2019 Bacolod Travel Guide from a Local’s Perspective
Things to Do in Bacolod and More
A City in Negros Occidental, Visayas, Philippines
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working in Bacolod as a real estate sales personal, insurance agent, digital marketing freelancer and local guide.
Bacolod is Urbanity and Nature. What I like and may miss about Bacolod is that I can enjoy the urban life without the heavy and wearisome traffic, while at the same time, be in close distance with natural wonders. The cost of living is not very expensive too.
Bacolod is surrounded by beautiful mountain and beach destinations, as well as possessing the facilities of a urbanization and modernity- you get to choose to sip coffee at Starbucks or enjoy coffee while basking at the sunset on a Silay mountain or beach cafe- all within a radius of 20 kilometers or 40 minutes. Whether fast-paced or laid-back, you get to enjoy both worlds.
Bacolod is Business-friendliness and Order. Bacolod’s economy has becoming more and more progressive as the years go by. The business environment and startup ecosystem is becoming more and more friendly. Ranking as a top outsourcing destination is getting higher. Crime rates are also becoming lower.
Through the years of working with visitors and clients, I thought of sharing my insights on what or where you to visit during your stay in the City of Smiles as well as what to prepare.
The best way to visit a destination is to be shown around by a local, or even so to mingle with them and immerse in their culture. As I bring my visitors around, I’ve curated top things to eat or do here during your visit in my city:
- Table of Contents
- Top Things to Eat or Do in Bacolod
- Eat and Mingle with Locals: Where Locals Hangout
- Pasalubong Ideas
- Other Pasalubong Centres
- Handy Facts about Bacolod
- City Map
- Weather and Best Times to Visit
- Survival Ilonggo Phrases
- Suggested Itineraries
- Where to Stay in Bacolod
- Travel to or From Bacolod
- via RoRo to Iloilo and Panay
- via Fast Craft to Iloilo and Panay
- via Pumpboat to Guimaras
- Cheap Gasoline in Bacolod
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1.) Bacolod Chicken Inasal at Aida's
Bacolod is known for its sumptuous and juicy chicken barbeque or commonly known as chicken inasal. You will find a lot of chicken inasal around the city but Aida’s is my top recommendation.
One thing I like about Aida’s is that it’s located in Manokan Country which is near SM Bacolod. One reason is that, when you have a car or motorcycle, it’s good to park at SM Bacolod, buy something and dropby Manokan Country for a meal. There are other tasty chicken inasal servers along Manokan Country too such as Lion’s Park, Nena’s Beth and others.
Apart from the juicy chicken meat that they serve, the other menu items such as baticolon, atay and garlic rice are a heavenly combination. I recommend you to try Pecho (Chicken breast part) + Baticolon (Gizzard) + Garlic Rice to get an authentic Bacolod food experience.
Over the years, the city has developed a unique taste to grilled chicken brought about by local ingredients that contribute to the distinct marinade and flavor.
2.) KBL at Sandok's
KBL is Kadios Baboy Langka. I am proud to bring my visitors to Sandok and give them a taste of KBL because this pork-based broth soup is blended with distinct and unique ingredient that is only common in Negros called as Batwan / Batuan. Because of this agricultural distinction, KBL became an authentic Bacolod destination.
The Ruins Mansion is dubbed as the Taj Mahal of Negros Occidental. By going there, you can take a glimpse what has transpired in the the history our province as well as our cultural heritage. I recommend that you visit at dusk, between 4PM to 6PM to capture the best scenes. The location is very convenient as it is within a few minutes from the city central. See my extensive article here.
More Reasons To Smile: Other Recommended Tourist Attractions
The items below are attractions and food services in Bacolod which I have experienced personally. I may include my comments and recommendations. The list is not exhaustive and is not intented to serve as a list of all directory.
