LA UNION Itinerary • MUST READ! (2020)

Our EPIC La Union itinerary will show you all of the best things to do while you are in La Union - no matter your travel style!

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Escape the hustle and bustle of Manila by heading up to the relaxed area of La Union. An easy bus ride away, La Union is the surf and beach destination here on Luzon island. Aside from relaxed beach vibes, La Union is also home to a fair number of historical landmarks and nature escapes.

If you are a surfer or new to surfing this area is a great place to catch some waves. Positioned on the South China Sea the surf swell is consistent year-round with October to March being the peak season. Many small breaks line the coast and it’s not overly crowded.

This La Union itinerary is our take on the best sights and activities to embark on for an unforgettable adventure.

 

 

Best Time To Visit La Union

when to visit La Union

These are the best times to visit La Union!

The weather in La Union is some of the best in the Philippines. Rain season still happens but it is not as intense as other areas. La Union has more of an arid climate meaning the forecast is sunshine with a chance of more sunshine.

February to April is the best time to visit for the weather while December and January are peak months for surfing.

 Average TemperaturesChance of RainCrowdsOverall Grade
January20°C/ 69°FAverageBusy🙂
February22°C/70°FAverageMedium🙂
March23°C/74°FLowMedium😀
April25°C/76°FLowMedium😀
May25°C/76°FLowMedium😀
June24°C/75°FHighCalm😐
July24°C/75°FAverageMedium🙂
August24°C/75°FAverageMedium🙂
September24°C/75°FLowMedium🙂
October23°C/74°FHighBusy😀
November22°C/73°FHighBusy😐
December20°C/71°FHighBusy😐

 

Where To Stay In La Union

where to stay in la union

These are the best places to stay in La Union! | source: View Apart (shutterstock)

We will help you figure out where to stay in La Union and find a place that’ll suit you best!

San Juan is by far the most famous city in La Union. The beach here is fantastic, the vibe is great, little cafes, street art, and surfing are found everywhere.

Bauang is the classic, scenic coastline town. Being close to San Fernando, the capital city of the region Bauang offers a little more development than just beach life.

For activities and amenities, San Fernando is our place to stay on this La Union itinerary. Being the capital city San Fernando is built up a bit more and offers easy access to the rest of the region.

Luna is a huge part of the La Union region, known for its pebble stone beach, culture and aesthetics, you won’t want to miss out taking some time here.

 

Best Hostel in La Union – The Circle Hostel La Union

La Union Itinerary

The Circle Hostel La Union is our pick for the best hostel in La Union!

Perhaps the best hostel in La Union. Situated in the surfer’s capital, San Juan, this hostel is the best option for athletic spirits wanting to enjoy great surf. Located near to the beach and delicious restaurants, The Circle Hostel also offers free breakfast, comfortable rooms, and an outdoor terrace to relax on.

Check on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in La Union: Self contained chalet in a secluded setting

Self contained chalet in a secluded setting, La Union

Self contained chalet in a secluded setting is our top pick for the best Airbnb in La Union!

This self-contained chalet is great for soaking in Filipino beach vibes, enjoy waking up with a cup of fresh coffee, the sound of waves crashing and birds singing. Complimentary wifi access is nice and you are a short walk to the city centre from your beachside location.

Check on Airbnb

 

Best Budget Hotel in La Union – China Sea Beach Resort

La Union Itinerary

China Sea Beach Resort is our pick for the best budget hotel in La Union!

Located in Bauang, the China Sea Beach Resort, offers clean and modern rooms, with wifi and friendly staff. Every room is air-conditioned, there are an on-site bar and restaurant, and you can also enjoy some great views from the refreshing resort pool.

Check on Booking.com

 

Best Luxury Hotel in La Union – Thunderbird Resorts – Poro Point

Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point

Thunderbird Resorts – Poro Point is our pick for the best luxury hotel in La Union!

This Mediterranean-inspired high-class resort offers guests luxury by the sea! Complete with an infinity pool, yoga classes, and an on-site casino, you will have everything you desire right at your fingertips! The resort sits on a cliff overlooking the South China Sea. You can also experience fine dining at the elegant on-site restaurant, Olives Restaurant. The resort boasts a golf course with 9 holes if you feel the need to practice your swing!

Check on Booking.com

 

La Union Itinerary

la union itinerary

Welcome to our EPIC La Union itinerary | source: pjpfm (shutterstock)

La Union bus terminals are scattered everywhere, and it is the easiest and most direct way to get from point A to Point B in this fascinating region. La Union bus fare is super reasonable, so you won’t be paying out your ears! The buses are always on time and provide a smooth ride, you can also expect to make a few friends along the way to where you’re going!

