Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental province, is known as the sugar center of the Philippines. The planting and processing of sugar cane in large plantations for many years has created a uniquely laidback lifestyle in Sugarlandia, and it shows in the sights, flavors, smells of this burgeoning city.
Also known as the City of Smiles, Bacolod is an exciting place that offers vibrant attractions, an energetic arts scene, delectable food, and exciting shopping that will keep you coming back. Here is the list of our most memorable Bacolod experiences that you, too, can try in the new normal.
Discover local history at Negros Museum
Nothing is more enlightening than a visit to a homegrown museum. Witness the early beginnings of Negros island through Negros Museum’s many murals. Learn about the province’s historical figures in impressive displays. Lastly, do not miss the museum’s permanent collection of folk toys from around the world. If you haven’t been to Negros Museum since 2017, you’ll be happy to hear that the museum underwent renovations and a café has been added.
Negros Museum will reopen on February 15, 2021. It is in the Old Agricultural Building on Gatuslao Street. Visits are by appointment from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. To reserve or inquire, call +63 34 433 4767 or +63 910 632 1237.
Be amazed by Capitol Park and Lagoon
Bacolod’s green spaces, notably Capitol Park and Lagoon, are among the country’s most picturesque. The Neoclassical architecture of the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol is an imposing backdrop for an immense manmade lagoon, the water buffalo sculptures by Italian sculptor Francesco Monti, and the Paghimud-os monument by Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo. The park is a popular site for jogging, having picnics, and feeding fish.
The Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol and the overlooking park and lagoon are best viewed from Lacson Street. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Fall in love with the Ruins
The remains of the Don Mariano Lacson mansion, known as The Ruins, have been captivating the imagination of locals and visitors for years. The tragically romantic tale behind the mansion’s skeletal frame is best heard from Roger, a vivacious tour guide. Visit the ruins late in the afternoon, when the air is cool and the sun is about to set. Sample Negrense or Italian cuisine at the Gazebo restaurant inside.
The Ruins is in Talisay City, a short 15-minute drive from Bacolod. The tourist landmark is open from Tuesday to Thursday from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and from Friday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Get inspired by the Art District
Bacolod’s visual arts scene has evolved over the past several years. A great testament to its artists’ creativity is the Art District in the city’s Mandalagan area. Art District serves as a home to various artist-initiated shops and galleries. This is where you can be inspired by Bacolod’s homegrown brand of ingenuity and where you can discover the city’s culture and traditions. Check out the monthly contemporary art exhibits at Gallery Orange and Block 17 Art Space. There are also cafes, restaurants, a tattoo shop, yoga and dance studios, a mini-theater, and a plaza for performances.\
If you’re going to the Art District in a private vehicle, enter through the westernmost end of Buri Road from Lacson Street. Most establishments are open from 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. For more details, visit artdistrict.ph.
Shop for pasalubong at Virgie’s
Most travelers get their Bacolod pasalubong from popular brands like Bongbong’s and Merci. But why not try the homemade delights of Virgie’s? Since 1974, Virgie’s has been baking and selling delectable goodies on San Sebastian Street. Bestsellers include napoleones (sweet puff pastries), butterscotch, and galletas (paper-thin round biscuits). Their thick mini piaya (sweet flatbread with muscovado sugar filling) is a personal favorite.
Virgie’s Homemade Products is at 59 San Sebastian Street. The shop is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. To inquire, call +63 34 434 1588.
Traveling to Bacolod in the new normal
Take note that, as of the writing of this article, Bacolod is under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until the end of February 2021. Moreover, the Philippine News Agency reports that the city imposes a curfew from 11:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m., and that alcohol cannot be consumed in public establishments.
According to the Bacolod City Tourism Office, the following documents are needed when traveling to Bacolod for leisure:
- Negative RT-PCR test taken within three days before the date of travel (Book your home service RT-PCR test here!)
- Travel itinerary for the duration of your stay in Bacolod City
- Medical certificate and barangay clearance from your local government unit of origin
- Confirmed booking of accommodation in Bacolod City
- Round trip plane ticket or travel details
- Bacolod City COVID-19 Contact Tracing (BaCTrac) ID. To register, visit bactrac.bacolodcity.gov.ph.
- Online health declaration form. For travelers arriving in Bacolod, visit https://tinyurl.com/bcdinbound. For travelers leaving the city, visit https://tinyurl.com/bcdoutbound.
Travel between the towns and cities of Western Visayas is still unhampered, so you should be able to explore Bacolod’s environs.
Relish the sweet life in Bacolod
Explore Bacolod in a private half-day tour that starts from your preferred city hotel. Aside from the Ruins, other stops on the tour include San Sebastian Cathedral, Pope John Paul II Tower, and souvenir shopping at Bongbong’s or Merci. Book your Bacolod city tour today on KKday at rates starting from 1,000 PHP.
*Featured image via Joseph Oropel on Shutterstock