La Union is more than just a surf town. It offers a wide variety of food places, activities, scenic spots, and not to mention super friendly people. Because of its proximity (five to six hours away from the Metro), it has become a favorite long-weekend destination. Below we give you a list on how you can experience its vibrant colors, youthful energy, and laid-back vibe to the fullest.
Check-in at a hostel
If you want value for your money, hostels are top of mind. And La Union is known for its quality hostels: Check out The Circle Hostel, an eco-friendly hostel starts at P500 for a hammock; Vessel Hostel, which was built with repurposed old shipping containers and starts at P980 per bed; Charlie’s Hangar Surf Hostel, this unique aviation-themed hostel starts at P750 a bunk bed.Continue reading below ↓
Thunderbird Resorts and Casinos
La Union or Santorini? If you have the money to burn, this IG-worthy resort boasts of five-star hotel amenities from luxurious villas to a nine-hole golf course. And if this isn't enough, it has an installation of lamp posts inspired by Los Angeles' "Urban Lights," as well as a display of 11,000 LED roses along the resort's boardwalk. And all of this is on top of a 100-ft cliff that overlooks the San Fernando Bay and the West Philippine Sea for that picturesque sunset view.Continue reading below ↓
This hip café is one of La Union's staples. For your caffeine fix, choose from a carefully concocted selection of drinks by its experienced baristas. A crowd-favorite would have to be their iced Dirty White, a blend of farm fresh milk and espresso. And for the sweet tooth in you, pair that coffee with their famous Indoor S'mores. Its chewy melt-in-your-mouth texture, coupled with just the right amount of sweetness, will leave you wanting more.
It's a vacation so it's definitely more than okay to binge eat! And what's more binge-worthy than an assortment of smoked meats? A must-try is their Sambal Pork Bowl and Smoked Pork Belly Kare Kare. But don't be fooled, because this Asian restaurant also offers vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. So you can eat to your heart's content sans the guilt.Continue reading below ↓
According to their Instagram bio, Buhay Gulay is a "Vegan/Vegetarian version of your all-time favorite Filipino dishes." Because LU has become a gastronomic destination for hungry tummies, it is no doubt that alternatives for vegans and vegetarians are now available. Their menu includes, Vegetable Kare-Kare, Lechon (faux)ksiw, Beanuguan, and Mushroom Calamares.
The place that is as colorful as La Union, offers a medley of smoothie bowls, juices, smoothies and popsicles. Made from 100 percent fruits, their smoothie bowls do not add any ice or artificial sweeteners. So you can be sure that your snack is as healthy as it is instagrammable!Continue reading below ↓
Halo Halo de Iloko
A beach trip isn't complete without the ultimate favorite Filipino dessert—Halo Halo. This restaurant serves the traditional dessert in different variations: Regular, Fiesta, Buko, Fried, and Ginataan. Originally an ancestral house, Halo Halo de Iloko is not only about desserts but also Filipino dishes that really show off the region’s cuisine. Take their Emparedados for instance, a "native cheeseburger/sandwich" that is filled with homemade La Union longganisa. They also offer appetizers like Okoy Tikyoso (shrimp fritters), and Isaw Fritos (fried chicken intestines).Continue reading below ↓
Curious Creatures Taproom
This little nook offers a limited but tastefully curated selection of beers. Its unique fresh flavors, coupled with its cool funky vibe, draws a lot of customers who just want to chill and enjoy their ale. If you're not sure what to get, you can always just ask their friendly staff if you could taste some samples!Continue reading below ↓
Artek Wine Yacht
If you're feeling a little bit like a tita and would just prefer some fancy wine and tapas, Artek Wine Yacht is the way to go. It is an intimate way to connect with friends over conversations and favorites, like baked brie cheese with honey and almonds. Or perhaps, indulge in a whole cheese platter, because, why not?Continue reading below ↓
Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel
One of the things that La Union is very famous for is its nightlife. And all partygoers know that around 11 p.m., Flotsam and Jetsam is the place to be. But besides this, it actually is more than party hotspot. With its youthful design, vibrant colors, and reasonable prices, it's an artist's dream hostel to stay at. And during the day, you can actually get some brunch there and take your afternoon siestas in common areas (while of course waiting for the party to get started).Continue reading below ↓
When it is lights out and you're still not sleepy, head over to Maka Studio for a cold beer while you learn about the vision of their brand. This shop celebrates design, silkscreen, and the surf and skate culture which reflect on their featured merchandise. Moreover, this organization encourages you to be creative and to use that creativity to contribute to building the community.
Whoever said, "Don't go chasing waterfalls" clearly has not seen what Tangadan Falls has to offer. There are two ways to get there. A more scenic route involves a two-hour river trek. But for those with limited time, a 30-minute motorbike ride to the trailhead followed by a 10-minute trek down the waterfalls is advisable. This 50ft falls drops to a deep plunge pool. For the daredevils, you can try cliff-diving. But for those of you who'd rather play it safe, then swimming is your best bet. You can also rent a bamboo raft to take you closer to where the actual water falls.Continue reading below ↓
Next is, of course, the main reason for any tourist visiting La Union—to surf. The beachfront is lined with multiple schools and instructors that offer lessons on surfing. These include San Juan Surf School, La Union Surf School, Circle Hostel, and Elyu Classic. The average beginner's lesson is P400 an hour with a designated instructor. A lot of these surf schools are tied up with a resort or a hostel. So it is best that you check with your respective front desks.
Not as common as surfing, La Union is actually a good place for free diving. If you're a beginner, there are a lot of shallow dives with minimal currents because the waters are protected from prevailing winds. And it's not just the reef structures that are a must-see, but also the wreck dive sites. Check out Ocean Deep and Dive Union for lessons.
The beach vibes got you in the mood to get inked? No worries, 55 Tinta has got you covered. Originally from Maginhawa, this tattoo and piercing shop also has a branch in La Union—just in case you want a permanent souvenir of your trip.Continue reading below ↓
Grape-Picking in Lomboy Farms or Gapuz Grape Farms
Fun fact about La Union is that it houses the first grape vineyard in the Philippines. Lomboy Farms was established in 1972, producing not just grapes but other fruits like Guapples and Dragon Fruits as well. Another one is Gapuz Grape Farms. You can enjoy grape-picking and shop for homemade wines and other products after.Continue reading below ↓
Pebble Beach in Luna and Bahay na Bato
Pebble Beach is, as the word suggests, is a beach covered in pebbles. Locals go through the shoreline to extract colored stones and sell them to traders from different places. On this beach is the Bahay na Bato or quite literally a house made of stone. This property displays multiple stone arts from small animals to random things like a stone compass.Continue reading below ↓
Built on the hills above San Fernando, this Taoist temple is a dedication to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu who had healing powers and psychic gifts. Whether you are there to meditate or ask for favors, Ma-Cho Temple has one of the best views in LU that makes it worth the visit.Continue reading below ↓
When traveling, it's always nice to have little knick-knacks that you could remember your trip by. So before you leave this memorable town, pass by Open House. This pop-up store offers different kinds of trinkets that will surely remind you of this surf town's charms.