourth Sunday of October, the MassKara Festival is one of the Philippines’ most iconic and colorful fiestas. It includes a parade with street dancing, and the festival is marked by the use of smiling masks worn by the dancers and other participants. If you can time your visit to coincide with the grand carnival, you’ll find an explosion of color and entertainment waiting for you.Continue reading below ↓
There are so many waterfalls located all around the province. Some of the notable ones include the Seven Falls at Mambukal Mountain Resort. Also, the Pulang Tubig Waterfalls in Patag rises 80 meters and is located in the Northern Negros Natural Park.
Campuestohan Highland Resort
Colorful photo-ops and lots of activities await you in this mountain retreat. Some of the facilities include a zipline, rope course, sky bicycle, cable paraglide, giant hamster wheel, horseback riding, dinosaur park, hanging bridge, wave pool, and more.Continue reading below ↓
Mount Mandalagan Tinagong Dagat
If you’re into hiking and trekking, the journey to Tinagong Dagat in Mt. Mandalagan is one way to experience the great outdoors while in Negros Oriental. There are several campsites in the area, and guides can be hired on a per-day basis. If you’re looking for a challenge, you may want to include Marapara Peak and the Solfatara vent as well as Tinagong Dagat in your itinerary.Continue reading below ↓
This resort and spa is found on a 16-hectare island off the coast of Cadiz, Negros Oriental. Known for its white sand and clear blue water, the resort is also open to tourists who want to come for the day. It’s also the location of TawHai, the biggest floating bar in Asia.Continue reading below ↓