12 Best Things to Do in The Philippines in the Winter

by Jen
Best Things to Do in The Philippines in the Winter
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Ready for a winter adventure in the Philippines? Our guide highlights the coolest places in the Philippines in the winter, from Palawan’s hidden islands to Cebu’s lively Sinulog Festival. Get set for unforgettable experiences and vibrant culture in this tropical paradise!

Winter in the Philippines is a season of endless sunshine and vibrant festivals. It’s a time when the country truly comes alive during its dry season! I’ve explored these islands during the winter months and trust me, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Imagine swapping snow for sandy beaches and cold winds for warm, tropical breezes.

In this season, the Philippines turns into a playground for all sorts of adventures. You can go island hopping in Palawan, where the waters are just perfect, or catch some waves in Siargao. Winter here isn’t about staying cozy indoors. It’s about diving into new experiences. From the lively Sinulog Festival in Cebu to the peaceful beaches of Boracay, every corner of this country offers something unique.

Pack your bags and get ready for a winter filled with sun, sea, and unforgettable memories. Let’s dive into the coolest things to do in the Philippines this winter!

The top places to visit in Philippines in winter

Top Winter Activities in the Philippines

Ready to dive into the wonders of the Philippines this winter? From the serene beaches of Boracay to the lively streets of Cebu during the Sinulog Festival, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the Philippines this winter. Whether you’re island hopping in Palawan or witnessing the majestic Mayon Volcano, there’s an adventure for every traveler. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best winter activities in the Philippines – each one a must-do!

1. Island Hopping in Palawan

Palawan in winter is a dream come true for island lovers. Imagine hopping from one pristine island to another under the warm winter sun. The cool, dry season from December to February is ideal for exploring the hidden lagoons and secret beaches of this breathtaking archipelago. It’s one of the best places to visit in the Philippines in winter, hands down.

Start your adventure at El Nido, where the enchanting Big and Small Lagoons await. Kayak through turquoise waters, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. Trust me, it’s a view you’ll never forget! Don’t miss the chance to snorkel in the vibrant coral gardens of Coron. The underwater scenery here is just as stunning as the landscapes above.

For a more secluded experience, head to the lesser-known islands like Balabac or Linapacan. Here, you’ll find unspoiled beaches perfect for a peaceful day under the sun. And when it comes to sunset, nothing beats watching the sky turn into a canvas of colors from the shores of Palawan.

Winter in Palawan isn’t just about the beauty of its islands. It’s about the warmth of its people and the tranquility that envelops you. I visited El Nido in February, and I experienced perfect weather. So fly to the Philippines and I guarantee this is one of the first places you’ll want to see in the “wintertime.”

Visiting Palawan is one of the best things to do in the Philippines in the winter.
Palawan is perfect for exploring hidden lagoons and secret beaches, making it a top winter destination in the Philippines.

2. Surfing in Siargao

Winter in Siargao is a surfer’s paradise. The waves are at their peak, which makes it the perfect time for both beginners and pros to hit the water. As a keen surfer myself, I can vouch that Siargao’s waves are some of the best you’ll find anywhere!

The famous Cloud 9 break is where the action is. It’s known for its thick, hollow tubes – a dream for thrill-seekers. But don’t worry if you’re new to surfing. There are plenty of surf schools along the beach where seasoned instructors can guide you. The vibe here is super friendly, and the local surf community is always welcoming.

Apart from surfing, Siargao offers serene lagoons, hidden coves, and lush mangrove forests to explore. Rent a motorbike and discover the island’s natural beauty. Make sure to visit the Magpupungko Rock Pools – they’re stunning during low tide.

Surfing in Siargao is undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in the Philippines in the winter. It’s all about the laid-back lifestyle and the warm, sunny days that make every moment here special. Grab your board and come experience the best surfing season in Siargao! This is one of the top places to live and visit in the Philippines, hands down.

Winter in Siargao spells surfer's delight, boasting peak waves ideal for both beginners and pros.
Winter in Siargao spells surfer’s delight, boasting peak waves ideal for both beginners and pros.

3. Go Hiking in the Cordilleras

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, I recommend heading to the Cordilleras. The cooler winter weather makes it ideal for trekking through these majestic mountains. I’ve hiked here during different seasons, and winter offers the most comfortable and clear conditions.

