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Sidetrips from City of Smiles, Bacolod

) Katrina Gadong |

Imagine this: You are in Bacolod City during Masskara season and have partied hard with the warm and welcoming Ilonggos. You probably already stuffed yourself silly with chicken inasal followed by sugar-filled cakes and pastries. You took a tour of every beautiful heritage house possible. The high from such a fun-filled weekend simmered down and now you are ready for your next adventure.

There is no better time to escape to the neighboring towns of the City of Smiles. These places will offer you a chance to relax and unwind given not only their sweeping natural views but also their fresh breeze as well as their peace and quiet—with the occasional chirping of birds in chorus, if you don't mind. Here are suggested sidetrips you can take from Bacolod City. But whether you stay for a day or a week is completely up to you.

Photo by the author

Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia
A thirty-minute to forty-five-minute drive by private car away from the city, Mambukal is a sight to behold and experience. Lying 1,200 feet above sea level, it boasts of cascading waterfalls (seven in total), sulfur hot springs, and warm dipping pools, all while surrounded by nature. Villas, cottages, lodges, and camp site tents can be rented out should you wish to spend the night. Daytrippers, on the other hand, can avail of their picnic huts and even the swimming pools. Other special features of the resort include a butterfly sanctuary, a flying fox sanctuary, and a boating lagoon. Come by and see for yourself!

Photo by the author

Don Salvador Benedicto
Long and winding roads lead to such a beautiful paradise an hour and a half away from Bacolod. The town of Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB) is dubbed as the “Little Baguio” of Negros Occidental because of its cool climate and lush, towering pine trees. You know you have arrived in DSB once you have spotted its most known landmark: Lion statue and view deck overlooking mountains, with the rice terraces, as well as a river. Drive further and you have an unobstructed view of Mt. Kanlaon, the most active volcano in the Central Philippines. You may also trek and cross the river to Maglahos River Tunnel or trek to Malatan-og Falls. While there are only limited restaurants, resorts, and retreat houses for guests to dine and stay at, the place is still worth the visit.

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Punong Gary's Place in Silay
Tucked in the middle of a lush farmland bound by fish ponds is the blissful hideaway called Punong Gary's Place, accessed through a fifteen-minute drive from Silay Airport. While making your way to this secret spot, a gorgeous mango orchard greets you and will guide you to the main area. Opening the front doors mean entering a seemingly whole new world with its Balinese-inspired design oozing with rustic feel, complimenting the tasteful mix of wood and concrete evident in their casitas. In addition to the big old trees of narra, coconut, mahogany, lunok (a mangrove variety), rubber and bamboo are the wonderful art pieces carefully curated in the space. Aside from its magical ambiance, Punong Gary's Place is famous for their culinary treat—serving Asian fusion comfort food with a gourmet flair. Prior reservation required. You really would not want to miss this!

*Bacolod City, the City of Smiles and the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, would leave you breathtakingly amazed even as your plane lands on rich sugarcane fields or dock from the sea. It is very cosmopolitan yet retains its laidback feel. If you feel like settling down in Bacolod, PropertyAccess can help you land the best deals.