What to Do and Where to Go if
You Had One Day in Bacolod
Many people go to Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, in southern Philippines for many reasons. A lot of them pertain to business, functions, or work-related events. And if they are here on official business, chances are they have the whole day or even half a day for themselves to explore the city. So if you have no one to take you, what would you do? Where would you go?
This is a guide that will somehow help you make the most of your stay here and be able to taste Bacolod specialties and visit popular spots for your mandatory selfies without having to waste so much time traveling around. By the way, I just want to mention that I only included Bacolod homegrown restaurants for this short article and I do apologize to those that I have not included in this article. This was made with efficiency and time constraint on the part of the traveler in mind.
Breakfast in Bacolod
If you want a native breakfast, you can go to the Central Market along Luzuriaga Street in the heart of downtown Bacolod for kakanins (native delicacies) and of course, native brewed coffee at Cafe Excellente. With brewed coffee at P12 per cup, your P25 will already go a long way. You can just buy the native foods that you would like to eat from the stall across. Since you are already at the Central Market, you may want to wander around a bit, especially the area where they sell native products and dried fish. Just be ready with a hanky if you’re squeamish.
If you still want the same kind of food but in a cozier, safer, air conditioned restaurant, go to Quan Delicacies at San Juan Street. They have good coffee and a wide array of native delicacies that you know were prepared with strict sanitary practices. Their foods are placed behind glass shelves, as compared to open displays in the market. The only downside is, they open at 8am, which may not be early enough for some. You may also buy some Bacolod pasalubong items here, like galletas, sugar-free treats, and also their organic salad dressings.
After breakfast, you may cross the street going to the Bacolod Public Plaza where you can have your photos taken at the center, which is the venue of our world-famous MassKara Festival dance contest. There you will see the giant chess board patterned floor that is often depicted in MassKara Festival logos. Then crossing the street on the other side of the plaza is the San Sebastian Cathedral along Rizal Street. It is a late 19th-century structure that is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod.
Pope John Paul II Tower
Go to the corner of the church (westward) and then cross the street and ride the trisikad going to the Pope John Paul II Tower. If you go up the 7-story building, you will get a nice view of the city. The tower is dedicated to the late Pope John Paul II who visited Bacolod City on February 20, 1981. It was such a memorable event for the people of Bacolod City and it was estimated that there were a million people who attended the mass that the Pope celebrated at that time. The tower is located in the city’s Reclamation Area a.k.a BREDCO (Bacolod Real Estate Development Corporation) development. An eight-foot sculpture of the Pope is what you will see at the gate entrance of the tower. Entrance is only P20.
Lunch in Bacolod
By this time, it would be around 11am so in awhile, you will be ready for lunch. I suggest you go to the Manokan Country, just across SM City Bacolod, for authentic Bacolod Chicken Inasal. Please, please, do not mistake our Bacolod chicken inasal with Mang Inasal– that’s sacrilege for Bacolodnons. So from the Pope John Paul II Tower, just take a rather long walk passing the street under the bridgeway of SM City Bacolod to Manokan Country. If you don’t want to walk, you can also take the trisikad again, just tell the driver that you are going to Manokan Country, however, you will have to go the long route because the street that cuts across SM is one-way.
From the corner of Manokan Country, you can window shop for the the stall where you wanna eat. The first one on the right is Lion’s Park. At Lion’s Park, you will get more than just chicken inasal. They have seafood paluto (you pick the fresh seafood and have it grilled, fried, sauteed, sizzling, made into adobo, or whatever), turo-turo (fastfood) counter, ala carte menus, and of course, oysters. You have so many native Pinoy foods to choose from here.
There are many other stalls at Manokan Coutry and all of them don’t have air conditioning so be prepared to eat while the sun is high up outside since it’s lunchtime. But that’s okay, it’s all part of the experience. Order your favorite chicken part plus if you like, some blanched oysters and other grilled items like pork chop or spareribs. Then wash your hands and prepare to eat with your hands while dipping the ulam in a dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, and chili. And oh, don’t forget the chicken oil (in reality, anato oil) and mix in a little salt for flavor. That’s what gives your rice the yellow-orange tinge and further flavor. Since it takes some time to grill raw chicken, you will be having lunch at around 12 noon.
Chicken inasal prices ranges from P70 to P99, depending if it comes with a meal of rice and drinks. Also depends on the restaurant. Meanwhile, oysters maybe ordered at P50 to P60 per serving.
