December is in the middle of the dry season in the Philippines, and while rain isn't completely unheard of, it won't be a factor. Unless, that is, you happen to be in the way of a typhoon. There's a small risk this month. These bring heavy rains and winds and can be devastating. There's usually a lot of warning that they're coming, so watch local weather reports and be prepared to change your plans to avoid them.
As a tropical country, the temperature in the Philippines is pretty uniform throughout the year, although there's some variation by latitude and altitude. In December, expect temperatures of between 77°F and 91°F (25°C and 32°C) in most places.
Crowds & Costs
December is the peak season for travel to the Philippines. Early in the month, you will find "regular" peak season crowds and prices, but later in the month, around Christmas and New Year, is exceptionally busy. Book well in advance, especially at beach resorts in the most popular towns, and expect to pay higher-than-normal prices. As the Philippines is a majority Catholic country, Christmas is a big deal. Expect many businesses to close on December 25 and possibly the days leading up to and following the holiday.
Where to Go
As a country of thousands of inhabited and uninhabited islands, you're never far away from island-hopping possibilities. But to experience a truly special island-hopping adventure without the high-season crowds of Palawan or Cebu, check out the Hundred Islands National Park off the north-western coast of Luzon.
Although there are 124 of these islands, four of them are accessible to tourists: Marcos Island, Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children's Island. The rest are uninhabited. These four islands are great for snorkeling, thanks to the coral gardens beneath the sea and the giant clams that live here. Other activities to enjoy on the islands include kayaking, spelunking, cliff jumping, and climbing. Children's Island is, naturally, best suited to kids as the sea here is shallow.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
December is one of the best times to go diving in the Philippines, and this country is often said to have the best diving in the world. So whether you're an experienced diver or just mildly curious, consider diving in the Philippines. Located in the Indo-Pacific Oceans' so-called "Coral Triangle," you can expect to see coral reefs and gardens, manta rays, whale sharks, schools of various tropical fish, giant clams, and interesting wrecks to dive.
Coron is an excellent base for diving adventures as World War II-era Japanese shipwrecks aren't far away. Experienced divers might like to venture to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a protected area in the Sulu Sea composed of two huge atolls. Diving there requires going on a liveaboard boat. If you don't (or won't) scuba dive, snorkeling is also good fun, and many diving excursions can cater to snorkelers, too.
Events in December
Shariff Kabungsuan Festival, Cotabato, Mindanao. This festival, held in mid-December, celebrates the arrival of Islam in the region with decorated boats and parades on the river. (Cotabato is known as the safest city in Mindanao and one of the safest cities in the Philippines.)
Christmas, nationwide. Christmas is a big deal in the Philippines, a Catholic-majority country. Preparations for the festival can be seen (and heard) as early as September. Many locals attend a very early morning mass on December 25.
New Year's Eve, nationwide. Like many other places in the world, you won't find it hard to locate a party on New Year's Eve (January 31) in the Philippines. Filipinos typically let off fireworks, stay up until (or past) midnight to welcome the new year, and share a midnight feast (Media Noche) with their friends and family.
Traveling to the Philippines in December? Check out these great itineraries
Discover the Philippines: Snorkeling in the Calamian Islands - 6 Days. Explore the natural wonders of the Calamian archipelago on this exciting 6-day snorkeling trip.
Philippines Beaches, Waterfalls & Lagoons - 15 Days. This 15-day itinerary offers the perfect combination of adventurous and relaxing activities. You will snorkel shipwrecks and aquamarine lagoons, visit secluded beaches, and rappel down slippery trails.