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Tis the Season to Travel: 16 Best Christmas Destinations to Visit

Rouselle Isla

Rouselle Isla

Last updated December 19, 2023

Christmas is here! Yuletide carols play non-stop in malls (Jose Mari Chan, anyone?). Parties with old friends are happening left and right. And family reunions are over the horizon. 

Meanwhile, some of us are packing our bags to celebrate Christmas elsewhere. Not sure where to go? Thankfully, you have plenty of options here and abroad. 

Whether it's for a family reunion, bonding with friends, or a romantic trip with your significant other, here are some of the best Christmas destinations to consider for your upcoming vacation.

Best Christmas Destinations in the Philippines

Where to spend Christmas in the Philippines? In general, you have three options: the cities, the beach, or the highlands. Check out the following:

🎄 Metro Manila 

best christmas destinations - metro manila

Photo: Ayala Triangle Gardens (Facebook)

Estimated budget: ₱1,000 to ₱5,000

The country’s capital has a wealth of Christmas events and happenings that attract both its denizens and visitors from other regions. 

First on the list is the Ayala Triangle Lights and Sounds Show in Makati. Alternatively, if your family is into fireworks, the fireworks displays at the SM Mall of Asia are a must-see. 

Big universities in Metro Manila have something for everyone. Marvel at the giant floats and lanterns at the UP Lantern Parade at the University of the Philippines Diliman. The University of Santo Tomas, on the other hand, holds Paskuhan, which features fireworks displays and concerts. 

Going to the movies is also a Christmas tradition among many Filipino families, thanks to the Metro Manila Film Festival. While you’re in the city, you might as well catch a movie or two at the mall. 

🎄 Sagada

best christmas destinations - sagada

Estimated budget: ₱7,000 to ₱8,000 (three days, two nights)  

Want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Baguio but still want to enjoy the chilly weather? Head over to its laid-back yet equally charming neighbor: Sagada.

Sagada is the best place to spend Christmas in the Philippines for the soul-searching solo traveler. It offers plenty of activities for anyone who wants to be one with nature.

Explore the caves, rivers, and waterfalls, or see the iconic hanging coffins. For thrill-seekers, go hiking in lush mountains and try rock climbing. And for coffee lovers, take a sip of Sagada's homegrown organic coffee.

Of course, your Sagada trip won't be complete without reveling in the stunning sunrise view at Kiltepan Peak. Just don't forget to respect the culture and tradition of the locals by cleaning up after yourself and not interrupting sacred rituals. If your time and budget permit, you may also want to take a side trip to Bontoc and Banaue.

🎄 Cebu

best christmas destinations - cebu

Estimated budget: ₱8,000 to ₱9,000 (three days, two nights)   

The festive Christmas vibe starts early in Cebu. Giant lanterns, intricate decors, and sparkling lights adorn malls, shops, hotels, and other establishments all over the city as early as September. For this reason, it makes the list of the best places for Christmas vacation in the Philippines.

Spend your simbang gabi at Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño De Cebu. Right beside it is the iconic Magellan's Cross Pavilion, which houses a replica of the wooden cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan. 

As early as September to November, beer and music enthusiasts can look forward to attending concerts and other events in Cebu, like Oktoberfest. And for foodies, time to experience Cebu's famous authentic lechon!

🎄 Dumaguete 

best christmas destinations - dumaguete

Estimated budget: ₱6,000 to ₱10,000 

Looking for laid-back, uncrowded Christmas destinations? 

Dumaguete is definitely one of the best places to spend Christmas in the Philippines if you’re a beach and nature lover. For one, you can go diving and snorkeling around Apo Island. You may also visit Manjuyod for dolphin watching and the Maldives-like sandbar. 

If your idea of relaxation is taking in some fresh breeze, visit the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park. Here, the smooth and glass-like crater lake is surrounded by towering greenery.

In case you don’t want to leave the city, take your family and friends to Rizal Boulevard where you can watch people go about their day. After that, explore some restaurants and cafés nearby. 

🎄 Cagayan de Oro

best christmas destinations - cagayan de oro

Estimated budget: ₱9,000 to ₱10,000 (three days, two nights, excluding flights)

During the happy ber months, adrenaline-pumping water activities in this small city become all the more exciting. It's when the Cagayan de Oro River—the longest and biggest in the Philippines—comes to life. 

Whitewater rafting in this river is the most popular activity for tourists in CDO. You can also try river tubing, canoeing, and kayaking with your family and friends!

