January in the Philippines Travel Guide: Weather, What to Do, Festivals & Celebrations, Tips

January in the Philippines Travel Guide: Weather, What to Do, Festivals & Celebrations, Tips

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Daku Island and Sinulog Festival masksThe Philippines, a vibrant Southeast Asian country, welcomes visitors with stunning beach destinations, diverse landscapes, famous festivals, and friendly people. January is a great time to visit the Philippines as it brings cool and dry weather, making it one of the best months to travel. While there might be occasional rain, it's not as heavy as during the rainy season.

There are a lot of Philippine tourist spots and January celebrations in the Philippines to check out. From celebrating festivals in Cebu, Aklan, and Iloilo to enjoying the pristine beaches of Boracay, diving in Bohol, or seeing whale sharks in Sorsogon, there's something for everyone.

Because of the peak season, Philippine hotel booking and flights to the Philippines are more expensive compared to the lean months of travel. If you’re planning to visit the Philippines in January, read this guide so you can plan accordingly.

Philippines Weather in January 

Mayon Volcano and flowersJanuary is part of the dry season in the Philippines, so it's generally warm with less rain than in the rainy season. Overall, it's a good month for outdoor activities such as island hopping in the Philippines, as the weather is mostly dry and pleasant.

Is January rainy season in the Philippines?

No, January is part of the dry season, characterized by cooler temperatures and less rainfall. There might be a bit of rainfall, and one tropical cyclone could happen during this time. 

Philippines Temperature in January

In January, the temperatures in the Philippines vary depending on your location. If you're in Manila or the National Capital Region, it can be as cool as 18.5°C (65.3°F) or as warm as 34.6°C (94.46°F).

In other parts of Luzon, temperatures range from 9.5°C (49.1°F) to 35.8°C (96.44°F). For the Visayas, expect temperatures between 20°C (68°F) and 35°C (95°F). Meanwhile, in Mindanao, temperatures can go from 13.4°C (56.1°F) to 37°C (98.6°F). 

These temperature ranges are general, and most of the time, the actual temperatures fall somewhere in the middle. Overall, January is one of the best time to go to the Philippines.

What to Wear when Visiting the Philippines in January? 

Mactan Island CebuWhen you visit the Philippines in January, go for light and breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and comfortable sandals to beat the tropical heat. Don't forget swimwear if you plan on hitting the beaches. Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen are essential to protect yourself from the sun. 

You can also bring a compact umbrella or rain jacket, in case of occasional rain. If you're visiting religious sites, pack modest clothing like long pants or a skirt with sleeves. For more information, check out our Philippine packing list guide.

Where to Go in the Philippines and Best Activities in January

Woman on a boat in PalawanIf you're coming to the Philippines in January, there are vibrant festivals and best places to visit in the Philippines. Enjoy lively festivals and rich culture while enjoying the warm January weather at these top family destinations in the Philippines.

Celebrate Philippine Festivals in Cebu (Sinulog Festival), Aklan (Ati-Atihan Festival), and Iloilo (Dinagyang Festival) 

Sinulog Festival in CebuThere are a lot of festivals in the Philippines celebrated in the month of January. You can head to Cebu for the vibrant Sinulog Festival, where the streets come alive with colorful parades and lively dances.

In Aklan, you can enjoy the Ati-Atihan Festival's dynamic atmosphere and take the chance to visit the nearby island of Boracay. You can also join the festivities in Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival, filled with captivating performances. These are some of the top Philippine festivals that will let you witness the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines.

Lounge in Boracay’s white sand beaches

White Beach BoracayYou can enjoy lounging on the white sand beaches of Boracay in January, starting with the famous White Beach. Renowned for its expansive white sand and crystal-clear waters, it has become one of the best white sand beaches in the Philippines. You can also explore Boracay's stunning beaches beyond White Beach.

You can head to Puka Beach for a more secluded escape with its unique shells. At Bulabog Beach, you can try thrilling water sports. Diniwid Beach, on the other hand, offers beautiful sunsets. Each white sand beach has its charm, promising unforgettable moments in this Philippine paradise.

Go island hopping in Palawan

Port Barton island hopping in San Vicente PalawanYou can go on an island hopping tour in Palawan for a fun escapade. Start in Puerto Princesa and go island hopping in Honda Bay. Then, you can check out El Nido beaches and other attractions, such as Seven Commandos Beach and Big Lagoon. After El Nido, you can head to San Vicente for Long Beach and Port Barton. Lastly, you can explore the islands and lagoons of Coron, such as Kayangan Lake and Malcapuya Beach, which are great snorkeling spots in the Philippines.

There are island hopping tours in the Philippines that focus on island hopping in multiple Palawan destinations. You can also focus on one and book El Nido Palawan tour packages, Coron Palawan tour packages, or Puerto Princesa tour packages.

