Philippines in December Travel Guide: Where to Go, Weather, Celebrations & Activities

Philippines in December Travel Guide: Where to Go, Weather, Celebrations & Activities

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Baguio view at night and Imus CathedralThe Philippines is home to over 7,600 islands, and this, coupled with the warm climate, makes it a perfect destination for a tropical getaway. Because of the unique Philippine geography, you’ll find islands, beaches, falls, lagoons, and coves across the archipelago.

December may not be the warmest month in the country, but it is still considered one of the peak travel seasons in the country because of the Christmas season in the Philippines. While the nights are colder in the Philippines in December, the weather is generally warm as it is part of the dry season. You may still encounter some rain during this time, but not as often as the wet period.  

There are plenty of things to do in the Philippines in December. Two of the most popular places to go in the Philippines in December are Baguio and Tagaytay, where locals flock to enjoy the cool weather. If you want to enjoy warmer temperatures, you can visit the beaches and islands of Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, and Bohol. If you want to see how locals celebrate Christmas, you can explore Manila and its nearby provinces like Cavite, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Just note that traveling during this time may be more expensive as hotel bookings in the Philippines have higher rates because of the peak season. Flights to the Philippines are also usually more expensive in December. This is especially true for days before and after Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

If you’re planning to travel to the Philippines in December, read this guide for a hassle-free experience.

Philippines Weather in December 

Bukidnon MountainsDecember falls early in the dry season in the Philippines, so while it is generally warm, you can still expect some rain during this month, but not as much as during the rainy season. One or two tropical cyclones may enter the country during this period.

Is December rainy season in the Philippines?

No. While it may rain on some days, December is typically dry for the most part, and on average, the country experiences an average of 21 days without or with very little rainfall.

Philippines Temperature in December

The temperature in the Philippines in December depends on where you are in the country. If you are staying in the National Capital Region, including Manila, you may experience temperatures as low as 20.1°C (68.18°F) and as high as 34.7°C (94.46°F).

For the rest of Luzon, the temperature can range from 11.5 °C (52.7°F) to 35.8°C (96.44°F). In the Visayas, the temperature can dip as low as 20.5 °C (68.9°F) and reach as high as 35 °C (95°F). Finally, in Mindanao, you can expect temperatures to go from 14 °C (57.2°F) to 36.3 °C (97.34°F).

Remember that these are just temperature ranges, and most of the time, the actual temperature will fall somewhere in the middle.

What to Wear when Visiting the Philippines in December? 

Mines View Park BaguioIn the Philippines, It is typically warm during the mornings and afternoons during December, so make sure you bring light clothes. While it can get cooler at night, a light sweater or jacket will be enough to keep you warm. You may still encounter days with rainfall, so it’s still recommended to always bring an umbrella with you.

If you are planning to try water activities like swimming, island-hopping, and canyoneering, don’t forget to pack swimwear and aqua shoes if you have them.

Where to Go in the Philippines and Best Activities in December 

If you are visiting the country to explore Christmas tourist spots in the Philippines, you have plenty of options, including some in Metro Manila. But if you just want to soak up the sun, you can do so when you visit some of the top beach destinations in the Philippines.

Enjoy Baguio’s cool weather and Christmas Village

Baguio Christmas VillagePhoto from Baguio Country Club Christmas Village

During the dry season, Baguio City is a favorite spot for those looking to escape the hot weather in cities, as it is easily accessible from Metro Manila via a road trip and from the Visayas via a short flight from Cebu going to Loakan Airport

When you visit the city during December, you can enjoy the cool weather and visit outdoor Baguio tourist spots without worrying much about rain. You can also visit the Baguio Country Club Christmas Village, which, apart from featuring Christmas displays, also features various events and activities that you can enjoy, like a nativity pageant and a snow show.

See Pampanga’s Giant Christmas Lanterns

Lanterns in PampangaSan Fernando, Pampanga is generally considered the best place to go in December in the Philippines. The province is officially recognized as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines thanks to the colorful Christmas lanterns (called parol) that are made here. 

Tourists also flock to the city to witness the Giant Lantern Festival (also known as Ligligan Parul), which happens every December. During the event, different barangays show off their best Christmas lanterns to compete for the accolade of being the best parol maker in San Fernando.

Go on a staycation in Tagaytay

Tagaytay view from a hotelIf you are coming from Metro Manila and want a quick staycation, booking a stay at hotels in Tagaytay is one of your best options as it is easily accessible from the capital region via a land trip. While not as cold as Baguio, Tagaytay also enjoys cooler weather compared to other cities in the Philippines. 

