Photo by The Manor at Camp John Hay Baguio
Christmas in the Philippines starts as early as September, so expect malls and homes to have decorations already up during the -ber months. If you're spending the holiday season exploring the top tourist spots of the Philippines, there are a lot of fun family-friendly activities and destinations that will get you in a joyful mood.
- Find the best tours in the Philippines and December travel deals to make the most out of your holiday trip
Video by the Philippine Department of Tourism
If you’re planning to organize a Christmas vacation in the Philippines with your family, friends, or loved ones, there are many wonderful Philippines holiday destinations in the country that celebrate and showcase Christmas traditions.
Here's a rundown of the best Christmas holiday destinations in the Philippines that take pride in their rich culture, events, displays, attractions, and cool December weather that can make your holidays a lot more enjoyable and memorable:
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11. Tangub City
Misamis Occidental's Tangub City, one of the must-visit destinations in Mindanao, has a month-long Christmas display called the Christmas Symbol Festival, which features sparkly light installments that replicate famous world landmarks. This festival has even earned Tangub City the title of the Christmas Symbol Capital of the Philippines from the Department of Tourism in 2007.
Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism
It's like a Christmas trip around the world with installations in their city plaza like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral of France, the Garden Fountain at Isola Bella of Italy, and the Hwaseong Fortress of South Korea.
Other top tourist spots in Tangub City that you should visit are the Hoyohoy Highland Park where you'll see a panoramic view of Panquil Bay surrounded by the cities, and Memorial Hill, which features a Japanese canon from World War II. You can also do a side trip of nearby Ozamiz City.
10. UST Paskuhan, Manila
This Christmas destination list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the University of Santo Tomas (UST)'s Paskuhan in Manila City. It’s a month-long annual Christmas tradition that began in 1991 and is known as one of the best places to celebrate the Christmas season in Manila.
The performances from Thomasian talents and well-known bands, the sight of a towering Christmas tree, the lights and pyromusical displays, and witnessing the Thomasian community at this time of the year make it a must-add in your itinerary of Metro Manila tourist spots.
Photo from the University of Santo Tomas
Although Paskuhan is open to all, you must reach out to your Thomasian friend ASAP if you're planning to go. Non-Thomasian visitors wouldn’t be able to enter the premises without an ID-holder on their side.
This is also a fantastic time to check out other Manila tours and activities. Allocate a day to engross in the heritage, history, and art of the Philippines at some of the best Manila museums.
If you’re down for more physical activity after feasting at some of the best buffet restaurants in Manila, you can explore a historic neighborhood and stunning architecture with Intramuros tours on a bamboo bicycle ride or by joining a horse-drawn carriage tour, which are also popular date places in Manila.
If you're only visiting Manila, check out our list of the best hotels in Manila for your Manila staycation.
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9. SM Mall of Asia, Pasay
Photo from SM Mall of Asia
Make your Christmas merrier by visiting SM Mall of Asia’s (MOA) Grand Festival of Lights Parade in Pasay, Metro Manila. It’s a mouthful, but it fits since it’s a big and bright event that is a feast for the eyes. This event is slowly rising to become one of the Philippines' Christmas traditions, and one of the most anticipated ones at that.
Aside from this holiday attraction that will bring awe to all kids and kids-at-heart, there are plenty more things to do in Pasay, Metro Manila that are accessible to Manila hotels for booking.
Buy a The Dessert Museum ticket for an interactive, mouth-watering, and Instagrammable activity that will put a smile on your face. They have eight dessert-themed visually pleasing rooms that make for interesting photo ops!
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8. Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental
Another excellent Christmas holiday destination where you can enjoy a chilly vacation is at Don Salvador Benedicto, which is dubbed “The Summer Capital of Nergros Occidental” and “The Little Baguio of Negros” and is one of the must-visit destinations in Visayas. You can explore this place by joining a Don Salvador Benedicto tour which usually starts at Bacolod City, known for being the gateway to the popular The Ruins and delicious chicken inasal dish among many other Bacolod tourist spots.
