La Union Travel Guide: What to Do in Elyu

Jay Pagkatotohan

Jay Pagkatotohan

Last updated March 21, 2024

Sometimes, all you want is to get away from the hustle and bustle of life—to hear the sea waves as you crack a cold one with your friends, catch the sunset without thinking of stressful deadlines, and relax in your tropical cabana. 

Well, you can do all those by heading to La Union. The province is popular among local tourists for its exhilarating waves, exciting nightlife, and overall laid-back ambiance. All of these are just a few hours’ drive away from the metro. 

Planning a quick weekend getaway to this province? Check out this La Union travel guide. 

La Union Travel Guide: An Overview 

la union travel guide - overview

Fondly called Elyu, La Union is a province in the Ilocos Region known for its surfing waves, natural attractions, and chill environment. Surrounding it are the provinces of Ilocos Sur in the north, Pangasinan in the south, and Benguet in the east. 

What’s the best time to visit La Union? If you’re a surfer, the months between December and March are your best bets. During this period, waves are taller and more powerful. However, the downside includes expensive and often sold-out accommodations. 

If you simply want to lounge on the sand and get your tan, the months of March through June can give you your fill of sun. However, waves are tame; the upside is that surfing newbies can easily learn the sport.  

Read more: Sama All This Summer: Best Outdoor Activities in the Philippines for ₱3,000 or Less

🛡️ Enjoy an Action-Packed and Worry-Free Adventure with Travel Insurance 

Avail of a travel insurance policy via Moneymax

Before your trip to the north, get financial protection against travel-related accidents and mishaps. Get travel insurance, especially if you’re doing high-risk activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. 

Check out your options via Moneymax: 

Starting Premium
Medical/Accidental Death or Disablement Coverage
Trip Cancellation Coverage
Baggage Loss/Damage
OONA Travel Insurance
moneymax buy now
Up to ₱5 million
Up to ₱128,000 Up to ₱42,600 subject to ₱4,000 per item
PGAI Travel Shield Insurance
moneymax buy now
Up to ₱2.5 million 
Up to ₱200,000 Up to ₱50,000 subject to ₱10,000 per item
pga sompo traveljoy
moneymax buy now
Up to ₱2.5 million
Up to ₱70,000 Up to ₱5,000 per item
Cocogen Travel Excel Plus
moneymax buy now
Up to ₱4.2 million
Up to ₱214,000
Up to ₱102,000  subject to ₱12,700 per item

How to Get to La Union 

la union travel guide - how to get to la union

Getting to La Union is easy and straightforward. If you’re commuting, just take a bus from one of these companies: Partas Transportation (either in Cubao or Pasay), Viron, or Dominion. The trip from Manila to La Union takes usually between five and seven hours, depending on the traffic. 

If you’re driving, the travel time ranges from four to five hours, depending on where you’re coming from in Manila. The trip is more efficient now with the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). Just take the Pozorrubio Exit and continue driving through San Fernando.  

How to Get Around La Union 

Getting around La Union is easy. If you’re staying within a town, you can go from point A to point B via tricycles and jeeps. Driving around is also easy since traffic jams are virtually nonexistent. 

If you’re staying in San Juan, which is a popular town in La Union, you can get around on foot or bike. But if you’re doing a full tour, which requires moving from one town to the other, renting a private van is a practical choice. 

How Much to Budget for Your La Union Trip

This will depend on how long you’re staying in La Union. Many vacationers recommend staying over the weekend or three days at most. A short and sweet holiday in the province makes perfect sense, as there isn’t much to do except surf, dine, and party. 

If you’re traveling with a friend, prepare a budget of ₱5,000 to ₱6,000 per person. This already includes the bus fares and accommodation. Nevertheless, you can lower this budget by traveling with more people or streamlining your activities. 

💳 Make Vacation Spending Easy with the Right Credit Card 

The right travel credit card makes it easy to book activities and accommodations. It also makes spending more exciting with a range of rewards, such as points that can be converted to miles and exclusive travel deals and discounts. 

