May 3rd, 2019
It’s a no secret that La Union is a massive tourist spot in the Philippines. Personally, I’ve been longing to explore this paradise for a long time. Its white sand, breezing wind, unfailing waves, mouthwatering dishes, historical spots and unforgettable night life experience are just few of the main reasons why people keep coming back for more.
Here’s my budget travel blog about La Union! In here, you will get a sample 2 DAY and 1 NIGHT itinerary perfect for a weekend getaway. This also includes expenses breakdown and additional tips on every activity based on my personal experience that would further make your travel easier.
HOW TO GET TO LA UNION FROM MANILA
For me, the best means of transportation going to La Union is through the bus. This saves you tons of energy that you'll be needing for La Union's extreme activities and its night life's unforgettable experiences. Yeah, you read it right. You'll be needing tons of energy for you to enjoy La Union at its fullest. I would rather sit back and sleep as Mr. Driver do his thing of delivering his passengers safely to their travel destination.
If you're coming from Manila, you can choose from different bus companies that is convenient on your location. These bus companies have their respective terminals at Pasay and Cubao. For your convenience, you book your bus ticket ahead of time in order to reserve yourself a seat. You can check the profile of these bus companies here: http://www.phbus.com/.
Personally, I suggest that you take PARTAS Bus Company as they have scheduled trips at night which is very convenient for a weekend getaway.
Take the bus going to either Laoag or Vigan and tell the bus driver where you're getting off. Usually, tourists choose San Juan or San Fernando as their setting point for their La Union travel. It would take 5-6 hours of travel before you reach La Union so be conscious of your time frame while riding the bus.
I highly suggest that you choose the night trip for your bus trip especially if you're on a weekend getaway trip in order to maximize your time. In a night trip, usually departing around between 10:00 pm and 12 MN, you get the chance to travel without sacrificing the time for other activities on day time. Also, you get to rest and ready yourself for the days ahead of your escapade.
WHERE TO STAY IN LA UNION
As I've said earlier, tourists usually stay at either San Juan or San Fernando. What could probably be the difference?
San Juan is the center of attraction when you stay in La Union. Almost all the activities can be found there specifically surfing, food tripping, and partying. If you want to access all of these easily, you choose San Juan as your main base. This place contains hotels and bed spaces suitable for individual travel, duo trip and small group adventure (3-5 persons). However, it's not that easy. Hotels within the area are often fully booked because of the convenience that it provides. Again, it will always be better to book your hotels ahead of time, at least two weeks, in order to avoid inconvenience.
On the other hand, San Fernando which is 20 minutes away from San Juan is also a highly recommended option. If you're traveling in a big group (minimum of 8 person/group), I highly recommend that you choose San Fernando as your home base. Why? Because this place has a lot of houses for rent that you can count on. You'll be saving a lot for your accommodation if you choose to rent a house. Not to forget the quality of restaurants present within the area, San Fernando is no doubt a place for you to stay.
When planning for your trip, make sure that you prioritize your accommodation. It's better that you book your hotel/house at least two weeks before your trip in order to avoid on-the-spot cramming. You can utilize different apps/website to help you with your transaction. On top of my list, where I always book my accommodation, is Agoda.com. They've got different deals and offers that could adjust according to your budget. Also, I recommend Air BnB if you decide to rent a house.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN LA UNION
A. URBIZTONDO BEACH
Surfing is almost synonymous to La Union. Tourists who visit this area for surfing are inclined of visiting the Urbiztondo Beach. This is also a perfect place to learn how to surf because they offer surfing lessons and surf board rentals. Surfing lessons cost 500 pesos/hour inclusive of the surf board. If you already know how to surf and is just concerned of the surf board rental, it costs 250 pesos/hour.
How to Get to Urbiztondo Beach:
From San Fernando, you can take a jeep to San Juan and land at “The Great Northwest”. Jeepney Fare is 13 pesos/person.
An hour of surfing lessons is already enough for you to learn the basics of surfing. The best time to do surfing is between 3PM to 6PM if you want to avoid too much exposure to sunlight. The waves there are consistent so there’s no need for you to be concerned which hour of the day will give you the opportunity for a better surfing experience.
And oh! The sunset here is a beauty to behold. Don’t forget to bring your cameras and capture the view between 5:30PM-6:15PM.
B. TANGADAN FALLS
La Union is more than just surfing. If you’re not a fan of surfing, there are other ways on how to enjoy La Union and Tangadan Falls of San Gabriel is one reason why you’ll love La Union more. You can do cliff diving, swimming and take pictures with this splendid body of nature. If you’re pretty much concerned with your safety as you enjoy the experience, life jackets are readily available for rent at the entrance for 50 pesos/person.
