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La Union Travel Guide

There’s more to the Surfing Capital of the North than the best waves.

Inarguably one of the buzziest weekend destinations and the go-to place for a quick getaway, La Union brings to the table the perfect mix of leisure, adventure, great eats, and cheap thrills. And because you get so much for a drive not too far away from the metro, it’s no wonder that La Union has become a top-of-mind destination for a well-deserved (surf) break!

While you’ll probably never run out of things to do in this vibrant yet laid-back destination, here’s a list of musts you can’t miss in La Union.

WHAT TO SEE IN LA UNION

Tangadan Falls

INSTAGRAM: itsjoycemdlng

You’re in for quite an adventure on your hike to Tangadan Falls. Trek through a jungle-like trail and traverse the Baroro River to witness one of La Union’s natural wonders. At the end of the hike, enjoy a refreshing dip in the natural pool—it makes for a great reward after your trek to the falls!

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

Fees:
- P30 entrance fee
- P500 tour guide fee

Ma-Cho Temple

INSTAGRAM: rizanoia

A center of worship for Taoism dedicated to the Sea Goddess, Ma-Cho, the cluster of pagoda-style prayer and meditation rooms rests 70 meters above sea level. Chinese saints carved in stone are lined along the entrance to welcome you to this sacred space. Resembling temples in Taiwan, Ma-Cho Temple is open to Taoists and non-Taoists alike.

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

Bahay na Bato

INSTAGRAM: jajazmhine

Located in the Pebble Capital of the North in Luna, Bahay na Bato is a fairly new, but well-known attraction in La Union. True to its name, it was made from pebbles and stones found along the beach, where stone-picking has become part of their lifestyle. Bong Kim, whose wooden and pebble sculptures reside within the grounds, trains local artists on stone-carving.

Bahay na Bato
Nalvo Norte, Bacnotan-Luna-Balaonan Road, Luna, La Union
(0910) 731 9991
Daily, 6AM – 8PM

Entrance Fee: P20

Pindangan Ruins

INSTAGRAM: thelongleggedmadame

You can find this spot in a place formerly called Pindangan, where a Spanish-built church that has San Guillermo, the Hermit as its patron saint once stood. After it was struck by an earthquake, its then parish priest, Fr. Fernando Rey, decided not to rebuild it because it gets flooded during the rainy season. In what is now called San Fernando are the chapel and the remnants of this church that are believed to be haunted—ghost hunting, anyone?

Pindangan Ruins
San Fernando, La Union

Entrance Fee: P20

WHERE TO EAT IN LA UNION

Tagpuan sa San Juan

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Simple and unassuming, Tagpuan is a no-frills joint that serves Filipino favorites. Whether you’re in need of a quick meal or a post-surf snack, their tasty rice bowls, hearty soups, and pica-pica will surely hit the spot. Try their Beef Pares and Beef Mami to remind you of the warmth of home.

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

Olas Banditos

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Gather all your amigos for a Mexican meal, snack, or post-drinks hang, because any time is great for Mexi-time! Their bestsellers La Carnitas Burrito and Beef Burrito will send you on a Latina food trip you didn’t even know you needed.

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

Gefseis Greek Grill

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

A meal at Gefseis is the closest you can get to an authentic Greek experience without hopping on a plane. Think a blue and white Santorini-inspired look, chill European music, and their specialties of souvlaki and kebab.

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

Makai Bowls

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Perfect for the health buffs and those simply looking for a refreshing treat, Makai Bowls is your one-stop spot for cold, fruity goodness! Sip on their fresh pressed juices and fruit shakes, cool off with their popsicles, and dig into their filling chia bowls and smoothie bowls—the Amianan Smoothie Bowl with dragon fruit, mango, papaya, banana, and acai juice is their bestseller!

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

El Union Coffee

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Did you really go to La Union if you didn’t 'gram your drink at El Union? Calling themselves ‘the Philippines most and least serious coffee company,’ they provide a nice and casual ambience for your coffee break and catch-ups with friends. Don’t pass up on trying their famed Horchata or Dirty Horchata, and the heavenly Indoor S'mores.

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

Mad Monkeys

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

You can never go wrong with a good burger. Currently situated in Magellan’s Restaurant & Lounge, Mad Monkeys is a great contender for the best burgers you’ve ever had in your life. Sink your teeth into juicy 100% beef patties with fresh toppings and a soft, firm bun—so good, they’ll make you go mad!

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

Surf Shack

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Fuel up or recharge after surfing, meet new friends, chill out with catchy tunes, or simply bum around because Surf Shack is just the place for that. We’re positive that their pizzas and TNT Pasta (taba ng talangka sauce) will give you the energy you need to be out and about!