An option for you from Manokan Country is to stop by the Negros Museum for about an hour to learn more about our heritage. Customs and collections of our ancestors are preserved and displayed here. From Manokan Country, you can take the cab coming here and it will only be P55 to P60.
Negros Museum Entrance Fees
General Admission – Php 100.00
Senior Citizens – Php 80.00
Students and Children – Php 70.00
From the Negros Museum, you may walk a few meters going to the Provincial Capitol and the Capitol Lagoon and have photos there. At most, you will spend 30 minutes here. Then you can to proceed to get a slice of cake and coffee. Take it as late postre or your afternoon snacks.
Cake and Coffee
From the lagoon, it will be another short walk to C’s by L’Fisher at 15th-Lacson Street, approximately six short blocks. Here, have a slice of cake and some good coffee. It’s one of the practices of Bacolodnons–to have postre after a meal and of course, a good cup of coffee, but in this case, you just had a stopover in between. P150 to P200 should give you a nice dessert and a good cup of coffee. After C’s, you may want to check out the picturesque roof deck of the L’Fisher Chalet for a pictorial.
If you like, you may want to shop for Bacolod pasalubong items from either Merzci Pasalubong or Bongbong’s. If you are at C’s at 15th Street, you can just cross to the other side road and move along to 14th Street where Bongbong’s and Merzci are located. You wouldn’t get lost around here. Get the Ilonggo favorites like piaya, biscocho, tarts, and many more. A small box would cost you anywhere from p250 to P500, depending on what you pack inside. The box is free.
If you have an evening flight out of Bacolod, then that means you no longer have time to have dinner here. Your best option is to already bring your stuff around so that you just take the ride going north–the direction of the airport. But before you head straight to the airport, drop by Negros Occidental’s famous landmark — The Ruins. It is located on the border of Bacolod City and Talisay City. If time permits, you can stay there and experience sunset until it’s time for you to proceed to the airport. There you will also meet the now famous Ruins guide and local celebrity, Roger Lucero, who was once a PBB housemate and who made it to the Big 4. Just check their FB page to make sure that it is not closed for a private event, which happens quite often.
Entrance fee at The Ruins: Adult: P100 | Student: P40 | Senior: P50 | Child: P20
Now, if your flight is not for the following day, then you still have the night to explore. Have a seafood dinner at many of those rugged restaurants, like Ading’s Pala-pala, Hyksos Pala-Pala, and Diotay’s Eatery. If you want a cozier seafood resto, go to 18th Street Palapala. Since it is already night time, I suggest that you already take a cab or Grab to these seafood restaurants, it’s faster and safer, too. If you are in a group, you can easily share different dishes and end up spending probably a minimum of P200-P250 per person for your dinner. That’s just the minimum, but if you order crabs, prawns, etc, then you may end up shelling out more.
I pointed you to these three placed because these are all near Lacson Street and you can easily slip out, take a walk, and then end up at a nice watering hole to cap the night. After dinner, my suggestion is to go to The Trap Door by Illusion Brewery. They have several kinds of craft beers on draft and bottles. Your P200 can buy you a drink already and a space to unwind for the evening. But if you will have pulutan and another drink, prepare to shell out about P600 per person. Don’t ya worry, you will be home the next day anyway so you can sleep in the plane. hehe
There are still so many things to explore around here but given your little time in the city, these are my suggestions to make the most of your trip. All in all, if you do everything that I have listed here, you will be spending about P1,000 for one whole day, including fares. Of course, this does not include your shopping for Bacolod pasalubong. hehe Have a happy trip in Bacolod! 😀
Optional Side Trip Bailon’s Foods
One interesting stop in Bacolod would be Bailon’s Foods at San Sebastian Street. It is very near SM City Bacolod and Quan San Juan, but it’s kinda out of the way. But you may want to witness how they are making their special kind of piaya that has a thin, crispy crust and with the sugar sticking on the insides of the crust. This is more expensive than the other kinds of Bacolod piaya, but is worth trying. And if you’re lucky, you might catch them cooking, too. Do buy some packs here to bring home. Also try their special empanada and fresh lumpia, both so good! A pack of Bailon’s piaya is P80. You can get here after your breakfast at Quan San Juan by walking four blocks southward or riding the Bata-Libertad jeepney. You can tell the driver to let you down at CORNER San Sebastian Street. From there, just ask the trisikad drivers because Bailon’s is like the 3rd building from the corner.