2024 LA UNION Step-by-Step Travel Guide

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La Union is one of the popular beach destinations in the Philippines. Located in Ilocos Region, it is also a known surfing spot and is dubbed as “the Surfing Capital of Northern Luzon”. Only five to seven hours away from Manila, it is one of the most easily accessible surfing hotspots in the country. It may also be a jump-off point to other tourist destinations in the region like Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Baguio, and Pangasinan.

Over the years, La Union has evolved a lot as a tourist destination as the number of resorts and restaurants has steadily grown, and more attractions emerged. Aside from surfing and the beach, there are also other nature sites like waterfalls that you can explore. Some restaurants in the province have also grown popular, giving tourists more reasons to visit.

ATTENTION! For the most updated information, it’s best to check the official website of La Union Provincial Government or the Facebook page of Region 1 Tourism for updates and announcements.

Best Area to Stay

The two most popular destinations in La Union are San Fernando and San Juan. These towns are just next to each other so if you’re looking for a place to stay, you may choose depending on the type of accommodation you prefer and your itinerary.

If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, Thunderbird Resorts in San Fernando is your option. If you’re going to La Union to surf or simply enjoy the beach, stay in San Juan. There are plenty of inns and hostels by the beach and along the national highway. If a beachfront hotel is your preferred accommodation, there are a number of hotels along Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan.

Top Hotels on Agoda

Aureo Resort La Union
Aureo Resort La Union. Photo provided by the resort via Agoda.


Top Hotels on Booking.com

If you want more suggestions with more details about each hotel, you can also check our Top 10 Hotels & Resorts in La Union article.

Find more La Union Hotels!



Getting There

NOTE: Changes may occur, so please always contact the LGU, terminal, or bus company directly for the latest schedule, routes, and fares.

Whether you’re driving your own car or taking a bus, La Union is very accessible from Manila. Travel time is five to seven hours, but if you’re coming from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is located at the southern end of the metro, it may take one to two hours longer, depending on the traffic.

If you’re taking public transportation, there are several bus companies that offer the Manila-La Union route. Here are some of the most preferred operators.

  • Viron Transportation Co., Inc.
    1209 Dapitan corner Blumentritt Streets, Sampaloc, Manila
  • Partas Transportation – Cubao
    816 Aurora Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City
  • Fariñas Transit
    1238 Lacson Avenue, Sampaloc, Manila
  • Dominion Bus Lines
    EDSA corner New York Street, Quezon City

If your accommodation is in San Fernando, ride a bus going to San Fernando. The fare is P550-630. If you’re staying in Urbiztondo, board a bus going to Laoag or Vigan and tell the conductor that you will get off in Urbiztondo. The fare is P570-700. You may also take a bus to San Fernando and then ride a tricycle going to Urbiztondo (P100).

You may also read our MANILA to LA UNION Bus Schedules & Operators article for more information.

Tourist Spots & Attractions

ATTENTION! The opening hours and rates might change from time to time. Make sure you check the official websites or Facebook pages of the attractions and tourist spots prior to your trip.

Here are just some of the things to do and places to visit in La Union.

Urbiztondo Beach

La Union Surfing

If you want to surf in La Union, Urbiztondo Beach is the spot for you. There are different surf spots that cater to different types of surfers. If you haven’t tried surfing before, there are a bunch of groups and resorts offering surfing lessons at P500/hour. If you know how to surf, there are also board rentals available.

Surfing Lesson Rates:

  • 1-Hour (with surf board and instructors): P350-500
  • Surfboard Rental Only: P200-250/hour

Surfing Season: July to October (South Swell); November to March (North Swell)


Tangadan Falls

Tangadan Falls

Located in San Gabriel, this waterfall is one of the many in La Union. The trek to Tangadan Falls is 45-60 minutes and involves crossing the Baroro River so expect that you would get wet along the way. When you reach the waterfall, you may take a dip at the pool under the cascade. To get there from San Juan, ride a jeepney to San Gabriel (P15-25) and then charter a habal-habal to the start of the trail (P400 per person).

For more information on Tangadan Falls — how to get there and things to do, check out our Tangadan Falls Travel Guide article.

Location: Barangay Amontoc, San Gabriel, La Union
Visiting Hours: Daily, 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM

  • Environmental Fee: P30/head
  • Guide Fee: P700 (good for 1-7 pax)
  • Habal-Habal Fare Roundtrip, Municipal Treasury Office – Tangadan Falls Trailhead: P400/head


Ma-cho Temple

Ma Cho Temple La Union

The Ma-cho Temple, located in San Fernando, was built by the Chinese community in the city. This Taoist temple is perched atop a hill 70 feet above sea level and is facing the sea. It is befittingly dedicated to Ma-cho, the goddess of the sea. Although it is a Taoist temple, it is open to everyone regardless of religion.

Address: Ma Cho Temple, Quezon Avenue, San Fernando, La Union
Opening Hours: Daily, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM. The schedule may change without prior notice, so it’s best to check the official website or Facebook page before you go.
Entrance Fee: FREE


Pugad: Pugo Adventure

If you want to do extreme activities, visit Pugad: Pugo Adventure in Pugo, La Union. Some of the things you can do are rappelling, ziplining, ATV driving, and wall climbing. Listed below are some of the activities available and the rates.

  • Zipline 1-3 – P250-400
  • ATV – P350/head
  • Wall Climbing – P150/head
  • Giant Swing – P250/head
  • Australian Rundown – P250/head
  • Paintball – P400/head

Address: PUGAD, Pugo Adventure, Pugo, La Union
Opening Hours: Daily, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM. The schedule may change without prior notice, so it’s best to check the official Facebook page before you go.
Entrance Fee: Adults, P200; Kids 4ft below, P150; Kids 2ft below, FREE. The rates are inclusive of access to the swimming pools.