Bacolod Resorts and within the radius
- Campuestohan Highlands and Mountain Resort
- Reconnect with Nature at Mambukal Resort
- Behold the Majesty of Mount Kanlaon at Garden of Luisa
- Coffee in the Realms of Glory at Duyan Cafe, Silay, Negros
- Witness and Rest at Lantawan View, Silay
- Water Garden Forest Park Resort
- Resorts Negrense
- Palmas Del Mar
- Grace Land in Murcia
Historical / Iconic Sites in Bacolod
- Negros Museum
- Provincial Capitol and Lagoon
- The Ruins (Talisay-Bacolod border)
- Balay Negrense Museum
- Dizon Ramos Museum
- Bacolod Public Plaza (The Bandstand)
- Bacolod New Government Center
- Panaad Park
Bacolod Events and Gatherings
- Masskara Festival – plan your visit on October especially the last weekend here in the City of Smiles.
- Bacolod for Jesus – if you also a Christian, you can join a 3-day gather during October which is usually held the same week as the highlights of Masskara Festival.
Other Where-to-Eat Food Attractions in Bacolod
- Manokan Country
- Roli’s Cafe
- Masskara Chicken Inasal
- Inasal & Co
- Nena’s Beth
- Chicken House
- Dana’s Buko Cafe
- Sanders Coffee & Sausages
- Bar 21
- Cafe Molinos
- Lord Byron’s Backribs
- Chong’s Sizzlers
- Los Trez Amigos
- Eat healthy meals at BAMC
- Chong’s Tapsilogan
2.) Das Burgery
This is one-of-a-kind food hub in Bacolod because of its unique and meticulous offerings of burgers and cheese. Try their Blue Cheese Burger seasoned with attractive black sesame seeds and stuffed with leafy vegetables. Their location is a cute and narrow stall just near BPI along Lacson Street.
Bakeshop/ Bacolod Specialty Delicacies
- Sofia’s – try their brasos de mercedes because I would say it is the best in town.
4. Mila's Bakeshop
Mila's is a famous brand here which originated from a road-side bakery in Hinigaran. Entrepreneurial dreams arrive and they ventured to expand here in Bacolod. Try their Bichokoy (may all-time favorite). I recommend you to get a taste of their Buko Pie, Potato Cake and Chicken Ala King because I also see that these are crowd favorites.
- Mercy’s Talabahan
- Diotay’s Pala-pala
- Ading’s Pala-pala
- 18th Street Pala-Pala
- Tolda Kansi & Talaba
- KKD – Kapehan sa Kilid Dalan
- Coffee Culture and Roastery
- Twopans Cafe
- Cafe Oriental
- JG Coffee
- Kape Danay
- Chess Kapehan
- Rust Coffee
- Cafe Molinos
- Studio Cafe
- Kirk’s Kapehan
- Mayok’s Kapehan Lizares Extension
Attractions in Neigboring Towns
Where Locals Usually Hang-out
As locals, we visit iconic / tourist places when we have visitors but there are some things we usually do when we are just the ones around. Below are some eating and entertainment areas of locals. Things that are within the daily budget and where other locals usually hang around too.
- Marby’s Plaza – an arcade where locals and most students eat. This is located at the back of San Agustin College.
- Jog at the New Government Center / Panaad
- Play computer games at TNC
- Watch the sunset at BREDCO – this is only accessible if you have a private car. Locals enjoy going at the endge of BREDCO port and watch the sunset together with friends or family.
- Coffee at Rust – I think this is a famous hang-out for locals because I always see it jam-packed both during the day and night. They serve relatively cheaper meals and drinks.
- Eat Barbecue at Manokan in front of the New Government Center.
- Get a blind massage and roam around the Bacolod New Government Center.
Bacolod Pasalubong Ideas
Bring home Bacolod with you with distinct Bacolod pasalubong ideas. When I visit a place as a tourist, I do my research to know something that is unique to a place. Below are items which I have curated so you can bring home the authentic Bacolod love. ♥️
1.) Egg Roll from Bong-Bongs
I know this is now a well-known advice but I think this pasalubong item is an under-rated pasalubong option.
The moment I tasted it, it gave a nostalgic taste of barquillos but only with a richer taste- maybe because of the egg. I have friends who tasted it and even posted in on social media as a sign of recommendation.
You can buy it from any Bong-bong’s pasalubong center.
Of course, Piaya is the infamous pasalubong item. The photo above is taken from Bong-bong’s. You may get Piaya from Merzci or Bong-bongs but I suggest you try piaya at Bailon’s.
Bailon’s Piaya is one of the original piaya brand of Bacolod and their store is found at the back of Lopues San Sebastian just across Bacolod Chicken House.