It also offers breathtaking views of the Taal Volcano and the Taal Lake. There are plenty of other tourist spots in Tagaytay, including Sky Ranch and People’s Park in the Sky, so it’s best to stay here for at least one night. You won’t run out of options for where to stay in Tagaytay, and there are numerous Tagaytay restaurants you can dine at as well. 

Watch Makati’s Christmas lights show at Ayala Triangle

Ayala Triangle GardenThose who will spend their time in Manila in December should definitely check out the Ayala Triangle’s Festival of Lights in Makati. The festival features several lights and sounds shows, which usually have varying themes. It usually includes a medley of traditional Christmas songs as well as a modern theme, which in 2023 will be K-pop songs. 

This annual holiday tradition usually starts in November and continues past the New Year. Apart from the show, the festival also usually features other activities, such as a holiday concert and a choral competition. Book Makati hotels for your staycation if you want to stay near this popular Christmas attraction. 

Visit Boracay’s white sand beaches

White Beach Boracay

If you’re not too fussed about crowds, you can visit Boracay in December. Since it is the peak season, expect to be with plenty of other tourists. Nevertheless, the island is stunning any time of the year, so you can still expect a memorable holiday.

Boracay is home to some of the best Philippine beaches, including the popular White Beach, which is widely considered one of the top Visayas tourist spots. Other quieter options on the island include Puka Beach, Bulabog Beach, and Diniwid Beach.

Relax in Palawan’s islands

Nacpan BeachSome of the top tourist spots in Luzon can be found in Palawan, and apart from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Puerto Princesa Underground River, the province is known for its stunning natural attractions, including some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines

Visiting Palawan in December will allow you to experience island-hopping in the Philippines without it being too hot. There are many Philippine island-hopping tours you can join in  El Nido, Puerto Princesa, Coron, and San Vicente

Go on a family trip to Bohol

Bohol Chocolate HillsOne of the best places to visit in December with the family in the Philippines is Bohol. There’s a variety of things to do and places to visit in the province, and vacationing in Bohol in December is the perfect bonding experience. You can visit popular attractions like the Chocolate Hills, the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, and the Bilar Man-Made Forest when you book Bohol countryside tours.

For a laid-back time, make sure to book a tour that comes with a Loboc River cruise. After touring, you can spend the rest of your time relaxing on some of the best white-sand beaches in the Philippines.

Watch the Manila fireworks from Antipolo

Antipolo, Rizal is popular thanks to its overlooking views of the Metro Manila skyline. This makes it the perfect vantage point for the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Some hotels and resorts in Antipolo offer overlooking views, but you can also try your luck at restaurants and cafés in Antipolo

Just make sure to reserve your table in advance, as restaurants in Antipolo tend to fill up pretty quickly during this period. While you’re here, take some time to explore other Antipolo tourist spots like the Pinto Art Museum and the Antipolo Cathedral.

Explore Cebu’s beaches and try outdoor activities

Cebu canyoneeringThere are many things you can do in Cebu in December, as it is home to some of the best diving spots in the Philippines, as well as one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines. Adventure-seekers can join Cebu canyoneering tours in Kawasan Falls (just make sure to check the weather forecast, as heavy rains may lead to the closure of the falls). 

For a more laid-back outdoor trip, you can join Oslob whale shark-watching tours or Moalboal island-hopping tours, where you can witness the majestic sardine run. Of course, you can also just relax on the many Cebu beaches, including White Beach in Moalboal and Kota Beach in Bantayan Island, which is considered one of the top Cebu tourist spots.

Enjoy Christmas food at Cavite churches and historical landmarks

Imus Cathedral If you’re seeking cultural activities in the Philippines, you can take a trip to Cavite. All across the Philippines, Simbang Gabi happens from December 16 to 24. These masses happen as early as 3 AM, and church-goers fill their tummies afterward with traditional Filipino Christmas food like local rice cakes called bibingka and puto bumbong being sold outside the churches. In Cavite, this tradition is still alive, and it is well worth it to wake up early in the morning for these delicacies. 

While you’re here, you can visit other historical landmarks and tourist spots in Cavite, like the Imus Cathedral and the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum.

Visit Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental​

Don Salvador BenedictoIf you want to stay in the Visayas but still experience scenery similar to that of Baguio, you can explore Don Salvador Benedicto, a municipality located in the mountains of Negros Occidental. Similar to the popular city in Luzon, Don Salvador Benedicto offers stunning mountain views and cool weather. In fact, it has been nicknamed by some as The Summer Capital of Negros Occidental. 

While here, you can trek to Mayana Peak and the Malatan-Og Falls or just chill and surround yourself with nature in the pinewood forest. A trip from Bacolod City to Don Salvador Benedicto will take roughly 90 minutes by car, so you can visit both destinations while in Negros Occidental.

