Christmas Destinations in the Philippines: Top 7 Spots to Visit and Feel the Holiday Season
The Philippines is known for having the longest holiday season in the world. The holidays serve as our time to get a few days off from work, spend time with friends and family, and go to places on our bucket list to have a fun vacation. The next time you plan on having a vacation, you may want to consider these seven Christmas destinations in the Philippines worth visiting for the holidays.
San Fernando, Pampanga
Known as the Christmas Lantern (Parol) Capital of the Philippines, San Fernando is a haven for tourists during the holiday season. Lanterns of differing shapes, sizes, designs, and materials adorn the city streets, where tourists and locals alike enjoy watching, especially at night. Ligligan Parul, the largest lantern festival and the only one in the country featuring giant lanterns, is a local holiday occasion. People from other places and countries witness and appreciate the lanterns painstakingly created by the local Kapampangan lantern makers. While you are there, you might want to enjoy local Kapampangan delicacies while strolling around the city, adorned with brightly colored lanterns and Christmas lights.
Tangub City, Misamis Occidental
The silent city in the north of Mindanao has a month-long celebration rivaling that of San Fernando’s Ligligan Parul. But it’s not just the lanterns at play here – replicas of famous landmarks and tourist attractions worldwide illuminated with Christmas lights are featured here, in a festival called the Christmas Symbol Festival. It has been a popular attraction in the area that the Department of Tourism awarded Tangub City the distinction of being the Christmas Symbol Capital of the Philippines in 2007. Tourists enjoy the “San Fernando, Pampanga of the South” because of the well-lit replicas of famous tourist attractions. Tangub is easily accessible from Manila. It takes an hour and a half to get from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, and from there, a couple more hours to get to Tangub. The tourist traffic is still at a moderate level so you can still enjoy the view without overcrowding.
SM Mall of Asia
Can’t leave the Metro for any reason? Don’t worry. We got you covered. The Mall of Asia hosts the annual Grand Festival of Lights Parade. This is where tourists can feast their eyes on a wide array of lanterns, light fixtures, and anything that requires a bulb. In addition to that, the mall also has activities lined up annually, plus the views are Instagrammable. Visit their Lakbay Museo for a genuine interactive trip to the country, complete with food samplers of dishes from different areas. If you have a sweet tooth, then the Desert Museum is for you! The displays are worth visiting, plus you get a chance to get a photo-op with what appears to be real food! (The exhibits aren’t edible for those who are curious.)
Enjoy your Christmas – or Pascua, as Spaniards would call it – by traveling back in time to Vigan! The city’s Hispanic architecture is so well-preserved that UNESCO declared the city as one of a few selected places in the world considered Heritage Sites. When you visit the city, you’ll be charmed by the horse-drawn carriages that traverse the famous Calle Crisologo. You can also see their ages-old church and square, unchanged over the centuries.
You can opt to eat at your favorite fast-food chain, old-school-style (because of the restaurants’ Hispanic designs). For an authentic feel, sit at one of the city’s stalls where they serve their piping-hot Vigan Empanada, complete with Sukang Iloko. The hot empanada goes well with the chilly holiday weather, lanterns in the lamp posts, and a sense of Spanish nostalgia.
We know that there isn’t any snow in the Philippines. In Baguio, though, the “Summer Capital” of the Philippines, you can have the chance to feel something close to winter with their chilly weather. It can be reached by plane, but road trips are far better – it’s worth the ride trekking Kennon Road. You can shop for souvenirs on another road, Session Road, or you can choose to visit specialty shops selling jams, clothes, and even fresh produce. If you have the time, hurry to La Trinidad, where you can harvest strawberries and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the season!
Want to have that quality out-of-town vacation a stone’s throw away from the busy streets of Manila? Tagaytay might just be that place. It is a two-hour ride from the Metro, and you would not spend too much on travel expenses since it’s nearby. Spend your Christmas holidays at the viewing deck of the Taal Volcano at the Picnic Grove, where you can see the spectacular view of the volcano within a lake within a volcano (or so they say). Enjoy the trek near the actual volcano on foot or on horseback. Have the fun of the season by trying out the rides at the Sky Ranch with your friends and family. If you’re hungry, just sit down and enjoy that umami taste of their famous bulalo, perfect for the cold season in the area.
Christmas is known for things sweet and warm. If you feel the same way, Bacolod might just be your place. Located in the heart of Visayas, you might be surprised that there is a Little Baguio in the area. That place is Don Salvador Benedicto, whose elevation and temperature are second to Baguio’s. Experience the Negrense Hiligaynon tradition by enjoying their butterscotch cakes and goodies, perfect for holiday snacking or as a gift to colleagues at work and wishing to have a taste of Vigan and Baguio? Bacolod has both – you may visit historical sites such as Balay Negrense and The Ruins or enjoy the cool breeze at Jomax Peak.
These are the seven places worth visiting for a quick holiday trip. No destination is as fun as spending it with friends, family, and people we care for – so make sure to book that trip with them!