Your Guide to Best Holiday Destinations in the Philippines

Your Guide to the Best Holiday Destinations in the Philippines
Your Guide to the Best Holiday Destinations in the Philippines

Best Places to Visit: Island Escapes and Yuletide Charms

The Philippines is a beautiful archipelago comprising over 7,000 islands, offering some of the most stunning Christmas destinations in the world. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to hidden gems off the beaten path, the Philippines has something for every type of traveler during the holiday season. 

In this article, you will discover the best places to visit in the Philippines for 2023. Whether you’re into island hopping, exploring historical sites, or simply relaxing on white-sand beaches, the Philippines has it all!

Christmas in the Philippines

Christmas in the Philippines is a vibrant and festive time, with the holiday season starting as early as September and lasting well into January.

The country is known for having one of the world’s longest and most lavish Christmas celebrations, colorful decorations, lively parades, and an abundance of delicious food. The warm and welcoming nature of the Filipino people makes it an ideal destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit.

Top Holiday Tourist Destination

For those seeking vibrant and lively holiday destinations, the Philippines has an abundance of option places to visit where you can choose from. 

Cebu City

Historical Sites

Cebu City, known as the “Queen City of the South,” is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and a lively Christmas atmosphere.

Cebu City is home to several major attractions and historic sites, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, and Fort San Pedro, the oldest Spanish fort in the Philippines. Visiting these sites at the city center gives you a glimpse into the Philippines’ rich history and heritage.

Mactan Island and Bantayan Island

Mactan Island, known for its luxury resorts and world-class diving spots, is a popular destination for tourists visiting Cebu and the Central Visayas region.

On the other hand, Bantayan Island, located in the northern part of Cebu, is known for its white beach, crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and laid-back atmosphere.

Apo Island, Negros

Apo Island is a volcanic island located off the southeastern tip of Negro Island and south of the Negros Oriental capital of Dumaguete. 

The popular dive and snorkeling site is a marine reserve protected by the  National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). Apo Island Beach resort and Liberty’s Lodge are two known resorts that have a dive center, ranger stations, and lighthouse. 

Apo Island marine reserve is a community-organized sanctuary that has been well documented by the international science community. Spearheaded by Dr. Angel Alcala, a marine scientist from one of the biggest universities in Dumaguete, the Silliman University, local fisherfolk identified an area along the shoreline as the sanctuary site. This project propelled the establishment of hundreds of other marine sanctuaries in the country. 

Apo Island is now home to over 650 documented species of fish and about 400 species of corals which you can view even from the Apo Island view deck.

The island got its name from “Apo” meaning “elder” or “respected ancestor” in the vernacular. 

Siargao Island

Located in the Philippine Sea, southeast of Tacloban, the teardrop shaped island coastline is marked by a several reefs, small points, and white beaches. Known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, it is named as the best island in Asia by Conde Nast Traveler readers’ choice awards for top island to visit in 2021, besting 85 other listed destinations. 

Cloud 9

This internally renowned surfing spot has a reputation for thick hollow tubes. Located at the Magpupungko Rock Pools, the right-breaking reef wave is the site of the annual Siargao Cup attended by local as well as international surfers. 

Palawan Island and Coron Island

Island hopping is a popular activity in the Philippines, and there is no better place to experience it than in Coron, one of the popular scuba diving spots in the Philippines, as well as the nearby islands.

This stunning island destination is famous for its vast options of luxury accommodations, like Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel, crystal-clear waters, limestone cliffs, and vibrant marine life.

When you visit the Palawan Island, make sure that you also spend time in Puerto Princesa where the longest subterranean river national park, honda bay, protected marine sanctuary, white sandy beaches.

Barracuda Lake

Known to local as the Luluyuan Lake, the Barracuda Lake in Coron, Palawan is engulfed by tall cliffs and green foliage, boasting of turquoise colored waters. What sets it apart from the other diving destinations is its halocline, a murky layer where freshwater atop the lake blends with saltwater near the lake’s bottom.

This is perhaps the reason why its best to visit within December up until May since these months are considered the dry season in the Philippines. Rain can affect water clarity.

