The Best 5-Star Hotels in Manila for the New Year Countdown 2016

Next to Christmas, New Year’s Eve is the most-awaited event in Manila.  Almost all families celebrate it with food, get-togethers, merriment, and of course, fireworks.  For those who opt not to have fireworks at home, there are quite a number of 5 Star hotels in Manila to hang out at and spend a totally awesome New Year countdown.

Every luxury hotel in Manila has its own brand of dining and entertainment packages and unforgettable New Year’s Eve countdown events to ring in 2016.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila

Welcome the New Year with a sumptuous feast at Spiral, rated as Manila’s finest and highest-rated buffet spread (PhP7,231.94 per adult, PhP3,615.97 per child).  There’s turkey, prime rib, and an array of other favorite buffet treats to cater to all palates and diets. Dinner also features a glass of 2006 vintage champagne.  DJ Abdel Aziz will be there to provide musical entertainment while you lounge and await the dazzling fireworks display at the stroke of midnight.

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SPIRAL NEW YEAR LUNCH SPECIALSpiral is inviting everyone to enjoy a wonderful sumptuous lunch buffet feast with family…

Posted by Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Saturday, December 26, 2015

You can also welcome the New Year in style with their Carnival De Venezia

Celebrate New Year here at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila and be transported to stunning Venice in a special…

Posted by Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Sunday, December 27, 2015

 

Solaire Resort and Casino

This is one of the best hotels near the Manila airport to unwind at because it is in a wide-open area free from congestion.  For big appetites, there’s a really huge array of mouthwatering treats at the Fresh buffet restaurant nearby, one of the most affordable and satisfying dinner buffets at only PhP2,800 per head. Or if you prefer a lighter meal, try the five-course menus at Finestra (Italian), Red Lantern (Chinese), or Yakumi (Japanese).  Prices vary from about PhP1,700 per head for a 6-course meal at Red Lantern to PhP 3,000 per head at Finestra.  For a little more, some Solaire restaurants give you complimentary access to the New Year’s Party at Eclipse.  For the New Year’s Eve countdown, you also have two choices of lounges to hang out at – Eclipse and Oasis.  Both feature live entertainment numbers from Bituin Escalante, The Company, and various other performers. Solaire’s New Year’s Eve dinner and bar packages are all guaranteed to keep you wide awake and revved up to greet New Year 2016!

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Be part of a sparkling New Year’s Eve countdown at Oasis, featuring performances by Aicelle Santos, Bituin Escalante,…

Posted by Solaire Resort on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

 

City of Dreams Manila

The party never stops at this newest hotel and casino in the heart of the Manila bay area. Start off your New Year’s Eve celebration with dinner at Hyatt for PhP2,988 per person featuring free-flowing selected liquors, cocktails, soda, and iced tea.  Watch Erok at the Pangaea, Mitz and Maya, Dream Sirens and Night Train at the Centerplay, and Bass Jackers at Chaos.  Come dressed to the nines and decked with bling!

Hyatt City of Dreams
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City of Dreams – Crown Towers Manila
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City of Dreams – Nobu Hotel Manila
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Welcome 2016 with world-class entertainment and lots of bling! Live music, bottles of sparkling spirits and dazzling…

Posted by City of Dreams Manila on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

Fairmont Hotel

Indulge yourself with a dinner buffet (PhP4,995 per person) at Spectrum, and this will entitle you to cocktails and exclusive access to the 9th Floor pool bar New Year’s Eve Countdown Party.  Watch the shower of firework colors and lights line up the Makati skyline.

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Nothing says “Happy New Year” quite like a luxurious feast of gourmet delights, with champagne and cocktails flowing,…

Posted by Fairmont Makati on Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

Diamond Hotel

For this year, Diamond Hotel presents A New Year State of Mind featuring Retrospect, DJ Marx Monterola, and Xarchy Band. In fact this hotel has several fantastic options for even the most discriminating guest.  You can have a 6-11 PM dinner at Corniche (PhP3,300 per person) which includes a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Bohol, or a late night buffet from 11 PM to 2 AM.  If you prefer a simpler dinner menu, try Yurakuen’s New Year’s Eve set dinner with a glass of Cava.  Or if you are coming from another party and have had dinner, go for the New Year’s Eve Party where you get one drink and party favors for only PhP 499 per person, or tapas and free flowing house wine for PhP1,300 per person.The New Year’s Eve bash is from 11 PM to 2 AM. at the Upper and Lower Lobby where drinks may be had at PhP250 each for walk-ins or PhP200 for in-house guests.

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Diamond Hotel Philippines New Year Countdown 2016
A New Year State of Mind (Photo from diamondhotel.com)

 

Makati Shangri-la

One of the best hotels in Manila has its own special brand of entertainment for the countdown to New Year 2016.  Come in your best formal attire as you join other guests for cocktails from 6-8 PM, followed by a five-course dinner with live Broadway show and a live band at 11:30 PM.  All for PhP4,900 per person.  Alternatively, you can choose from another set menu (prices vary from PhP3,178 to PhP5,378 per head) at Shang Palace, or other dinner buffet packages at Inagiku (PhP4,200 per head), Sage Bespoke Grill (PhP4,900 per head), and Circles Event Cafe (PhP3,900 per head).

