Bacolod, the City of Smiles, is one of those ideal destinations that offer a diverse range of attractions for visitors. From the nearby pristine beaches to the downtown shopping district, it seems that this most populous city of Western Visayas has got it all. Below are just some of the reasons why Bacolod should be on your itinerary when visiting the Philippines.
You don’t need to go to Metro Cebu or Metro Manila to find the latest gadgets, clothes, or accessories. Bacolod has over a dozen malls and retail centers you can explore. In fact, more of these are being built in response to the city’s booming economy.
However, if malls are not your thing, you can always go to the city’s local public markets instead. Here, you can get an authentic look at how the locals live. Visit the Pala Pala Seafood Market to get the best seafood in all of Bacolod, and head over to the Central Market to take home some of the richest local coffee around.
Indeed, the downtown area around the Central Market is a very convenient location. Many affordable accommodations like the Ong Bun Pension House Bacolod can be found in this location. With clusters of shopping malls, cafés, and restaurants just a few steps away, you don’t have to spend much on transportation, especially if you’re planning to stay in the city for a while.
Bacolod’s most iconic contribution to Filipino cuisine is the Chicken Inasal. This uniquely tangy chicken barbecue has taken the entire country by storm and when in Bacolod, it’s a definite slight not to sample Inasal from its city of origin.
Arguably, the most popular place to try this dish is at Aida’s in the city’s Manokan Country food complex. There, you can have the iconic inasal for less than a hundred pesos with some garlic rice on the side and Sinamak vinegar for a dip. While at the Manokan Country, you can also go the adventurous route and sample the grilled chicken innards that most foreign visitors would probably avoid.
Seafood lovers, on the other hand, can get their fix of the freshest shrimps and crabs at what the locals call, the old Pala Pala Market. This seafood market comes with a row of eateries that will gladly cook (for a price) the seafood you buy from the market. Take note, you can specify how you want your seafood cooked, and the service fee will depend on the ingredients and cooking style.
October is a special month to visit Bacolod because of their annual Masskara Festival. Unlike most festivals in the Philippines that celebrate saints or harvest season, Masskara Festival is poignant celebration of a time when Negros Occidental was hit with multiple crises in the 1980s. To lift up people’s spirits, local artists, together with the city’s officials, banded together to create a festival of smiles that was later named the “MassKara” Festival.
Over the years, the annual festival has consistently attracted tourists from other provinces as well as other countries to join in on the celebration. Different activities are observed during the festival, such as the MassKara Queen Beauty Pageant, Electric MassKara Street Dancing, MassKara Red Party, and the Choreographers’ Face-Off Competition, among others.
Bacolod City itself may not have its own beaches but it sure is near some of the best beaches in the world. Take for instance, the Manjuyod Sandbar. It’s a 4-hour drive to Bais City with a short boat ride to the famed “Maldives of the Philippines,” but the white sandbar and cerulean waters that will greet you will be worth the journey.
Lakawon Island Resort is one of the newest attractions near Bacolod. You can choose to stay at the island or go on a day tour from the city since the boat ride only takes 20 minutes. At the island, you have a whole list of water activities available—with other attractions to see as well. These include the Pacol Falls, the Busac-Busac Spring, the Balay Alibangbang Butterfly Farm, and more.
There are a vast number of beaches to explore near Bacolod. With a car or a van, you can easily access these beach getaways like Tambobong Beach, Sipalay Beach, and Antulang Beach. At these beaches, you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling with the lush marine life as well participate in other fun water sports activities.
With so much attractions and destinations to visit in Bacolod, you will never run out of reasons to go back to this city. Put it high on top of your list of must-see destinations in the Philippines, and you’ll soon see why it is called the City of Smiles.