Southern Asia is a melting pot of cultures and a favorite among travelers and backpackers. If you find yourself in the beautiful islands of the Philippines this holiday season, allow us to sweeten the deal by recommending spots where you can share a memorable New Year’s Eve kiss.
Firefly watch along the Iwahig River
A cool breeze and a starry night already equal a romantic evening, but take it up a notch by cruising along the calm Iwahig River in Puerto Princesa while surrounded by hundreds of golden fireflies. It may be far from the usual noisy countdown-to-midnight parties, but we guarantee that this calm serenity will definitely win your partner’s heart.
Relax at Nagtabon Beach, Puerto Princesa
If your significant other is a beach bum and nature lover, then there is nothing more romantic than being surrounded by sand, sea, and the salty breeze. Nagtabon Beach is merely 45 minutes away from Puerto Princesa and offers unspoilt white sand and gurgling waves. Pair this moment with an ice cold beer in one hand and the hand of your loved one in the other. Stare at the stars (or thank your lucky stars) as the countdown begins.
In a calesa in Ilocos Sur
Walk along the streets of Vigan and you’ll notice the strong Spanish influence richly preserved since the 16th century. Listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Vigan is a goldmine for history buffs and architecture fans. Take a ride in one of the traditional horse-drawn carriages (locally called a “calesa”) and give your loved one a smooch as the clock strikes 12.
R&R at Fundacion Pacita in Basco
With its endless rolling hills and lush greenery, Batanes is the spitting image of New Zealand for only a fraction of the cost. Book a stay at the famous and grand Fundacion Pacita for some R&R (it’s so private non-guests are not even allowed to step onto the property to take photos). This uniquely designed lodge was once the home studio of internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad, and it is nestled atop a lush hill giving you a scenic view of Basco.
Before taking the plunge in Anilao, Batangas
If you and your partner are advanced divers, sign up for a night swim in one of Anilao’s many dive spots. Plunge right into the sea as the clock strikes 12 and marvel at the creatures that lay waiting in the deep. This will truly be a memorable experience for any dive enthusiast as Anilao is a marine-protected sanctuary and considered the best spot in the Philippines for macro underwater photography.
While biking in Iloilo City
Considered the gateway to all things beautiful, Iloilo is proudly one of the emerging bike cities in the Philippines. With several road widening projects early this year and more bike lanes set up, you can now explore exquisite heritage sites, Spanish colonial houses, museums or even go on a food tour riding your (foldable) bike. Visit the Jaro Cathedral, Lizares Mansion, Casa Mariquit, Molo Church and Balay Camiña nga Bato. Another tip? Walk back in time by traversing the old streets of Calle Real for a romantic kiss when the clock strikes midnight.
Party at Surf Town in La Union
The home base of surfers in the Philippines, La Union boasts huge waves during surf season, with swells reaching up to 10 feet during the months of December and January. Stay in one of the artsy hostels, like The Circle Hostel, which is only a two-minute walk from the beach, engage with tourists, locals and like-minded individuals, gather around a bonfire, play drinking games and eat local fare, all while you countdown to the New Year. Give your companion a peck on the cheek while relishing the chill beach vibe.
Join the Torotot Festival in Davao City
Davao has been firecracker-free for the last 14 years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to throw a great party. Ring in the New Year with party horns (locally called “torotot”) as the Dabawenyos countdown ‘til midnight. If you’re up for it, join the afternoon parade, the “torotot” contests (the biggest and craziest torotots win cash prizes) or watch the inter-barangay dance showdowns.Search for flights to Davao
Picnic-style celebration at Riverbanks Center, Marikina
There are several public venues in Manila where you can partake in all the fun New Year’s Eve shenanigans, and one popular choice is Riverbanks Center in Marikina. Crowds usually gather between two and three hours before the countdown, so choose a comfy spot, prep your picnic mats, tables and chairs and listen to music or shop at the nearby tiangges (food or clothing stalls). After all the fireworks have died down, you can stretch out on your mat and watch the stars. It’s a great way to welcome the New Year surrounded by food, good vibes and loving friends and family.
Celebrate in style at Sofitel Manila
If luxury is something you and your better half can afford, then head to Sofitel. This year, Manila’s premier five-star hotel will be holding an exquisite “Carnival de Venezia”-themed party complete with oversized maskaras, free-flowing beer and wine, plus a culinary fair of barbecued specialties. This sensory experience will definitely impress your date and is a great setting for a proposal. *wink*