La Union is famous for the beach town of San Juan, the surfing capital on this side of North Luzon.

This province is a great place to travel for non-surfers and surfers alike. There is more to experience here apart from its famous surf. And, there are many interesting places worth visiting in nearby towns if you want to venture outside of San Juan.

You can experience a lot in La Union, even on a short trip!

Three days is enough to visit most sights and attractions on this list. If you only have two days, a weekend trip, for example, you can skip some items, but still be able to experience the highlights.

I loved how easy it was to travel in La Union. Getting there and around is convenient as most towns are conveniently located along the highway. Also, frequent buses pass by the highway to/from Manila, Vigan (Ilocos Sur), Laoag (Ilocos Norte) and Baguio. This is especially useful if you want to go by commuting on public transport.

Plan your trip with this list of the best tourist spots and things to do in La Union:

1. Surf in San Juan

Surfer squad at Urbiztondo Beach, in San Juan, La Union, Philippines

La Union is home to nearest surfing spots from Manila. Aside from good swells, this is one of the reasons why it had become a popular destination for avid surfers and people who want to learn the sport. Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan is the most popular surfing spot and main tourist area. In contrast to other beaches in the Philippines, its peak season starts in October until March when the best waves arrive. Looking for other spots to surf? You can also find alternative surf spots nearby including Bacnotan, Darigayos, Taboc,and Jesus Point in Carilla.

How to go — From Manila, ride a bus bound for San Fernando, La Union (PHP400 fare per person). Tell the driver to drop you off at the jeepney stop for San Juan. Travel time is around 6 to 7 hours. Then, ride a jeepney to Urbiztondo Beach (PHP7 fare per person). Travel time is around 20 minutes. You can also ride a Vigan or Laoag-bound bus and drop off at San Juan Public Market, where you can catch a jeep or tricycle to Brgy. Urbiztondo.

Go to the beachfront for surfing lessons and surfboard rentals. The price of surf lessons is PHP400 per hour, inclusive of surfboard. If you are confident with your wave riding skills, skip the lessons and rent the board for PHP200 per hour or PHP500 for a half-day rental.

La Union resorts, hotels & hostels — Click the below to check room discounts, compare prices and book your stay.

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2. Tangadan Falls cliff diving

Tangadan Falls, in San Gabriel, La Union, Philippines

Take a break from the surf and enjoy a dip at Tangadan Falls. This waterfall in San Gabriel is an easy day trip from San Juan. Tangadan Falls has a spacious plunge pool that is perfect for swimming. You can ride a bamboo raft to the main cascade and enjoy a cool waterfalls shower massage. Nearby, you can find two smaller waterfalls that are popular for cliff diving. One is located on the upper level, upstream, and the other is farther downstream.

How to go — From San Juan, ride a jeep bound for San Gabriel (PHP19 fare per person). Drop off at the town proper. Then, ride a tricycle to the jump-off point (P50 per tricycle to the first jump-off point). Total travel time should take 30 to 45 minutes. There are two jump-off points to Tangadan Falls. The first trail is nearer from the town proper and requires as 1-hour hike upstream. The second requires a 20 to 30-minute hike, on a steeper trail downstream. You can also charter a tricycle directly from San Juan to get to San Gabriel (PHP500 per tricycle).

All visitors are required to pay the entrance fee and get a local guide. The entrance fee costs PHP30 per person. Meanwhile, the guide fee is PHP500 per guide, for 1 to 3 persons. Always remember to keep safe when cliff diving and swimming in the deep pool of the waterfall. Life jackets are available for rent, for PHP50 per piece.

3. La Union sunset

Sunset at Urbiztondo Beach, in San Juan, La Union, Philippines

La Union’s coastline is blessed with glorious sunset views including Urbiztondo Beach. Go to the rocky area on the south side of the beach for dramatic views.

4. Food trip & nightlife in Urbiztondo

Mad Monkeys burgers in Urbiztondo, San Juan. La Union, Philippines

The rise of San Juan as a popular beach getaway near Manila attracts a steady crowd of Millenials. Urbiztondo had grown a bit of a hipster feel to it. Don’t miss the Instagram and tummy-worthy food scene. Then, cap the night off with drinks at many beach and roadside bars. My personal favorite places to eat/drink are Olas Banditos (Mexican), Mad Monkeys (Burgers), Surf Shack (Restobar) and Tagpuan (Affordable meals).

5. Halo Halo de Iloko

Halo Halo de Iloko, in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines

The food scene is exciting as well in San Fernando, the capital city of La Union. Getting there only takes 20 minutes, it’s a shame if you miss it. The most popular place to eat here is Halo Halo de Iloko, located along Zandueta Street. They sell Halo Halo with a tasty twist. Try the Buko Halo Halo, Ginataan nga Halo Halo or Deep Fried Halo Halo. They also serve delicious Ilokano-fusion dishes. You might have to queue a bit before getting a table since the restaurant is almost always full. The wait is worth it.

How to go —  From Urbiztondo, ride a jeep to San Fernando (PHP11 fare per person).  Drop off at the city center and ride a tricycle to Halo Halo de Iloko. Locals are very familiar with it.

