Are you and your loved ones dreaming of an out-of-town Christmas this year? If a vacation in a faraway land is out of the question, worry not. These destinations are close enough to Metro Manila while still giving you your much-needed respite from the busy city for a laid-back holiday.
Baguio City, Benguet
It’s impossible to put together a list of out-of-town Christmas destinations without someone mentioning Baguio. Just the cool temperature is enough to evoke the idea that the City of Pines feels like Christmas every day. Who wouldn’t want to welcome the 25th sitting next to a roaring fire while sipping hot chocolate and exchanging gifts with friends and family? No other city can lay claim to the fact that they reach temperatures low enough to rival your freezer, and that the pine scent in the air is real because they have actual pine trees. Well, the second item on this list comes close.
Burnham Park in Baguio, Benguet (Image by Rex Pe/Flickr Creative Commons)
Tagaytay City, Cavite
The cool weather isn’t the only thing that makes Tagaytay an ideal short-drive destination during the holidays. This cool Cavite city offers a lot of amenities for making the season an enjoyable one for the whole family. Give your kids a fun-filled day of Ferris wheel or horseback rides at Sky Ranch, or take your rambunctious little ones to Picnic Grove for activities like hiking or ziplining. For some relaxing down time, check in at Crosswinds Swiss Luxury Inn and take a tour of the Christmas village while absorbing the sight of genuine pine trees scattered all over the property.
Tagyatay, Cavite (Image by Martin Lewison/Flickr Creative Commons)
San Fernando, Pampanga
Here’s another city you absolutely have to visit during the holidays: as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines, San Fernando is alight with Yuletide spirit 365 days a year because of the availability of holiday decorations all year round. December in particular is a special month because of the Giant Lantern Festival, wherein larger-than-life lanterns of all shapes and colors are on display for competition. This year’s competition is happening on December 19, but the giant lanterns will be on display until the end of the month. And don’t forget that Pampanga is the Culinary Capital of the Country too, so eating well during Noche Buena won’t be impossible.
San Fernando, Pampanga (Image by Caryl Joan Estrosas/Flickr Creative Commons)
If swimming at the beach is on the agenda this Christmas, Subic would be one of your best options. It’s only a couple of hours away from the metro, and it has some great options as far as beaches are concerned. Rushing to find a gift for your group’s Secret Santa gift exchange? No problem; Subic’s crawling with stores that sell various international brands at affordable prices. You might even end up having a Western-style Noche Buena with the imported food choices you’ll find in the municipality’s groceries and restaurants. Of course, if you’re more into swimming pools…
Subic, Zambales (Image by chluna/Flickr Creative Commons)
The cities and municipalities of Laguna
… you’d feel at home spending the holidays soaking in the pools of Laguna. The province is known as the Resort Capital of the Philippines for having over 700 hot-spring resorts between Calamba and Los Baños so you have your pick of the litter if you’re a fan of hot baths. If December’s increasingly warm weather is heating you up, resorts with cool water pools are also available. For a more intimate get-together (so you can splash around or beat each other at videoke as much as you want), rent a transient home with a pool.
Siniloan, Laguna (Image by jojo nicdao/Flickr Creative Commons)
No Christmas dinner is complete without a platter of your favorite kakanin, but why buy them outside the church after mass or at the wet market when you can get them straight from the source? One of Antipolo’s claims to fame is its suman, but the municipality’s also known to sell other native delicacies to suit your taste. But beyond these delicious treats, anyone searching for Christmas in the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines need not look farther than Jardin de Miramar, an events place containing the Yuletide attraction Casa Santa. At Casa Santa, you can view over 3,700 Christmas items from all over the world, and your kids will even get to pose for a photo with a live Santa afterwards.
Antipolo Cathedral in Antipolo, Rizal (Image by Roberto Verzo/Flickr Creative Commons)