Tapuakan River

Another attraction in Pugo is the Tapuakan River, located not too far from Pugad. The stream has clear waters flowing through the river to the giant boulders. It’s a panoramic spot where you can have a relaxing time.

Location: Barangay Cares, Pugo, La Union
Entrance Fee: P10/person
Cottage Rental: P400


Nalvo Pebble Beach

La Union Pebble Beach

The Nalvo Pebble Beach in Luna may not have fine sand, but it definitely has its own charm. While in Luna, you should also drop by Luna Watch Tower and Bahay na Bato. If you want to make a stop at another waterfall, Occalong Falls is only a short trek away. To get there from San Juan, hop on a bus bound to Laoag/Vigan and ask the conductor to drop you off at Balaoan. The fare is P30-50. Then, take a tricycle to Luna. The fare is P10-15. You can also take a Luna Tricycle Tour from San Juan. The rate ranges from P800 to P2,000, depending on the number of stops and inclusions.

Location: Nalvo Norte at Nalvo Sur, Luna, La Union


Baluarte Watchtower

Luna Baluwarte Watchtower La Union

Sitting along Nalvo Pebble Beach is the 400-year-old Baluarte Watchtower, also known as the Luna Watchtower. This restored brick tower is considered one of the most visited attractions in Luna. It is one of the five historic watchtowers in the province that were declared cultural treasures by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2014. It formerly served as a lookout tower against invading Japanese, Chinese, and Moro pirates.

Address: Barangay Victoria, Luna, La Union
Opening Hours: 24/7
Entrance Fee: FREE


Immuki Island

Immuki Island

Immuki Island is located in the town of Balaoan, just a 30-minute drive from San Juan. This coral island is embellished with mangroves and carved with three picturesque lagoons which are perfect for swimming and cliff diving. However, note that the lagoons have a combination of shallow and deep waters (8-12 feet). Make sure also that you wear protective footwear because the grounds are made of sharp coral rocks.

From the mainland, you can reach the island by renting a balsa (bamboo raft) during high tide or treading the waters during low tide.

Location: Barangay Paraoir, Balaoan, La Union
Visiting Hours: Daily, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM

  • Environmental Fee: P50/head
  • Balsa Rental (Good for 5-6 pax): P250 for 1.5 hours
  • Tour Guide: P150
  • Shower Fee: P10
  • Cottage: P800

Best Time to Visit

The best time will depend on your reason for going to La Union. If you’re going there to surf, July to March is the season when the big waves are present in San Juan. The South Swell period is from July to October, while the North Swell occurs from November to March. However, October and November are rainy months so if you want to surf during fair weather, visit between December to March.

If you’re taking a trip to relax on the beach, April to May is perfect. But keep in mind that these are summer months, and summer weekends are usually packed and rates are higher.

Recommended Restaurants

  • Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel: Apart from being a popular hostel in Urbiztondo Beach, Flotsam and Jetsam has a restaurant that’s open to non-guests too. They offer a variety of dishes — pizzas, pasta, and local food.
  • Gefseis Greek Grill: If you like Greek cuisine, you’d want to try this restaurant. Aside from the food, this open-air resto has a great ambiance too.
  • Surf Shack: Surf Shack is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to drink and enjoy live music. They serve bar favorites like buffalo wings, pizza, and finger foods. You can also get kebabs and Pinoy barbeque from the stand by the entrance.
  • El Union Coffee: A known cafe in La Union, El Union Coffee serves local and international selections. Their signature drink is the Dirty Horchata, a rice-milk-based drink with a shot of espresso.

Practical Travel Tips

  • Always check for updates. Don’t forget to contact or visit the official websites or Facebook pages of the attractions and activities for announcements and updates before going.
  • Leave no trace. Don’t litter on the beach. If you have trash, make sure to throw it in a garbage bin. If you can’t find any, take the trash with you until you can find one.
  • Practice sustainability. Help lessen the trash by practicing sustainability. Simple sustainable travel hacks like bringing your own water bottle and eco bag is a start.
  • Use coral-friendly sunscreen. It is best to wear sunscreen to give your skin some protection against the harmful UV rays, but make sure to choose a sunscreen that is coral-friendly. Avoid products that contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life like oxybenzone, benzophenone, and parabens.
  • Follow the rules and regulations. Make sure you know the travel safety protocols and requirements and follow them.

Sample Itinerary

Here’s a sample three-day itinerary for La Union. Feel free to make adjustments depending on your preferences.

Day 1

– Arrival in San Juan
– Drop off bags at the hotel
– Breakfast
– Ride a jeepney to San Gabriel
– Take a tricycle to Tangandan Falls jump-off point
– Trek to Tangandan Falls
– Go back to San Juan
– Lunch
– Check in at the hotel
– Surf in Urbiztondo Beach
– Dinner
– Lights off

Day 2

– Breakfast
– Make your way to Luna
– Go to Luna Pebble Beach and Ruins
– Take a tricycle to Occalong Falls
– Occalong Falls
– Lunch
– Take a tricycle to Ma-cho temple
– Ma-cho temple
– Go back to San Juan
– Dinner
– Lights off

Day 3

– Breakfast
– Surf or swim at the beach
– Freshen up
– Pack up
– Check out
– Travel back to Manila

Watch Related Videos on YouTube

You can watch our Things to Do in La Union for Non-Surfers video below. You can also find other related videos on our YouTube channel.

Updates Log

2024.04.25 – First uploaded

Written by: Mariah Cruz and Astrid Alvarez

Related Article: SAN JUAN, LA UNION Important Travel Tips

More Tips on YouTube ⬇️⬇️⬇️


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