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It’s a Spectacular New Year as Makati Shangri-La, Manila takes you on an unforgettable evening on Broadway and Times…

Posted by Makati Shangri-La, Manila on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

 

For updated package prices and promotional deals, contact each hotel directly.

FREE New Year’s Eve 2016 Countdown Events

TV5 2016 Countdown

Kita-kits tayo sa Thursday, December 31 para sa pinaka-malaking pasabog ng taon, ang TV5 2016 New Year Countdown!…

Posted by TV5 on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kapuso Countdown to 2016

Sabay-sabay nating salubungin ang bagong taon sa #KapusoCountdownTo2016! See you in your best costumes at MOA Seaside Boulevard!

Posted by GMA Network on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Samal Island

I’ve also written an article about Samal island for The Australia Times Travel Magazine. You can read more about this beautiful island there too. Hopefully, this would inspire you even more to visit Samal island. And oh, that’s the first time my article got featured in an international travel magazine so I’m really happy!


I know very little of Samal Island before. All I know was, it’s where the popular high-end resort, the Pearl Farm Beach Resort, is located. I happily discovered that this island is more than just Pearl Farm.

This had been only my second time in Mindanao. During the first time, I visited Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin and Bukdinon. I’ve never been to Davao City so I booked a flight there and have it ticked on my list before 2015 ends.

While researching for Davao City tourist spots, Samal island kept coming up on the search results. I got curious and started looking for travel destinations in Samal island. I love what I see so far, so I decided to spend 3 of my 4 vacation days there.

I really had fun exploring the Island Garden City of Samal (yes, that’s its official name) and I’m sure my readers would love this island getaway too. Now, I’m excited to share to you the 7 reasons why you definitely should visit Samal island:

1. More bang for your bucks

Well, the plane flare from Manila to Davao City is never the cheapest but once you arrive there everything is actually pretty cheap. The taxi fare from Davao International Airport to Sasa Wharf (the port going to Samal Island) is just less than P100 ($2.25), ferry boat fare is only P10 ($0.25), habal-habal (motorbike) is just for P50 ($1.11) to P100 ($2.25) depending on your destination and food just cost about P100 ($2.25) per meal. A hostel in Agoda or Airbnb would just cost about $10 per night.

I booked 2 nights in an 8-bed dorm room in La Vida Orchard Samal for just about P479 ($10) a night. The rate already includes breakfast. A real bargain! The facilities are basic but everything is clean and looks new. Another great thing is, they’ll treat you as family. You can also use the kitchen to cook or reheat food. And yeah, I know you’re going to ask.. they have wifi in the common area 🙂 For security reasons, they lock the main gate by 10pm. Just make arrangement with them if you’ll be arriving late.

La Vida Orchard Samal dorm room
Papaya Dorm Room
La Vida Orchard Samal Dorm
Inside the dorm room
La Vida Orchard Samal room
Free water and toiletries
La Vida Orchard scenery
La Vida Orchard compound
La Vida Orchard Samal Dining Area
Dining area
La Vida Orchard Samal facilities
toasters and kitchen wares

2. No hordes of tourists

I’m traveling solo for this trip. I’m almost always the only one in a particular tourist spot in Samal… and I love it! I took my time to just take in the whole experience without having to compete with hordes of tourists. I would appreciate some company though so we could split the expenses especially with ferry boat from Kaputian Wharf to Isla Reta Beach.

I asked the locals when are the busy days for tourists. They say it’s usually during weekends or holidays, but even so it’s not as commercialized as other beaches I’ve been to. Samal is a perfect place for some ME time.

 

View post on imgur.com

3. Calm seas and fair winds

The island is located at the center of Davao Gulf and surrounded by mainland Mindanao which shelters it from strong winds. Also, this part of the Philippines rarely experience typhoon which makes its waters ideal for water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
The sea is not only calm but crystal clear too. I’m not kidding! Check out this video from the Kaputian Wharf.

I’m only on the port going to Talicud Island but WOW… the water is just so clear

A video posted by Mark Conrad (@planyourtripnow) on

4. Guinness World Record Holder

Monfort Bat Cave
The bat cave with the biggest opening

It’s amazing to know that there’s a bat sanctuary in Samal Island. What’s even more amazing is it’s a Guinness World Record holder for the most number of Geoffroy’s Rousette fruit bats. The Monfort Bat Cave is home to 2.5 million bats!

