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48 Hours in La Union

by Maia Marquez

This itinerary is for beach lovers who don't have the luxury of going on an extended getaway.

INSTAGRAM: photosbyteodora

Whether you've run out of vacation leaves or you simply feel the spontaneous urge to get away just for a quick weekend breather, driving destination and trending hotspot La Union is the escape you need from the city's hustle and bustle.

Make the most out of your limited time in the province by sampling the best cuisines, marveling at beautiful sights, catching some waves, and enjoying the laid-back beach town life.

DAY 1

3:00 AM - 8:00 AM: Make Your Way to La Union

They say the early bird gets the worm, so start early and get there early! With no time to waste, getting there as soon as establishments open guarantees that you get to maximize your time for a full La Union experience.

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Slurp on a Smoothie Bowl at Makai Bowls

INSTAGRAM: makaibowls

Not only are smoothie bowls deliciously healthy treats, they're also extremely Instagram-worthy. Get your dose of vitamins, nutrients, and protein with this shop's power-packed bowls, shakes, and popsicles—because there's no better way to face the morning than with a fresh perspective.

Makai Bowls
San Juan, La Union
Thursdays to Mondays, 8AM - 6PM

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM: Grab a Drink at El Union Coffee

INSTAGRAM: elunion

Probably one of the most iconic La Union spots is this self-proclaimed 'most and least serious coffee company' in the country. Let the warmth of its simple yet aromatic flavors wash over you and help you kickstart an exciting day ahead.

El Union Coffee
San Juan, La Union
Mondays to Thursdays, 9AM - 9PM
Fridays, 9AM - 10PM
Saturdays, 7AM - 10PM
Sundays, 7AM - 9PM

9:30 AM - 11:30 AM: Ride Those Waves in San Juan

INSTAGRAM: surftownlaunion

San Juan's waves make for a great playground for surf fanatics and beginners alike. Afraid to ride the waves? Friendly locals line the beach with their surfboard rentals and lessons. You'll be riding like a pro in no time!

11:30 AM - 12:45 PM: Rest and Refuel at Mad Monkeys

INSTAGRAM: marylishhh

Nothing sounds better than biting into tender 100% beef patties after a morning out in the water. All the burgers they serve are topped with their signature melted cheddar beer sauce, among other toppings, and they're unbelievably delicious!

Mad Monkeys
Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
(0977) 847 7860
Mondays to Saturdays, 10:30AM - 2AM
Sundays, 10:30AM - 12AM

12:45 PM - 1:45 PM: Reflect and Find Inner Peace with a Trip to Ma-Cho Temple

INSTAGRAM: challacuna

Welcoming Taoists and non-Taoists alike, this center of worship dedicated to the Sea Goddess, Ma-Cho, sits 70m above sea level. Resembling Taiwanese temples, the complex of pagoda-style prayer rooms are perfect spots for worship and meditation.

Ma-Cho Temple
Ma-Cho Temple Driveway, Quezon Avenue, San Fernando, La Union
Daily, 7AM - 5PM

1:45 PM - 2:45 PM: Revisit History at the Pindangan Ruins

INSTAGRAM: thelongleggedmadame

After an earthquake struck, what now stands in the grounds of this old Spanish-built church are its ruins and remnants. Said to be haunted, the site may or may not give you a different kind of chill than you'd expect from this laid-back town.

Pindangan Ruins
San Fernando, La Union
Entrance Fee: P20

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM: Chill Out with a Halo-Halo Break

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

As their tagline goes, "magpasarap ka muna (treat yourself first)" with a refreshingly cold treat at Halo-Halo de Iloko! Whether you're looking to cool down with their Special Halo-Halo or you need a little more kick from their Buko Halo-Halo, you'll be ready to brave the heat again after you delight in this ice-cold snack.

Halo-Halo de Iloko
Zandueta Street, San Fernando, La Union
(072) 700 2030
Daily, 9AM - 9PM

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Get a Souvenir that Lasts Forever at 55Tinta

INSTAGRAM: 55tinta

Prove those who say that "nothing is forever" wrong. Get inked at this tattoo parlor owned by members of the band Kamikazee, and be living proof that with a tattoo, #MayForever.

55Tinta
MacArthur National Highway, Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
(0947) 994 7114
Tuesdays to Thursdays, 1PM - 10PM
Fridays, 12PM - 12AM
Saturdays, 10AM - 12AM
Sundays, 12PM - 10PM

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM: Chill by the Beach, Watch the Sunset, and Grab a Snack at Great Gamble

INSTAGRAM: mikeerazon

Being out and about the whole day can be exhausting. Why not take it slow, rest up, lounge around the beach, and watch the sky dance with fiery colors that fade into darkness?

While you're at it, get ready for the mouthwatering goodness that this simple and unassuming seafood shack brings. Serving fresh and flavorful seafood rolls and filling pasta dishes, it's a prime example as to why you should never judge a book by its cover.

