La Union Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

La Union is one of the Philippines’ youngest provinces. Located in the region of Ilocos, this juvenile province is known as the “Surfing Capital of the North” because of having a string of beach breaks for the novice and challenging waves for the skilled surfers. Waves start from 1 meter and can bulge up to 4-6 feet high. Its proximity to Manila, just 5-7 hours away, makes it a go-to for the city dwellers who loves to surf or to simply enjoy the friendly coastal province vibes. Historically, La Union was founded by carving it out from the 9 towns of Pangasinan and came to be the melting pot of Ilocanos, Igorots and Pangasinenses. San Fernando City is its capital which lies 273 kilometers from Manila. Agriculture is the province’s main industry. Spoken languages are Iloko, Tagalog and English.

Where to go in La Union

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Bacsil Ridge

F. Ortega Hwy City Of San Fernando (capital), La Union, Ilocos Region, 2500, Philippines

Bakes Swimming Pool

Sitio Dercas Lon-oy San Gabriel, La Union, Ilocos Region, 2515, Philippines

Bolikewkew Rice Terraces

Bolikewkew Delles Burgos, La Union, Ilocos Region, 2515, Philippines

Car-rile WatchTower

Carlatan City Of San Fernando (capital), La Union, Ilocos Region, 2500, Philippines

Centennial Tree

Carcarmay Bacnotan, La Union, Ilocos Region, 2501, Philippines

How to Get Here

A 5-7 hours drive or bus ride is needed to reach La union. Buses bound to “Elyu”, a colloquial term for the province, can be found in Pasay, Quezon City and Manila. These are:

· Partas Bus Lines - this is the major bus transit plying the route of Manila-La Union and vice versa. Partas Bus terminals are on Tramo corner Edang Streets in Pasay and on Aurora Boulevard in Cubao, Quezon City. Partas Bus now has direct bus trips from Manila to/from San Juan La Union using the TPLEX route. Bus fare is Php 524.00.
· Dominion Bus Lines - EDSA corner New York Street, Quezon City.
· Viron Transportation Company Inc. - corner Blumentritt and Dapitan Streets, Sampaloc, Manila.
· Genesis Bus Lines - Avenida Rizal, Manila.

All the above mentioned bus companies have their provincial terminal in San Fernando City. Another option in getting to La Union is by riding a Vigan or Laoag bound bus and get off at Urbiztondo Beach. Bus fare is Php 436.00.

When in San Fernando, either you can ride a jeepney going to San Juan for a fare of Php 11.00 or hire a tricycle for Php 25.00 per head. The province is also reachable by a 4 hour drive from Laoag International Airport. There is also 1 international seaport in the region, the Poro Point Freeport Zone, a special economic zone established in 1993 and can accommodate all kinds of sea vessels.

Popular Food

An ever present dish in every carinderia in La Union is the appetizing pulpog or pork kilawin (ceviche). It is an Ilocano dish made of grilled pork and mixed with vinegar and spices. Pulpog is a tasty dish high in protein and piping hot rice is its perfect complement.

(c) @cecilern07 /

Okoy is the Philippines’ deep-fried shrimp and vegetables fritters usually served as an appetizer or snack. La Union’s version is called “okoy tikyosko”, made from generous amount of shrimps, togue, carrots, malunggay and longganisa bits and squash paired with sweet, tangy vinegar.

(c) @eatmates /

La Union’s halo-halo is a never-to-missed cold dessert when in the surfing capital of the north. It has the usual ingredients of halo-halo we know but what makes it different and more delicious is the mountain rice they add in the mix.

(c) @roanmic /

This is a classic Filipino sour stew or sinigang with a twist – sinampalukang buknok is a chicken in tamarind-based soup cooked in coconut juice with vegetables and served on a freshly carved coconut bowl.

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Best Time to Go

If surfing is what entices you to go to La Union, then the months of October to March are the best months to go for the North Swell that yields big waves. The months of July to September, also known as the south swell season, also gives good waves but be ready to surf in rainy conditions.

But if you just want to relax by the beach and see other attractions this exciting province has to offer, then the dry months of March to May are perfect to explore the place.

A surfing competition open for amateur and professional surfers, the International Long Board Cup held every January 25-27, is also a good reason to go and watch surfers from different parts of the globe compete for the title.

What to Do

The most popular activity to do when in this province. Majority of La Union goers are up to ride the waves or to learn a thing or two about surfing. With a number of good surfing schools in the area, it’s not a problem to learn this exciting sport.
Go on a food trip
La Union boasts of a wide array of places to eat. From the genuine Ilocano dishes to delicious burgers to authentic Greek food to specialty coffee and other Pinoy comfort food, this place has got you covered.
Enjoy the sunset
Slow down a bit and reconnect with nature by admiring the setting of the sun. Whether you watch it on the beach with friends or you’re alone, for sure, you won’t need filters to capture a gorgeous sunset photo in this province.
Take an educational stroll
Visit historical spots in the area like the Pindangan Ruins, Baluarte Watch Tower and Namacpacan Church or do some fun activities like grape picking in Gapuz Grapes Farm or enjoy wall climbing ATV driving at Pugo Adventure or visit the La Union Culture and Art Gallery and see the works of the province’s artists and its rich culture.

Estimated Costs

With its nearness to Manila, La Union is indeed a budget-friendly destination. With several bus companies that depart from different terminals in the city every hour, the province is a great weekend getaway. Depending on what bus firm you will take, a fare of less than Php 500.00 per way is what you need to pay out.
San Juan has an ample numbers of accommodations that ranges from the most budget friendly to a little bit of splurge. Cheapest will be Php 300.00 per person per night and share a common toilet and bath with other guests. Quite a few numbers of luxury accommodations are also available with price that starts from Php 4,000.00 and can go up to Php 7,000.00 a night.
Php 120.00 – Php 200.00 per meal
Tourist Attraction Entrance Fee
Starts at Php 30.00
Tricycle Fare
Minimum Php 10.00
Jeepney Fare
Minimum Php 8.00
Average Price per day
Php 1,000.00 – Php 1,400.00