What makes Bacolod an ideal destination is that it’s just 45 minutes away from Manila—that is if you are traveling by plane. Air travel is still the most comfortable option and the most practical, especially if you only have a limited time to enjoy your holiday.
Currently, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights from Manila to Bacolod. Bacolod is also accessible from Cebu, with air travel lasting for roughly 30 minutes. All air travels to Bacolod lands at the Bacolod – Silay International Airport, which is about 15 kilometers away from the Bacolod city proper.
If you have a longer time to spare, then you could try traveling to Bacolod by sea. To date, shipping lines like 2GO Travel, Weesam Express, and Montenegro Lines offer Bacolod-bound routes, and all of them dock at either Banago Wharf or at the BREDCO Port. Sea travel from Manila to Bacolod takes about 18 to 20 hours. On the other hand, if you are coming from Iloilo, the travel time is 45 minutes only.
It is also possible to reach Bacolod by land transportation from the cities of Iloilo and Cebu. Bus companies like Ceres Liner offer trips but will go through ferry transport (RORO). The total land-RORO-land travel will take about three to eight hours depending on your point of origin.
From the Bacolod – Silay Airport, you can take a cab or jeep to the Bacolod City Proper, which is about 20 to 30 minutes away. Similarly, downtown Bacolod is about 20 to 30 minutes away by car from either Banago Wharf or BREDCO Port.
How to Get Around
Roaming around Bacolod won’t be a problem given its array of public transportation available. Jeeps, buses, taxis, and tricycles are available, giving you easy access to all the sights and attractions that one can find in the city. Feel free to ask your hotel for assistance about the transportation you need to take in getting to your destination.
What to See
The city of Bacolod has so much in store for every traveler. Nature lovers, party goers, history enthusiasts, or even those who just want to get away from the busy lifestyle back in the metro will surely find this place dubbed as the “City of Smiles” an ideal destination for some rest and relaxation.
Right in the heart of downtown Bacolod is the Provincial Capitol Park and Lagoon Complex where the seat of governance for Bacolod is housed. Completed in 1935, the Capitol building features beaux art architecture, similar to the style of other provincial capitols in the Philippines. When walking around the complex, you will come across various golden water buffalo statues that appear to protect the entire property. A provincial library, museum, and other government offices are situated within the complex as well.
Just minutes away from the Provincial Capitol Complex, the San Sebastian Cathedral is also another landmark that is worth a visit. What was originally a small chapel now stands as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod. The cathedral was completed in the 19th century, using coral stones that give it an old-world but otherwise beautiful façade. Tourists, whether local or foreign, simply fall in love with this place of worship for its solemn and tranquil interiors.
Also, another attraction that is just within walking distance from the Provincial Complex and the Cathedral is the Bacolod Public Plaza, more commonly known as the Plaza. Built in 1927, the plaza serves as a venue where Bacolodnons gather for recreational activities such as concerts and other live performances.
Although generally closed to the public, one can also pass by Burgos Street in the city, which was once called the Millionaire’s Row. The street features ancestral houses from some of Bacolod’s elite such as the art deco-styled Daku Balay, which is home to the Villanueva family, who are prominent sugar planters in the region. Another enthralling mansion located in the Millionaire’s Row is the house of Don Mariano Ramos, who was appointed as the first Presidente Municipal of Bacolod City.
Man-Made Attractions and Activities to Do
Another prominent attraction that tourists must visit when in Bacolod is the Dizon Ramos Museum. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the museum boasts a significant art collection that speaks of the history of the city. The museum also lets you catch a glimpse of the life of some of Bacolod’s prominent families as shown by the trinkets, furniture, antiques, and other bits and pieces that the owners have accumulated throughout the years from their travels both around the country and in abroad.
Continue your tour of the city’s museums by visiting Laguerta Home of the Vintage Glasses Museum—a museum that is home to a number of glass collections of varying shapes and sizes. Also worth a visit is the Negros Museum, which is located within the Provincial Capitol Complex. The museum showcases a collection that speaks of the city’s sugar planting industry as well as an extensive toy collection, with pieces gathered from all over the world.
The Negros Forest & Ecological Foundation is an attraction that nature lovers will surely love to visit. The place is filled with a variety of trees and animals, many of which are endangered and are being preserved the government. Flying foxes, Visayan leopards, local deer, and colorful birds are what will greet you as you enter this nature-filled attraction located on the south side of the Capitol Lagoon.
Events and Festivals
When people talk about Bacolod, the Masskara Festival is simply impossible not to include in the discussion. Book your trips around the third week of October so that you can see first-hand how the city comes alive with vibrant colors and the infectious festive vibe that permeates the air. Colorful masks are worn everywhere as street performers dance to the beat of the drums in celebration of the Negrense’s unique personality: steadfast, optimistic, and cheerful.
