The whole October is a busy month in Bacolod as the city celebrates the 37th MassKara Festival. Its highlight are the street presentations where participants dress in colorful masks depicting Bacolod as the City of Smiles.

What date it’s best to fly to this bustling city in Negros depends on the activity you want to witness. The busiest days will be from October 19 to 23 when the fireworks competition, Electric MassKara, Love Dance, and street party are held. Check the complete Schedule of Events on the official website of Bacolod City.

masskara-2016-schedule

Unless you can fly frequently to this province, we suggest that you maximize your MassKara trip by going to as many tourist destinations you can visit. Here are our suggestions on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Bacolod and its neighbor cities.


WHAT TO DO

Bacolod City is the food mecca of Negros. For thrill and adventure, visit the neighboring towns and cities, especially Talisay, Silay, and Don Salvador Benedicto.

Go On Adventure at Campuestohan

About 45 minutes from Bacolod is the famous Campuestohan Highland Resort. It has a wide option of rides (zipline, hamster wheel, biking on air), a super-sized swimming pool, a restaurant, and the biggest gorilla statue in the country. Don’t miss the rope course, the hamster wheel, and the Hobbiton!

Bgy Cabatangan, Talisay City
Check the rates at Campuestohan Highland Resort
Contact 0915 211 1406 and 0917 300 5007
Opens 9 AM to 6 PM

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The challenging rope course at Campuestohan. At first, it was fun. And then halfway, I could no longer get out of the hanging tires. 

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Playtime with King Kong. But he doesn’t give a budge. Oh yes, he roars!

Campuestohan

Once I was a hobbit. But not a Baggins. Had I known early that I could stay in these hobbit houses, I would’ve booked a night.

Relax at Bantug Lake Ranch

Take a jeepney or taxi to Granada and cool down at this scenic lake ranch about 30 minutes from Bacolod. Bantug is ideal for fishing, horseback riding, boating, or a picnic with friends and family. Read more here.

Granada, Alangilan Road, Bacolod City
Facebook: Bantug Lake Ranch
Contact (034) 213 1916
Opens 8 AM to 6 PM daily
Entrance fee is P50 per guest

Bantug Lake

Bantug Lake in Granada is easily accessible through the Alangilan Road, the same road going to Campuestohan Highland Resort.  (Photo by Lester Sotelo)

Have a Photowalk in the City

There are huge sculptures at the Capitol Grounds in Bacolod. Look for the Paghimud-os, a depiction of man’s struggles, and two water buffalo statues. Visit the New Government Center which has a beautiful fountain and a wide open space for jogging. The seven-storey Pope John Paul Center also gives a breathtaking view of the city. At the Bredco Port you can take chances in capturing a good sunset. Don’t miss the galleries, and the hip party and dining scene at the Art District.

Water buffalo sculpture

Water buffalo sculpture. There are two of these at the Capitol Grounds. Go in the daytime as the park is usually dark at night.

Visit Beautiful Churches

Be mesmerized by the interiors of San Sebastian Cathedral in downtown Bacolod. The church was completed in 1882 and is a good example of Baroque architecture in Negros. Its facade, although dulled by power lines, is beautifully illuminated at night.Other popular churches are the San Diego Cathedral in Silay, the only domed church in Negros Occidental; the Sacred Heart Shrine on Lizares Street in Bacolod; and the Church of the Angry Christ in Victorias City close to the western tip of the Negros province.

San Sebastian Cathedral

The interior of San Sebastian Cathedral (Photo by Jet Velas)

Enjoy the View at Don Salvador

Don Salvador Benedicto or DSB is blessed with a cool weather and a great view of the mountains. Take a breather and sip some fresh tarragon tea at D’ Horizon. Or find that spot along the highway where there’s plenty of pine trees. Other destinations to check in DSB are the Hilltop Restaurant, Mountainview Resort, and Jomax Peak.

Mountainview

Coffee moments at Mountainview Resort.  (Photo by Chelsea Portillano)

D Horizon Cafe

D Horizon is a roadside cafe facing this fresh view. Choose between tarragon or mint tea, and they’ll pick the leaves fresh from their small garden. Note: it can get crowded.