During Christmas, visitors can embark on island hopping tours to explore the hidden lagoons, pristine beaches, and world-class diving sites, making it a perfect holiday destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Boracay Island

Boracay, a tiny island in the Western Visayas region, is considered one of the Philippines’ premier holiday destinations. Boracay’s White Beach, named for its powdery white sand, is the island’s main attraction.

The beach transforms into a festive spectacle during Christmas, with twinkling lights adorning the numerous beachfront establishments and local bands playing holiday tunes.

Island Hopping Tour

Boracay’s surrounding islands and beaches, such as Puka Shell Beach, Diniwid Beach, and Crystal Cove Island, offer excellent spots for island hopping tours.

These tours usually include snorkeling in coral reefs, exploring hidden coves and caves, and feasting a fresh seafood lunch on the beach.

Vibrant Nightlife

Boracay’s nightlife is legendary, with numerous bars, clubs, and beach parties that go on until dawn. Many establishments host special holiday events during the Christmas season, creating a festive atmosphere that’s hard to resist.

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Explore Davao in Mindanao

Explore the province of Davao and be pleasantly surprised by home much is in store for you. A popular tourist destination in the country, Davao has the perfect blend of both natural and man-made attractions, from parks to beaches, marine sanctuaries, outdoor adventures, unique cuisine and local delicacies to colorful festivities. Davao should be part of any travel bug’s bucket list. 

Samal Island

The entire island is a piece of paradise with a great mix of attractions for a diverse itinerary. Home to many small island resorts, it is home to the popular Hagimit Falls, Mount Putting Bato, and Montfort Bat Cave.

Eden Nature Park

Eden Nature Park and Resort in Davao City is highly recommended for those looking at places to visit that offers serenity and nature. Named after the biblical garden, Eden’s tropical forest climate is a good place to commune with nature and meditate.

Other Exciting Places and Activities

While in Davao, try to unwind at the Malagos Garden Resort and bring home goodies from their Chocolate Museum. Drop by the Crocodile Park and check out the giant reptiles. Visit the Philippine Eagle Center which is currently home to 36 Philippine Eagles, 18 of which are captive bred.

Then drop by the Davao Butterfly House, a protected sanctuary for different species of butterflies, flowers, plants, and exotic insects and animals.

If you have what it takes, stay a week and scale Mt Apo, the King of Philippine Peaks and tops the list of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. Regain your strength and book at the Pearl Farm Beach Resort.

Take a breather at the People’s Park or spend time at the Roxas Night Market. If history is your thing, stop by the Museo Dabawenyo. Do not leave Davao without giving the Durian fruit a taste and their Civet coffee.


Baguio, known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” is a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for a respite from the country’s tropical heat.

Mines View Park

Mines View Park is one of Baguio’s most popular tourist spots. It offers a stunning panoramic view of the mining town of Itogon and the surrounding mountains.

Baguio Cathedral and Burnham Park

Baguio Cathedral, also known as Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Baguio. It offers a beautiful view of the city. On the other hand, Burnham Park, named after Baguio’s planner, Daniel Burnham, is an excellent place for leisurely walks, picnics, and boat rides.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Natural Wonders to Visit

The Philippines has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural wonders that make for unforgettable Christmas destinations.


The Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras

When in Luzon Island, might as well go a little further and explore the rice terraces of the Cordilleras, named as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1995 for the ingenuous blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religion, and political environment as a living cultural landcape.


Chocolate Hills

The iconic Chocolate Hills in Bohol is a must-see attraction, especially during the holiday season when the hills are covered in lush greenery, creating a stunning contrast with the clear blue skies. 

Visitors can take in the breathtaking panoramic views from the viewing deck and marvel at this natural wonder that resembles a sea of chocolate kisses.

Meet the Tiny Tarsiers

Bohol is also home to the Philippine Tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primates. You can visit the Tarsier Conservation Area to see these cute creatures up close and learn more about their behavior and conservation efforts.

Puerto Princesa Underground River

Palawan, known as the “Last Frontier” of the Philippines, is a paradise for nature lovers. The province has two UNESCO World Heritage sites: The Puerto Princesa Underground River and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a magical experience as visitors cruise through an underground river that winds through a captivating cave system.

