Here’s a DIY, 3D/2N itinerary for Bacolod City- The City of Smiles.
This is the second article I wrote for SMILE, the in-flight magazine of Cebu Pacific Air, February-March 2012 issue.
The shoestring traveler: James Betia
“Traveling on the cheap can be fun if you see it as a challenge.”
Discover Bacolod in 72 hours for less than PHP3,000.
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As soon as I arrived at the Silay-Bacolod Airport, I rode the tricycle to Silay City (PHP10), about 14km north of Bacolod and 15 minutes away from the airport. Silay City boasts a well-preserved heritage, and the history buff in me was happy to see all the ancestral houses. After all, it used to be the cultural and intellectual hub of Negros province.
To begin my walking tour, I got hold of a tourist map from the DOT office in the city hall. I trekked to Rizal St. (National Road) then turned right towards Ledesma St., making quick stopovers at old houses until I reached the Cinco de Noviembre marker. It is an old pharmacy where the Negrense patriots secretly planned a successful revolt against the Spanish in 1898.
I also made sure to drop by Balay Negrense, a huge 12-bedroom ancestral house built by Don Victor Gaston in 1898, and the Hofilena Ancestral House along Cinco de Noviembre St., which carries artworks by Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Jose Rizal.
At Zamora St. is the San Diego Cathedral, where I learned that the dome was designed by an Italian architect and is similar to that of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Then I ended up at the white-washed Maria Golez Ancestral House with the RCBC Bank.
From Silay, I hailed a tricycle to the next city (PHP50), Talisay, to visit the Ruins. The Neo-Roman grand mansion is stunning, even if it’s just a skeleton of what it once was — it burned during the US-Japan war. The reason for its construction is interesting too: Don Mariano Lacson, a sugar baron, gave it as a gift to the love of his life, Maria Braga — a Portuguese he met in Macau. The compound is large, and even has a petite golf course for kids, gardens and a fountain.
By this time I was feeling hungry, so I ordered something from the café inside the Ruins (PHP150) — a perfect way to cap my heritage tour.
And so I headed to Bacolod City to get some rest (PHP50). I checked in at Sweet City CapTel (PHP100 a night for a dorm room) as it’s the cheapest that I know of, and it’s just behind the Negros Occidental Capitol. I refreshed myself and took a nap.
Ready to explore more, I walked my way to one of the most beautiful capitols in the country: the Negros Occidental Capitol. Designed by Juan Arellano, it was declared a national historic landmark in 2004. The six white columns in front are just monumental! There’s also a man-made lagoon and plaza opposite, where the locals go after work.
It’s the place to see Bacolodnons smiling, saying “hi” or “maayong hapon” (good afternoon). Interesting sculptures like the Paghimud-os and The Man & The Beast can be found at the park too.
For dinner, I headed over to the wet market at Old Pala-Pala to buy seafood for cooking at my favorite restaurant, Hyksos Tulahan. You can ask them to cook any dish, but I would suggest the buttered shrimps, spicy adobong pusit and sizzling blue marlin. I ate with three other friends, which brought our dinner total to PHP700.
Shoestring budget for Day 1
All packed, I headed towards the government-managed Mambukal Resort. Located at the foothills of Mt. Kanlaon, it is famous for the Seven Waterfalls inside it. But before that, I needed to satisfy my soup craving. Today I decided to sip hot batchoy for breakfast. I took the tricycle to the Super Batchoy Public Market (PHP10) and ordered the special batchoy and bread for only PHP70. I hate to say it, but this sure is better than the ones I tried in Iloilo City.
I went to Libertad Terminal and boarded the minibus going to Mambukal (PHP50). The road trip was scenic, the Kanlaon mountain ranges the perfect backdrop to the wide array of sugarcane fields. Oh, what a refreshing sight. It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
After the 45-minute trip, I entered Mambukal Resort (PHP30). Tucked inside the forest, I felt right at home and the nature lover in me was jumping for joy. I rented the ordinary tourist lodge for PHP600.
I proceeded right away to the waterfalls. It is a somewhat easy trek as there are trails leading from one falls to the next. Just be careful especially during the rainy season. If you are afraid to get lost, you can hire a guide for PHP150; but I went there on my own and reached the seventh waterfalls after an hour and a half. I took a quick and refreshing dip before I went back to the resort.
I ordered lunch in one of the resort’s many concessionaires. Don’t worry about the food — Negrense cuisine happens to be one of the best in the country. I ordered chickeninasal (char-grilled chicken) for PHP80.
I was so full that I went inside my room to lay my head. This is a vacation so I wanted to relax, and relax some more. But I remembered seeing a dipping pool on my way to the waterfalls, so I returned and paid an entrance fee of PHP50. It was steamy and inviting — a natural hot spring from Kanlaon volcano. They say that the natural minerals are good for the skin. To make the experience extra special, I paid PHP300 for a good massage at the Blade Spa beside the pool.
I enjoyed another sumptuous dinner at the cafeteria (PHP65). Glad I met two backpackers, so we had a chat over some booze (PHP70). It was getting late so we called it a night. And by 9pm, it’s really dark in the forest. The sounds of the crickets and bugs added to the “camp” feel. I just love it!
Shoestring budget for Day 2
I woke up early and prepared my stuff, as I wanted to return to Bacolod City as early as possible (PHP50). I grabbed some bread (PHP25) at the store and hurried outside, where buses to the city were parked. I asked the conductor if I can “topload” (where you go to the roof of the bus to enjoy the scenery better) and he said okay. I don’t recommend it if you are afraid of heights. By 8.30am I was already in downtown Bacolod.
That day I went shopping and food-tripping. I entered ANP Showroom at Lacson St. to buy some pasalubong for friends (PHP250). I was kinda hungry by 10am, so I went to Calea (which airport gate. I was happy because I was going back home, and sad because I would leave the City of Smiles. So to somehow feel better, I bought somepiaya, napoleones and barquillos at Bong-Bong’s Pasalubong just inside the airport compound (PHP500). I wanted to bring the sweetness of Bacolod back home… and maybe munch on some piaya on board.
Shoestring budget for Day 3
TOTAL FOR THREE DAYS
Need more infos? Here’s some of the Bacolod-related post:
- Touchdown at Silay-Bacolod
- Naked at Mambukal Resort
- Inasal at Bacolod
- One More Rice, Make it Two! Foodtrip at Pala-Pala Bacolod City