1. San Pablo, Laguna—Countryside Calm
If going out of the country is not on your itinerary (saving on budget for the next school year is wise!), then simply relax in the fresh-air fringes of nearby Laguna. After breakfast at the Sitio de Amor farm, take your kids for a short hike to glistening Pandin Lake. At the water’s edge, you’ll hop a river raft where you can sit together and enjoy a grilled lunch before diving off the deep end of the lake into the cool, refreshing waters. A delicious meal is cooked by the lake mothers, who tend this area, keeping it clean and secure. Culinary treats to try are Paco Salad and Kilawing Bangus. www.viajedelsol.ph
2. Cebu—Sun and Fun!
Cebu Island has numerous high-end and budget resorts to choose from, but the Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort stands out because of its attention to detail in local Filipino design (better start teaching your kids appreciation for his heritage and artistic culture), and family-friendly architectural planning of the bungalow and pool sites. We enjoyed visiting this delightful resort with our toddler son, who loved the safe, sloping walk-in pools. And mommies, you’ll fall lazily in love with the Amuma Spa. www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.
3. Subic Bay—Safari exploration!
Into the wild! What child isn’t fascinated by large animal species, especially when he gets to see lions up close during a safari park ride, or handle baby crocs and slippery snakes on site! At the Zoobic Safari, there’s 25 hectares to experience entertaining animal shows, a Serpentarium, 3D movies, ziplines, plus souvenir toys to take home, and of course, there’s the rest of Subic Freeport Zone and its beaches! www.zoobic.com.ph
4. Manila—Rediscover Local Charm
The super-convenient (right across the airport) Resorts World in Pasay opened its 2-storey gaming complex for kids, and it’s already been a hit. On the same compound, adults can cozy up in the theaters, enjoying world-class plays on stage. Trust GameZoo to distract the kids from the bustle of your Christmas shopping (and your own self-induced stress), giving you more than a few moments of peace and quiet to yourself in the spa or restaurants below. Gamezoo offers gaming stations, a mini bowling alley, 6D theater, KTV rooms and more. www.rwmanila.com
5. Singapore—Movie Magic for your Future Superstars
Get lost in the land of Far, Far Away, mystified by Ancient Egypt’s towering mummies, or dance the day away in Madagascar—all at Singapore’s Universal Studios! This giant movie-themed amusement park has more than enough to keep your kids fascinated and running wild. Meanwhile, you can shop around Resorts World Sentosa, dig into designer cuisine prepared by Michelin-star-studded chefs, or simply be a child again, enjoying all the crazy park rides on offer. www.rwsentosa.com
6. Phuket, Thailand—Kids Clubs, Palmy Beaches
Thailand knows what it takes to keep kids happy. The super-child-friendly Angsana Laguna in Phuket prepares seasonal activities, regularly hosting the Summer Family Fair for three months of the year. The Marriot is a little pricier, but has one of the best Kid's Club and activity programs in the country, geared to an international kiddie audience. We’re sure you won’t forget to sample authentic Thai cuisine (Filipinos seem to love Chicken Pandan and Tom Ka Gai—also chicken), watch some traditional dances, or just enjoy your family, stargazing together at night. www.angsana.com/en/phuket/; www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/hktpb-marriotts-phuket-beach-club/
7. Langkawi Island, Malaysia—Nature at its Best
The clean and crisp Langkawi Island is full of legends that enthrall. Its beaches may not be as fine white sand as ours in the Philippines, but they’re just as fun! If your kid is experimental, he’ll enjoy tasting Malay hawker food or trying out local eateries. For more wildlife, check out the bat caves and mangrove boat tours that bring you to see eagles soaring high in the wild. www.langkawi-info.com
8. Sanya, Hainan, China—Stunning, Spotless!
It’s easy to walk the streets here, without a care or worry, as Sanya takes great measures to remain pollution-free. The weather is pleasant, and many Chinese families come from other provinces to escape a harsh winter, enjoying the beaches of Hainan. While it isn’t snowy cold, you should still pack with layers (cardigans, caps and windbreakers) in mind. Sanya Bay, Dadonghai and Yalong Bay are all popular beaches to play. The Mandarin Oriental is a good choice for families. www.sunnysanya.com/
9. Disneyland, Hong Kong—Everyone’s Magic Carpet!
It always feels like Christmas in Disneyland, but what better time to lose yourself here than in December! With seasonal events and unbeatable, well-loved Disney entertainment, this is every kid’s (and kids at heart’s) dream place to play. From mid-November to December 31, Christmas is made even more magical with the fairytale lights, castles and snow-specked attractions in Hong Kong’s Disneyland. www.park.hongkongdisneyland.com
Christmas comes just once a year, but quality family-time should last all year-round! Just remember, no gift can replace you enjoying the first precious years with your children. Have a relaxing, memorable holiday!