How to Get to Tangadan Falls:
From San Fernando, ride a jeepney going to San Gabriel. Fare is 26 pesos/person. Tell the driver that you’ll be going to the Tangadan Falls so that he can drop you at the area where tourist guides for the Tangadan trip are waiting. Before you can proceed, you will be required to pay the environmental fee worth 30 pesos/person. Also, hire a tour guide who will lead you to the falls. Tour guide fee is 500 pesos.
There are two ways on how you want to experience the Tangadan Falls adventure.
First, if you love trekking, you can trek your way up to the falls. This would take you approximately 2 hours to complete one way.
Second, you can hire a “habal” or a single motorcycle worth 150 pesos/person per trip. This would just take you 20 minutes to complete the one way travel.
As a fellow traveler, I want you to experience the best that Tangadan Falls has to offer. What better way to experience it by having the best tour guide in town? Kuya Arthur is the man for the position. You know why Arthur is his name? According to him, Our Tour (Arthur) guide. Anyhow, you can contact him through his mobile phone and I'll be generous enough to share it with you: 09103622814.
People in La Union are very friendly. Don’t be afraid or shy to ask them questions when the situation calls for it. Perfect example is talking to the jeepney driver to drop you to the place where access for the Tangadan Falls is available.
I suggest that if you travel alone join a group you’ll meet at the municipality upon paying the environmental fee in renting a tourist guide. The fee for the tourist guide is 500 pesos good for one group (approximately 4-5 persons). This would cut your expenses off rather than paying a full fee alone.
Remember to keep the receipt of payment of your environmental fee. At the entrance of the Tangadan Falls, the person in charge will look for it in order for you to enter the said area.
If you want to save more time and not to exhaust yourself a lot, I suggest that you take the “habal” ride from the municipality rather than trek. This would give you more time to cliff dive, swim, take pictures and explore the beauty of the Tangadan Falls itself. However, if time is not an issue for you you can always take the longer route (a minimum of 3 hours back and forth).
Finally, please don’t forget to put a sunblock on!
C. MACHO TEMPLE
If you appreciate the beauty of temples, this place is a perfect fit for you. This place can be found in San Fernando with no entrance fees. You can roam around the area and immerse yourself with some Chinese culture and heritage. Picture taking is allowed within the premises.
How to get to the Macho Temple:
In San Fernando, rent a tricycle worth 40 pesos and the driver will do the rest. If you stay in San Juan, take a jeep going to San Fernando. Jeepney fare is 13 pesos/person. And you can rent a tricycle up to the Macho Temple.
WHERE TO EAT IN LA UNION
La Union also offers one of the finest dishes. It boasts a number of restaurants that will surely capture your taste buds. This place is really a perfect place to do food trip. Don’t ever think of visiting La Union without eating your hearts out as a to-do list. San Juan almost got all the restos, café and bar that would satisfy your cravings. Here are some of our recommended restaurants that you could try:
A. Halo halo de Iloko
This is a perfect place to experience unique Filipino Cuisine with a style. This is not your usual regional restaurant as it assures you different tastes for your Filipino dishes which will most likely be new to your taste buds. Both local and tourist don’t mind the long lines just to have a taste of their favorite dish.
Must try: Pork sisig, Bagnet, Longganisa, Halo-halo
Budget: 500 pesos/person (inclusive of 2 main courses and 1 halo-halo serving)
Travel Tip: Halo halo de Iloko is really famous in La Union. If you want to avoid the long lines, I suggest you go as early as 9AM.
B. SABONG FRIED CHICKEN
It’s a big NO visiting La Union without trying the famous Sabong Fried Chicken. This mouthwatering style of preparing your fried chicken will make a run of your money. With their unique combination of flavors, you will surely be back for more.
Must Try: Honey Bagoong and Korean Soy
Budget: 250 pesos/person
The chicken tastes so good that it gave me this priceless reaction:
Travel Tips: One serving could accommodate up to two people. If you travel by group, you can talk about sharing one dish and another for you to be able to taste different flavors. You could save more in this manner.
C. SURFER'S GRILL
After a long and tiring day, we all deserve a happy tummy. What better way than to fill our stomach with an unlimited barbecue buffet? May it be fish, chicken, pork and beef name it! Surfer’s grill offers you all of these for a budget friendly price.
Must Try: Unlimited Barbecue
Budget: 329 pesos/person
Mouthwatering isn’t it? Are you getting excited? I really hope you are.
D. EL UNION COFFEE
Calling all sweet tooth and coffee lovers out there! El Union coffee is not just the best café in the area but it is also one of the finest in the country (that’s my personal opinion, guys!). They’ve got different varieties of coffee which is a perfect combination to their desserts.