You can hire out a car or bike to get around, which is relatively inexpensive and allows you to work on your own time. Cruising the streets is a fun activity in itself, as La Union’s towns are all full of grand places and wonderful architecture.

Taxis can also be found, so you can also hire out a driver for the day or just for one trip. The locals are friendly and the chances are you will learn something new from your driver about La Union. If you’re wanting to experience a more cultural mode of transportation than the habal-habal (motorized taxi ) are the best way to indulge.

Walking around is a lovely way to see the cities and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of La Union, provided you aren’t going to walk too far. The beach is more often than not only a few steps away!

 

Day 1 Itinerary in La Union

Grape Farming | Pindangan Ruins | Christ the Redeemer Statue | Ma-Cho Temple | Thunderbird Resort | Poro Point

 

Day 1/Stop 1 – La Union Grape Farms

  • Why it’s awesome: You are able to learn and see how wine is made, woo!
  • Cost: Entrance is free, 20 PHP for photos and 150-250 PHP per kilo of grapes.
  • Food Recommendation: For perfectly grilled eats Gerry’s Grill is number one. Food and atmosphere is their focus at this traditional dining restaurant.

Grapes are good, wine is better, and visiting vineyards is the best. Checking out the various La Union grape farms is the proper way to truly understand how this worldwide drink is crafted. Thanks to social media these sleepy farms are now a fun attraction for people to come visit.

La Union Grape Farm

La Union Grape Farm, La Union | source: imwaltersy (shutterstock)

Grape growing has been around for decades in this area of La Union, there are a handful of vineyards that you to go to and explore. Wandering around, sampling these tasty little berries makes for a pretty fun day outdoors. At each vineyard you are able to pick your own grapes, if they are in season. Don’t forget to sample the finished product!

 

Day 1/Stop 2 – Pindangan Ruins

  • Why it’s awesome: The Pindangan Ruins are the remnants of an ancient Spanish-built church!
  • Cost: Entrance fee is 20 PHP per person.
  • Food Recommendation: Enjoy tasty food at La Famiglia Restaurant, they offer superb quality and affordable Filipino dishes! You can go for ala carte options and taste a wide variety of magnificent meals.

The church was built as a symbol of peace between two old villages, San Vicente de Balanac – a coastal village and San Guillermo de Dalangdang – an inland mountain village. The union was created for their mutual need for protection from pirates and headhunters!

Pindangan Ruins

Pindangan Ruins, La Union | source: Venice Jeremaiah (shutterstock)

Although mostly destroyed due to an earthquake, Pindangan church is still a brilliant display of architectural design. The remaining structure is now overgrown with wildflowers and moss but yet still stands as a reminder to the people here of how it brought two villages together creating peace and safety.

Insider Tips: The ruins are lavish with ghost stories galore, so be prepared for a folklore feel and goosebumps! The word Pindangan is an Ilocano term for “a place where meat is sun-dried with salt for preservation.”

 

Day 1/Stop 3 – Christ the Redeemer Statue

  • Why it’s awesome: You also get a nice overlook view of San Fernando and the bay.
  • Cost: Free
  • Food Recommendation: There is nothing wrong with having a little mid-day desert, only a 5 minute walk from Christ the Redeemer Statue, Halo-Halo de Lloko is the go-to place for a treat.

Although not as big as the one in Brazil this Christ the Redeemer statue is a nice little photo stop. Found in various places around the world this iconic statue is always a joy to come across when traveling.

Only a short walk up the hill at the statue you are graced with a nice view of San Fernando.

 

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Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

 

Day 1/Stop 4 – Ma-Cho Temple

  • Why it’s awesome: It is a mystical Taoist temple dedicated to the sea goddess, Mazu.
  • Cost: There is no entrance fee, but donations are accepted.
  • Food Recommendation: Enjoy a laid back dining experience at Mandarin Restaurant and indulge in a traditional Filipino style breakfast!

Continue this day 1 La Union itinerary with this incredibly cultural and significant Taoist Temple! The Ma-Cho temple stands as a living tribute to the Confluence of the Filipino-Chinese Culture.

The temple was named after a legendary Chinese deity named Ma-Cho, she was born in 960 AD during the Sung Dynasty.  It is said that she never cried a single tear during her entire first month of life, that is how she earned the name “Mo”, which translates to“keeping silent”.