If you want some peace and quiet, it's one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Philippines. You can drop by the Rapha Valley, an organic farm that is known as a health and wellness destination, and Jomax Peak for a panoramic view of the area’s mountain ranges.
There may not be any lights and fireworks displays, but the lush greeneries and foggy environment will surely make you feel the spirit of Christmas.
You can also go on a day trip to the famous Lakawon Island for a chill beach trip or to Bacolod City where you can do a Bacolod sightseeing adventure and visit ancestral houses or go on a food trip.
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Dumaguete is known for its kind-hearted locals and peaceful coastal community, with Apo Island diving as the most popular tourist spot in the province. It may be a small and laidback destination, but it’s full of surprises, which makes it the perfect off-the-beaten-path Christmas destination in the Philippines.
One of Dumaguete’s popular attractions during this time of the year is The Christmas House. Dr. Rico Absin, a man with a genuine passion for art and decoration, dresses up his Spanish home with lights and ornaments to the public’s delight.
Photo from Dumaguete Christmas House
His residence is always the brightest and merriest each year for more than two decades. This is a definite one-for-the-books experience!
Another Dumaguete experience you can try is the dolphin-watching adventure and a trip to Manjuyod Sandbar, dubbed as “The Maldives of the Philippines” to recharge, go snorkeling, or enjoy a beach picnic. If you're learning to dive or an experienced diver, diving in Dumaguete should be on your diving bucket list.
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Feel the joy of Christmas at Central Philippine University’s (CPU) annual Festival of Lights and Music tradition in Iloilo City, another top tourist spot in the Visayas region. Thousands of travelers flock to this event to celebrate the birth of Christ and marvel at the historic university adorned with beautiful Christmas lights.
Since you’re already in the province, take the time to explore the top tourist spots with our Iloilo tour packages.
When planning your holiday trip here, look into the top things to do in Iloilo to make the most of your time. Pay a visit to the province’s historical and cultural sites Iloilo trip to century-old churches and mansions or go on a tour to Islas de Gigantes for that much-needed rest and relaxation this yuletide season.
Go on a one-day Iloilo farm-agricultural experience that will transport your whole family on a refreshing nature trip. From getting a taste of fresh organic vegetables and fruits in Orchard Valley to enjoying physical activities in Damires Hills Tierra Verde physical activities. This should be a fun and memorable Christmas destination!
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There’s more to Cavite than Tagaytay, especially during this time of the year. One of its Christmas events is ‘Paskuhan sa Imus,’ a month-long festival that showcases trade fairs, fireworks display, beauty contests, and other activities organized by the city government of Imus.
Meanwhile, Kawit town also hosts Maytinis Festival every Christmas Eve. The event stages a dramatic re-enactment of the Virgin Mary and Joseph’s “Panunuluyan.” There are also floats reimagining biblical scenes.
Keep your eyes open for the different decorations in each neighborhood. Since you’re already in Kawit, pay a visit to Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, where you can see a stunning display of astonishing lights dancing to Christmas songs.
When it comes to experiencing Cavite through its local specialties, check out Calle Real, one of Tanza’s oldest houses that is now a restaurant. They serve traditional Cavite dishes, such as pancit choko and squid pancit, using recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.
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You'll find that in different parts of the Philippines, Christmas decorations boast a mix of abundant creativity and vibrant culture. One of the most popular attractions during December in the Philippines and Metro Manila is Ayala Triangle’s Festival of Lights in Makati City.
The unique lights show dancing to joyful Christmas medleys is a highly-anticipated attraction in Makati not just with locals, who have made it a holiday tradition to see, but for travelers as well.
The business district of Makati isn’t all towering corporate offices. Look at the right places or book the right tours to help you learn more about the district and the neat activities you can do while you’re there. There are so many things to do in Makati!
For instance, you can visit the historic Nielsen Tower, which used to be an old airport’s passenger terminal and control tower. Now, it is home to the aviation-themed restaurant called Blackbird.
You can also spend a day checking out museums in Makati, such as the Yuchengco Museum and Museo ng Makati. You can also get in the spirit of the season of giving by spending a day at one (or more) of Makati’s malls, like Greenbelt and Circuit Makati.