🎄 Siargao

best christmas destinations - siargao

Estimated budget: ₱9,000 to ₱12,000 (four days, three nights, excluding flights)

Siargao is the Philippines' ultimate surfing destination, especially in the ber months when the waves are usually higher and more aggressive. What better way to quench your thirst for adventure than by visiting the country's surfing capital?

The island is also a popular alternative to Boracay. Siargao is reminiscent of Boracay's former glory, with its secluded white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant nightlife. It also helps that Siargao is now more accessible through direct flights from Manila and Cebu.

🎄 Baler

best christmas destinations - baler

Estimated budget: ₱5,000 to ₱6,000 (three days, two nights)

If the South has Siargao, the North has Baler as its famed surf spot. Come ber months, the waves get as high as 9 feet, perfect for both noobs and pros. 

Beyond that, Baler has more to offer nature lovers. It's home to breathtaking waterfalls, rock formations, and coves.

The capital of Aurora also boasts a rich Hispanic heritage. On your Baler trip, make sure to visit Museo de Baler, Baler Church, and Doña Aurora Ancestral House for an unforgettable trip down memory lane.


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Best Christmas Destinations in Asia

Where to spend Christmas outside the Philippines? Consider some countries in Asia, such as the following: 

🎄 Japan

best christmas destinations - japan

Estimated budget: ₱30,000 to 60,000 (seven days, six nights, excluding flights)

While Christmas isn't a national holiday in Japan, the festive spirit can be seen and felt throughout the whole country. The land of the rising sun is definitely one of the best Christmas destinations!

Japan is well-known for its light displays. Big tourist attractions like Osaka's Kaiyukan Aquarium and the Tokyo Station are usually adorned with lights from November until December, so make sure to shoot videos and snap pictures to capture the moment.

Visit Christmas markets in Japan, particularly the Tokyo and Sapporo Christmas Markets. The Disney Christmas Spectacle at Tokyo Disneyland is also not to be missed. There are fireworks displays, special Christmas menus, holiday giveaways, and tons of Disney-style Christmas activities for kids and kids at heart to enjoy.

And whether you're headed to Hokkaido or Kyushu, don’t forget to try the Japanese Christmas cake. Its light and spongy texture will truly delight your taste buds. 

For destinations outside of highly urbanized cities, consider Shirakawa-go in the Gifu Prefecture. This beautiful traditional mountain village looks straight out of a Christmas card!

Japan Travel Reminders

  • Expect lots of snow in December, especially if you're visiting the northern or coastal parts of Japan. However, other parts of the country can be dry and sunny, so pack accordingly. 
  • You need to secure a visa to visit Japan.
  • If you’re planning to visit different cities, towns, and prefectures via train, consider getting a JR Pass. This allows you to ride JR trains (including the shinkansen or bullet train) as many times as you want within a specific period. 
  • You’ll be walking a lot in Japan, so get a pair of comfy footwear. 
  • Bring your passport when you shop for souvenirs and pasalubong. A lot of shops offer tax exemption to tourists, provided that they can present their passport. 

Read more:21 Japan Travel Tips: Tax-Free Shopping, Spots to Visit, and More

🎄 Thailand

best christmas destinations - thailand

Estimated budget: ₱12,000 to ₱15,000 (four days, three nights, excluding flights)

What about a cheap holiday destination to Asia? A trip to Thailand is one of the best and most affordable ways to enjoy a unique Asian cultural experience. Visit its majestic temples, ride a tuk-tuk, sample a variety of street foods, and shop 'til you drop for last-minute Christmas gifts at the Chatuchak Market—your travel itinerary will be packed with fun activities!

The best time to visit the Land of Smiles is during autumn, which is the end of summer and the start of the cool season. September and October are the best months to go to the northern city of Chiang Mai, while November and December are great for exploring the capital Bangkok.

Thailand Travel Reminders

  • You can visit Thailand without a visa and stay for up to 30 days. 
  • Thailand doesn’t require international travelers to present proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result.[1] 
  • Be wary of scammers and fraudsters, especially in touristy areas. 

Read more: Welcome to the Land of the Free: Thailand Travel Requirements in 2023

🎄 Hong Kong

best christmas destinations - hong kong

Photo: @hkdisneyland (Instagram)

Estimated budget: ₱15,000 to 20,000 (three days, two nights, including flights)

Hong Kong is a massive urban playground, so you surely won’t run out of activities for your Christmas celebration. 

