La Union: A Place for Quick Weekend Getaway
March 2, 2019
by Marie Antoneitte
Philippines is known for its tropical beaches and its warm locals. But I have been living in the mountainous side of the country which makes me long for the beach and La Union is the nearest beach from our home town which is a perfect quick getaway. La Union is known as a surf town in the country, hence, their annual surfing break which is one of the biggest surf sports events in the country. But this province does not only boast of its surfing beaches but also with its spectacular sunset, towering falls, and food trips.
How to Get There
You can reach La Union through land travel only. From Cubao or Pasay take a bus going to San Fernando and from San Fernando take a jeepney going to Urbiztondo. Travel time is roughly 5 to 6 hours. You can also ride a bus going to Vigan or Laoag and tell them to drop you off at Urbiztondo beach. For those who would want to bring their car, good news, travel time is shorter via the new TPLEX. Travel time is 3.5 to 4 hours. If you’ll be coming from Manila I recommend you to travel before 5 AM to avoid traffic and can cut travel time by 30 to 45 minutes.
Places to See and Things to Do
Surf or Kayak and Watch Sunset at Urbiztondo Beach
Waves in the Urbiztondo Beach are great for surfing and for some people who don’t want to surf, they can kayak and enjoy the waters. Surf instructors in San Juan are professional and always assists their students. When waves are unsafe for surfing they suspend surfing lessons. Sunsets in La Union are amazing too. In some days they close the beach at night to give way to turtle nesting.
Grapes picking at Gapuz Grape Farm
Gapuz grape farm lets you hand pick grapes from their vineyard at a specific price. This is located at Bauang, La Union. There are also several grape farms adjacent to Gapuz’ which you can also inquire in case there are a lot of visitors. Grape season is usually around May. Carefully choose grapes to pick and I know it’s best to taste a grape in a certain bundle to know if it’s sweet or not but, unfortunately, grape eating is not allowed during picking so just request or ask the personnel which part is best to pick.
Swim in the cold and towering falls in Tangadan Falls
Tangadan Falls is located at San Gabriel, La Union. You have to register first at the municipal station and ride a jeep. The jeep will take you to the jump-off point wherein you need to trek for about 20 to 30 minutes to be able to arrive at the location. Some are offering tour guides in trekking at a rate of Php500 but I don’t personally recommend it since the path was clear and the way is an open space (rice fields) and there are vendors scattered along the way. The falls is huge and has two falls. In the upper falls which is smaller, this is where you can do cliff jumping while the lower falls, which is the bigger one, is perfect for swimming. The waters are deep but you can rent a life vest for only Php50. It’s best to visit during summer because it’s a bit dangerous and slippery during rainy days and swimming at the foot of the falls may be prohibited.
Visit “Balay Na Bato” and Pebble Beach
Balay Na Bato means a house made of stones. This place showcases various crafts built from stones, pebbles as well as wood. In front of “Balay Na Bato” is the pebble beach wherein the shore is abundant of pebbles instead of fine sands.
Have a quick visit at the Pindangan Ruins
Pindangan Ruins is formerly a Church built in the Spanish Era. When it was destroyed, it was not rebuilt anymore and instead built a Church beside it. There is no entrance fee and the place is quiet. Tourists don’t usually consider this place when going to La Union but it’s also good to know the history of the place and one can request for prayer offerings.
A Taoist temple you can visit without an entrance fee. This magnificent temple faces the beach, although it is not built around the shore, you can still view it from the temple. The ornaments, statues and the arch were impressive which are common in temples.
Explore the La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden
This is a wide garden found in San Fernando, La Union. Entrance fee is just Php30 when we visited last 2018. You can ride a tricycle going up the garden. There are a variety of plants and trees that are being grown in the place. The zoo doesn’t have much. Look out for insects and mosquitos when visiting the place.
Various food restaurants and food tents are spread around Urbiztondo town. You can also explore restaurants outside San Juan like Halo-Halo de Iloko. The restaurant in Sunsetbay is also open to guests without room bookings. A lot of people visit their restaurant because it is indeed one of the best in La Union. Some of the stalls we tried were Makai Bowls, El Union Coffee, and Coffee Library.
Makai bowls are known for their healthy bowls with fresh fruits of your choice with a shake and some granolas. Prices are around 250-350Php.
Coffee Library is known for its coffee and Vietnamese themed menu. The first branch was in Baguio and there were recently opened branches in La Union and Manila. They already expanded their menu and added Filipino meals.
El Union Coffee is known for its pancakes, Smore’s and of course coffee. This is perfect for breakfast and I think they are open as early as 7 AM.
Halo-Halo de Iloko is known for its Halo Halo. Their food also tastes great and I recommend to eat here for lunch.
Where to Stay in La Union
I recommend Flotsam and Jetsam hotel, Vessel Hostel, and Sunsetbay Beach Resort. Flotsam and Jetsam and Vessel Hostel are located at Urbiztondo. These two hostels boast of unique designs and decorations in the hotel with a low cost. Flotsam & Jetsam also offers an intercontinental breakfast buffet. These are budget hostels for as low as Php988 per night. There are a lot of beach resorts, inns, and hotels along the beach that you can choose, but it’s better to book in advance as there are a lot of people even on weekdays.
While Sunsetbay Beach Resort is a laid back and quiet resort in San Fernando, La Union. Foods served in the resort were amazing. It may be a bit more expensive but it’s one of the relaxing resorts away from the night parties in Urbiztondo. The beach is so clean and the place is a bit secluded, perfect for chillin’ and relaxing. Sunset is also a must watch.
La Union is a perfect quick getaway during weekends and you can explore the town in two to three days. The best thing I love in this place is its sunset. I have stayed in San Fernando beaches as well as in Urbiztondo and sunsets in both places in La Union never fails to amaze me. For me, this will always be the best place to go when I need a break from a busy week from work. Please be reminded also when visiting the place always put your trash in garbage cans. Always be aware of the tides and waves and don’t go farther where no people can see you.