La Union recently gained popularity not only on the surfing community but with other activities like chasing waterfalls, seeking good eats, visiting art galleries and historic ruins. If you are just a casual traveller nor an experienced surfer, there are plenty of things to enjoy in the province.
Although considered as long drive from Manila which will take you 6-7 hours, the experience will never disappoint you, good thing we can even do this for only a weekend. Form your team and plan ahead, let our mini travel guide help you for your #ELYU escapade!
When to visit La Union?
San Juan’s peak season runs from October to March when the huge waves are perfect for surfing. However, for the non-surfers and millenial travellers, other points in La Union are best enjoyed on dry season.
How to get there?
1. From Metro Manila, go to the nearest bus terminal heading to Laoag/Vigan/Abra.
Partas Transportation – Pasay and Cubao
Tramo corner Edang St., San Roque, Pasay City
816 Aurora Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City
Drop off : San Juan/San Fernando La Union
Travel time : Estimated 5 – 7 Hours
Fare: 400-450 php one way per pax
2. From Clark/Mexico, Pampanga, ride a jeepney going to Dau Bus Terminal. Board a bus heading to San Fernando, La Union/Laoag/Vigan/Abra.
3. From Baguio, wait for buses heading to San Fernando, La Union/Laoag/Vigan/Abra in Gov. Pack Road.
4. Via private transpo, drive up north in NLEX to SCTEX then to cut your travel time TPLEX. Exit at Carmen Toll Plaza and turn left to Carmen – Poblacion Rosales road. When you reached Teofilo Sison bridge, turn right going to Pangasinan. Follow McArthur highway to La Union.
How to get around?
For our trip, we visited San Fernando – San Gabriel – San Juan – Balaoan – Luna. Depending on your preference, you can either start at Luna (farthest from Manila) or start at San Fernando (the capital city). To give you a visual map on our route, refer to below image.
From San Fernando to San Gabriel, you can ride jeepneys from San Fernando public market which is located at P. Burgos cor. Gov Ortega Street. There are regular schedules of at most 30-minute interval for this destination.
From San Fernando to San Juan, you can wait for bus lines going to Vigan/Laoag in Manila N Road highway or jeepneys heading to Bacnotan. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Urbiztondo.
From San Juan to Luna, you have two options: (1) If you’re lucky to catch a jeepney with sign board Luna, it will directly bring you to Namacpacan Church and Luna’s town plaza. (2) Since there are few jeepneys going directly to Luna, alternative option is by riding a bus heading to Vigan/Laoag in Manila N Rd highway. Tell the driver to drop you off at Balaoan Town Hall. From there you will ride a tricycle (pink-blue) going to Luna.
There were also color-coded tricycles that you can rent per town: San Fernando – White, San Juan – Red, Balaoan – Pink, Luna – Blue. Starting a conversation (either in Tagalog or English) with the locals aint that hard as they are innately friendly and welcoming to their guests.
Where to stay?
If you plan to do activities aside surfing, San Fernando may be your one stop choice. Besides the convenient location, it serves as the city center for most of La Union activities. You can either head north to San Juan and Luna or head south to Naguilian and Bauang.
Price: Room starts at 1200 php
Contact Number: (072) 700 5737
Location: Near Partas terminal and Macho Temple, Quezon Ave San Fernando
Sea Sky Hotel and Restaurant
Price: Room starts at 1500 php
Contact Number: (072) 242 5579
Location: Pagdaraoan, San Fernando
If you plan to surf at early morning or late afternoon, staying in San Juan will be a wise choice. Plan ahead and book your accomodations via agoda or airbnb. On our visit, we had our booking at San Juan Surf Resort. Room for 2 starts at 1980 php. Contact them here: (072) 687 9990 / (63) 917-887-5470
Other good picks in San Juan:
Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel
Price: Kubo Dorms starts at 680 php
Contact Number: +63 917 802 1328
Location: MacArthur Hwy, San Juan
Beach Front: Yes
Urbiztondo Bed and Breakfast
Price: Room starts at 3000 php
Contact Number: +63 72 888 7991
Location: 134 Beachfront, MacArthur Hwy, Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan
Beach Front: Yes
Circle Hostel La Union
Price: Bed Bunk starts at 400 php
Contact Number: +63 917 505 4329
Location: Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan
Beach Front: No
Price: Room starts at 1500 php
Contact Number: +63 995 399 1516 or +63 918 441 5149
Location: G-Hotel 3rd floor, Planet G building, Urbiztondo, San Juan
Beach Front: No
Where to eat?