Make sure to plan your trip around a weekend, so you can visit the Salcedo Weekend Market in Salcedo Village which will please all of your senses. Join a walking and sightseeing trip of Makati City to best experience this urban jungle.
If you want to go on a short but delightful Christmas staycation in a cool place with your family getaway near Manila, look no further than Tagaytay! You can spend a day enjoying nature at the Picnic Grove. Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the breathtaking Taal Lake and Volcano while you’re there. Aside from day tours, you can book a staycation at Tagaytay hotels. The best Tagaytay hotels for booking are Tagaytay hotels with a view of Taal.
There’s so much to see and do in Tagaytay, like slurping on a hot soup of bulalo (beef marrow stew) at some of the best Tagaytay restaurants, drink coffee or hot chocolate at neighborhood Tagaytay cafes, or unleash your inner child at Sky Ranch Theme Park.
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Don't forget to take home lots of buko pie (coconut custard pie) and other Tagaytay delicacies when you do your pasalubong (souvenir) shopping. You can serve it to your holiday visitors or give away some to your relatives when they stop by. This is a great way to close your holiday trip down south!
Photo from Baguio Country Club Christmas Village
Get away from the heat and humidity of the metro and spend a fun-filled holiday getaway in Baguio. The main reason that The City of Pines gets busy during this season is the annual Christmas Village in Baguio Country Club.
The place truly captures the spirit of the season with the lanterns, lights, and even artificial snow. Since you’re going there for the chilly weather and this eye-catching attraction, you might as well add more Baguio tours to your itinerary!
A trip to the City of Pines wouldn’t be complete without a visit to other popular tourist spots in Baguio City like Camp John Hay, Woodcarver’s Village, Tam-awan Village, and the nearby Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, and BenCab Museum by National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera. Don't forget to check out some of the best Baguio restaurants while you're there.
Make the most of your Baguio vacation by booking a Baguio hotel stay at some of the best Baguio hotels including The Manor at Camp John Hay.
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1. San Fernando, Pampanga
The best place to go in December in the Philippines is San Fernando, Pampanga, the Christmas Capital of the Philippines. This is where people from different parts of the country flock to get a sight of the best parol (Christmas lanterns) and of course, to witness the Giant Lantern Festival also known as Ligligan Parul.
This festival started back in 1908 and is celebrated annually every December where barangays (villages) compete for the title of the best lantern makers in San Fernando.
More than this festive attraction, there’s more to see and do when in Pampanga. As the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, it's not a Pampanga trip without a visit to some of the best Pampanga restaurants. Make the most of your trip by booking a stay at the best Pampanga hotels and resorts. You can explore the top attractions in the province by joining an Angeles day trip or get to know the city of Clark.
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Try the adrenaline-pumping wakeboarding activity at Pradera Verde. Do fun outdoor activities like bike ziplining at Sinagtala Farm Resort, one of the best mountain resorts near Manila, in the nearby province of Bataan. You can also go on a day trip to Inflatable Island day trip in Subic where you can bounce and jiggle your way through the whole course or explore the best Subic hotels and resorts.
If you’re up for a more adventurous holiday trip, hop aboard a 4x4 and power through rocky terrain by joining a Mt. Pinatubo hiking tours. You will be treated to views of a unique landscape that boasts the lahar canyons, stunning rock formations, and debris from Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption.
Plus, you can experience the healing power of nature through a volcanic sand spa experience with a Puning Hot Spring trip, one of the best natural hot springs in the Philippines.
Have a Merry-meaningful Christmas Getaway
Out of all the Philippines’ holidays, Christmas is the festivity Filipinos (and foreigners alike) look forward to the most. Luckily, the country has plenty of destinations that hold various Christmas activities for people who crave a slice of excitement and adventure during the holidays. Celebrating Christmas is definitely more fun (dare we say ‘merrier’) in the Philippines!
Make your Christmas holidays in the Philippines more memorable by finding Philippine tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary and learn about the best Filipino Christmas foods to feast on! Check out our Philippines holiday packages to get the best deals when booking Philippine hotels including 5-star hotels in the Philippines and all-inclusive Philippine vacation packages.
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