La Union is the beating heart of surfing in North Luzon, no wonder tourists flock here anytime of the year due to its consistent waves and beach break that seem to go on forever. While most surf enthusiasts usually go straight to Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan, other alternative spots for surfing in La Union include Jesus Point in Carille, Darigayos and Bacnotan. Non-surfers need not frown, as La Union offers other attractions and activities aside from surfing. Here’s a list of La Union tourist spots and top things to do for first timers in the province.
LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
SAN JUAN LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
SURFING IN SAN JUAN, LA UNION
Surfing is a way of life in San Juan, La Union. Locals and foreigners alike usually rush to Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan to learn surfing or just surf all day. Surfing in La Union was reportedly started by a Japanese man who trained the locals to surf back in the 70’s. But it was popularized by Australian surfer Brian Landrigan (father of popular surfer Luke Landrigan) who built a humble 3-room resort here in the 90’s, known today as San Juan Surf Resort. Surfing season in San Juan is year round, but the peak season is July to October due to the South Swell and November to March because of the North Swell. The break here is suitable to beginners, immediate and advanced surfers.
For those who want to learn surfing in San Juan, La Union, surf lesson rate with surf board and personal instructor is PHP 400 / USD 7.95 per hour. If you already know how to surf, surf board rental will set you back PHP 200 / USD 3.98 per hour and PHP 500/ USD 9.94 for half day rental of surf board.
HOW TO GET TO SAN JUAN, LA UNION FROM MANILA
Partas Bus now offers direct trips from Manila (Cubao/Pasay) to San Juan, La Union (SEBAY). First trip from Pasay to San Juan, La Union is 12:00 AM and second trip is at 5:00 AM. Meanwhile, first trip from Cubao to San Juan, La Union is 1:00 AM and 2nd trip is 6:00 AM. Bus fare is PHP 524 (USD 10/ SGD 14/ MYR 44). Travel time is roughly 5-7 hours.
For return trip from SEBAY San Juan, La Union to Manila, first trip from San Juan, La Union to Cubao or Pasay is at 3:00 PM and second trip is at 10:00 PM. On the other hand, first trip from San Fernando, La Union to Cubao or Pasay is at 3:30 PM and second trip is at 10:30 PM. Bus fare is PHP 524 (USD 10/ SGD 14/ MYR 44). Travel time is roughly 5-7 hours.
To get to Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan, La Union, from Manila, take a bus bound for La Union like Partas (Cubao & Pasay), Farinas (Cubao), Viron (Cubao and Sampaloc), Dominion (Cubao) and Philippine Rabbit (EDSA Balintawak and Manila). Fare is roughly PHP 400 / USD 7.94, travel time is about 5-7 hours. You may also ride a bus bound for Vigan and Laoag. Get off at San Juan (Urbiztondo Beach).
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 400 / USD 7.95
FOOD TRIP AND BAR HOPPING IN SAN JUAN
La Union is popularly called “Elyu” by millennials who usually flock here on weekends and holidays to surf and party. When surfing became popular in San Juan, restaurants, bar and cafes mushroomed along the highway in Urbiztondo Beach. For non-surfers, you can go on a food trip, restaurant hopping or bar hopping in San Juan. Trust me, it’s fun, but make sure your wallet is well-endowed as food here usually starts at PHP 200 / USD 4 per serving.
How to get to San Juan from San Fernando, La Union:
Board a jeepney en route to San Juan. Travel time is about 25 minutes and fare is PHP 11 / USD 0.22.
SAN GABRIEL, LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
CLIFF DIVING AT TANGADAN FALLS
The erstwhile sleepy town of San Gabriel is now one of the top tourist spots in La Union; a magnet of adventure-seekers due to Tangadan Falls. What makes this waterfall special is the journey to the main falls. Tourists have to hike for about one hour, which involves river crossing in a forest-clad trail. The smaller waterfall is a popular spots for cliff diving, while the bigger one is perfect for swimming and rafting. Wear life jacket when swimming or cliff diving for your safety especially during rainy season. There are available life jackets for rent (PHP 50/ USD 0.99).
ALSO READ: HOW TO GET TO TANGADAN FALLS IN LA UNION
BAUANG LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
GRAPE PICKING AT BAUANG LA UNION GRAPE FARM
Unknown to many, the town of Bauang in La Union has long been sprinkled with grape farm. Tourists are flocking here to experience grape picking (seasonal) or have a photo op at the charming grape farms.