Must try: Dirty Horchiata, Indoor Smores, Buttermilk Pancakes
Budget: 300 pesos/person
SAMPLE ITINERARY (WEEKEND GETAWAY) W/ BUDGET:
Day 1 (Friday Night-Saturday):
10:00 PM-3:30 AM – Travel from Pasay to San Fernando, La Union (578 pesos/person)
3:30 AM-4:30 AM – Snack/Early Breakfast at nearby 24 hours fast food chain (150 pesos/person)
4:30 AM-4:45 AM – Travel to Hotel via Tricycle (10 pesos/person)
4:45 AM-6:45 AM – Early Check in and rest (420 pesos/person; Group of 6 @ 2500 pesos house rent)
6:45 AM-7:00 AM – Ready for Departure to Tangadan Falls
7:00 AM-7:10 AM – Travel from Hotel to Jeep Terminal Station going to San Gabriel (10 pesos/person)
7:20 AM-8:00 AM – Travel from San Fernando to San Gabriel via Jeep (26 pesos/person)
8:00 AM-8:05 AM – Arrival at San Gabriel and Pay Environmental Fee; Hire Tour Guide (30 pesos/person for the environmental fee and 500 pesos for the tour guide)
8:05 AM-8:25 AM – Travel from San Gabriel Municipality to Tangadan Falls Trailend via habal (150 pesos/person)
8:30 AM-8:45 AM – Walk from drop off to falls proper and life vest rental (50 pesos/person)
8:45 AM-10:30 AM – Picture Taking, Swimming, Cliff Jumping
10:30 AM-11:15 AM – Back to drop off, wash and freshen up “banlaw” (20 pesos/person)
11:30 AM-12:00 NN – Go back to town proper of San Gabriel via habal (150 pesos/person)
12:00 NN-12:30 PM – Travel from San Gabriel to “Great Northwest” San Juan via jeep (13 pesos/person)
12:40 PM-1:30 PM – Lunch at Sabong Fried Chicken (250 pesos/person)
1:45 PM-2:15 PM – Travel from San Juan to San Fernando Jeep Terminal (13 pesos/person)
2:15 PM-2:20 PM – Go back to hotel via tricycle (10 pesos/person)
2:30 PM-3:30 PM – Rest and freshen up
3:45 PM-3:50 PM – Travel from hotel to San Fernando Jeep terminal (10 pesos/person)
4:20 PM-4:45 PM – Travel from San Fernando to “Great Northwest” San Juan via Jeep (13 pesos/person)
4:45 PM-5:00 PM – Picture taking at beach front
5:00 PM-6:00 PM – Surfing lessons inclusive of Surf Board and Trainer (500 pesos/person)
6:00 PM-6:30 PM – Take a bath and Freshen Up (20 pesos/person)
6:30 PM-7:00 PM – Walk on your way to Surfer’s Grill
7:00 PM-8:30 PM – Dinner at Surfer’s Grill (329 pesos/person)
8:45 PM-10:30 PM – Night life with in San Juan (70 pesos/drink average)
10:30 PM-11:00 PM – Travel from San Juan to San Fernando via Tricycle (100 pesos/rent)
11:00 PM-11:30 PM – Freshen up and ready to sleep
11:30PM- Lights Off
Total Cost for Day 1: 2,922 pesos/person
Day 2 (Sunday)
7:00 AM - Wake Up Call
7:35 AM-7:40 AM - Travel to St. William The Hermit Parish Church via Tricycle (40 pesos/rent)
7:45 AM-8:45 AM - Sunday Mass
8:45 AM-8:55 AM - Travel to Halo halo de Iloko via Tricycle (40 pesos/rent)
9:00 AM-10:30 AM - Breakfast at Halo halo de Iloko (500 pesos/person)
10:30 AM-10:45 AM - Travel back to Hotel via Tricyle (40 pesos/rent)
10:45 AM-11:15 AM - Pack up things
11:20 AM - Check Out
11:25 AM-11:35 AM - Travel to Macho Temple via Tricycle (40 pesos/rent)
11:35 AM-12:00 NN - Picture Taking at Macho Temple
12:05 PM-12:30 PM - Travel from San Fernando to San Juan via Jeepney (13 pesos/person)
12:30 PM-2:30 PM - Dessert at El Union Coffee, Food trip at other Restaurants around San Juan (300 pesos/person)
2:45 PM-3:00PM - Travel Back to San Fernando via Jeepney (13 pesos/person)
3:00 PM-3:05 PM - Travel from Terminal to Hotel (40 pesos/rent)
3:10 PM-3:15 PM - Pick up things from Hotel
3:15 PM-3:30 PM - Travel from Hotel to Bus Terminal Via Tricycle (40 pesos/rent)
4:00 PM-9:30 PM - Travel from La Union to Pasay (578 pesos/person)
Total Cost for Day 2: 1,644 pesos/person
TOTAL COST FOR THE TRIP: 4,566 pesos/person
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