 

 

 

 

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Some info about the fruit bats in Monfort that I learned from my tour guide:

  • The bat caves in Monfort are actually sinkholes and it was used as hiding place by the locals during the Japanese occupation. There are only few bats living there during that time.
  • Fruit bats are attracted to the strong smell of the durian fruit which they help pollinate and scatter the seeds.
  • Each of the bat cave serves different purpose:
    • a. Mating
    • b. Pregnant and Baby Bats
    • c. Teenage bats to practice flying
    • d. Male bats outnumber female bats that’s why male bats have their own cave to “hang” out.
    • e. Senior bats
  • After they exit their caves at night, they fly across the sea then go to the different provinces of Mindanao. They were reported to reach as far as Bukidnon.
  • The bat emergence, the process where the bats exits their caves, can take as long as 3 hours.
  • The caves emit foul odor (that is expected) but it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Still, you should bring extra shirt.

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Best time to go there is at 4pm so you can still take photos of the bats and tour the area. Flash photography is not allowed during the night since it will startle and stress the bats. Wait until it gets dark then you’ll see one of the amazing sights the animal kingdom can provide. The bats would fly in circles as they get out of their caves and find food. It is kinda magical to see thousands of bats squeaking and flapping their wings at the same time.

To get there, just tell your tricycle or habal-habal driver to bring you to Monfort Bat Cave on the district called Babak.

Entrance fee is just P100 per person for day tour and P200 for night tour.

5. White Sand Beaches

Visit Samal Island
Isla Reta Beach

Who doesn’t like a white sand beach? Samal island have a lot of white sand beaches especially in Talicud island just 10 mins away from the main island. A popular resort there is the Isla Reta Beach Resort. The view is just perfect. It has white sand beach and turquoise water. The beach is lined with big Talisay trees. It’s very relaxing to just sit under the shade while the cool breeze is touching your face.

The resort charges P100 ($25) per person for the day pass. They have tents and rooms available. Just choose whatever suits you. I chose the day tour and just spent most of my day just admiring the beauty that surrounds me.

They have a restaurant there so you won’t need to cook, a meal would cost about P200 ($4.5) to P300 ($7), but they also have grilling stations if you prefer to cook. You can bring food and drinks from outside but I believe they charge a corkage fee.

To get to Isla Reta, ride a habal-habal from your hotel in Samal to Kaputian Wharf. In Kaputian Wharf, ride a bangka to Isla Reta, Talicud Island. The boat charges P600 ($13) per trip. If you have fellow travelers with you, you can just split the fare. They also have regular trips from Davao City to Isla Reta but I’m not sure about the price.

If you need me, I’ll just be here reflecting on my 2015

A photo posted by Mark Conrad (@planyourtripnow) on

6. Get to see 3,500 giant clams

Giant Clams are in the endangered list because people harvest them for their shells and meat. So when I learned that there’s a giant clam sanctuary in Samal, I was super excited to visit. It’s difficult to find them in the wild anymore. I saw just a handful during my other snorkeling trips in the Philippines but this place has 3,500 giant clams in different colors and sizes. It feels so awesome to get this close to these beautiful and wonderful sea creatures. There were also starfishes and other kinds of fish. The coolest thing was these small and colorful fishes were surrounding me as I snorkel. It was like they’re touring me around their home!

Went snorkeling today to see 3,500 giant clams! Awesome experience!#taclobo #giantclam #ineedagopro

A photo posted by Mark Conrad (@planyourtripnow) on

I wish I had a GoPro with me so I could have shown you how beautiful it is. I was being cheap so I only use my cellphone camera with a cheap waterproof casing which turned out to be totally useless. Yeah, it protected my camera but it only focused on the plastic cover and not on the subject so everything is blurred. I would definitely recommend that you get a GoPro or any other underwater camera so you could document your experience here. If you can’t get one, just remember to enjoy the whole experience and don’t stress yourself out with taking photos without the proper gear.

 

 

 

To get there, have your habal-habal driver bring you to the town of Adecor for the Taklobo (local name for giant clams) Tours. They have a small wharf there, where a boat would take you to the platform in the middle of the sea. They conduct a briefing first, then your guide will take you on a snorkeling tour.

Taklobo Tours Fees
The fees that you would need to pay for the Taklobo tours. I like it that they have published rates so tourists won’t be scammed.

7. Visit Samal island’s other natural wonders

The places I mentioned above are some of the must-see Samal island tourist spots but there are also other tourist destinations in the island which are equally beautiful. Samal island has so much natural wonders that I wasn’t able to visit them all. If you have more time and resources, you definitely need to check out the Hagimit Falls, Vanishing Island, Turtle and Dugong Sanctuary, Maxima Aqua Fun, Pearl Farm Beach Resort, Sabang Cliff Jumping, Kaputian Beach and Mt. Puting Bato. I hope that by mentioning them here will make it easier for you to plan your trip now to Samal island.

 

 

 

I really love my recent island vacation experience and this is easily one of my favorite island destination in the Philippines since I like nature trips a lot. How about you? What do you like most about this island?

Are there any other destinations I missed? Share it to us below.