PH holiday travel suggestions

Tanya Lim
It's not too late to plan where you're going for the holidays — and how much you'll spend

SWIMMING IN HISTORY. The writer wreck-diving in Coron. All photos by Tanya Lim

MANILA, Philippines – November 30 is a long weekend and, of course, for the working peeps, either Christmas or New Year (depending on your company’s skeletal work schedule) will be an even longer break.

More and more Filipinos (specially those with families) are making it a point to celebrate Christmas or welcome the New Year somewhere special and where they can enjoy hassle-free holidays.

Of course, how you celebrate the holidays is what counts. But it cannot be denied that — should a beautiful beach be in the background — spending them in a beautiful destination is the cherry on top of the cake.

If you’re up for holidays that are out of the ordinary, here is our list of suggested destinations:

1) It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a super value seat sale!

Plan your trips ahead of time, especially plane trips. If you book them in advance, you get pretty good deals. 

Coco Grove Resort in Siquijor

Save: The mystical island of Siquijor

  • Stay at the Coco Grove Resort where rooms are affordable at Php 4,300/night for a family of 4
  • Things to do: trek to Cambugahay Falls, a breathtaking 3-tiered waterfall, and explore Cantabon Cave or Capilay Spring
  • Siquijor is one of the places in the Philippines where the white powdery beaches are still untouched

Splurge: Choose from Bicol, Boracay and Bohol

  • Misibis Bay Resort, Bicol’s “luxury playground,” has packages at Php 32,888/person. They include 2 nights stay and full-board meals for a family of 4. 
  • Shangri-La Boracay is perfect for a quiet getaway at Php 21,750/night 
  • Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa in Bohol is a must-see at US$ 3,800 or Php 156,059.49/3 nights for a family of 6 

2) Row, row, row your boat… 

I’ve ridden boats to Mindoro, to Tubbataha Reef in Palawan and even to Boracay (when Catamarans were the only way there). Those were times I loved and hated.

Tip: Bring Bonamine. It may come in handy. 

Apo Reef

Save: Take a boat to the wild side of Puerto Galera 

  • Take a ferry boat from the Batangas Pier. The ride lasts for about an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Las Villas Del Natividad is an affordable place at only Php 1,000/person/night

Splurge: Apo Reef in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro 


  • From the Batangas Pier, the ferry ride to Apo Reef is about two and a half hours
  • Frontier Scuba provides a 6-night dive package at US$ 1,200 or Php 49,277.24/person with full board meals 

3) Dude, where’s my car? Road trip!

Underwater at Twin Rocks in Anilao

Save: “ All you need is a tank of gas to get to Batangas.” – Governor Vilma S. Recto

  • We usually stay at Mayumi Resorts at Php 4,500/night for a group of 3
  • Things to do: scuba diving, snorkeling and island hopping 
  • Anywhere you decide to stay, the resorts are affordable and dive sites are world-class

Splurge: Drive thru La Union and Vigan 

  • In La Union, stay at the Urbiz Garden at Php 3,500/night for 4 pax and learn to surf
  • In Vigan, rest your head at the Villa Angela Heritage House at Php 3,000/night per couple after studying history and culture 
  • If you have extra time, visit Pagudpud Beach and the Bangui windmills

4) STAY-cation time! Enjoy the ghost town… 

The seawall garden at Sofitel. Photo from the Sofitel Facebook page

Save: Stay home

  • Cook an amazing meal or order lechon
  • Pop some champagne and celebrate the birth of Christ or watch as 2012 slowly waves goodbye

Splurge: Stay at Sofitel 

  • The view of Manila Bay is what keeps me coming back and, of course Spiral, their smorgasbord international buffet at Php 2,432-Php 3,046/head
  • Their luxury rooms average US$ 202.79 or Php 8,314/night 

No matter where you choose to go, savor every minute of it.

Remember that you are making memories you will look back on and laugh about forever.

Happy holidays! –

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