Get your travel credit card via Moneymax. Here are your top options: 

Credit Card Travel Benefits
UnionBank Rewards Card
UnionBank Rewards Visa card (1)


  • 3x non-expiring rewards points when you shop and dine here and abroad
  • Worldwide acceptance
  • Rewards at participating restaurants, shopping outlets, and leisure establishments nationwide
Metrobank Platinum Mastercard®
Metrobank Platinum Mastercard 2024
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱20 spend
  • Points redeemable for air miles
  • Up to 50% off on dining deals
Metrobank World Mastercard®
Metrobank World Mastercard 2024
  • 3x rewards points for international purchases
  • Exclusive access to airport deals
  • 1 air mile per ₱17 foreign currency spend
BPI Platinum Rewards Card
BPI Plat Rewards
  • 2 BPI Points for every spend on foreign transactions abroad or online worth ₱20
  • Lounge access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide
  • 0% interest on airline installment
  • Up to ₱10 million in travel insurance coverage
  • Low forex conversion rate of just 1.85%
BPI Signature Card
BPI Signature Card
  • 2 BPI Points for every ₱20 spend
  • Lounge access to PAGGS at NAIA 1 and NAIA 3
  • Up to ₱20 million in travel insurance coverage
  • Low forex conversion rate of just 1.85%

Where to Stay in La Union

La Union’s host of accommodations caters to tourists with varying budgets. Check out the following: 

🏖️ La Union Accommodations for Budget Travelers 

la union travel guide - accommodation

Photo: @flotsamandjetsamhostel (Instagram)

If you’re looking for the cheapest beach resorts and hotels in La Union, here are your top candidates: 

  • Flotsam and Jetsam[1]
  • Funky Quarters
  • Shorebreak Hostel
  • Dalum Kubo
  • Cristina Beachfront Cottages
  • Rada Hostel
  • Vessel Hostel
  • Charlie’s Hangar
  • Isla Bonita Beach Resorts 
  • The Little Surfmaid Resort
  • 3bu Hostel
  • El Navi Surftown Hostel

🏖️ La Union Accommodations for Luxury Travelers 

Ready to splurge by booking a hotel or BnB with upgraded creature comforts? Here are some of the top-rated lavish hotels in La Union:  

  • Thunderbird Resorts and Casinos Poro Point
  • Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa 
  • The Dune House
  • Aureo La Union
  • Ysla Villa[2]
  • Ycasa Villas 
  • Awesome Hotel

La Union Travel Guide: 8 Tourist Spots You Shouldn’t Miss

la union travel guide - tourist spots

Looking for places to visit in La Union? Here are the top destinations you and your friends should visit: 

📍 San Juan

No Elyu travel guide is complete without this famous surf town where the popular area of Urbiztondo is located. 

Urbiztondo Beach is where the heart of the surfing action lies, but it’s also popular among tourists because of its diverse collection of hotels, bars, and restaurants. So if you’re not surfing, you can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. 

The best thing about Urbiztondo Beach? It’s accessible from the highway. Once you get off the bus, you just have to take a short walk to reach it.  

Read more: The Waves Beckon: 12 Best Surf Spots in the Philippines

📍 Tangadan Falls  

Found in the town of San Gabriel, this La Union tourist spot draws in people in search of a light workout. You need to trek to reach it, but don’t worry because you’ll be rewarded with a serene view and spring-cold waters at the end of your hike. 

The limestone cliffs from which the waters fall are interestingly textured, giving them a photographic appeal. The clean waters of the basin, meanwhile, are perfect for swimming. If you’re not a skilled swimmer, you can always rent a vest around the area. 

Want more action? Try cliff-jumping!

📍 Ma-Cho Temple  

la union travel guide - ma-cho temple

Photo: La Union Tayo! website

Ma-Cho Temple is a trace of Taoism in La Union that attracts lots of tourists. Located in San Fernando, this landmark was built in the 1970s to honor Mazu, a sea goddess in Chinese folklore. Such an intention is clearly seen, as the temple gives you a peaceful view of the West Philippine Sea. 

The temple complex also boasts other attractions, such as the Bamboo Garden, the Bell Tower, and the Majestic Five Door Gate. 

📍 Baluarte Watch Tower 

The Baluarte Watch Tower is one of the best places to visit in La Union if you’re a history buff. This 400-year-old structure made of reddish bricks served as an elevated outpost for any approaching pirates and invaders. This colonial structure has been recognized as a National Cultural Treasure since 2014. 

One of the best things about visiting the area is that it gives you uninterrupted sea views. 

📍 Pebble Beach  

Less than an hour away from San Juan lies a unique beach called Pebble Beach. As the name suggests, this beach is covered with pebbles of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. 

Right along the beach, you can find Bahay na Bato. This complex is mostly built with stones and pebbles. Formerly a rest house, Bahay na Bato is now an art gallery filled with pieces made of stones and even wood. 

📍 Pindangan Ruins  

la union travel guide - pindangan

Photo: City of San Fernando, La Union (website)

This La Union tourist spot houses the remains of a church built in the late 18th century. Since it’s located along the coast, pirates often targeted it. This resulted in the relocation of the church, effectively abandoning the Pindangan Church until it eventually fell into perpetual disrepair. 

