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Nothing thrills any balikbayan more than the thought of coming home to a loving family just in time for the holiday season. After months—even years—away from home, the idea of having to sit in long periods of extended travel must be an exhausting notion for a balikbayan, so a staycation with loved ones is the perfect way to spend Christmas. The idea of staying at home at the peak of holiday season won’t be a thrilling one for most, so we’ve put together this list of exciting staycation ideas that will, no doubt, be memorable and enjoyable for balikbayan families:
- Hotel Staycation
Staying at home is great, but you can level it up by staying in a hotel. Hotel staycations allow you all the comforts of home, with the added luxury that hotel services and facilities provide. Families can spend time together in the hotel pool, children can enjoy watching movies and ordering room service, and you can even visit nearby hotspots like malls or cinemas! Hotels like The Legend Villas are perfect for family staycations; as one of the most affordable business hotels in Mandaluyong, they offer a wide selection of Filipino food and accommodation discounts. Plus, they have party venues and packages perfect for celebrating with extended families. They’re also located near Mandaluyong’s biggest malls, so boredom is out of the question!
Walking with your family around the mall is a great way to exercise and to familiarize yourself with the current fashion, entertainment, and culinary trends in the country. Plus, it allows you to choose from a wide selection of local sweets and delicacies that you can try out or take home with you as pasalubong for your friends and loved ones. There are plenty of shopping hubs around the metro. The Legend Villas is just a stone’s throw away from Robinsons Forum and SM Light Mall, and just one MRT station away from SM Megamall, The Podium, Shangri-La Plaza, St. Francis Square, and Starmall EDSA Shaw, to name a few. You can also try exploring the malls in Quezon City like TriNoma, SM North EDSA, and the newly built Ayala Malls Vertis North.
- Visit a Weekend Market
Being dragged out of your bed at 5am to go to the market is a uniquely Filipino experience. Celebrate the nostalgia of early market trips by dragging the family to weekend markets such as the Salcedo Saturday Market and Legazpi Sunday Market in Makati, Mercato Centrale in Taguig, the SIDCOR Sunday Market at Eton Centris, QC, and many more. Stroll along stalls of crafted goods and gourmet offerings sold by enterprising homeowners and craftsmen—you can find organic produce, custom bags, flowering plants, woodwork, and more. Plop down and have breakfast: these weekend markets have local breakfast favorites like silogs, kakanin, tupig, cassava cakes, okoy, taho, and delicious goat’s milk ice cream, as well as international offerings such as sausages from Germany and Hungary, paella and chorizo rice from Spain and Portugal, deep fried oreos and watermelon balls from the USA, takoyaki from Japan, and so much more. Expect the family to wake up earlier than expected with excitement!
- Go on a Museum Tour
Go on a cultural trip with your family and visit museums together. Entrance to National Museums is free of charge! Spend the day in the Museum complex in Old Manila, looking through paintings created by our national artists in the National Museum of Art, take pictures and marvel at the specimens in the newly opened National Museum of Natural History, or climb into an Ifugao house at the National Anthropological Museum. The museums are within walking distance of each other, and the complex itself is a stone’s throw away from Luneta Park and Roxas Boulevard; perfect for an afternoon picnic and catching a beautiful seaside sunset.
- Throw a Family Reunion
The holidays is always better with family, so why not throw a family reunion? You can host one at home or head to restaurants that fill older family members with nostalgia. Happy memories and funny stories can be passed around, and the younger family members can even get to know their elders better. Restaurants like Aristocrat along Roxas Boulevard hold many precious memories for many of the older generations—it’s one of Manila’s oldest restaurants after all. You can also choose to visit restaurants that specialize in nostalgia such as Adarna Food and Culture, which hosts an extensive collection of Filipino memorabilia that will spark old memories and happy conversations.
- Spend an Afternoon Outdoors
Though there seems to be little to do outside besides going to malls, there are actually parks brimming with nature all over Manila. Spend an afternoon in the UP Diliman campus; its towering trees and wide open spaces are perfect for spending an afternoon having picnics, jogging, flying kites, or playing childhood games. Food vendors sell student-priced foods around every corner, and you can find ice cream, taho, and rice cake vendors walking around so you’ll never get hungry. The La Mesa EcoPark is also a wonderful place to visit and feel as if you’ve been transported away from Manila. There are several activities to do there, such as biking, birdwatching, fishing, ziplining, or simply just enjoying an afternoon in the shade. Another added bonus is that La Mesa EcoPark is pet-friendly, so even the furry members of your family can come along and enjoy a breath of fresh air as well!
Spending the holidays with your family is probably the most important thing we look forward to every holiday season, so spend it well with your family and don’t forget to have lots of fun!