One of the top places to visit in the Philippines in winter is the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. These ancient terraces, carved into the mountains, are even more stunning with the crisp winter air. The views are breathtaking, and the cultural experience is unparalleled. You can interact with the local Ifugao people and learn about their centuries-old rice farming techniques.

For a challenging trek, head to Mt. Pulag. It’s the third-highest mountain in the Philippines and is known for its “sea of clouds” phenomenon. Imagine standing above a blanket of clouds as the sun rises – it’s an unforgettable sight!

In the Cordilleras, winter brings out the best in nature. The trails are less muddy, the skies clearer, and the views more spectacular. So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an exhilarating journey through the Philippine highlands!

For avid hikers, the Cordilleras beckon in winter, offering ideal conditions with cooler weather and clear trails for trekking.
For avid hikers, the Cordilleras beckon in winter, offering ideal conditions with cooler weather and clear trails for trekking.

4. Attend the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo

Despite what you might think, winter in the Philippines isn’t just about natural beauty. It’s also a time for vibrant cultural celebrations. The Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo is a must-see. Held on January 6, 2024, it’s one of the most exciting things to do in the Philippines in winter.

This festival is a feast for the senses. Streets come alive with dancers in colorful costumes and the rhythmic beat of drums. It’s a celebration in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus), blending both Christian and indigenous Ati traditions. The energy here is infectious, and you’ll find yourself dancing along in no time!

I recommend joining the street parties and trying local delicacies. The festival is also a great opportunity to shop for unique handicrafts. And if you’re a photography enthusiast, the vibrant costumes and lively parades offer endless photo ops.

Experiencing the Ati-Atihan Festival gives you a deeper understanding of Filipino culture. It’s a winter event that showcases the country’s rich history and the warm spirit of its people. Come and be part of this unforgettable celebration!

Winter in the Philippines means vibrant cultural celebrations, like the must-see Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo on January 6, 2024.
Winter in the Philippines means vibrant cultural celebrations, like the must-see Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo on January 6, 2024.

5. Relax on Boracay’s White Beach

When it comes to places to go in the Philippines in winter, Boracay’s White Beach is a standout. Winter here means sunny days with a gentle breeze, perfect for beach lovers. I’ve lounged on many beaches on my travels, but White Beach during winter is something else. It’s serene, beautiful, and just right for relaxation.

The soft, powdery sand and crystal-clear waters are ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Winter also brings fewer crowds, giving you more space to enjoy this paradise. For water sports enthusiasts, there’s parasailing, kite surfing, and paddleboarding.

As the sun sets, the beach transforms. The nightlife here is vibrant yet laid-back. Enjoy a cocktail at one of the beachfront bars, or indulge in a seafood feast at a local restaurant. The atmosphere is always welcoming and warm.

Boracay in winter is a perfect blend of relaxation and fun. It’s a place where you can unwind by the sea and create memories that last a lifetime. Don’t forget to add White Beach to your winter travel list!

Boracay's White Beach stands out as a top winter destination in the Philippines, offering sunny days with a gentle breeze.
Boracay’s White Beach stands out as a top winter destination in the Philippines, offering sunny days with a gentle breeze.

6. Experience Sinulog Festival in Cebu

If you’re looking for unique things to do in the Philippines in the winter, check out the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. This January festival is a vibrant display of culture and faith. In 2024, the festival will be held on 21 January in Cebu City.

Sinulog is famous for its grand street parade. Performers in bright, elaborate costumes dance to the beat of drums, celebrating the Filipino people’s conversion to Christianity. The energy is electric, and the streets are filled with art and music.

Visiting Cebu during Sinulog also lets you explore its rich history. Visit the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, a key site in the festival. Don’t miss the chance to try Cebu’s famous lechon (roast pig) – it’s delicious!

Winter is the best time to visit Cebu for Sinulog. The weather is cooler, which makes it comfortable to join in the festivities. It’s a unique blend of religious tradition and fun, offering an experience you won’t find anywhere else. And offering some of the cheaper flights in the Philippines, it won’t take an arm and a leg to get here.

Experience the vibrant Sinulog Festival in Cebu—a January celebration showcasing rich culture and faith.

7. Discover the Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna

Wondering what to do in the Philippines in winter? Let me guide you to Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna. This secluded paradise, just a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Manila, is a winter haven for those seeking peace and natural beauty.