Bailon’s Piaya are thinner and less sweet than the common ones I tasted in other brands. If you are looking for a rare and authentic Bacolod pasalubong item, I suggest you give Bailon’s a try.
Telephone numebers: 434-7997 and 434 7996
Napoleones is a sweet delicacy found in Bacolod City. Because of our rich historical connections with the sugar industry, we have developed different products that would attract the sweet tooths and alike.
You can buy Napoleones from major pasalubong stores but I recommend the ones that come from Roli’s and Pendy’s. One reason is because of the taste which I think resembles a rich unique taste.
Other Pasalubong Ideas
4.) Mangkas Roast Coffee – if you’re a coffee lover, grab this just like you grabbed a unique piece of craft from a foreign land. Mangkas is a historical Negrito tribal warrior who first settled in a place which is now known as La Carlota, Negros. The settlement was located in Canman-ug Creek and the area was previously named after him because he was known as a brave and noble warrior and was kind to his people. When the Spaniards came, the place was named after the wife of a Spanish Official.
Other Bacolod Pasalubong Centers
- Ceres Pasalubong in Ceres North and South Terminal
- Negros Showroom at Robinsons Bacolod
- Bong-bongs Pasalubong in SM, Alijis and Lacson
- Merzci Bread and Pastries in SM and other parts of the city
Handy Facts about Bacolod City
The province where Bacolod City belongs is Negros Occidental. Negros originally and literally meant “land of black people.” It was from the first impression of the Spaniars when they first touched the shorelines of the island.
Today, one of the original settlers of Negros can still be found in Kabankalan. They are the Carul-ans, and still has their own distinct dialect.
Bacolod city belongs to the Western Visayas Region or Region VI. The Visayas is the central portion of the Philippines and is composed of many islands including Cebu, Leyte, and Panay.
The islands of Negros and Panay (Iloilo etc.) are at the west side of this group, hence the name. In this region, you will also find Antique, Boracay, and Guimaras.
More on Bacolod Region
The name Bacolod is an old Hiligaynon term “bakulod” or “baklod” which means “hill, elevation, bond of land mass or a high ground.” It was given by previous settlers in Negros because of the elevated topography in the eastern section of Bacolod which is now Granada. Granada was the center of Bacolod in the colonial period, hence was named after Granada of Spain. Bakulod has semantic relationship with the Filipino term “buklod” which means bond.
Bacolod language. The language of Bacolod City is Hiligaynon. Actually, Hiligaynon is not recognized as a language but a dialect. We have the same language as Iloilo City and Iloilo province, as well as Negros Occidental, with the exception of some northern places like Sagay to San Carlos (w/c are a mixture of Cebuano already).
The distinctions. Some people call our languange as Ilonggo. I think that is acceptable, knowing the evolutionary nature of language. An ilonggo can be a person who is a local of Iloilo or Bacolod, or the language itself.
To be more precise, the people of Bacolod are called Bacolodnon. The people of Negros are Negrenses or Negrosanon. The people of Iloilo or Ilonggos.
Below are some of the maps which could be useful for you.
If you travel during wet seasons, most likely you won’t enjoy your vacation if you are after the beach or some outdoor activities. Here are my experiences of the weather:
Because of the presence of the mountains at the central part of the island, the Westerlies or the Habagat winds are being blocked somehow, minimizing their impact. The mountains also serve as a blockage against storms which always come from the Pacific ocean.
Late part of May to Early August: So far this is the rainiest season of the year. It’s the wet season so expect rains, low pressure, tropical depression or even storms. But not all the time. Sometimes its cloudy and sunny. Storms may also come during the “ber” months.
October to January: The coldest months of the year.
Late February to Early May: Summer or the hottest times of the year.
Survival Ilonggo Phrases
Tip: Using naturally-accented ilonggo words may cause you win local friends and will also save you in the market or informal souvenir shops whenever you buy some pasalubongs because the souvenir owners would not perceive you as a tourist.
Note: I crafted the translations as the daily conversational ilonggo words, skipping the formal versions I can see in Bibles.
- Good morning!
- Good noon!
- Good afternoon!
- Good evening!
- Good night!
- How are you?
- How much is this?