ELYU’s restaurant scene goes on a constant boom throughout the years. Rule out the food scene and bring your #PiggyDates in La Union as you will never run out of options, here are some of our good finds while in the area:
Halo Halo De Iloko
Location: Zandueta St, San Fernando
Operating Hours: 9AM to 9PM
Crowd Fave: Okoy Tikyoso and Buko HaloHalo
Budget: 70 php ++ for HaloHalo and 135 php ++ for Meals
Gefseis Greek Grill
Location: Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan
Operating Hours: 9AM to 12AM
Crowd Fave: Kontosouvli Pork and Feta Cheese with Honey Dip
Budget: 200 php ++
Location: Circle Rd, San Fernando
Operating Hours: 8AM to 1AM
Crowd Fave: Buffalo Chicken, Brick Oven Pizza, Quesadillas
Budget: 200 php ++
Location: Urbiztondo Rd, San Fernando
Operating Hours: 8AM to 2AM
Crowd Fave: Combo 1 and Bagnet
Budget: 60 php ++
Flotsam and Jetsam – Hungry Nomad Kitchen
Location:MacArthur Hwy, San Juan
Operating Hours: 5PM to 12 MN
Crowd Fave: Nachos, Fries and Makai Bowls
Budget: 150 php ++
Coast Call Kitchen and Bar
Location: San Juan Surf Resort, Urbiztondo Rd San Fernando
Operating Hours: 6:30 AM to 10:30PM
Crowd Fave: San Juan Surf Burger and 8 layered dip Nachos
Budget: 180 php ++
What to see and do?
1. San Gabriel : Trek and cliff jump along Baroro River.
2. San Gabriel: Marvel at the beauty of Tangadan Falls and swim in its basin.
3. San Fernando: Roam around town plaza and pay a visit at the Cathedral.
4. San Fernando: Connect with the Fil-Chinese community at Macho Temple.
5. San Juan: Do the beach bum plus surfing lessons at Urbiztondo Beach.
6. Luna: Unleash your creativity at ‘Bahay na Bato’ and discover artistry beyond pebble handicrafts.
7. Luna: Stroll along the Pebble Beach and breathe some fresh air.
8. Luna: Have some fun shoots at Baluarte and Namacpacan Church.
*You can also extend your stay and visit Extreme adventure in Pugo and Grape Farm at Bauang, La Union.
Sample Itinerary for a Weekend
0000H ETD from Cubao
0600H ETA in San Fernando
0700H ETD from San Fernando to San Gabriel
0800H ETA at Tangadan Falls Jumpoff
0815H Start Trek to Falls
0930H Arrival at Falls, Swim and Stroll
1200H Return to Jumpoff
0100H Return to San Fernando
0200H Lunch at Halo Halo De Iloko
0230H Stroll along Town Plaza, Church
0300H Macho Temple
0330H ETD from San Fernando to San Juan
0400H ETA at Urbiztondo, San Juan
0430H Check In at Hotel
0500H Merienda at Gefseis Greek Grill
0600H Watch sunset and stroll along Urbiztondo beach
0700H Dinner and chill night at Flotsam and Jetsam or El PuB
0600H Breakfast at Coast and Call Kitchen Surf
0700H Surfing Lessons
0800H Swimming and Leisure
0900H Early Merienda at Surf Shack
1000H Coffee Break and Chitchats at El Union Coffee
1100H Rest and Chill at the resort
1200H Check Out at the resort
1230H Lunch at Tagpuan/ElyuClassics
0130H ETD from San Juan to Balaoan
0230H ETA in Balaoan Town Plaza
0240H ETD from Balaoan to Luna
0310H ETA in Luna (Bahay na Bato)
0430H ETD from Bahay na Bato to Luna Town Plaza
0445H Namacpacan Church and Old Watchtower
0530H ETD from Luna to Balaoan
0600H ETD from Balaoan to Manila
0000H ETA in Manila
Sample Expenses for 2 pax
Cubao to La Union Bus – 446 php × 2 = 892
San Fernando to San Gabriel – 28 php jeep × 2 = 56 php + 200 php trike = 256
Guide – 100 php × 2 = 200
Environmental Fee – Tangadan Falls – 30 php × 2 = 60
San Gabriel to San Fernando – 28 php jeep × 2 = 56
San Fernando to San Juan – 14 php jeep × 2 = 28
Hotel Accomodation – 1980 php
Surfing Lessons + Board – 400 php × 2 = 800
San Juan to Balaoan – 35 php bus × 2 = 70
Balaoan to Luna – 10 php shared trike × 2 = 20
Luna to Bahay na Bato – 50 php trike
Bahay na Bato Entrance – 30 php × 2 = 60
Bahay na Bato to Baluarte – 50 php trike
Luna to Balaoan – 10 php shared trike × 2 = 20
Balaoan to Manila – 446 php × 2 = 892
Food budget for 6 meals – 300 php × 6 = 1800
Total Expenses: 7290/ 2 = 3645 php per pax
*Expenses may vary depending on your preferred destination, accomodation and food budget.