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A lion statue along the winding roads of DSB. Feels like Baguio. There’s a viewing deck beside this lion marker.

Don Salvador Benedicto

The landscape of DSB reminds me of Bukidnon. Going there, you’ll pass by the “anti-gravity zone”. We had to do some experiment to prove if it’s real or just an illusion. Hmmmm… it’s for you to find out.

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Oha! By all means, have your most creative shots. Even up the pine trees. (This is a private property, but we walked in after not seeing any sign that trespassing is not allowed.)

Trek to the Waterfalls

Go to the waterfalls of Pulang-Tubig in Patag, Silay City. It would be best to hire a car going to Patag because the jeepneys trips are limited. It can take about an hour to drive from Bacolod to Silay, and the trek can take another 30-45 minutes. The reward is an ice-cold pool from the towering waterfall. Our guide, Mang Kulay, can take to more waterfalls in the area. Text him at 0907 353 9940. (Other gorgeous waterfalls in Negros Occidental are Mambukal in Murcia and Kipot Twin Falls in Bago City, which also has a sulfur river.)

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Before trekking, we dropped by a friend’s resthouse at Elena Resort in Patag. Nice place! (Huawei Mate S)

Pulang Tubig in Patag

Trekking to the falls in Patag. Easy trail, although it can take 45 minutes to an hour.

Pulang Tubig Falls

Pulang Tubig Falls in Patag is so named because during the war, when Japanese soldiers have been executed, the waterfalls turned bloody red. That’s according to Mang Kulay, our guide.

Party at Lakawon’s Floating Bar

Off the coast of Cadiz City is a 13-hectare banana shaped island along the Guimaras Strait. From Bacolod, you can drive to Cadiz for about one hour or a public bus (P80) at the North Terminal. From Cadiz, take a tricycle to the port (P20) and a boat ride to the island for another 30 minutes (P150 round trip). Feel the vibes of summer and party at Asia’s largest floating bar. Check their Facebook page for entrance fees and rentals of huts and cottages.

Facebook: Lakawon Island Resorts and Spa
Contact 0917 817 7769, 0917 555 6979

Lakawon Island

The white-sand beach of Lakawon Island (Photo by Kaye Lacio)

Lakawon Island Resort

Rent a cottage at the Lakawon Island Resort. (Photo by Amiel Hechanova)

Lakawon Floating Bar

The floating bar in Lakawon Island is the largest in Asia. Great place for party. (Photo by Clara Tan)

Visit the Organic Farms

Although more than200,000 hectares of land is devoted to sugarcane in this province, the industry has considerably slowed down for the past years. What’s quickly catching fire is organic agriculture and farm tourism. This year, the province already has more than 15,000 hectares dedicated to organic farming. These farms are worth visiting: May’s Organic Garden (Bacolod), Rapha Valley (DSB), Fresh Start Organic (Silay), Penalosa Farm (Victorias City), Guerrero Farm (Talisay), and Buro-Buro Herb Farm (Talisay).

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Fresh Start Organic Farm in Silay City. (Photo used with permission from Fresh Start)

Relearn the History of Negros

Rediscover how this province rose to power as the country’s sugar capital by visiting the museums and old mansions. In Bacolod, you can visit Daku Balay and the Negros Museum. In Silay, the usual stop is Balay Negrense, a museum that houses artifacts from the Gastons, one of the influential sugar barons of Negros in the late 19th Visit the Hofilena House and Jalandoni House. Some houses are not open for public viewing public you can take a photo of the exterior: Gamboa House, Locsin House, Yulo House, Golez House/RCBC Bank. Don’t miss the Hawaiian-Philippine Company, the oldest sugar factory in Silay, where you can see a steam engine (called The Dinosaur) and the processing of muscovado sugar. In Talisay, visit the Lizares House, Lacson House, and Balay ni Tana Dicang.

Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense in Silay City. (Photo by Mickoi Bondoc)

Fall in Love at The Ruins

Grab some sugarcane juice at the entrance of The Ruins, find a good seat on one of the benches, and spend the rest of the night marveling at this architecture. If you want to learn the story behind this structure, join the walking tour.

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The Ruins in Talisay City (Photo by Mickoi Bondoc)

Take a Snapshot of Mt Kanlaon

If you’re taking a bus to Cebu City and you’re leaving early morning, the Canlaon City route is the best. You’ll get a glimpse of Mt Kanlaon, the most active volcano in central Philippines.

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Mt Kanlaon, taken while on the bus. (Huawei Mate S)


WHERE TO EAT

There are plenty of food establishments in Bacolod we don’t even want to list all of them here. But here are the best picks and most recommended food stops.

Affordable Fine Dining

Negros Museum Café is a world-class restaurant beside the Negros Museum serves healthy, natural food from the farms of Negros. Chefs Guido and Gemma are passionate supporters of organic farming, they’re nonstop in cooking up creative dishes to prove that we can do so much more with local. Read more

Negros Museum, Gatuslao St., Bacolod City
Facebook: Negros Museum Cafe
Open Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 AM to 10 PM
Contact 0916 908 6641

Negros Museum Cafe

Aged local beef tenderloin, one of the must-eat dishes at Negros Museum Cafe. (Huawei Mate S)

Organic Lutong-Bahay

At P350, you can enjoy a buffet of the best homecooked food at May’s Garden. The menu changes daily, but they have a combination of vegetables, meat, and fish—all organic and fresh from their farms. You can also buy some piaya for pasalubong. Read more

Sitio Aning, Pahanocoy, Bacolod City
Facebook: May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant
Email: maysorganicgarden@gmail.com
Contact (034) 431 3800 / 0942 260 8422

Mays Garden

Homecooked food. And a good serving of fruit salad and fresh fruit shakes. (Huawei Mate S)

Lunch, Tapas, and Landscape

Reserve your table for a romantic dining experience at PUNONG, the sprawling hacienda of the Ledesmas in Silay. On Thursdays and Fridays, they serve tapas (appetizers) from 6 PM, and then lunch on weekends. It’s best to go before sunset to catch the best scenes around the hacienda. You might also get a chance to meet Joey Benin (Side A) or Clara Benin whose family runs this business. Read more

Hacienda Tinihaban, Silay City
Facebook: Punong Gary’s Place
Contact 0917 327 1729

Punong SIlay

Appetizers for a cozy Tapas Night at Punong. (Huawei Mate S)

The Ever Famous Chicken Inasal

Don’t miss the one food that made Bacolod a culinary legend: the chicken inasal, their version of barbecued chicken. Go to Manokan Country downtown and discover why chicken inasal has become a hit not only in Bacolod but the entire country.

Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal from Aida’s. They say you’ll forget all the other inasal you’ve eaten in the past.

Silay’s Cafes and Restaurants

Three names have been in many travel itineraries for years that you can already call them the classics of Silay. Opened in the 1920s, El Ideal Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Negros. It’s famous for guapple pies, cookies, and biscuits. Café 1925 is right next to El Ideal for rice meals, pasta, and sandwiches. Kapehan Sang Silay, the official coffeehouse of the town, has affordable coffee and local ricecakes like ibos and puto. If you want a modern café with Starbucks feels, we recommend Café Velo which serves very good coffee and pastries.

El Ideal Bakery Brgy. III, Rizal St, Silay City, (034) 495 4430 | Café 1925 J Ledesma St., Silay City, (034) 7147414 | Café Velo P. Ledesma St., Silay City, 0925 847 6301

Cafe Velo, a modern cafe in Silay City

Cafe Velo has the modern Stardbucks feels unlike the usual go-to cafes in Silay. (Huawei Mate S)

The Seafood Market

If Manila has dampa, Bacolod has its long-running pala-pala for a grand seafood feast. You can pick from the freshest catch of fish, shrimps, and shells and ask them to have it cooked for you. You decide how you want it—grilled, buttered, spicy—and they’ll serve it just as you wish. Make sure you go to the Old Pala-Pala Seafood Market for an authentic pala-pala experience.