- Can I bargain the prirce?
- Where is this?
- May I know your name?
- My name is….
- I would like to go to….
- Please bring me to….
- Where is the bathroom?
- Where is my hotel room?
- How can I go to….?
Ilonggo / Hiligaynon
- Mayong aga!
- Mayong ugto!
- Mayong hapon!
- Mayong gab-i!
- Mayo nga pagtulog!
- Kamusta ka na?
- Tagpila ni?
- Wala na ni ayo? (note the o is hard o just like the tagalog “tampo”)
- Sa diin ni?
- Sin-o gni ngalan mo? (do not round the “o” just like “mango”… instead end it with the “o” of “Pablo…” you know what I mean)
- Ako gale si….
- Gusto ko tani magkadto sa (polite)
- Paki dul-ong ko sa… (with command)
- Din gani ang banyo?
- Din gani ang room ko?
- Paano ko gani kakadto sa…?
Tour A: Iconic Places Tour within Metro Bacolod
- Breakfast at Sanders Coffee & Sausages
- Visit The Ruins in Talisay – for better experience, I suggest going before before 11AM before the intensive noonday light or after 5PM, just when the the sun sets and the lights of the archaic mansion turn on.
- Negros Capitol Lagoon
- Negros Museum
- Visit New Government Center
- Dinner at Aida’s in Manokan Country
- Eat dessert at Calea
Tour B: Eat with Locals
- Coffee at KKD or Kape Danay
- Eat at Chong’s – a rising tapsilogan and sizzlers sprouting key places in Bacolod.
- Hangout at Rust’s
Where to stay in Bacolod
When I have clients or friends visiting Bacolod City, I often hear they have difficult time in finding some place to say especially when it’s fully booked or when they’re after affordable ones.
So I am writing this section where I place accommodations which are ranked in order from the cheapest to highest price. I personally have seen them and heard reviews from my friends, so I only wrote what I can recommend.
Cheap Bacolod Hotels
I personally recommend The Hostelry in Roli’s Bldg, La Salle Avenue because of three reasons: (1) My office is just beside and I have seen that the place is good and has good security features. (2) The place is near convenient centers such as 24/7 fastfoods, convenience stores, 24/7 internet cafes, a gym and a university. The only thing with this is that this is a bit distant from the downtown area, SM and Lacson street. (3) Place has a good 24/7 parking where you can leave your car even during the day. There’s also a 24/7 (on weekdays and saturday) coworking space beside. See my article here.
Pleasant Traveler's Inn
This is just a small hotel but I think the location is great. It’s just steps away to ABS-CBN Bacolod, Pendy’s, Tom N Toms and Lacson Street. This is an ideal place if want a close connection to the Lacson Street Parties during Masskara. The jeep access is also superb which can lead you up to Lakawon Island. I wrote an article featuring it.
Staying near at SM gives you access and convenience due to less transportation expenses to and fro food hubs as well as terminals to and from the airport. By booking near SM, you save a money. Most likely you have arrived to Bacolod due to a conference at the SMX Center which is one of the biggest function conference centers in the city. See my recommended places to stay here near SM Bacolod.
Exhaustive List of Bacolod Accommodations
Travel to or From Bacolod 🚙
Bacolod to Iloilo or Vice Versa via RoRo
- RoRo Ship from Bacolod to Iloilo, Boracay or Panay or Vice Versa- go to Boracay after Bacolod City. With RoRo, you can bring your car with you either you are coming form the famous island or going to it from the City of Smiles. With RoRo, you get to enjoy the convenience of your car up to the next island.
Bacolod to Iloilo or Vice Versa via Fast Craft Ferry
- Want the fast option without bringing a car? Get the FastCraft from Bacolod to Iloilo or Vice versa. Fast Craft lets you enjoy the sister city of Bacolod, which is Iloilo, which also offers another world of exciting destinations, community and culture.
Bacolod, Negros to Guimaras or Vice Versa
- This is a lesser known route but you can go to Guimaras directly from Negros via Pulupandan via a Pumpboat twice a day or vice versa. Guimaras is an island between Negros and Panay which also offers different forms of wonders. You can get to enjoy Alubihod, Andana, Guimaras Mango Festival and Guimaras Wind Mills.
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