📍 Poro Point Lighthouse  

Include this in your La Union itinerary if you want to enjoy some stunning sea views. Built in 1905, Poro Point Lighthouse is a favorite spot among locals. Early risers go here for their morning walk or run. 

You don’t have to pay anything to enter the area. And if you’re looking for a place to stay, the lavish Thunderbird Resort Hotel is just nearby. 

📍 Namacpacan Church 

la union travel guide - namacpacan

Whether you’re a devout Catholic or a history lover, Namacpacan Church is one of the top places to visit in La Union. Built in the late 17th century, the church was named a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. 

Namacpacan Church bears the Earthquake Baroque style.[3] This design discipline was borne out of the necessity of combatting earthquakes and is characterized by thick walls and buttresses. 

Read more: 19 Religious Destinations in the Philippines to Nourish Your Spirit

What to Do in La Union 

la union travel guide - what to do

Photo: @tagpuansj (Instagram)

Looking for things to do in La Union? Check out the following: 

  • Swimming and surfing – These activities are a given, especially if you’re staying in Urbiztondo, San Juan. If you’re new to surfing, you’ll find instructors around the area. 
  • Afternoon drinking – Merrymaking with ice-cold beer doesn’t pick a time when you’re by the beach! But if you want to fully relax, crack a cold one by the beach as you watch the sun go down.  
  • Photography – La Union has a wealth of natural attractions worthy of a snap or two on your social media feed. Take pictures and videos of the beach, historic structures, and people going about their day for posterity.
  • Nightlife – At night, restaurants and bars in San Juan attract tourists who want to wind down with some beer and conversations with new friends. 
  • Food trip – The food scene in the province, particularly in touristy areas, is well and alive. But where to eat in La Union? Here are some of our recommendations: 
    • Miryinda – Banana bread enjoyers and kare-kare aficionados will have a great time here since these dishes are this restaurant’s specialties. 
    • Kayu – If you’re in San Fernando looking for some smokey goodness, this restaurant’s smoked meat platters will do the trick. 
    • Hyde’s Bar & Kitchen – Funky Quarters’ Hyde’s Bar & Kitchen is the place to be for Mexican-inspired dishes. 
    • El Union Coffee –  Love exploring new coffee shops? Make sure to include this one on your list. Aside from cold brews and flat whites, dirty horchata is a crowd-pleaser at this coffee shop. 
    • Tagpuan sa San Juan – If Pinoy food is what you’re looking for, this no-frills restaurant along the highway will give it to you.
    • Kermit La Union – Italian dish lovers will find their new favorites at this restaurant located in San Juan. Kermit serves pizza, pasta, wine, and cocktails, all perfect for winding down after a surfing sesh. 
    • La Kantina – Associated with Kermit La Union, this joint features beloved Italian dishes like pizza and pasta.

Tips for Traveling to La Union 

la union travel guide - tips

Photo: @elunion (Instagram)

Make your trip to La Union more fun and memorable with these helpful tips: 

  • If you’re not a surfer but into sunbathing and nightlife, visit La Union during the off-season. You’ll find the hotel prices cheaper and the waves generally calmer. 
  • Those who don’t know how to swim may want to avoid surfing as the waves are tall and strong. 
  • Always wear sunscreen, whether you’re swimming or simply walking around. 
  • If you have the energy to cook, visit the local market to get your ingredients. This will save you some money. Restaurant dishes tend to be a lot more expensive. 
  • Many recommend traveling as a group as it’ll save some money, especially when it comes to accommodation. 
  • Catch the sunset. La Union sunsets are some of the most beautiful scenes you’ll see in your life. 
  • If you have extra time, money, and energy, you may want to include Baguio in your La Union itinerary. Or if you’re coming down from Baguo, consider dropping by San Juan. 

Read more:

Final Thoughts 

La Union is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the north, thanks to its towering waves, serene natural attractions, good food, and warm people. If you’re raring to escape from life’s busyness, just book a bus ticket—the next thing you know, you’re already in a chill place. 

You can always go beyond this La Union travel guide. If some of your friends have frequented the province, ask them for recommendations and tips to make your vacay comfortable, fun, and memorable. 

Apply for a personal loan through Moneymax


Jay is a marketing communications professional who specializes in short-form and long-form content. He has written ads for TV, radio, print, and digital. He has also produced corporate blogs, magazine features, white papers, product listings, reviews, and press releases for clients here and abroad. When he’s not writing, Jay plays the piano or takes pictures for his visual diary. Follow Jay on LinkedIn.


Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Get the latest articles, promos, and deals straight to your inbox. Make us your weekly habit!