Top 10 Things To Do For Christmas

(I wrote this article for the Mothers and Darlings Support Group (MADS) for expats in Manila.)

1. Immerse yourself in the Filipino Christmas Culture.
Nine days before Christmas, a lot of Filipinos attend Simbang Gabi (the early morning mass) as a novena and to prepare themselves for Christmas Day. Filipinos stay up late, waiting for December 25 to come around, to celebrate Noche Buena with family and friends, culminating in the opening of gifts.

2. Enjoy the Christmas Cleaning.
The week after Christmas is actually an ideal time to get things done because most people will be traveling outside Manila. This is the best time to purge your files, or do some cleaning and renewal in your work. This is the most laidback period because you are already relieved of gift-giving responsibilities and people are still on holiday mode.

3. See the Giant Lanterns Festival in the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.
The most celebrated festival during the Christmas season can be found in San Fernando, Pampanga. Various barangays compete for the honor of having the best and biggest giant lantern display in the country. The lanterns are at least 18ft in diameter and are operated manually to light up and dance to upbeat music.

4. Pamper yourself in Tagaytay.
Most people travel to Tagaytay to experience the coldest month in the country. This is the best time to hike to see the Taal Volcano, eat a sunset dinner at Antonio’s, and chillax at the cozy boutique hotels. The best ones are 8 Suites, The Boutique, T-house, The Inn at Cliffhouse, and Meteora.

5. Explore the Santa Claus House in Antipolo.
Kids would love to see Casa Santa, a Christmas-y house full of Santa Claus-inspired collections. Since you are already in the area, check out the best Swiss restaurant in the country — Vieux Chalet. Also, make an appointment to see furniture artist Benji Reyes’ place in Antipolo.

6. Entertain kids at Enchanted Kingdom or Manila Ocean Park.
Enchanted Kingdom is a theme park attraction located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, just outside Manila. Most people go there during December because of the cool weather, interesting Christmas shows, and fireworks display.

Manila Ocean Park, on the other hand, is one of the biggest aquarium theme parks in Asia, located near Manila Bay. It is a nice place to explore at leisure. You can watch the special Christmas shows there or decide to stay at Hotel H2O so that you can really enjoy the place.

7. Avoid the malls and bazaar places from the 10th until Christmas Day.
Filipinos love to give gifts, and they also love to buy them during crunch time. Expect the heaviest traffic during the 12 days before Christmas due to all the holiday parties, Kris Kringles and reunions happening around this time.

8. Watch a local Filipino film.
Every year, local filmmakers compete in the biggest movie festival in the country, the Metro Manila Film Fest. Starting on Christmas Day, all local movie theaters would only show the movies taking part in the festival. The films shown don’t usually have subtitles, but watching them with locals could give you a peek into what Filipino movie culture is all about.

9. Explore Viaje del Sol in Laguna and Quezon.
Here is a recommended itinerary: Lunch tour at Villa Escudero; eat and shop at the best pottery garden place by Ugu Bigyan in Tiaong, Quezon; and then stay overnight at Hidden Valley in Alaminos, Laguna.

10. Escape to the beach.
South of Manila, the nearest beaches are the private beaches of Kawayan Cove, Tali Beach and Punta Fuego in Nasugbu, Batangas; Playa Calatagan in Calatagan, Batangas; Hamilo Coast and the resorts in Laiya, Batangas. North of Manila, the best beach resort is the private Anvaya Cove in Subic. Nothing beats just relaxing on the beach and spending time with your loved ones.

Live an Awesome Life,

Anton 
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Call or Text Me: +63917 5683-627 (LOVE-OAP)
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Disclosure: Nothing to disclose 🙂

P.S. please contact reservations@ultimatephilippines.com to reserve your slot for the December 18 Ultimate Pampanga – Ligligan Parul tour. 

10 thoughts on “Top 10 Things To Do For Christmas

  1. In addition to the list, may I suggest the Pasig River Ferry ride starting from Guadalupe and ending at Escolta station. Riders may proceed to 168 mall for their shopping either by walking or taking the historic kalesa ride. The ferry ride is quite an experience. The best is to buy the ride all you ticket for P100. Riders may also opt to go down at Intramuros station and tour the area. Another thing to add to the list is the new PNR ride. When going to Divisoria this Christmas, take the PNR train. Traffic will surely be bad and navigating the streets is a pain. It is best to take the train from the Buendia station and disembark at the main Tutuban station where the mall is just in front of it.

  2. Or join a fun run to burn a few calories from the food trip during the holidays. 😀
    I also avoid the malls near Christmas Day and recommend doing the Viaje Del Sol.

  3. wow! what brilliant ideas you have there… hihihi! yes id love to see casa santa. how long is the trip from manila to antipolo? thanks in advance.

  4. Hi! These ideas are awesome i should say…
    Btw, where can we find the Santa Clause house in antipolo? Is it open to public? Thanks a lot and God bless!

  5. Hi Anton! Thank you for the list! Very good suggestions. If I may add, Christmas is the time to enjoy food such as bingbingka, puto bungbong, leche flan and lechon. Chritmas dinner without lechon seems incomplete. For those who love to savor lechon without feeling guilty about the indulgence, try Hecky’s Lechon. It’s oven-baked, Cebu-style, organic lechon. It has less fat and it is so yummy!!! If you are going up to Tagaytay, buy some lechon at Hecky’s branch at South Supermarket Sta. Rosa 🙂

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