Visit Binondo Chinatown in Manila

Binondo ChinatownBinondo, a vibrant and historic site in Manila, dates back to 1594 and is known as the world's first Chinatown. Exploring its historical tourist spots like Binondo Church is a must. You can also go on a food trip, as it is one of the best places in the Philippines to travel alone and discover hidden gems like traditional bakeries and unique hole-in-the-wall joints for authentic Chinese food. To experience the best of Binondo, consider joining a guided Binondo tour that will take you to some of the best Binondo restaurants and tourist spots.

Binondo foodtripYou can spend Chinese New Year in Binondo. During Chinese New Year, people get into the spirit by wearing red, decorating their homes, making authentic dishes like homemade tikoy (Chinese New Year Cake), setting off fireworks, and enjoying dragon dances. It's a time of joy, tradition, and lively celebrations.

Go diving in Bohol

Diving in Balicasag Island BoholExplore the underwater wonders of Bohol, one of the top destinations for scuba diving in the Philippines. When you're in Panglao Island, don't miss diving at Balicasag Island, a must-visit tourist spot in the Visayas. You can arrange Panglao tours to explore its beach or go scuba diving. 

Balicasag Island, a marine sanctuary, is approximately 600 meters in diameter and offers five beautiful diving spots. Highlights include the marine sanctuary’s 200-meter drop-off. See the vibrant marine life, from schools of jacks to friendly sea turtles at Turtle Point. Check out dive sites like The Royal Garden and Cathedral Wall for stunning corals and fish species. Consider booking an all-inclusive Bohol diving package or other Bohol tour packages for a hassle-free vacation. 

Explore Vigan in Ilocos Sur

Kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) in ViganVisiting Vigan feels like stepping into the old colonial-period Philippines with its beautifully preserved Spanish-inspired architecture. Its rich historical and cultural significance has made the city a popular destination, earning the prestigious title of one of the six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines and a New7Wonders City. Its major highlight is Calle Crisologo, a charming cobblestoned street adorned with ancestral houses from the 16th-century Spanish colonization.

While in Vigan, you can join the annual Vigan Fiesta and Longganisa Festival, a food event highlighting Vigan longganisa, the province's signature dish. You can also book Ilocos tours and activities to enhance your Vigan experience. 

Swim with whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon 

Donsol Sorsogon whale sharkDiscover Donsol, a top Sorsogon tourist spot famous for watching whale sharks. From December to May, you can witness numerous whale sharks (known as butanding) naturally gathering in Donsol waters. While there are other places to swim with whale sharks in the Philippines, Donsol is known for responsible eco-tourism, respecting the whale sharks' natural behavior. This makes Donsol one of the top tourist spots in Luzon.

Swimming with whale sharks is not only thrilling but also considered a safe activity, making Donsol whale shark activity a must-try adventure in Donsol. You can join the Apribada Festival in Donsol in January and celebrate the abundance of whale sharks.

Travel to the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan 

Hundred Islands National Park PangasinanHundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan, is another must-visit spot in Luzon. This Pangasinan tourist spot features 123 uniquely shaped islets, some have white sand, others limestone cliffs. To make the most of your visit, book a Pangasinan island-hopping tour to popular Hundred Islands spots like Quezon Island, Governor Island, and Children’s Island.

Aside from visiting the islands park, you can join the Bagoong Festival in Pangasinan, a tasty celebration of the region's famous condiment, or book Pangasinan tours for a complete experience.

January Celebrations and Events in the Philippines 

Sinulog Festival in CebuThere are a lot of January celebrations in the Philippines, making it one of the best months to visit the country if you want to enjoy and experience the local culture. Make sure to go to some of these festivals and events for your upcoming Philippine holidays!

Sinulog Festival (Cebu)

Sinulog Festival masks Sinulog Festival in Cebu is a lively celebration of the Santo Niño de Cebú, a baby Jesus statue given in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan. The term "Sinulog" means "like water current movement," capturing the dance's energy. Held every January, the festival is a colorful extravaganza featuring a grand parade, street parties, local food, spectacular fireworks, and a chance to explore the city's historic sites. 

Ati-Atihan Festival (Kalibo, Aklan)

Ati-Atihan FestivalThe Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan, known as the pioneer of Philippine festivals, is believed to be the oldest festival in the Philippines. Lasting a week, people flood the streets in colorful face paints and traditional outfits. The festival features tribal dances, lively drumming, chants, and Catholic rituals, creating an infectious atmosphere that'll make you want to dance along.

If you're going to Kalibo in Aklan, it’s highly recommended to add Boracay to your itinerary.

Dinagyang Festival (Iloilo)

Dinagyang FestivalDinagyang Festival in Iloilo is a big festival with colorful street dancing and vibrant performances. It honors Sto. Niño, the city's patron saint, and showcases the community's rich heritage. The city turns into a lively street party with music, street performers, and tasty local food. Don't miss the energetic Dinagyang dance, where towns and schools compete in a street dancing contest.