For kids and kids at heart, Hong Kong Disneyland will be the highlight of their holiday. The city’s A Symphony of Lights will treat you and your family to a spectacular light show where the buildings take center stage. 

Do your Christmas shopping in Mong Kok or Causeway Bay, two of the best places for fashion mavens and shoe collectors. 

Want to go on a gastronomic adventure? Visit Central and scout for Michelin Guide restaurants. 

Hong Kong Travel Reminders

  • Hong Kong doesn’t require Filipinos to provide a visa if they’re staying in the city for up to 14 days only. 
  • Hong Kong no longer requires tourists to undergo COVID-19 testing and quarantine. 
  • It can get cold in December, so bring the right clothing. 

Read more: Family Vacay in HK: Hong Kong Travel Requirements and Recommendations

🎄 Singapore 

best christmas destinations - singapore

Estimated budget: ₱15,000 to ₱25,000 (four days, three nights, excluding flights)

The city-state is one of the best holiday destinations in Asia, especially for shopaholics and foodies. 

One of the first places to visit in Singapore during this time of the year is Orchard Road. This well-known shopping neighborhood becomes livelier with extravagant decor and lights. 

The Gardens by the Bay, on the other hand, features a wonderful illumination that deserves a spot or two on your social media page. Another possible highlight of your Yuletide celebration on the island is a festive dinner at a big or upscale hotel, such as the Marina Bay Sands. You may also choose to visit Clarke Quay or Haji Lane to explore for booze and gastronomy. 

Singapore Travel Reminders

  • You can travel to Singapore visa-free for up to 30 days. 
  • Singapore welcomes tourists without requiring entry approvals, pre-departure tests, on-arrival tests, and quarantine. 
  • Singapore is warm and humid all year round, so pack accordingly. 

Read more: G for SG: Requirements to Travel to Singapore From the Philippines

🎄 Taiwan

best christmas destinations - taiwan

Estimated budget: ₱15,000 to ₱20,000 (five days, four nights, excluding flights)

Thanks to Taiwan's visa-free program, more Filipinos can now visit the country. So many wonderful attractions in Taiwan are waiting to be explored. It's also the best place to try dishes like xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) and stinky tofu.

A great travel destination during the ber months, Taiwan is best explored in autumn from September to November when it's at its most beautiful and the weather is mild and pleasant with little to no rainfall. This is also an off-peak tourist season, which means the country isn't as overcrowded.

Taiwan Travel Reminders 

  • You can travel to Taiwan visa-free and stay for up to 14 days. 
  • There are no mandatory quarantines for arriving travelers as well. 
  • If you’re visiting the highlands and cities with high elevation, the weather can be cold. Bring a jacket or layer your clothing. 

🎄 South Korea

best christmas destinations - south korea

Estimated budget: ₱16,000 to ₱30,000 (five days, four nights, excluding flights)

South Korea is great to visit all year round. But if you're looking for the best white Christmas destinations, you can enjoy a snowy holiday in the northern provinces. If you want to take home postcard-worthy pictures of gorgeous red and orange autumn foliage, time your visit between September and November. 

While Seoul is one of the top-of-mind holiday destinations for travelers, there's another way for Filipinos to experience Korea without getting a visa: Jeju Island. Its many natural wonders will leave you in awe.

South Korea Travel Reminders

  • December in South Korea brings rain, so pack rain gear, too. 
  • You must get a visa to enter Korea, except if you’re only visiting Jeju Island. 
  • The country has already lifted its COVID-19 restrictions. 

Read more: To K-Drama Land: South Korea Travel Guide and Sample Itinerary


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Best Christmas Destinations in Europe and North America

Got extra money to spare? If you’re ready for some splurging, you may want to fly to Europe or North America. 

🎄 Germany

best christmas destinations - germany

Estimated budget: ₱80,000 to ₱120,000

Wondering which Christmas holiday destinations to visit in Europe? We say Germany! 

June to December is the best time to visit Germany, with airline ticket prices ranging from ₱60,000 to ₱100,000. Get your visa and passport ready if you want to fly to Germany for an unforgettable and picturesque Christmas celebration.   

Head over to Nuremberg, the second largest city in Bavaria, which has one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe. Fall in love with its large square, surrounded by medieval buildings and illuminated by stars and Christmas lights. 

Visit the Christkindlesmrkt in Nuremberg, which sells all kinds of contemporary decor and crafts. Make sure to try the city's famous bratwursts in crusty buns and the lebkuchen, which are spicy gingerbread-like cookies.