ALSO READ: DIY Travel Guide to Bauang, La Union Grape Farm
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 242 / USD 4.80
SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
VISIT THE LA UNION CULTURE AND ARTS GALLERY
There’s a thriving art gallery in La Union, and it is housed at the 3rd floor of LUPAC building, San Fernando City. The Culture & Art Gallery (Silid ti Adal ken Laing ti La Union) is open to tourists who wants to witness the artworks of budding local artists such as members of the Artists Guild of La Union (AGLUAN) that also trains young artists from different art groups.
How to get to La Union Culture and Arts Gallery: From downtown San Fernando, ride a tricycle to take you to the arts gallery. Fare is about PHP 10 / USD 0.20 per person.
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 20 / USD 0.20
SAY A PRAYER AT MACHO TEMPLE
Proudly standing on top of a hill in San Fernando, La Union, the 7-storey Macho Temple is a Taoist Temple dedicated to Mazu, a Chinese sea-goddess. It is said that its counterpart in Roman Catholic Religion in the Philippines is Our Lady of Casaysay in Taal Cathedral in Batangas. During the 5th-8th month of the Lunar Calendar, Mazu’s image is transported to Taal for pilgrimage where a mass is held and then it is carried back to Macho Temple. Inside the confines of Macho Temple in San Fernando, visitors will find the golden emblem of the dragon, the Liang Thing Pagoda, the Majestic Five Door Gate, a Bamboo Garden and the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower.
How to get to Macho Temple in San Fernando, La Union: If you are coming from Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan, take a jeepney en route to San Fernando. Jeepney fare is PHP 11 / USD 0.40. Ride a tricycle to take you to Macho Temple. Tricycle fare is about PHP 10/ USD 0.20 – PHP 20/ USD 0.40 per person.
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 31 / USD 0.62
LUNA, LA UNION TOURIST SPOTS
VISIT BALAY NA BATO AND THE PEBBLE BEACH IN LUNA
Luna, La Union is well-known for its pebble beaches and one of its popular tourist spots is the Bahay na Bato in Brgy. Nalvo Norte built from the stone and rocks found along its beaches. It is actually a rest house owned by Dr. Edison and Dr. Purita Chan-Noble. What makes it interesting are the wood and stone sculptures created by Bong Kim, a Korean. Inside the compound, one can also find a 3D House and a gallery where tourists can buy souvenirs such as local hand-weaved textiles. The house sites beside a beautiful, natural pebble beach. Swimming is not allowed but it is a good spot for photo op.
Balay na Bato Entrance Fee: PHP 30 / USD 0.60
How to get to Balay na Bato and Pebble Beach in Luna: From San Juan, ride a jeepney to Luna. Fare is PHP 30 / USD 0.60. Ride a tricycle to Balay na Bato where the Pebble Beach is. Tricycle fare is PHP 50 / USD 0.99.
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 110 / USD 2.18
SEE LUNA’S WATCH TOWER
A few minutes away from Luna town center is the leaning Watch Tower of Luna, another top tourist spot in La Union. Situated in a pebble beach in Brgy. Victoria, the restored lookout tower was built during the Spanish era to warn residents of incoming pirates.
How to get to Luna’s Watch Tower: From downtown Luna, ride a tricycle to Luna’s watch tower. Tricycle fare is about PHP 10 / USD 0.20 per person. You can also walk, it’ll take about 20 minutes from the town center.
Estimated Trip Cost: PHP 10/ USD 0.20
La Union is blissfully dappled with beautiful age-old churches including the Spanish-era Bacnotan Church (Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church) in neoclassical architectural style. While in the town of Luna, notice the imposing Namacpacan Church (Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church), a National Cultural Treasure and considered as an earthquake Baroque Church due to its thick walls and buttress. There is a brick stair on its side that leads to the roof the church. Enshrined in Namacpacan Church is the image of Apo Baket, a highly revered image of the Blessed Virgin Mary believed to be miraculous. Also, don’t miss the massive San Fernando Cathedral (Cathedral of St. William the Hermit) and the historical Pindangan Ruins both located in San Fernando, La Union. Pindangan Ruins in Brgy. Parian is a remnant of an old stone church in Pindangan (now San Fernando).
WHERE TO STAY IN LA UNION
Bali Hai Beach Resort
Paringao, Bauang, La Union, La Union
Puerto de San Juan Hotel Resort
San Juan Street, La Union, La Union
319 Eagle St. Ili Norte San Juan, La Union
Aureo Resort La Union
San Francisco, San Fernando, La Union
Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa
Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union, La Union
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Planning to do a solo-backpacking in La Union. Sana mapuntahan ko tong lahat ng destination na to within 24-48 hours. Stunning photos by the way.