Ma Cho Temple

Ma Cho Temple, La Union | source: Ramon FVelasquez (wikicommons)

Ma-Cho was very intelligent, said to have a photographic memory, and blessed with healing powers! At the age of ten, she became a monk. An unusual story indeed for a little girl! She was able to accurately predict the tides and weather conditions of the sea, thus dubbed the ‘goddess of the sea’

This temple is different from all the other temples you will find in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, as it is the biggest temple in the world outside of China! The Ma Cho Temple believed to be one of the very few Chinese temples that have been built with five archways.

An entire hectare of sheer beauty and rich history all wrapped up in a gorgeous Taoist temple!

 

Day 1/Stop 5 – Thunderbird Resort

  • Why it’s awesome: It’s described as the Santorini of Asia and a full 5 star resort!
  • Cost: Walking around to take photos is free but if you want to use any of the facilities a day pass is available for 1,500 PHP, which includes 700 PHP for food use.
  • Food Recommendation:  Any of the handful of restaurants in the resort.

Duck away from the backpacking life for a few hours by visiting the Thunderbird Resort and Casino, here you can experience a taste of Greece without changing timezones.. This mini resort-city is located on top of a 100 foot cliff and with it’s free tour you can get some great photos of one of the best resorts in the Philippines.

Thunderbird Resort and Casino

Discover a taste of Europe in Asia | source: booking.com

This 5 star resort has been open for a handful of years and covers a stretch of 65 hectares! Pretend you are in Santorini for the afternoon and if you do the day pass make sure to live it up like you officially are there.

 

Day 1/Stop 6 – Poro Point

  • Why it’s awesome: Poro Point is a stunning peninsula.
  • Cost: Entrance is free.
  • Food Recommendation: Enjoy fresh and spicy seafood dishes at Patio del Sol Seafood Restaurant. We suggest the seafood medley, it’s scrumptious. Service is wonderful and the staff is always smiling.

One of the best places for sunset, Paro Point is a beautiful place to spend a long afternoon enjoying the scenery. Enjoy the lush landscape as you walk alongside cliffs that drop into the South China Sea.

Keep your eyes peeled for the various birds that call the cliffs of Paro Point home. This rugged limestone dates back to one of the ice ages! The Filipino government even set up an economic zone here on Paro Point to keep this area pristine.

Poro Point

Poro Point, La Union | source: Alessio Biribicchi Photography (shutterstock)

The Poro Point Lighthouse was originally built in 1905 during the American occupation and although it does not have a traditional lantern to warn sailors the lighthouse has a refelctive glass plane 107 feet wide that helps illuminate two electrical flashes every 10 seconds for warnings.

Insider Tip: Unfortunately, you will have to admire the lighthouse from afar, being an active military base it is not open to tourists.

 

Check Best Price

The Circle Hostel La Union
Situated in the surfers’ capital of San Juan city, this hostel is the best option for adventurous spirits who enjoy surfing, Filipino street food, and exploring!
  • $$
  • Free WiFi
  • Free breakfast

 

Day 2 Itinerary in La Union

Tangadan Falls |Bulalakaw Falls | La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden | San Juan Beach

 

Day 2/Stop 1 –  Tangadan Falls

  • Why it’s awesome: It’s always fun to do a little river trekking and cliff jumping.
  • Cost: 30 PHP entrance fee and 500 PHP if you want a guide (1-6 people)
  • Food Recommendation: Enjoy the nature! Pack some food and have a picnic.

Twice as wide as they are tall the Tangadan Falls makes for an open expanse of water activities! The pool is deep at the bottom of the falls making it perfect for cliff jumping. Climb to the top, enjoy the view and steady your nerves!

Tangadan Falls La Union

Finding waterfalls is the best! | source: Roel Paulme (shutterstock)

A short 20-minute Jeep or tricycle ride from town the Tangadan Falls is a great start to your adventurous day. Once being dropped off at the trailhead you languidly hike for a short bit of time following the river upstream. If you skip the Jeep ride you are able to hike for about an hour following the Brgy. Duplas trail.

 

Day 2/Stop 2 –  Bulalakaw Falls

  • Why it’s awesome: Less touristed than the other waterfalls in the area.
  • Cost: Small entrance fee.
  • Food Recommendation: Enjoy yourself and the drive around by eating at any little small town food stand that you happen to come across on your journey up to or leaving the waterfalls.

Getting to the falls is some of the best fun! It’s only a short 20-30 minute hike to Bulalakaw Falls but the views are something else. Rock cliffs, fields and river valleys will have you in awe of nature and make this trek memorable.