December Celebrations and Events in the Philippines

Makati ChristmasIn December, most of the Philippines is in full Christmas mood, so expect to encounter celebrations everywhere, especially since Christmas is one of the biggest Philippine holidays

Holiday decorations, Christmas bazaars, Christmas concerts, and other festive events and activities will be in abundance, so you can also expect a lot of people to be out and about during this period. Here are some notable events you should consider participating in: 

Christmas in Baguio

Baguio City just transforms during the Christmas season. Apart from the famous Baguio Country Club Christmas Village, other hotels and establishments also have their own Christmas displays, and coupled with the cool weather, these can instantly get anyone into the Christmas spirit.

Giant Lantern Philippine Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga

PH LanternsNothing represents a Filipino Christmas more than a parol, and in San Fernando, Pampanga, these Christmas lanterns take center stage in the form of a festival. Only the best parol makers compete in the Giant Lantern Festival, so expect a stunning display of craftsmanship.

Christmas Symbols Festival in Tangub City

Tangub Symbols FestivalPhoto by Tangub Government website

Tangub City in Misamis Occidental has been celebrating the Christmas Symbols Festival since 1992. During December, the whole city is decorated with larger-than-life illuminated Christmas decor, including Christmas trees, stars, and nativity scenes. The public plaza usually has the biggest and grandest decorations, even featuring other non-Christmas displays.

Local holidays

On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, most of the country is on holiday, so apart from the celebrations, note that some establishments may be closed, and some services, including Philippine guided tours, may be unavailable during these days. December 8 is also a holiday, as most Filipinos celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Tips when Traveling to the Philippines in December 

SagadaEnsure a seamless vacation in the Philippines in December with these travel tips:

Crowds in December

Christmas is the biggest holiday in the Philippines, so expect large crowds wherever you go, but especially around malls and commercial districts. Tourist spots also tend to be crowded, as locals take advantage of the Christmas break to travel or go to their home provinces to see their families. Expect even more people when Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve create long weekends. 

Driving in the Philippines

DrivingSince many Filipinos are out doing Christmas shopping and preparing for Christmas celebrations, the traffic in the Philippines in December is usually heavy, especially in big cities like Metro Manila and Cebu City and in tourist destinations in the provinces. If you don’t plan your route carefully, you could be stuck in holiday traffic for hours. If you absolutely must travel by land, it is best to book a Philippine car rental to save you from stress.

Prepare for travel delays

With many people traveling within and in and out of the Philippines in December, there are usually longer lines in airports, seaports, and other transportation hubs, so make sure you have a flexible itinerary in case there are delays. If you are flying out of the country in December, it is recommended that you book Philippine airport transfers, as it is difficult to get taxis during the month.

Recommended Philippines travel itineraries in December

Fort Santiago IntramurosThere are many places to visit and things to do in the Philippines in December, and the perfect itinerary depends on your personal preferences. To ensure that your trip is smooth sailing, you can book Philippines itinerary holiday packages that already come with accommodations, transportation, and tours.

If you want to spend two weeks in Baguio and North Luzon, you can book this 14-day Philippine tour package that will bring you to Mount Pinatubo, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Vigan, Ilocos Norte, Sagada, Banaue, and Baguio. Apart from exploring the outdoor attractions of these destinations, you will also be visiting historical and cultural sites during your tours. You also have other options when it comes to 2-week Philippine holiday packages.

Those who want to surround themselves with the natural wonders of Palawan can book this 13-day Palawan beaches and islands package. This tour package will allow you to visit and explore the famous islands, lagoons, and beaches of El Nido, San Vicente, and Coron. You’ll even get to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.

If you want to visit Palawan along with Boracay and Cebu, you should check out this 10-day Cebu to Boracay to El Nido tour package. This package will take you to the islands of Cebu, the white beaches of Boracay, and the stunning Lagoons of El Nido. You can also check out other 10-day Philippine tours.

For those who only have a week to explore the Philippines, you can book this 1-week Siargao to Cebu and Boracay tour package, which will allow you to explore natural attractions in Visayas and Mindanao. You will go on an island-hopping tour in Siargao, Boracay, and Cebu, where you have the chance to witness a spectacular sardine run. If you want to explore other places in a week, you can browse our collection of 1-week Philippine holiday packages.

End your year on a high note by visiting the Philippines in December

Mines View Park view at NightIf you’re still deciding on where to do in December in Asia, you should definitely consider the Philippines. December celebrations in the Philippines are known for being colorful and massive, and spending Christmas here will definitely be a unique experience.

Whether you want to celebrate in buzzing cities, serene islands, or party beaches, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to where to go in the Philippines in December.

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