A lot of Filipinos will want to spend cold holidays during Christmas; and many will be travelling to the country’s coolest places to celebrate. Christmas is often defined with snow, pine trees, cool breeze and the sense of togetherness and thanksgiving.
The Philippines’ provincial backwaters contain the ultimate paradox: the cool tropical town. Lower temperatures, however, are not the only factor that contribute to these towns’ coolness. Hence, if you are one on the lookout where to travel to enjoy a cold climate in the country, we have compiled a list of go-to coolest places this holiday for you.
In 1903, American colonists, inspired by the British Raj, built a sanatorium in the chilly heights of Benguet Province for heat-suffering, homesick soldiers.
By 1909, with the assistance of Flatiron Building architect Daniel Burnham, the area had been transformed into an American town called Baguio.
For a few summers, the American governor-general relocated the American government’s seat of government from humid Manila to this location.
At 5,200 feet above sea level, Baguio enjoys cool temperatures; in 1961, the temperature fell to a record low of 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6.3 C).
Even though the governors-general have long since departed, the city remains a summer capital and vacation hotspot, packed to capacity, particularly during Holy Week.
Tourists consume peanut brittle and strawberries fresh from La Trinidad’s fields.
How to get there: From Manila, the standard route to Baguio is an eight-hour bus ride (flights are rare, save for the odd charter). Buses depart from the residential areas of Caloocan, Cubao, and Pasay in Manila.
Tagaytay is what the Hamptons are to New York City for Manila.
Just over an hour from Manila, this city is home to the wealthy of the capital, who are drawn to the lower temperatures and commanding views of Taal Volcano, the world’s smallest active volcano.
Imelda Marcos once invited Ronald and Nancy Reagan to visit her “palace in the sky,” a 2,300-foot-high mansion.
Today, wealthy locals enjoy retirements that are only slightly less Imelda-like in the city’s Swiss-style log homes.
How to get there: Buses to Tagaytay depart from Manila’s Taft Avenue near the MRT station or from the corner of Gil Puyat Avenue.
If traveling by car, exit at the Santa Rosa or Carmona exits on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) toward Tagaytay.
Alternatively, after SLEX, take the Mabini Superhighway to Tanauan and follow the Talisay-Tagaytay route.
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In the early 1900s, Episcopal missionaries settled in Sagada and were delighted to discover the climate was cool enough to grow lemons.
Locals continue to grow lemons in their yards.
The so-called Philippine Shangri-La, which rises 5,300 feet above sea level, has an ideal climate for growing a variety of fruit.
After dark, the town can become wintry, with temperatures in January and February reaching the low 50s F (10s C).
One way to warm up is with kape alamid (civet poop coffee), one of numerous local delicacies.
Travelers can experience how cool it gets by jumping into the teeth-chattering waters of Sumaguing Cave or climbing to the summit of Kiltepan, a vantage point with views over an ocean of clouds.
How to get there: Regular buses and jeepneys depart from Baguio’s Dangwa terminal for the five-hour journey to Sagada.
4. Don Salvador Benedicto
The term “Little Baguio” is used to refer to virtually any location in the Philippines with any type of coniferous vegetation.
However, the moniker fits Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB), a town on Negros Island that is 2,500 feet above sea level.
DSB is a micro-Baguio without the crowds, from the 60 F (16 C) chill to the pine-lined thoroughfares and random lion monuments.
For motorists, the road’s subtle incline creates the illusion of an invisible force tugging vehicles at Magnetic Hill along KM34 on SB13.
How to get there: DSB is an hour’s bus or van ride from Bacolod; it’s a half-hour flight or a day’s ferry ride from Manila.
5. Canlaon City
Canlaon City competes with Don Salvador Benedicto for the summer capital of Negros Island.
At 2,600 feet above sea level, at the foot of the Canlaon Volcano, the city enjoys a cool microclimate that is warmed by the numerous hot springs.
Numerous waterfalls, some of which have carved natural slides down the mountains, are an excellent way to experience the city’s refreshing atmosphere.
The Saddle in the Sky, the ridge separating the volcano’s two craters, is colder.
At the gargantuan balete tree, located in the city’s Japanese-run agricultural estates, midsummer nights are dreamlike.
The famous tree, which is believed to be over 1,300 years old, attracts tens of thousands of fireflies each night.
How to get there: Canlaon City is accessible via scenic land routes from Bacolod, Dumaguete, and San Carlos.
6. Davao City
Davao City, on the island of Mindanao, spans 244,000 hectares and is characterized by towering mountains and dramatic green landscapes, in contrast to the skyscraping high-rises and concrete jungles that dominate other large Philippine cities.
It is the country’s durian capital and one of three cities that share Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak.
You can walk all the way to the summit of Apo (9,692 feet/2,954 meters), but the hot and restless can opt for shorter, less strenuous ascents in districts such as Toril, Marilog, and Calinan, where mountain resorts offer pure air, pine-canopied trails, and energizing falls.
How to get there: There are direct flights from Manila to Davao City, as well as regional points such as Singapore.
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Bukidnon province, strewn across a high plateau, is brimming with cool locales, including the provincial capital Malaybalay (another “Little Baguio”) and Dahilayan, a foggy barangay transformed into a zipline resort.
Lantapan, a breakaway district of Malaybalay located on the Kitanglad mountain range, is the coldest of the cold.
Lantapan is so cold that dew occasionally lingers until noon.
Typhoon-free and perched at 4,000 feet above sea level on fertile soil, Lantapan’s cool climate has made it one of the Philippines’ most prolific vegetable baskets.
Lantapan is well-known among mountaineers as the entry point to Dulang-Dulang, the country’s second highest peak after Mount Apo.
How to get there: Daily buses connect Cagayan de Oro and Malaybalay via the scenic highway.
At the Malaybalay public market, jeepneys bound for Lantapan are stationed.
Daily flights operate between Manila and Cagayan de Oro.
Marawi is an oddity in a predominantly Catholic, tropical country, as much for its predominantly Muslim population as for its climate.
The city is dotted with mosques and torogans (royal residences).
On the island of Mindanao, the city’s elevation of 2,600 feet ensures that temperatures regularly fall to at least 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 C).
Marawi’s tourism potential has been harmed by its reputation as a dangerous town.
The nearby university is a “zone of tranquillity”; at 1,000 hectares, it’s a virtual city within a city, complete with a hotel.
How to get there: From Cagayan de Oro, take a bus or jeepney to Iligan. Marawi is a short jeepney ride from Iligan along the Amai Pakpak Avenue.
Banaue is one of four towns in Ifugao province that comprise the UNESCO-listed Philippine Cordillera Rice Terraces.
While these magnificent feats of ancient engineering are found throughout Asia, those in Ifugao are the highest and steepest.
The tallest are approximately 4,900 feet above sea level.
The rice variety grown here is tolerant of freezing temperatures.
How to get there: Every night, overnight buses depart Manila for Banaue.
10. Lake Sebu
Lake Sebu on Mindanao is postcard-perfect 10. Lake Sebu with its flotilla of lilies and schools of tilapia fish.
Even better, the namesake town is pleasant to the touch, with temperatures rarely exceeding 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 C).
Sebu and two other nearby lakes drain into seven waterfalls, two of which are connected via a high zipline.
Additionally, tourists can opt for canoe rides with the T’boli, a weavers’ tribe.
Their warm hospitality alleviates weather-induced shivers, if not the traditional cloth (T’nalak) sold throughout town.
How to get there: To reach Koronadal, fly or sail to General Santos City and then take a bus. Take another bus to Surallah, where you will be met by vans and jeepneys that will take you to Lake Sebu.
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