Want to see more Christmas markets in Germany? There's nothing more enchanting and beautiful than the Christmas markets in the Black Forest region. It’s a major tourist attraction because of its beautiful landscapes and charming villages. 

Located in Southwest Germany, Baden-Württemberg is where you can find cabins and farmhouses that look straight out of classic fairy tale books with their rolling landscapes, thick trees, and deep woodlands. 

Meanwhile, the university city of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg transforms into a chocolate village every December during Chocol'ART, the largest chocolate festival in Germany.  

Stuttgart also has over 300 cabins adorned with Christmas lights and decors. Adults can shop, eat, and drink, while kids can ride a train through a miniature Christmas village.

If you take another quick train ride, you can also visit Esslingen and Gengenbach. You can find more Christmas markets where sellers dress in Middle Ages-themed costumes! 

Germany Travel Reminders

  • COVID-19-related restrictions for entry into Germany have been lifted. You aren’t required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.[2]
  • You need to secure your visa to enter Germany. 
  • Make sure to pack winter clothes, as winter in Germany can get very cold. 

Read more: Europe, Here I Come: Schengen Visa Requirements in the Philippines

🎄 Prague, Czech Republic

best christmas destinations - prague

Estimated budget: ₱110,000 to ₱125,000

Winter in Prague is one of the most breathtaking scenes in the world, which makes it one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Europe (and worthy of the ₱80,000 to ₱100,000 airline tickets!). 

Add Prague to your Christmas holiday destinations if you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland with your friends, family, or significant other. Like the Christmas markets in Germany, Prague also has Christmas markets at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, where you can drink, eat, shop, sing Christmas carols, and people-watch. 

You can also go ice skating at an outdoor rink near the Vltava river. No need to buy your own pair of skates as you can get one from one of the nearby rental booths. 

Or book a river sightseeing cruise at night to fully appreciate the beauty of Prague. The boats are heated, so you don’t need to worry about feeling too cold. 

Prague Travel Reminders: 

  • You need a valid visa to enter the Czech Republic and visit Prague. 
  • COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in the Czech Republic. You aren’t required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.[3] 

🎄 New York City, USA 

best christmas destinations - new york

Estimated budget: ₱150,000 to ₱205,000

One of the best places in the world to celebrate Christmas is New York City. NYC at Christmas time exudes warm, fuzzy feelings straight out of a rom-com, so a Manhattan holiday can be just what your soul needs! Airline tickets start at ₱86,000.

Of course, you must visit the famed ice rink at the Rockefeller Center. Snap holiday pics with the giant Christmas tree in the background. If you have the budget for some shopping, check out stores in the area with eye-catching Christmas window displays. 

Want to experience an authentic New York City Christmas? Watch a Christmas show featuring The Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall. Ticket prices start at US$46. 

After that, head to Central Park and check out the holiday market. Alternatively, you can visit the Bryant Park Winter Village Holiday Market, where you can enjoy hot snacks and warm drinks. 

Take a walking tour and check out the Christmas lights at Dyker Heights. You can admire beautiful views at night aboard a Christmas holiday cruise. Listen to a jazz band playing classic favorites and holiday tunes while drinking hot cocoa or wine aboard a 1920s-style yacht. 

New York City Travel Reminders

  • Light snow can occur in December, but it’s more likely you’ll deal with freezing rains. Either way, pack winter or rain clothes to be on the safe side. 
  • You must have a valid visa. 
  • Healthcare is expensive in the USA. Stay on the safe side by getting the right travel and health insurance policy. 
  • Save money on food by eating at food trucks or street carts
  • Walk to save on commute fares. 

Read more: Traveling to the U.S. Soon? Here’s How to Get a U.S. Tourist Visa

Final Thoughts

Before you start planning your itinerary, determine how you’ll fund your travels. Whether you plan to use your travel fund or secure a travel loan, check how much you can afford before you decide where to go. 

And no matter which of the best Christmas destinations you pick, don’t forget to have fun, create new memories, and enjoy some well-deserved quality time with your loved ones.

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Sources: 

Rouselle has over eight years of writing experience in the personal finance niche. She has written feature stories, articles, and how-to guides on various personal finance and trending lifestyle topics. Before that, she briefly worked in banking and was a licensed life insurance advisor. When not writing, Rouselle likes to read books and binge-watch films and series. Follow Rouselle on Linkedin.

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