Have you ever dreamed of a white sand Christmas? Snow can be fun but spending Christmas on a white sand beach will be a lot nicer, wouldn’t it? There’s plethora of Christmas destinations in the Philippines that can provide a one-of-a-kind experience this season.
The Philippines gets plenty of sunshine year-round which means there’s plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. Places like Boracay Island, El Nido, Zambales, Siargao and Cebu are great destinations if you’d like to spend time on the beach. Manila provides a cosmopolitan vibe for those who like parties and ultra-modern amenities. Baguio, Davao, Iloilo and Bohol will provide you a provincial Christmas experience.
Here’s a list of exciting destinations you can visit in the Philippines during the holiday season.
The capital city is teeming with Christmas hotspots that offer food, entertainment, shopping and generally a wonderful time. Manila boasts of a great number of shopping centers both bargain and high-end. Malls in the Philippines setup grandiose Christmas installations complete with giant Christmas trees decked with lights and themed decor. Performances also make the season even more festive in these malls.
The University of Sto. Tomas, the oldest university in the country, holds the annual month-long Paskuhan. UST showcases the local culture through food, pyromusical shows, performances and bazaars. To top it all off, Thomasians light up a giant Christmas tree.
Policarpio Street in Mandaluyong comes alive with spectacular Christmas displays outside of homes. The quiet street becomes an instant go-to for locals and tourists who want an overdose of the Christmas spirit.
The Queen City of the South has all the fixins for a wonderful holiday. As a result, Cebu is one of the most popular Christmas destinations in the Philippines. Metro Cebu offers a mix of old-world vibe and contemporary conveniences. Hear Simbang Gabi at the Sto. Nino Basilica and proceed to Colon for local delicacies. Meanwhile, miracles happen when you pray at the Castle Church of Simala.
The twin islands of Bantayan and Malapascua in the northern end of Cebu provides a remote beach getaway. If you’re looking for a fun-filled adventure, Anjo World Theme Park can provide just that. Complete with a snow attraction, grand carousel, spinning roller coaster and a 160-foot giant ferris wheel, it is Cebu’s first world-class theme park. Stay a little longer after Christmas to witness Sinulog, one of the biggest festivals in the country.
Davao City offers a different experience for the Christmas season. With the firecracker ban in place for more than two decades, Christmas in Davao City is one-of-a-kind. The city holds the annual Pasko Fiesta, transforming the area around City Hall into a spectacle of 3D lights, weekend performances, rides and full-blown Christmas decorations. If you’re looking for a Instagram-worthy spot for epic photos, the Christmas Village in Prayer Mountain, Tamayong will certainly deliver.
Head up north to Tagum City for the lighting of the tallest Christmas tree in the Philippines to date. While there, you can secure a day trip to Banana Beach Resort, the only beach resort situated within a banana plantation. Tagum also offers some of the best seafood in the region.
Chilly BuDa (Bukidnon-Davao) offers pine-laced air and cozy log houses complete with fireplaces. In the morning, wake up to a sea of clouds and head off for some strawberry picking in one of the farms. If you’re not up for the long road trip, Eden Nature Park offers the same ambiance.
This coastal college town known as the City of Gentle People affords its guests a provincial Christmas experience. Dumaguete exudes a charm that only small towns offer. Visit Silliman University, the oldest American-founded university in Asia and meet some of the brightest students in the country. The small cafes and restaurants around the university exude a youthful vibe and offer both local and international fare.
Soak in the local’s merry spirit while sitting idly in Rizal Boulevard. The place comes alive as night approaches and hawkers start peddling food and trinkets. Dumaguete also boasts of the Manjuyod Sandbar, known as the Maldives of the Philippines and a one-of-a-kind encounter with dolphins.
Baguio is perfect for those who’d like the chilly holiday breeze without the bitter cold. The pine-laced air of Baguio, the laid-back vibe and the local festive spirit makes it one of the best Christmas destinations in the Philippines. Stay in one of the many pine lodges in the city and take a day trip to the Banawe Rice Terraces. The ancient terraces have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s a wonder to behold.
The summer capital of the Philippines is high up in the Cordilleras so don’t be surprised to wake up to fog and possibly a sea of clouds. Nearby Sagada is a popular destination for those who want to commune with nature. While you’re there, get a traditional tattoo by the legendary Whang-od or one of her descendants. Take ibuprofen with you – it’s going to be painful!
Another cold destination for Christmas in the Philippines is just south of Manila. Tagaytay sits atop a hilly terrain overlooking Taal Volcano and Lake. This beautiful city is a popular weekend getaway for both locals and tourists. Tagaytay offers a wide range of adventures — the local cuisine is fantastic, the coffee is great and the scenery is simply breathtaking.
Tagaytay is home to a good number of health spas and world-class resorts to cater to all needs and preferences. Local celebrities frequent this city for weekend retreats so don’t be surprised to encounter fans tailing someone at the mall. Timeshare properties are available around the area.
Ultra-popular Boracay Island recently had a major makeover and it’s more beautiful than ever. The island offers a unique Christmas destination in the Philippines — a white Christmas sans the snow. Named as one of the best beaches in the world, Boracay welcomes tens of thousands of visitors annually. The long stretch of white sand beach is a playground for all walks of life. The gentle waves and soft sand provides a safe swimming spot for kids and the crystal clear waters offer a great snorkeling for adults.
The island offers a wide range of accommodations to fit every budget. From five star Shangri-La with its own private beach to simple huts in Station 3, there’s a place for everyone to stay.
Parties abound anywhere on the island so just take your pick. Hear Simbang Gabi at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Station 1 and shop for presents and souvenirs at D’Mall or D’Talipapa. During a particularly windy way, you can kite-surf at Bolabog beach and on sunny afternoons, sunbathe in peace at Puka Beach. For expansive views of the island, head to the top of Mt. Luho — the highest point on the island.
There are a lot more Christmas destinations in the Philippines that can make your holidays extra special. What’s more beautiful is that these destinations are open year-round. You may visit these places anytime and find that there’s always something exciting to do.