Bulalakaw Falls

Bulalakaw Falls, La Union | source: Arne Virtucio (shutterstock)

Enjoy the cool, clear water, and lack of crowds as you swim around lost in nature! There are a few waterfalls in this area if you want to keep exploring otherwise the drive alone to Bagulin, where Bulalakaw Falls are located is so much fun. You have definitely left the city and beach behind.

 

Day 2/Stop 3 – La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden

  • Why it’s awesome: The La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden feature themed exhibitions and it is the first of its kind in the Philippines.
  • Cost: Entrance fee is 20 PHP for adults and 10 PHP for students and seniors, kids 5 and under are free.
  • Food Recommendation: Experience good vibes and good food at Above Sea Level La Union. Enjoy your meal whilst in a quirky and fun themed restaurant! Their seafood is to die for and their mixed sauces are heavenly.

Dive into a wildlife paradise as you explore this nature park complete with many themed, and expertly landscaped garden environments, complete with orchids and an aviary bustling with native animals!

This majestic garden is the center for laboratory research in Northern Luzon and was inaugurated in March 1996.

All of the beautiful plants are labeled with their local and scientific names, along with their origin. The plants arranged in the style of a country garden.

 

Day 2/Stop 4 – San Juan Beach

  • Why it’s awesome: This beach is a legendary surfer’s paradise!
  • Cost: Entrance is free!
  • Food Recommendation: Oceano offers sleek dining right on the beachfront, so you can watch the moonlight over the sea! We suggest that you try their cocktails and steak for an unforgettable mealtime experience.

As the last stop on our day two La Union Itinerary, we offer you the opportunity to kick your feet up, or go for a short swim and enjoy a nice beachy sunset.

 

San Juan Beach

San Juan beach, La Union | source: Stephen Green-Price (shutterstock)

Ma Cho Temple

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La Union Itinerary – Day 3 And Beyond

Balay Anito Falls | 3D Art Gallery and Bahay Na Bato Souvenir ShopSt. Catherine of Alexandria Parish | Baluarte Watch Tower | Occalong Falls | Bauang Beach

 

Balay Anito Falls

  • The falls are so fascinating that the locals believe it to be the home of mystical beings, that is how the name Balay (meaning “house”) Anito (which means “spirits”) came along!
  • The waters are a beautiful light green color!
  • Entrance fee is 100 PHP.

One-of-a-kind trekking and swimming await you at the Balay Anito Falls, one of the most mysterious and astoundingly beautiful tropical paradises that the La Union offers. This pristine basin is full of crystal waters cascade down into a limestone cave. And the whole area is surrounded by a dense rainforest that you wander through to reach the pools.

 

3D Art Gallery and Bahay Na Bato Souvenir Shop

  • The galley and souvenir shop are set in a quint cobblestone cottage, which is surrounded by a meticulous garden.
  • The area poroduces high quality stones that are shipped around the world.
  • Entrance fee is 30 PHP.

An essential part of any La Union Trip Itinerary is a visit to the arts.

The 3-D gallery and souvenir shop show off all the incredible locally made artworks and sculptures. Most which are created from rocks and wood, designed into creative shapes.

 

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish

  • Built in the late 1600’s and re-build after an earthquake using the Baroque style used to withstand earthquakes.
  • The wooden image of the Virgin Mary inside the church was brought over, with hardship from Spain.
  • Entrence is free.

Stylized in design, well known and respected stopping by this church is a great step into Catholic history of the Philippines.

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, La Union | source: Katesalin Pagkaihangh (shutterstock)

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in La Union is more than just a church it is also home to the sacred shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan, the Virgin Mary. Over the years a few miracles have been attributed to this 6 feet tall image of the Virgin Mary, which has now been canonized by the church.

 

Baluarte Watch Tower

  • The Baluarte Watch Tower in Luna that has a unique historical and storied past!
  • To get the full feeling of the watchtower, step inside, between the two halves, and take in the tower view over the sea.
  • Entrance is free.

Otherwise known as, the ‘leaning tower of Luna’, the Baluarte Watch Tower is a significant tourist attraction as well as one of the most important historical La Union landmarks. The overall setting may be quite unexciting, as it is a relatively small structure set on the coastline, but when you understand the history and meaning behind the structure, it will come alive with magic!

The Luna watch tower denotes the town’s great past and was originally built during the pre-Spanish era as a strategic lookout point for impending attack from aggressive pirates or other dangerous attackers. Just like a guardian angel looking over its community and the lives of the people, this ancient structure has served its purpose very well countless times in Luna’s past.