Feast of Black Nazarene (Quiapo, Manila)

Quiapo ChurchWitness the Feast of Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, a day-long procession where devoted followers carry the Black Nazarene image through the city streets. The Traslación is a highly respected religious event for Catholics worldwide. You can also check out tourist spots in Manila while you're there.

Chinese New Year

Chinese new yearThe Chinese New Year in the Philippines is celebrated during January or February. During this time, you can watch colorful parades with dragon and lion dances, wear red for good luck, and explore Chinese communities like Manila's Binondo. Try authentic Chinese food, especially the New Year cake called tikoy. Enjoy cultural performances, fireworks, and visit temples for blessings.

Tips when Traveling to the Philippines in January 

Zambales islandsHave a hassle-free January vacation in the Philippines with these important travel tips:

Crowds in January

January is considered a peak season in the Philippines. The dry season is perfect for outdoor activities like island hopping and hiking, so expect more tourists during this time, especially for destinations popular for these activities like El Nido and Baguio.

Some of the top destinations in the country, like Cebu, Aklan (where Boracay is located), and Iloilo, are celebrating Philippine festivals. If you're not joining the festivals, make sure to avoid places where there are events to avoid travel delays.

Driving in the Philippines in January

Tarlac transportationIn January, when Filipinos are getting ready for festivals, traffic in festival areas like Iloilo or in top Philippine destinations can get pretty busy. Plan your routes carefully to dodge the traffic. If you're going by land, think about renting a car in the Philippines for an easier trip. Use navigation apps to stay away from traffic. A little bit of planning and a reliable Philippine car rental can make your trip during the festivities much smoother. 

If you don’t want to drive, you can book Philippine transfers or book Philippine holiday packages for a complete experience instead.

Prepare for travel delays

With many people heading to festival destinations, expect longer lines at airports and transportation hubs. To avoid stress, plan and arrive early. Expect delays at check-in, security, and immigration, so be ready. If possible, book flights during less busy times. Stay flexible with your plans for unexpected delays. Keep your travel documents handy for a smoother airport experience.

Recommended Philippines travel itineraries in January 

Canyoneering in Badian CebuIn January, the Philippines offers numerous places to explore and activities to enjoy. Your ideal Philippine itinerary depends on what you like. For a hassle-free trip, consider booking Philippine itinerary travel packages for January. These packages typically include accommodations, transportation, and tours.

If you want a tropical getaway in the Philippines, exploring the breathtaking Palawan islands of Puerto Princesa, San Vicente, El Nido, and Coron, you can book this 13-Day Palawan beaches and islands package. You’ll be able to explore the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, enjoy the pristine San Vicente tourist spot called Long Beach, and go on island-hopping tours in El Nido. You’ll also be able to explore Coron tourist spots like Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, and more. 

Aside from 2 week tours in the Philippines, there are also shorter Palawan itineraries you can try, such as the 5-Day Puerto Princesa to El Nido Palawan tour package. This will also let you explore Palawan beaches and scenic rivers in both El Nido and Puerto Princesa.

If you want to explore Palawan, Boracay, and Cebu, you can book a 10-Day Cebu to Boracay to El Nido tour package. This adventure covers the islands of Cebu, the pristine beaches of Boracay, and the breathtaking lagoons of El Nido. Discover other 10-Day Philippine tour options, such as longer Boracay tour packages and Cebu tour packages, for an unforgettable island-hopping experience.

You can also discover the Philippines in just a week with the best 1 week tours in the Philippines. This is the preferred length for most Philippine honeymoon packages. One package you can book is the 1-Week Siargao to Cebu and Boracay tour package. You’ll be able to explore natural tourist spots in Mindanao and Visayas through surfing in Siargao, island-hopping in Boracay, and sardine-run activity in Cebu. During your free time in Cebu, you can also check out Kawasan Falls, one of the top waterfalls in the Philippines

Another 1-week package you can try is the 1-Week Albay and Sorsogon nature and sightseeing package. This package follows a Bicol itinerary and will let you explore some of the top tourist spots in Sorsogon and Albay, including the picturesque Mount Mayon, perfect for hiking in the Philippines. Aside from Mayon Volcano tours, you can also check out 8 day tours in the Philippines featuring other tourist spots in the Bicol region

You can also check out 1 week tours featuring one destination only, such as Siargao tour packages, Iloilo tour packages, Baguio tour packages, and Batanes tour packages.

Start the new year with a bang by visiting the Philippines in January!

Trees in White BeachThanks to the geographical features of the Philippines, there’s a lot to see and do during the month of January. With pleasant weather, January offers an ideal time for outdoor activities, island hopping, and cultural experiences. Whether you're a beach lover, adventure seeker, or culture enthusiast, the Philippines has something for everyone in January.

If you're planning a trip in another month, such as a Philippines trip in August, there are also vibrant festivals you can join. If you’re wondering where to go in the Philippines in September, or you’re planning to visit the Philippines in October, there are also unique attractions to visit. On the other hand, there are also best places to visit in November and a lot of things to do in the Philippines in December. So pack your bags and get ready to make unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise.

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