The holiday season adds an extra enchantment, with the cave adorned with twinkling lights and Christmas carols echoing through the chambers.

This underground river is one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world, with a stunning limestone karst landscape, pristine natural beauty, and diverse wildlife.

Hidden Gems and Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

While the Philippines is home to popular holiday destinations, it also boasts hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path treasures that offer a unique and enchanting Christmas experience.

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach in El Nido is a pristine and secluded stretch of white sand beach perfect for travelers looking to escape the crowds and unwind in a tranquil setting.

The holiday season brings a sense of serenity to the beach, with the gentle sound of the waves and the rustling of palm trees creating a peaceful and idyllic atmosphere.

Fort Santiago

For a historical and cultural Christmas experience, Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Visitors can explore the centuries-old San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and immerse themselves in the rich history and colonial architecture of the Intramuros district.

Fort Santiago, the walled city and citadel that has witnessed centuries of Philippine history, offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s past and serves as a poignant backdrop for the holiday season.

Camella Home For the Holidays 2023
Camella Home For the Holidays 2023

Butandings, Philippines’ Gentle Giants: When and Where to Catch them 

Seeing the Philippine whale sharks, popularly called the Butandings, can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. Moreso, swimming with these gentle giants is an opportunity you cannot pass up.

We have identified several provinces where you can catch them in action and when to schedule your visit to increase the likelihood of seeing them — and perhaps, even swim with them. 

The whale sharks are migratory creatures so the chances of a sighting is not guaranteed a hundred percent. It is best to travel during the migration season to ensure success. Contact your preferred tour operators and seek advise before planning your trip. 

While whale sharks are the non aggressive type as they mostly feed on organisms like planktons, it is a must that you follow the rules to ensure the safety of the sharks as well as the environment. 

Donsol Bay, Bicol 

The largest congregations of the whale sharks anywhere in the world can be found in Donsol, found in the Bicol region of Luzon. Note that the Donsol Bay is now a whale shark protected area and only snorkeling is allowed at daytime. Sightings are common within the months of February to April. 

Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Unlike Donsol, sightings in Honda Bay are less frequent in Honda Bay. The season in Palawan runs from April to October.

In case you miss the opportunity to see them, the bay is blessed with wonderful marine life which you will similarly enjoy. Sea Turtles for one as well as friendly dolphins are normally spotted swimming with boats. 

Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte

The Sogod Bay is in a more remote location compared to other more popular sites, and less known as a whale shark spot. However Southern Leyte is now gaining popularity in the scuba diving community for big fish sightings.

If you prefer a less crowded place, this is the best option for you. Come, visit during the whale shark migration season between November to May.

Oslob in Cebu

Oslob in Cebu gives the most guaranteed opportunity to see and swim with the whale sharks. Sadly however, local tour operators have began feeding the whale sharks to encourage their stay in the place.

Environmentalists have sternly warned the province against this practice as it is considered unsustainable. Over crowding and over booking have also compromised the experience for many travelers. 


Tabbataha is a group of atolls and reefs in the Sulu Sea south-east of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It is a serene and magical destination that can only be reached by riding a live-aboard diving boat which eats up a couple of days.

You need to save up for this trip as it is expensive than the rest of the locations mentioned. 

Philippines: Home to Top Tourist Destination

Begin your Christmas travels in Metro Manila, exploring the Walled City of Intramuros, appreciating relics from world war ii, getting your fill of delicacies from Chinatown, enjoying a day at the Manila Ocean Park visiting Rizal Park, the monument of the country’s national hero, or the blood compact monument in Balintawak.

Then drive to the Luzon Island–whether North or South–you can never go wrong. Enjoy the refreshing views in Tagaytay City beginning with the Taal Volcano. Hop on to the scenic beaches of the Panay Island or the Panglao Island, then fly to Mindanao’s adventures afterwards.

Final Tips for Planning Your Christmas Trip

The Philippines offers various Christmas destinations, from UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural wonders to vibrant holiday spots and hidden gems off the beaten path.

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of a bustling city, explore the natural beauty of secluded islands, or delve into the rich history and culture of the country, the Philippines has it all.

Start planning your Christmas getaway to the Philippines and create unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise!

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