Baluarte Watch Tower

Baluarte Watch Tower, La Union | source: GETbyDREN (shutterstock)

Now the watchtower stands in disrepair.

Today, the mighty landmark sits on the famous pebble beach of Luna, and although it has been damaged by weather and time, it is still a sight to behold!

 

Occalong Falls

  • This waterfall is one of the most beautiful natural formations in La Union.
  • Be sure to adventure, as there are many hidden and beautiful gems around the Occalong Falls waiting to be discovered!
  • Entrance fee is 10 PHP

There are so many waterfalls around La Union, we had to include another one to the itinerary! Visiting here is a chance to refresh yourself after a morning of adventuring by dipping into the cool waters of the Occalong Falls, and bask evermore in the beauty of La Union. Let out your inner animal as you venture through the jungle and find yourself at the awe-inspiring and stunning environment of the Occalong Falls.

This is a perfect place to lay back and enjoy the day, soaking in the vitamin D and breathing in that fresh tropical air during your trip to La Union.

 

Bauang Beach

  • The shore is lined with colorful seashells
  • Small waves make this a great swimming place, especially with families and small children.
  • The beach is free to enjoy.

Everyone gathers at Bauang Beach to enjoy the smooth waves, quiet atmosphere and remarkably beautiful sunsets!

Bauang Beach

Bauang Beach, La Union | source: Chelsea Gabriel (flickr)

Pack your lilo, your beach towels and your sun hat for an amazing day of soaking up some vitamin Sea on the prominent coastline of La Union. This beach is perfect for a lazy swim and wonderful if you’re looking for calm rolling waves.

Whether you want to spend the day here or just a few hours, it is well worth the visit.

 

Don’t forget to pack a good book!

Lonely Planet Philippines (Travel Guide) This is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

 

Staying Safe in La Union

La Union is generally considered very safe for tourists.

If you take a cab, check the driver’s ID to make sure they are legit.

If you drink alcohol, try to behave yourself as local culture does not look kindly on boisterousness.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from SafetyWing, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Day Trips From La Union

Once your have exhausted our La Union itinerary, it’s time to consider taking one or two day-trips. Let’s dive in!

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Tour

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Tour

On this one of a kind day trip, you will discover Filipino customs and traditions through a living museum! The city itself provides insight into the lives lived by the local community dating back to the early 18th century.

As you venture around the city on this La Union walking tour you will also take in some marvelous architecture. Some of the highlights on this tour are the Noble Class Mansion, the House of Stone, and the signature Filipino wooden stilt houses.

Check Tour Price

 

Subic Bay Adventure

Subic Bay Adventure

Enjoy a truly remarkable escapade as you journey to the scenic Subic Bay. On this day trip from Manila, you will be taken on an incredible journey to visit the former US Naval Facility.

During you drive to Subic Bay you will get to enjoy some of the best scenery on the island and even witness the aftermath left by the early 1990’s Mt. Pinatubo eruption!

Check Tour Price

 

From Manila: Majestic Pagsanjan Falls Adventure

From Manila Majestic Pagsanjan Falls Adventure

We know that the concrete jungle has nothing on a real jungle, so on this day trip, you will have the chance to get away from the bustling city of Manila, by embarking on a journey to the majestic Pagsanjan Falls!

Pagsanjan Falls are one of the most famous natural attractions in the Philippines! In order to get to this magnificent waterfall, you will enjoy a thrilling river adventure in a traditional dugout canoe.

Once at the waterfall, you are able to explore hidden caves and incredible landscape found in the Pagsanjan Gorge National Park.

Check Tour Price

 

Manila: Old & New 4-Hour City Tour

Manila Old and New 4 Hour City Tour

If you are looking to scratch that knowledge itch, this Manila city tour is right for you. Spend the day covering the Old and New sections of Manila as you are taken through its interesting history.

You will get to see the best of Manila during this tour. The American Cemetery, Intramuros, Fort Santiago and the finance capital of Makati.

Check Tour Price

 

Day Tour Enchanting Hidden Valley

Day Tour Enchanting Hidden Valley

Heated volcanic pools, lush vegetation, exotic flora, this enchanting day tour will take you to one of the Philippines’ most hidden valleys. Relax and enjoy this jungle oasis as you simply soak in the natural beauty surrounding you.

Check Tour Price

 

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Conclusion

Traveling around La Union is a great experience. Although La Union’s beaches may not have Boracay’s pristine white sands, you will find a unique beauty here that will have you falling in love with the sheer personality of this stunning province.

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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Our EPIC La Union itinerary will show you all of the best things to do while you are in La Union - no matter your travel style!

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