The springs are a series of natural thermal pools, each offering a unique experience. In the cooler winter months, there’s nothing more soothing than soaking in these warm, mineral-rich waters. The surrounding rainforest adds to the charm, with its rich biodiversity and serene ambiance.

Take a leisurely walk along the forest trails and discover the majestic 300-year-old Amlang tree. It’s a gentle reminder of nature’s enduring beauty. The springs are not just about relaxation – they’re about reconnecting with nature in its purest form.

Hidden Valley Springs is a gem, especially in winter. It’s a tranquil escape from the busy world, perfect for rejuvenating both body and spirit. Trust me, a visit here is a must for your winter itinerary in the Philippines.

Explore Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna—a serene paradise, a mere one-and-a-half-hour drive from Manila.
Explore Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna—a serene paradise, a mere one-and-a-half-hour drive from Manila.

8. Whale Shark Watching in Donsol

For a truly unique winter experience, head to Donsol for whale shark watching. These gentle giants visit the waters of Donsol from November to June. This makes winter the prime time for an encounter. I assure you it’s an unforgettable experience!

Donsol is known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World.” Unlike other places, here you can snorkel with these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. The eco-friendly practices ensure a respectful and sustainable interaction. Imagine swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea – it’s both thrilling and humbling.

The local guides are knowledgeable and committed to the safety of both the whale sharks and visitors. They’ll help you spot the sharks and ensure you have a safe and memorable experience.

If you’re wondering where to go in the Philippines in winter, Donsol should be high on your list. This unique wildlife encounter is a highlight of any winter trip to the Philippines, offering a blend of adventure and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

In Donsol, winter offers prime time for unforgettable encounters with gentle whale sharks.
In Donsol, winter offers prime time for unforgettable encounters with gentle whale sharks.

9. Join the Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio

Winter in the Philippines brings a unique spectacle in Baguio – the Panagbenga Flower Festival. Held during the entire month of February, it’s a celebration of flowers and a testament to the city’s moniker as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” If you’re looking for beautiful places to visit in the Philippines in winter, this festival is a must-see.

Panagbenga showcases spectacular floats adorned with flowers, street dancing, and vibrant costumes. The cool winter climate of Baguio is perfect for this floral extravaganza, as the flowers are in full bloom, painting the city in a kaleidoscope of colors.

I recommend exploring Baguio’s other attractions too. Visit the Botanical Garden, Mines View Park, and the colorful Stobosa houses. The city’s cool weather is a pleasant break from the tropical heat, which makes it ideal for walks and outdoor activities.

The Panagbenga Festival is a reflection of Baguio’s rich culture and the beauty of nature. It’s a winter activity in the Philippines that combines the charm of a flower show with the joy of a street party, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Baguio's Panagbenga Flower Festival in February is a unique winter spectacle, celebrating flowers.
Baguio’s Panagbenga Flower Festival in February is a unique winter spectacle, celebrating flowers. | Image Source: https://www.rappler.com/

10. Explore Historic Vigan

Exploring Vigan is like stepping into a time machine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best places to go in the Philippines in the winter. The cooler weather makes wandering through its historic streets and colonial architecture even more enjoyable.

Vigan is famous for its well-preserved Spanish colonial and Asian architecture. Calle Crisologo, the city’s most famous street, is a must-visit. Lined with cobblestones and old houses, it’s a photographer’s dream, especially in the soft winter light.

I recommend trying the local cuisine. Vigan is known for its savory empanadas and the sweet delicacy, Vigan longganisa. Visiting during winter, you’ll enjoy these treats without the discomfort of summer heat.

In Vigan, winter evenings are magical. The streets light up, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. For a unique experience, visit the Bell Tower for a panoramic view of the city, especially enchanting at dusk. Local markets are bustling with artisan crafts and souvenirs, perfect for holiday gifts. And if you’re staying overnight, choose a heritage house turned into a cozy inn for an authentic Vigan experience.

Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a time-travel experience, perfect for winter exploration in the Philippines.
Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a time-travel experience, perfect for winter exploration in the Philippines.

11. Witness the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga

A visit to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga is one of the coolest things to do in the Philippines in winter. Held annually in February, it’s a spectacle of color and excitement that fills the sky. As someone who’s witnessed this fiesta, I can say it’s a breathtaking experience not to be missed. In 2024, the festival will take place from February 16 – 18.

