bacolod-tourist-spotsExplore the City of Smiles and find out why Bacolod City got this nickname. What's the best way to go to Bacolod? How do you go around and what tourist spots should you visit? Where is the best restaurant to eat Bacolod's famous chicken inasal? Where should you stay in Bacolod depending on your budget? Read on to find out everything you need to know when planning a trip to Bacolod City. 

Bacolod isn’t just called the City of Smiles because of its MassKara Festival and the locals who always have a smiling face. It’s also because this city can definitely make anyone smile! Noted as one of the most progressive cities in the country, Bacolod is an urban center that prides itself on its liveability. 

This is one city that you can really call your second home, such as the ease of being in Bacolod alone. Read on to see what I mean.


Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

Going to Bacolod and Getting Around       

Bacolod is served by the Bacolod-Silay Airport, which is the easiest way to get here. You can take a Philippine Airlines (PAL) or a Cebu Pacific flight from Manila. Clark and Cebu are also serviced by PAL, while Cebu Pacific has a Davao to Bacolod flight. 

Once you land at the airport, you’re already around 15 kilometers from Bacolod (the airport is in Silay, a different city). In front of the airport’s Arrivals area is a group of vans that could shuttle you all the way to SM City Bacolod. A taxi is also an option, but it can get pretty expensive, with a trip to the usual hotels costing up to PHP 500. For the budget-conscious (backpackers take note) you can go outside the airport and hail a tricycle. Ask to be dropped off at the city center (“bayan”) and hail a jeep or bus to the Bacolod North Terminal. From there, you can take public transport to your hotel.

A friendly note if you’re taking public transport — some of the drivers can only speak in the native Hiligaynon. But just remember the name of the place you’re going to, and you should be alright. If you want to alight from the vehicle, say “lugar lang” and they’ll stop for you.

Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

What to Do in Bacolod       

What “fun” means could vary from person to person, so we’ve compiled various activities here!

Things to Do in Bacolod: For the history fans     

Take a look at Bacolod's historical landmarks.

Visit The Ruins       

Bacolod is the Sugar Capital of the country, and it was how the people of old here gained wealth. A remnant of this time is The Ruins, a structure that was once the mansion of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar baron. This is one of the top tourist spots in Bacolod. It has a beautiful architecture still visible to this day, but it was burned down during World War II. The entrance fee is PHP 100, and there’s parking space available.

Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

The Ruins isn’t as accessible as other places in the city. You could ask around the city center for a jeep going to the Pepsi Bottling Plant, and from there you could take a tricycle to the site. Alternatively, you could take a cab directly to The Ruins.

Negros Museum       

Negros is a great place to be in, particularly because of the immersive experience it offers to tourists. It’s a museum that focuses not on storing artifacts, but on telling the interesting story of the Negros region. This is primarily a children’s museum but it also has something in store for the adults who want to learn something about Negros’ surprising role in the formation of the Philippine Republic. There’s a general admission fee of PHP 50 for adults and PHP 20 for children.

Getting here is easy. Just ask to be taken to the Provincial Capitol Building where the museum is just a short walk (3-5 minutes) from here.

San Sebastian Church       

This is a structure that was opened to the public in 1882, and now holds the Bishop’s Palace within its grounds. It has an elegant architecture that harkens back to the Spanish times and is considered an important historical marker by none other than the Philippine Historical Committee. The church closes at around 8 PM, so arrive early to see one of the more recognizable tourist spots in Bacolod!

Getting here is also easy. Just take a jeep bound for Manokan Country, and it passes right by the church.

Pope John Paul II Tower       

This is another sacred landmark in the city, dedicated to the now-Saint Pope John Paul II. This is in commemoration of the Pope’s visit to Bacolod. The tower contains a lot of Papal memorabilia, including his Papal Throne and various photos of him and his visit. As a bonus, the top deck has a viewing section that sports a beautiful view of the Bacolod skyline. 

The tower has an entrance fee of PHP 20 and is located at the BREDCO Compound just right beside SM City Bacolod (where you will be dropped off if you take the shuttle from the airport).

Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

Things to Do in Bacolod: For the Tired City Dwellers     

In need of much-needed R&R? Here are some tourist spots for you. 