Where to Shop
Malls and Pasalubong Areas
For those who came to Bacolod City for shopping, the place has a number of malls and markets where you can purchase some good finds. Just like any other megacity, retail giants such as SM, Robinsons, and Ayala Malls have set up their own malls in Bacolod. If you are looking for Negrense handicrafts, then the ANP Negros Showroom is where you should be at. The Central Market has an assortment of native delicacies like piaya, barquillos, squid flakes, and other souvenirs and gift items that you can bring back home. Exquisite artworks made out of Negrense shells are available for sale at the Bacolod Shellcraft and Artwares, while antique items and other old pieces are available at either Casa Grande Antiques, Requerdos de Bacolod, or Sarlee’s.
Where to Eat
Aside from the Masskara festival, Bacolod is also a place known for its eclectic food selection that will surely delight every foodie. Perhaps the most famous of them all is the chicken inasal, and you can get one of the most authentic versions at Manokan Country. After all, chicken inasal did originate in Bacolod. Paired with rice and a savory dip made from soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, and chili pepper, this grilled delicacy is perfect for chicken lovers everywhere. Other famous inasal joints in the city that you can check out include Chicken House and Masskara Chicken.
They say your visit to Bacolod is not complete without dining at 21 Restaurant. For over 30 years, this Bacolod food institution serves authentic Ilonggo dishes and an array of mouth-watering seafood delicacies. Their batchoy and grilled squid are some of their crowd favorites.
When it comes to desserts, Bacolod doesn’t disappoint with its selection of offerings. The city has seen quite a number of tourists come and go, and most of them have fallen in love with the cakes and pastries at Calea. Considered as the “Cake Haven” of Bacolod, Calea probably has every cake you crave for: regular cakes, cheesecakes, and even ice cream cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, Felicia’s is one of the favorites in the city, while Bacolod Cupcake Café Inc. features delectable treats like various cupcakes, rainbow cake, and even sandwiches.
Bars and Clubs
For party animals, Bacolod also has quite a number of establishments where you can dance and listen to upbeat and modern music and even live performances. The Art District is a commercial center filled with bars and restaurants that give off a nice bohemian vibe to the city. Art galleries are also found in this area but it is more popular to the locals as a place where they can hang out with friends at night over drinks. Café Joint, KG Bar, and Mushu are just some of the places you can visit where you can mingle with the locals and experience what the city’s nightlife has to offer.
Fare: PHP 1,500.00 to PHP 3,000.00 for a one-way fare
A one-way airfare from Manila to Bacolod is around PHP 1,900.00 to as much as PHP 3,000.00, depending on the season. It’s best to watch out for promos and seat sale announcements so you can score great deals for your next flight. The fare for a ferry trip averages around PHP 1,500.00 or more, depending on your preferences. Going around Bacolod is relatively cheap, with the jeep fares and tricycle rates calculated by the distance covered. Taxis in the city have a flag down rate of PHP 30.00, with an additional charge of PHP 3.50 for every 500 meters .
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 800.00 per meal
Bacolod treats its guests to seemingly endless food options. The city has something for every food craving, appetite, and budget. The price of the famous chicken inasal starts at PHP 70.00. Other restos, however, offer meals that are priced as much as PHP 750.00 to PHP 800.00. On average, a food budget of about PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 per meal would be ideal.
Shopping: PHP 100.00 to PHP 2,000.00
From native delicacies like piaya to pastries like guapple (guava and apple) pie and napoleons to handcrafted bags from Negros Showroom and even colorful masks from Jojo Vito, you’ll have countless options for pasalubong when in Bacolod City. For as low as PHP 100.00 for a pack of piaya to as much as PHP 2,000.00 for a beautifully crafted mask, you’ll enjoy shopping for souvenirs and treats before heading home from the city.
Accommodations: PHP 800.00 to PHP 3,000.00
With the multitude of lodging facilities available in Bacolod to cater to the ever-growing number of tourists visiting the city, you are sure to find one that suits your needs and budget as well. Budget travelers can already spend the night at a basic room for only PHP 800.00.
Activities: Starting at PHP 40.00
Entrance fees to most museums start at PHP 40.00. But aside from the museums, most of the attractions available in the city are free for everyone to enjoy like the Capitol Complex and the Millionaire’s Row to name a few. At the Negros forests & Ecological Foundation, there is no fixed rate for the entrance fee since the admission is by donation.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When you dine, most restaurants already include a Service Charge in your final billing. But if you still would like to leave a tip, around PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be fine.