Great Gamble Seafood Shack
The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck
Urbiztondo, La Union
(0917) 805 5955
Daily, 12PM - 2PM and 6PM - 8PM

6:30 PM - 7:45 PM: Enjoy Crunch Time at Sabong Fried Chicken

INSTAGRAM: reypadupad

It's literally crunch time (pun intended) with Sabong's generous serving of double fried chicken glazed in your choice of sauce and served with sides, plus another dipping sauce. Its crunchiness and burst of flavor are sure to be a delight with every bite!

Sabong Fried Chicken
The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck
Urbiztondo, La Union
(0917) 827 4919
Wednesdays to Mondays, 10AM - 2PM and 5PM - 10PM

7:45 PM - 10:00 PM: Turn Up at Flotsam and Jetsam

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Seen in local movies like Flotsam and I'm Drunk, I Love You, this famed restobar is probably the most famous spot to have a drink or two (or more!) when in La Union. As you party, try their bestselling pizza, and while you're at it, try to stay sober through Jeff Ortega's 5-Minute Drink—it's rumored to have generous servings of tequila, rum, vodka, and gin!

Flotsam and Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel
MacArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union
(0917) 802 1328

10:00 PM - 11:00 PM: Wind Down at Tagpuan

INSTAGRAM: arpcsm

Transition into getting a good night's rest with an ultra-affordable meal at this no-frills sidewalk eatery. A satisfying serving of beef pares and rice, a hearty bowl of mami, or a light but tasty snack like tokwa't baboy will prove that simple yet delicious eats are really what it's all about!

Tagpuan sa San Juan
Urbiztondo Road, San Juan, La Union
Mondays and Wednesdays, 8AM - 12AM
Thursdays to Sundays, 8AM - 2AM

11:00 PM Onwards: Turn In and Rest Up

INSTAGRAM: madmaaark

After a long day of excitement and adventure, the surefire way to recharge for yet another day is through restful relaxation. Check out Lafaayette Luxury Suites in Bauang, Villas Buenavista in Ili Sur, and Aureo and Thunderbird Resort in San Fernando for stays that are away from the crowds.

But if you're looking to be in the heart of the action, a stay in Vessel Hostel, Awesome Hotel or San Juan Surf—all located in San Juan—might be your best bet!

DAY 2

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Have a Hearty Breakfast at Coast Call

INSTAGRAM: coastcall_

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not do it the right way at San Juan Surf's in-house restaurant? Serving you delectable dishes from breakfast all the way till dinner, their staff has made it their mission to ensure you'll never go hungry!

Coast Call Kitchen & Bar
238 Urbiztondo Road, San Juan, La Union
(0917) 880 3040
costcallkitchenandbar@yahoo.com
Daily, 6:30AM – 10PM

9:00 AM - 12:00PM: Commune with Nature at Tangadan Falls

INSTAGRAM: ratedpj

Thrill-seekers and nature lovers will love the trail to the falls that's surrounded with lush greens. Make your way through the Baroro River and get instant gratification as you marvel at the beauty of the falls. As an added reward, you can even take a refreshing dip in its natural pool.

Tangadan Falls
San Gabriel, La Union
(0927) 113 8263
Daily, 6AM – 5PM

Fees: - P30 entrance fee
- P500 tour guide fee

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM: Get Your Greek On at Gefseis

INSTAGRAM: dashieco

Whipping up its bestselling kebabs and souvlaki, among other favorites, they also offer you servings of a Santorini-inspired ambience coupled with laid-back European hits for a truly Greek experience. Nothing else will make you say "Opa!" more than this!

Gefseis Greek Grill
Urbiztondo Beach, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
Sundays to Thursdays, 9AM – 12AM
Fridays and Saturdays, 9AM – 2AM

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM: Lounge Around, Catch Some Waves, and Stop for a Coffee Break

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Walk along the stretch of sand, let the waves crash at your feet, and soak up some sun. And if you just can't get enough of the waves, now might be your last chance to ride them again.

While on your stroll, make sure to stop by Clean Beach Coffee for a refreshing glass of fruit soda or a nice and strong cup of coffee. Home to the 1st PH Brewers Cup Champion, it's also an advocate of keeping La Union waste-free.

Clean Beach Coffee
134 Beachfront, MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
Daily, 7AM – 10PM

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM: Indulge in Mexi-Time at Olas Banditos

INSTAGRAM: paolokalel

Before heading home, make your way to this Mexican joint that offers tacos, nachos, burritos, and a whole fiesta of flavors. This Latina food trip will have you urging all your amigos to vámonos!

Olas Banditos
National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
(0977) 859 0064
Daily, 11AM – 11PM

6:00 PM Onwards: Make Your Way Back to the Metro

As they say, all good things must come to an end—but this quick yet eventful La Union escape will have you planning your return trip to this beach town even before you arrive home.

Planning to explore more of what the North's Surfing Capital has to offer? Find travel inspiration from our La Union Travel Guide.

For exclusive deals and stories about local travel, sign up for Deal Grocer!

About Maia
Maia’s passions in life are to travel and tell stories. Born in the States and raised in Manila while having studied in France, her ultimate goal is to travel all countries of the world. While she’s not abroad, she spends time tanning at the beach, exploring the underwater world or chilling with her 13 dogs. Follow her adventures on her Instagram @maiawillseetheworld.

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