6. Ma-Cho Temple

Ma Cho Temple, in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines

While you are in San Fernando, stop over at Ma-Cho Temple, a picturesque temple found on top a hill. It is the first Taoist temple and only one in the Philippines that is dedicated to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu. Some of its interesting features include the towering main building crowned by an unusual spider-type dome, the Majestic Five Door Gate, and interiors filled with ancient Chinese decorations. As you can imagine, a lot of people come here to get a selfie with the sign “Macho.”

How to go —  From Halo Halo de Iloko, ride a tricycle to Ma-Cho Temple (PHP8 fare per person).

7. Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point

Thunderbird Resorts – Poro Point, in San Fernando, La Union

Seeking a luxurious stay or romantic dinner? Go to Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point in San Fernando. This Santorini-inspired resort is famous not only for its imposing white-washed buildings and blue domes. It’s also praised for its gorgeous cliff-top location, facing a serene sunset view of the West Philippine Sea.

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8. Bahay Na Bato

Bahay Na Bato in Nalvo Norte, Luna, La Union, Philippines

From San Juan, head north to the town of Luna and check out Bahay Na Bato, the newest tourist attraction in the province. Built from stones found along Luna’s rare pebbled beaches, the rest house sits on a peaceful property owned by Dr. Edison and Dr. Purita Chan-Noble. In the interiors and around the grounds, you can find many interesting stone and wooden sculptures made by Korean artist, Bong Kim. The artistic feel of the place reminded me a lot of the Black Houses in Chian Rai, Thailand.

How to go — From San Juan, ride a jeep bound for Luna (PHP30 fare per person). Drop off at the town proper. Then, ride a tricycle to Bahay Na Bato in Brgy. Nalvo Norte (PHP50 fare per tricycle). Total travel time is around 45 minutes to 1 hour.

9. Luna Pebble Beach

Pebble beach, in Nalvo Norte, Luna, La Union, Philippines

On the beachfront of Bahay Na Bato, you can find the most beautiful pebble beach that remains in Luna. This section of the coastline is surrounded by vibrant blue waters and strong sea waves. The town is known as the Pebble Capital of the North because of its many pebbled beaches and big stone-picking industry.

10. Luna Church and Baluarte

Namacpacan Church in Luna, La Union, Philippines

Visit some of Luna’s remaining heritage sites. The St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, also called The Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan or Namacpacan Church, stands beside the town plaza. This Spanish-colonial church was built in 1690. It is one of the grandest churches in the province. It is listed as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. A few hundred meters away, the Luna Baluarte or Watchtower stands along a pebbled beach. The watchtower served as a fortress that was used by Spanish colonizers to warn residents of pirate attacks.

During my visit, I, and travel buddy Gael discovered that the Luna Watchtower had been beautifully restored. The structure was fully intact and repaired from its ruined state after it got destroyed by a strong typhoon in 2015. Unfortunately, the once beautiful pebbled beach in this area had been over-mined by stone pickers. From the photos we had seen online, the pebbles used to cover the whole beachfront up to the waterline. Today, only patches of big stones remain. It’s a shame because pebbled beaches are quite rare, formed by nature for millions of years. Now it is long gone.

11. La Union grape farms & fruit picking

Grapes farm in Bauang, La Union, Philippines

Before leaving La Union, drop by the grape farms in Bauang. You can go grape-picking here and bring the fresh harvest as pasalubong. Grape farms in the country are a surprising discovery for most Filipinos because we have a notion that this fruit can only grow in cold weather. There are numerous grape farms in town and many of them are open to the public.

Here is a list of grape farms in Bauang, La Union.

Lomboy Grape Farm — (+63) 72 705 2105

Gapuz Grape Farm — (+63) 922 770 1520 / (+63) 999 714 7616

Mangguera Grape Farm — (+63) 907 905 0303 / (+63) 0905 550 5046

Calica Grape Farm — (+63) 907 858 6784

How to go — The grape farms Bauang in are located in Brgy. Urayong. Bauang is just one town away from San Fernando. If you are coming from Manila, it will be the last town you will pass by before reaching San Fernando. From San Fernando or San Juan, you can a jeepney bound for Agoo. You can also ride any southbound bus to Manila, Pangasinan, or Baguio. Drop off at the intersection to the grape farms in Brgy. Urayong. The fare should cost around PHP20 to PHP30. From the intersection, the grape farms are less than 1 kilometer away, towards the coast.

The one we had visited was Gapuz Grape Farm. They did not charge any entrance fee, but they may ask for a PHP20 fee if you plan on taking photos. Grape-picking cost is PHP250 per kilogram.

Contact the farms prior to your visit because grape-picking is only available during selected times of the year.

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

Travel tips before you go

Where to stay in La Union?

Make base at San Juan or San Fernando to enjoy the central-location in La Union. Getting to all tourist spots mentioned on this list is very easy from both locations. Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan is lined with a variety of options ranging from backpacker-friendly budget options to luxurious accommodations. Book a room in San Fernando if you want to stay nearer to city comforts.

La Union resorts, hotels & hotels — Book your stay with these top-rated places to stay in La Union. Click the links below to see rates, discounts and read guest reviews.

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The Circle Hostel – La Union

Budget Backpacker | San Juan

Costa Villa Beach Resort

Budget | San Juan

Flotsam and Jetsam

Budget Flashpacker | San Juan

Isla Bonita Beach Resort

Mid-range | San Juan

P and M Final Option Hotel

Mid-range | San Juan

Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa

Splurge | San Juan

Thunderbird Resorts – Poro Point

Splurge | San Fernando

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