Biscocho, Piaya, and Baked Goodies

Pick up a box of crunchy biscocho or piaya at Merzci. Drop by Pendy’s and take home some Napoleones. If you’re a die-hard cake lover, then go to Calea Bakeshop.

Merzci Bgy. Villamonte, Bacolod City, (034) 435 444 | Pendy’s Lacson St., Bacolod City, (034) 434 0269 |
Calea Across L’Fisher Hotel, Lacson St., Bacolod City, (034) 433 8664

biscocho

Crunchy biscocho goes well with coffee. (Huawei P9

piaya

Take home some piaya. This one was from May’s Garden. (Huawei Mate S)


WHERE TO STAY

Bacolod and its neighbor cities has plenty of accommodation options. Pick your game. Do you want to wake up in a tent by the beach, a farm, a posh hotel, or just a comfy bunk bed?

The Hostelry

Bacolod’s first hostel is also the best hostel in the city. It offers affordable beds ideal for backpackers and travelers on the go. With prices starting at P350 for a bed, great customer service, and a hip and modern ambiance, you’ll definitely love The Hostelry. Read more

Roli’s Arcade, La Salle Avenue
Facebook: The Hostelry
Email: thehostelrybcd@gmail.com
Contact 0928 987 6003, (034) 432 2663

Hostelry

Bunk beds for the budget traveler. (Huawei Mate S)

Palmas Del Mar

This hotel-resort has won many awards for the past years and is popular among celebrities who need a chic accommodation in Bacolod. It has big, well-design rooms, three swimming pools, and two jacuzzis. Its customer service also stands out, making you a VIP during your stay. Room rate starts at P1,950. Read more

JR Torres Avenue, Bacolod City
Facebook: Palmas Del Mar
Email: info@palmasdelmarresort.net
Contact (034) 433 3587 to 88

Palmas Del Mar

One of the stylish rooms of Palmas Del Mar. (Huawei Mate S)

Melba’s Farm

This is a relaxing acommodation in the middle of the woods. Without internet and aircon, Melba’s Farm lets you get close to nature, slow down, and enjoy quiet moments. Dip in the pool. Read a book. Enjoy the company of a loved one. The Mahogany Room is good for 2 guests, P2800 including breakfast. Read more

Bgy Cabatangan, Sitio Masanglad, Talisay City
Facebook: Melba’s Farm
Email: outdoorman@mac.com
Contact 0917 531 4403

Melbas Farm

A tranquil destination in Talisay City. (Huawei Mate S)

May’s Organic Garden

If you want a morning stroll in the garden right after you wake up and swim in the pool with friends and family, May’s is the recommended accommodation in Bacolod. You can reserve a room for a minimum of three guests at P1500 per guest. The rate includes breakfast and use of amenities including the pool. Read more

Sitio Aning, Pahanocoy, Bacolod City
Facebook: May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant
Email: maysorganicgarden@gmail.com
Contact (034) 431 3800 / 0942 260 8422

Mays Garden

May’s Garden offers accommodation for groups. (Photo Credit: Ken Eliserio)

Punong Gary’s Place

Its name literally means fish pond, the main attraction in this sprawling hacienda in Silay. Stay in a luxurious villa and enjoy the beautiful landscape and artworks of renowned architect Ed Ledesma. Read more

Hacienda Tinihaban, Silay City
Facebook: Punong Gary’s Place
Contact 0917 327 1729

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Karmele found a new friend in George, the resident dog at Punong.

Punong Silay

One of the posh villas of Punong designed by Ed Ledesma. (Huawei Mate S)


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ArisMape

ArisMape is a travel insider at ABS-CBN's Choose Philippines. He loves orange, halo-halo, and PowerPoint, and hates beef, slow internet, and long taxi lines. His pastime is watching people watch other people. He swears on the power of smartphone. His half-life? Thirty.