See the city that will get you your fill of ruins, magnanimous waterfalls, and the biggest floating bar in Asia.

Bacolod City, known as the City of Smiles, is a name bestowed upon the city thanks to its lively MassKara Festival, which came about after the people of Bacolod suffered an economic downturn and the loss of hundreds of lives at sea. It’s a perfectly good reason to visit the city, but that only happens every October.

Another reason why people flock to Bacolod is its contribution to Philippine cuisine: the delicious, mouth-watering chicken inasal, i.e. their unique take on grilled chicken. These are best eaten from the many stalls at the province’s Manokan Country.

A Bacolod itinerary, beyond MassKara or eating chicken inasal, for you:

Visit the “Taj Mahal of Negros”

It’s not that far from Bacolod City, and you get to know more about the city’s history in the process. Photo by Patricia Cordova

The Ruins doesn’t quite look like the Taj Mahal in India, but the reason why it stands is exactly the same: a symbol of love. It’s the remnants of the ancestral home of one Don Mariano Lacson, and he had it made for the love of his life: Maria Braganza. It’s located in the city of Talisay, roughly 15 minutes from Bacolod, right in the middle of a sugar plantation. It’s a sight to behold during the day, but it shines its brightest when the sun goes down.

Pro tip: look for a glass table outside the mansion. Place your camera on top of it, focus on The Ruins, and voila: instant “water” reflection photo. Also, ask for Kuya Roger (or Ate, if you wish) to be your guide. He’s truly a bundle of laughs.

Hang out at Capitol Park and the New Government Center

Parks in provinces aren’t the same as those in Metro Manila. They’re true town centers, much like Capitol Park at Bacolod City.

Located right behind the Provincial Capitol Building, Capitol Park is a vast patch of green smack dab in the middle of the city. People hang out here all day long, and it’s a great place to people watch. You can opt to stay here until sunset (great place for sunset photos!) or swing by the New Government Center not to check in with the mayor, but to enjoy the night without breaking the bank.

Museum hop

balay-negrense-room
If you’re not fond of museums in Bacolod, you can go to this one in Silay: Balay Negrense.

Every city might have a museum or two, but not Bacolod where the city center alone has four museums (Negros Museum, Museo Negrense de La Salle, Vintage Glasses Museum, and the Dizon-Ramos Museum). A quick trip to Silay and you’ll be given access to Balay Negrense, the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum (a.k.a. Pink House), and a whole host more. The City of Silay in itself is a live museum, with heritage houses left and right.

Spend a day (or night) at Lakawon Island

It’s technically not in Bacolod, but Lakawon, an island resort, about 15 minutes off the coast of Cadiz, is a destination in Negros that you should not miss.

Lakawon has white sand beaches, numerous spots for the Gram, good eats, tons of activities, and a floating bar that’s dubbed as the biggest in Asia—hence the spend-a-night suggestion.

Hike to see the Seven Waterfalls of Mambukal

Mambukal’s seven waterfalls are somewhat a favorite of those who visit Bacolod, even though it’s not within city limits. It’s a one-hour drive from Bacolod to the town of Murcia where the government-run Mambukal Resort lies. The drive is well worth taking.

Mambukal Falls No.2
One of seven waterfalls in Mambukal. Photo by Rawen Balmaña

The set of seven cascading falls are a sight to behold, and the seventh welcomes all those who would dare bathe in its cool waters. Make sure you try the canopy walk and other activities at the resort if you are a thrill-seeking adventurer. Either that or you can simply relax at Mambukal’s hot springs.

You can pretty much fit all five of these in a two- to three-night stay in Bacolod, with plenty of time to eat as much inasal as you want.