Mambukal Resort       

If a quiet time with your friends and family is what you want, then you should take the time to go to this famous resort. Mambukal Resort is managed by the government of Negros Occidental and features a 23-hectare expanse. Its claim to fame is its beautiful spring that flows down to seven waterfalls (hence its nickname, Seven Waterfalls). It’s a good trek if you want to see all seven! There’s also a boating lagoon, a hot spring, and other water activities. You can even camp here overnight by renting a cottage. The entrance fee is a mere PHP 50.

To get here, hail a jeep going to Libertad. This will take you to the bus station that services the Mambukal area. Take the bus, and alight directly at the resort. The travel time takes about an hour from the city center, and it’s one of the Bacolod tourist spots perfect for the outdoor lover.

Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

Where to eat in Bacolod       

It’s no secret that most tourists who go to Bacolod are here for the amazing food! Here’s a list of some of the city’s must-visit foodie finds.

Manokan Country       

This is a small cluster of eateries located at the parking lot of SM Bacolod, so it’s very easy to find (just follow the directions from the airport). All of the places here serve pretty much the same stuff, but it’s still worth a visit because of their high-quality grilled chicken. Plus, it’s affordable — none of the orders exceed PHP 100! There are chicken parts too, such as intestines and chicken butt. By default, the stalls here don’t provide utensils due to the traditional way that the now-nationally famous inasal is eaten. You can ask for them, though.


This is by far the most famous food stop in all of Bacolod and is jam-packed especially during weekends when tourists flock. It’s definitely one of the bona fide Bacolod tourist spots! This is considered to be one of the places that catapulted the inasal to national fame. The ambiance is very masa, and the food is very authentic! They are made from real Negros sinamak vinegar, which adds to the inimitable flavor. There’s also oyster as appetizers!

Aida’s is located at Fr. M. Ferrero Street, which is also in the vicinity of the Manokan Country. All you have to do is ask around! Those who have been there from the 2010s have said there’s been a steep increase in price (and a decline in the place’s quality), but it’s still a must-try. Be prepared to shell out around PHP 200 per person per meal.


Since Bacolod is a sugar city, we would be remiss if we don’t include the place where the best sweets in town can be found. Calea is the most famous dessert place in Bacolod, and their White Chocolate Cheesecake is plain heavenly! Their servings are generous, and the price isn’t over the top. A hungry group of 5 people could be satiated in under PHP 1,000, which is cheap considering the quality.

Calea is located in a classy white building along Lacson Street. Take the Mandalagan-Libertad jeep route, and ask to be dropped off at Balay Quince. Calea is on the ground floor.

21 Bar and Restaurant       

Batchoy, like inasal, is a nationally-famous dish originating from the Negros region (Bacolod’s neighbor La Paz). 21 Bar is one of the top places that serve it. Go here at around 2 PM, where it is rumored that the soup is at its thickest! A full meal costs less than PHP 150, and it’s really worth the price. They also serve a lot of savory meals, including incredible crab sticks and even lamb.

To get here, just follow the same instructions as Calea. 21 Bar is also in Lacson Street, and locally goes by the simple moniker of “21”!

Bacolod City: Best Things to Do in The City of Smiles

The Masskara Festival       

If your visit happens to be in the third week of October, then you have the perfect opportunity to experience the “happiest fiesta” in the country — the famed Masskara Festival! This is a three-week celebration, where the streets are filled with color and mask-clad performers. Make sure to check out the food fairs and the bazaars, among the many other events. 

Day Tour from Bacolod City: Silay       

Silay is a neighboring city to the north and is actually the first stop towards your Bacolod visit if you’re coming from Manila. Silay is just as good as Bacolod when it comes to historical markers, and you can go on a walking tour here! In fact, Silay is hailed as the country’s second “Museum City” after Vigan. 

Check out El Ideal Bakery, which is the oldest bakeshop in Silay (don’t miss the local delicacies!). Balay Negrense, or the Victor Gaston House, contains artifacts from Silay’s heyday as the primary economic city of the Negros Region. There’s also the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum and the San Diego Pro-Cathedral. For an interesting take on the country’s history, check out the Cinco de Noviembre Marker, which commemorates how the Negrenses bluffed their way into freedom during the Philippine Revolution!

It’s true that the Negros region is a very multifaceted area, and this is best embodied by Bacolod and its warm and charming vibe. It’s not the first on the tourist radar, but seeing the tourist spots in Bacolod is well worth anyone’s while! Start planning your trip by checking out Bacolod tours.