The cool, clear winter mornings in Pampanga provide perfect conditions for hot air ballooning. Watching these giant balloons lift off at sunrise is magical. The festival also features aerial shows, skydiving, and kite flying, making it a paradise for sky enthusiasts.

Apart from the sky activities, the fiesta offers a variety of on-ground attractions. There are food stalls, craft markets, and live music, creating a festive atmosphere. It’s a family-friendly event, with something for everyone to enjoy.

For a complete experience at the Fiesta, I recommend arriving early to catch the balloons’ inflation and liftoff at dawn. If you’re adventurous, sign up for a hot air balloon ride or tandem skydiving. Accommodations nearby fill up fast, so book early. And don’t forget to check out the evening balloon glows, where the balloons light up the night sky. It’s a perfect end to a winter day in Pampanga.

Witnessing the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga is one of the best things to do in the Philippines in the winter.
The Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Pampanga, held annually in February, is an exhilarating activity in the Philippines. | Image Source: https://guidetothephilippines.ph/

12. View the Mayon Volcano in Albay

Ending our list is the breathtaking view of the Mayon Volcano in Albay, a must-see among the Philippines’ winter attractions. Winter provides clear skies and cooler temperatures, perfect for viewing and photographing this perfectly symmetrical volcano.

Mayon is known for its near-perfect cone shape, and seeing it up close is awe-inspiring. For the best views, visit the Cagsawa Ruins. The contrast of the ancient church ruins with the majestic volcano in the background is stunning, especially in the soft light of winter mornings.

For an active adventure, try ATV tours around the volcano’s base. It’s a fun way to explore the landscape and get a different perspective of Mayon. And don’t miss the local cuisine in Albay – the spicy Bicolano dishes are something you’ll want to try.

To fully appreciate Mayon, consider a guided hike on its lower slopes, available during the dry winter months. These treks offer a closer look at the volcano’s natural beauty and are suitable for various fitness levels. For accommodations, choose from a range of options in Legazpi City, where you can enjoy stunning volcano views right from your window. Remember, visiting Mayon isn’t just about seeing the volcano; it’s about immersing yourself in the culture and natural splendor of Albay. A perfect finale to your winter journey in this enchanting country!

Albay's Mayon Volcano is one of the best things to do in the Philippines in the winter.
Albay’s Mayon Volcano, a winter gem in the Philippines, offers a breathtaking view.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Winter in the Philippines:

Are you looking to expand your knowledge of the coolest places to visit in the Philippines in the winter? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked about the Philippines’ best winter destinations.

Where is the best place to go in the Philippines in December?

December is a fantastic time to visit Boracay. The weather is ideal – not too hot, with minimal rainfall. The island’s famous White Beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying water sports. Plus, the festive atmosphere around Christmas makes it extra special.

What is the Philippines like in the winter?

Winter in the Philippines, from December to February, is pleasantly cool and dry, especially in the northern regions. It’s the perfect time for outdoor activities, from beach hopping in Palawan to attending vibrant festivals like the Sinulog in Cebu.

El Nido, Palawan: Islands, clear waters, boats, and blue sky.
El Nido, Palawan: Islands, clear waters, boats, and blue sky.

What is the Philippines’ coldest month?

January is generally the coldest month in the Philippines. In high-altitude areas like Baguio, temperatures can drop significantly, offering a cool escape from the tropical climate.

Can you swim in the Philippines in winter?

Absolutely! Winter is a great time to swim in the Philippines. The sea temperatures are warm and comfortable, especially in Southeast Asia destinations like Siargao and Boracay.

Does it ever snow in the Philippines?

No, it doesn’t snow in the Philippines. The country has a tropical climate, so even in the coldest months, you won’t find snow. However, you can enjoy cool, crisp weather in mountainous areas like the Cordilleras.

Are there any unique winter festivals in the Philippines?

Yes! Winter in the Philippines is festival season. The Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo and the Sinulog Festival in Cebu are two major celebrations in January, known for their colorful parades and cultural significance.

What are some winter adventure activities in the Philippines?

Winter is ideal for adventure activities. You can go hiking in the Cordilleras, where the cooler weather is perfect for trekking. Diving in places like Palawan is also popular, as the visibility is at its best.

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