The much-awaited Christmas to New Year break has finally arrived. People feel the holiday spirit as decorations and flickering lights surround houses, puto bumbong ang bibingka aromas fill churches, and caroling children appear at doorsteps as soon as the “-ber” months start. Aside from these and the anticipated generous gift-giving, it is also this time of year where people unwind from the daily stress of work and bond with families and friends. Many find this as an opportunity to relax at home and have dinner with relatives for the occasions. But for the travel junkies who want to escape the complexities of city life and explore the subtleness of provinces, here is a list of places to visit during the long break.
Christmas Capital: San Fernando, Pampanga
San Fernando sets the holiday spirit aglow with the Giant Lantern festival, locally known as Ligligan Parul. The festival showcases a competition of eye-dazzling electric lanterns with bright lights and kaleidoscopic patterns. The grand parols, that can be as high as 15 meters, are crafted by local artisans from several barrios. The colorful lanterns not only capture the hearts of the children but also bring the message of light and hope to all.
Tropical Christmas: Boracay Island
Be captivated by the small tropical island’s charm and beauty. Boracay, one of the country’s top tourist spots, is famous for its fine white sand beaches, bustling nightlife and unending parties. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, tourists can enjoy an array of other activities such as scuba diving, windsurfing, parasailing, kiteboarding, jet skiing, and many more. Boracay is definitely the best place to visit for those who want a warm experience in the cold season.
Cold Christmas: Baguio City
Those who prefer a chilly experience, on the other hand, can opt for Baguio. Take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful landscape, quaint cottages and wide open areas at Burnham Park. Ravel the beauty of the flora and fauna at Botanical Garden. Pick fresh strawberries at the Strawberry Farm. Go for bargain shopping at the Session Road. And don’t forget to visit Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village and experience snow – artificial snow, that is.
Weekend Destination: Laiya, Batangas
For those who want a beach experience but only have a few days off, Laiya, Batangas is the best bet. The lovely province, only a few hours away from Manila, boasts its long expanse of sand and pristine waters. Kick back, relax and enjoy the tropical ambiance. Swim in the beach while embracing fresh air. Eat delicious Batangas specialties such as tawilis, kilawin, maliputo and other sumptuous local cuisine.
Exciting Adventure: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
This popular tourist spot is famous for its Underground River, hailed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The 8.2-kilometer river features limestone karst forests and many stalactites and stalagmites formations to adore. Aside from its river’s splendor, travelers can also go island hopping, snorkeling, spelunking, tekking, and then relaxing in one of its quiet white sand beaches. All these activities make Puerto Princesa a must-see this holiday break.
Indeed, celebrating the holiday season is more fun in the Philippines!