Surf Shack
Urbiztondo Road, MacArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union
(072) 607 4914
Sundays to Thursdays, 10AM – 1AM
Fridays to Saturdays, 10AM – 3AM

Coast Call Kitchen & Bar

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Great for sit-down meals with family and friends, Coast Call in San Juan Surf Resort whips up Pinoy favorites for a satisfyingly homey dining experience. Pair their Special Liempo with Ensalada and Adobo Rice, a simple but delightful combo you won't regret trying.

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

Halo-Halo de Iloko

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

As their saying goes, if you find yourself in the Surfing Capital of the North, “magpasarap ka muna (treat yourself first)!” Indulge in a refreshingly cold glass of La Union’s best halo-halo. If you’re feeling a little more daring or are in need of a little more chill, dig into their Buko Halo-Halo that’s served inside a fresh coconut shell.

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

WHAT TO DO IN LA UNION

Debunk Jeff Ortega’s 5-Minute Drink at Flotsam & Jetsam

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

They say Jeff Ortega’s infamous 5-Minute Drink is conquerable as long as you consume all of it within the allotted time. The exact ingredients are top-secret, but rumor has it that it’s infused with tequila, vodka, rum, and gin, so you'll have to see for yourself if you’re strong enough to defy the norm.

Flotsam & Jetsam Kitchen Bar
MacArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union
(0917) 802 1328

Get Inked at 55Tinta

IMAGE: Maia Marquez

While photos might be the best souvenirs from any trip, immortalizing the experience by getting a tattoo is a bolder way to make memories permanent. Owned by members of Kamikazee, this famed tattoo parlor also has a branch in Maginhawa, Quezon City, and houses many talented artists with various styles.

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

Catch Some Waves in San Juan

INSTAGRAM: pacdog142

What’s a trip to the Surfing Capital of the North without riding the waves? La Union’s challenging waves amidst laid-back vibes is what makes it such a buzzy destination for local and foreign surfers alike. Scared to go on a ride? The friendly locals gotchu—they line the beach with surfboard rentals and beginner-targeted tutorials to have you hanging loose in no time!

Go Grape Picking at Lomboy Grape Farm

INSTAGRAM: justlanzy

Contrary to the belief that grapes can only be grown in cold weather, La Union’s warm and sunny climate has actually proven perfect for planting grapes. Believed to be one of the first vineyards in the country, Lomboy Farms is owned by the ”Philippine King of Grapes” Avelino Lomboy, and gives visitors the opportunity to pick their bundles of these refreshing fruits.

Lomboy Farms
68 MacArthur Highway, Bauang, La Union
(072) 705 2105
Mondays to Saturdays, 7AM – 4PM
Sundays, 7AM – 3PM

Fees:
- P100 entrance fee
- P150 for grape picking

Explore the Underwater World by Scuba Diving

INSTAGRAM: diveunion_ph

Just because there are lean seasons for surfing, doesn’t mean you’ll run out of things to do in La Union. When you need a break from the waves and all the delicious eats, diving down under gives you a beautiful change of scenery and a surreal experience all rolled into one. Explore Fagg Reef’s WW2 military tanks, Trinity Walls’s caves and cracks, or even Lingsat Marine Sanctuary’s impressive biodiversity.

Dive Union
Plaza De Castiel, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
(0917) 720 1859
(0929) 157 5696
diving@diveunion.com.ph

Go on a Food Trip

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Perhaps just as buzzy as the surf scene, if not more, is the province’s ever-growing list of dining hubs. From various hotspots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, or drinks, to a wide selection of specialties and cuisines like Mexican, Greek, Filipino, seafood, and smoothie bowls, among others, a food trip in La Union is well worth the road trip, whatever the weather!

HIDDEN GEMS TO DISCOVER IN LA UNION

Blue Surfers Lounge

INSTAGRAM: jmstagramph

Fairly new to the scene is Blue Surfers Lounge. This chill out spot right by the beach serves all-day eats and treats to keep all your cravings at bay. Laze around, make new friends, and enjoy great music and entertainment at this joint that brings Manila’s urban liveliness to this colorful surfer town.

Blue Surfers Lounge
Urbiztondo Road, San Juan, La Union
(0917) 838 1780
Sundays to Fridays, 6AM – 2AM
Saturdays, 6AM – 3AM

Great Gamble Seafood Shack

IMAGE: Maia Marquez

Within the same complex of the famous El Union Coffee lies this simple shack you might miss if you don't look hard enough. Bearing no flashy sign—or no sign at all, for that matter—is Great Gamble, whose scrumptious seafood dishes will surely convince you to go on a see food diet! Trust us, you'll want to eat their crab rolls and scallop rolls all day, every day.

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

Sabong Fried Chicken

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

No La Union food trip is ever complete without Sabong’s double fried chicken that’s glazed in various sauces and served with a side, rice, and another dipping sauce. Its generous servings amidst its simple dining area definitely hits the spot for surfers and non-surfers alike. We recommend their bestselling Honey Bagoong Chicken—it’s the perfect blend of salty and sweet for those who can’t decide on what to eat.

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

Clean Beach Coffee

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

Further down the main road lies Clean Beach Coffee, a beachside café that’s home to the 1st PH Brewers Cup Champion. This coffee shop doesn’t just focus on a Pinterest-like aesthetic, it also advocates keeping La Union waste-free—they even offer metal and bamboo straws for customers’ use.

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

Night Market SFC

INSTAGRAM: sanfenandocitylu

If you’re in for a Pinoy street food crawl, then Night Market SFC is the place to be! With various offerings like barbecue, fishballs, isaw, coconut shakes, fresh lemonade, and even Ilocano meals like dinengdeng and dinakdakan, you're guaranteed to eat like a king even while on a budget.

Night Market SFC
Osmeña Street, Brgy. 3, San Fernando, La Union

Tuddingan Falls

INSTAGRAM: klangofalla

Arguably lesser known than Tangadan Falls is the equally, if not more beautiful Tuddingan Falls in Naguilian. The walk up the falls offers a relaxing and breathtaking respite: imagine lush green scenery lining the trail and the sound of chirping birds mingling with the rush of water. When you’re greeted by this natural wonder, you'll realize that sometimes there's nothing as peaceful and calming as a simple nature retreat.

Tuddingan Falls
Tuddingan, Naguilian, La Union

DG TRAVELER TIPS

  • If you’re an avid surfer, October to March would be the best time to catch the biggest waves. While it can still be quite rainy during October through November, any time is a great time to visit La Union, especially if the number one thing on your agenda is an epic food trip.
  • La Union might be one of the most eco-friendly provinces in the country. Almost everything in every eatery is reusable (straws included!), and they encourage their diners to clean up after themselves, and segregate their garbage. Be mindful of your trash or use reusable containers, utensils, and bottles as much as possible.
  • While most known joints are along the stretch of San Juan, it pays to do your research. Look up directions or even ask the friendly locals which dining hotspot can satisfy your craving as some of them are hidden behind others or tucked into small side streets.
  • Probably the best way to get to know San Juan is by walking. All the foodie spots are right next to each other or within the same complex, and you never know what you might discover along the way!
  • Befriend the locals. They might just be the warmest set of people you’d meet—and who knows what insider tips and tricks you might learn?

WHAT TO WEAR

La Union’s laid-back vibe is what people love most about it. It has a very ”come as your are” feel to it, so anything goes! For lounging on the beach or food tripping, cool and comfortable clothes would be perfect. If you’re looking to do a little bit of trekking, make sure you wear the right kind of shoes and that you apply insect repellant. And remember, no matter what you do, sunscreen is always a must!

HOW TO GET THERE

PRIVATE CAR

You’re in for an approximately 5-6 hour drive. Start off by taking NLEX and go through SCTEX. Make your way to TPLEX and take the Carmen Toll Plaza exit in Pangasinan. Then, turn left on the Carmen-Poblacion Rosales Road, make a right on Teofilo Sison Bridge, and you’ll find yourself on the MacArthur National Highway that takes you through Pangasinan and La Union.

BY BUS

Manila to San Fernando
Travel time on a Partas, Viron or Dominion will take around 5-7 hours, depending on the traffic and your origin. Once in San Fernando, take a 25-minute jeepney or tricycle ride to San Juan.

Manila to Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan

Partas also offers bus rides straight to San Juan from Pasay or Cubao, and the trip takes approximately 5-7 hours. Another option is to take a bus going to Vigan or Laoag, and just tell the driver and conductor that you’re headed to Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan.

WHERE TO STAY

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

If you’re looking to stay in Bauang, the homey Lafaayatte Luxury Suites is just the place for you. It has its own beachfront, pool, dining areas, and function room—perfect for big group outings and reunions! Villas Buenavista in Ili Sur is your castle-like respite that’s situated away from the crowds. Fit for a king, their spacious rooms and European exteriors will make you feel like you’ve been whisked into another country and era.

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

San Fernando has some luxurious offerings, too. The resort-like Aureo lets you wake up to a sprawling garden view, a tranquil sea view, or a relaxing pool view—and its private and secluded location gives you the break you truly deserve. Alternatively, the Santorini-inspired Thunderbird Resort is a huge resort complex that has a casino, golf course, pools, and other facilities for the whole family to enjoy.

IMAGE: Lorenzo Arceo

In the buzzy town of San Juan, you can find Vessel Hostel, a minimalist accommodation made from container vans that serves as the ideal resting place for no-fuss travelers. For a beachfront stay, the 4-star Awesome Hotel makes for a great choice, too, as they focus on personalized and heartfelt service. Another beachfront option is the family-friendly San Juan Surf. With its own surf shop, an al fresco restaurant, and its central location, it puts you right in the middle of premium comfort and excitement.

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