If you’re heading for La Union, the chances are you’re coming to surf. And why wouldn’t you?! Not only does this stunning region offer some of the best surf in the world, but it also offers the cheapest lessons. So, it’s great for beginners as well as experts! The towns of San Juan and San Fernando are the most popular!
Of course, it’s not all about San Juan and surfing. There’s more to La Union! With such great surfing, it follows that there are also awesome beaches with pristine sands and warm turquoise waters. If you’d prefer to stay completely on dry land, it’s good to know that the region also boasts waterfalls, vineyards, numerous religious sites and much much more!
With so much to do in La Union, it can be hard to decide what to do first. So, our expert travel writers have compiled a list to help you draw up your La Union itinerary. We’ve found the coolest attractions, landmarks, and places to visit with different travel tastes, budget, and personality in mind. Not only that, but we’ve also given you three of our favourite places to stay in La Union!
So, let’s jump straight in!
Best Places to Stay in La Union
Thinking about where to stay in La Union? Here are three of our favourites. To make sure we’ve got everyone covered budget and style-wise, we’ve picked a hostel, a budget hotel, and even a resort. It’s not as expensive as you might think!
Best Hostel in La Union – Lokal Home
Want to stay in the best hostel in La Union? Then look no further than Lokal Home in San Juan. A traditional Kubo hut, it offers a mix of authenticity and a fun sociable place to stay. Solo travellers can keep their costs down by staying in dorms, while groups can make the most of comfy private roomsView on HostelWorld
Best Budget Hotel in La Union – Nature’s Healing Home
Our best budget hotel in La Union is a little off the beaten track… A 15 minute drive from San Fernando, it allows you to completely escape into the gorgeous Filipino countryside! There’s an on-site restaurant where you can enjoy both international and local cuisine. Great if you’re planning to hike and bike during your trip!
Also, check out our reviews of the top hostels in La Union.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in La Union – Bella Vista Resort
Money can go a long way in the Philippines, so if you don’t mind splashing the cash you can get somewhere like this! Not only is it a comfortable and convenient place to stay, but there’s a water park and swimming pool too! So, it’s great if you’re travelling to La Union with the kids!View on Booking.com
These are the BEST Places to Visit in La Union!
#1 – Urbiztondo Beach
A great place to see in La Union if you love surfing
- The best beach in La Union for surfing
- Lots of places to eat and drink nearby
- Great accommodation for all budgets nearby
- Come between October to March for the best surfing!
Why it’s awesome: Looking for one of the best surfing spots in the Philippines? Possibly even the world? Look no further than Urbiztondo Beach – especially between October and March! It’s been tagged as the place where you’ll get the cheapest surfing lessons in the world, so it’s great if you’re a beginner. Because of the beaches popularity, there are loads of accommodation options for all budgets in San Juan, as well as nearby San Fernando. Just make sure to book early to avoid disappointment!
What to do there: Surf, surf, surf! Urbiztondo isn’t really a beach for lying back and catching rays (although you’re welcome to do so, obviously). Urbiztondo’s reputation as the centre of Filipino surfing is deserved for more than just the great waves. There are several surfing camps and schools that offer lessons to locals and tourists alike, some run by world-class international surfers! If you’re worried about safety, pick on that offers an internationally-accredited surf program and state of the art equipment! When you’ve had enough of the waves, there are plenty of restaurants and bars near the beach!
#2 – Ma-Cho Taoist Temple
One of the most important religious places to see in La Union
- The biggest Taoist Temple in the world outside China
- Pray, meditate, and offer donations
- A truly picturesque La Union landmark
- Take a walk in the peaceful temple garden
Why it’s awesome: The Ma-Cho Taoist temple is one of the most important religious attractions in La Union. Overlooking the South China Sea from a perch above San Fernando La Union, it’s the biggest Taoist temple in the world outside of China! It was built in the 1970s in honour of Matzu, a Chinese deity who protects the sea and fisherman. Although anyone is welcome to visit the temple, you will be expected to dress conservatively as it’s a place of worship. Also, holding hands is prohibited at the temple. So, that’s a conversation you’ll need to have with your other half…
What to do there: Ma-Cho Temple is quite the star on Instagram. So, make sure you get some pictures to add to your story! The best time to come up for the views is during sunset, where you can catch it setting beyond the horizon! The temple itself is massively picturesque though, so any time during the day you can get amazing pictures of the interior. In this peaceful place, you can also spend some time meditating – a great way to disconnect from the real world. Whatever you want to do here, don’t miss one of the most famous places in La Union off your itinerary!
#3 – Pagoda Hill
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in La Union
- Admire the traditional Chinese architecture
- Take a leisurely stroll in the evening
- Enjoy the views of San Fernando
- Make sure to stop for a break in the pagoda
Why it’s awesome: Also known as the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Park, Pagoda Hill is a beautiful and scenic place where you CAN hold hands with your other half! Not that that will matter too much to solo travellers… Celebrating the long friendship and history between the two countries (The Philippines was the first country in the world to have a Chinatown) the park is popular with locals and tourists alike, as a stroll here offers gorgeous panoramic views across San Fernando!
What to do there: There isn’t loads to do at Pagoda Hill, but that’s kind of the point. It’s peaceful and serene atmosphere is somewhere to walk, feel the breeze, and enjoy the magnificent views over San Fernando. You could even take a book or a picnic up there and spend most of the day! Not only is it a beautiful place, but it’s free too so it’s one of the most awesome La Union vacation ideas if you’re on a budget!
#4 – Tangadan Falls
A beautiful outdoor place to visit in La Union
- One of ten waterfalls in the town of San Gabriel
- Take a dip in the natural basin
- Don’t miss a chance to cliff dive in the upper-tier
- A cheap day trip from San Juan or San Fernando
Why it’s awesome: Although the beaches are undeniably one of the top attractions in La Union, it’d be a shame not to see some of the natural attractions inland too. One of the most impressive is Tangadan Falls in the town of San Gabriel. There’s a network of ten waterfalls in the town, with the lower cascade being the most popular and photogenic! They’re about 50 feet tall and 100 feet wide, so quite impressive! The waterfalls are around 20 minutes from San Juan and it’s roughly 15 pesos in a jeepney.
What to do there: Although it’s nice to take photos of the waterfalls, there’s so much more to do here than just admire them. The cool waters are a great way to escape from the humidity, so why not take a dip in the lower cascade? It’s super refreshing! If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head to the upper levels of the waterfalls. There may be a smaller drop, but the pool here is deeper and wider – ideal for cliff jumping! Want to really get off the beaten track? Trek for an hour longer to reach Kapandagan falls!
#5 – Gapuz Grape Farm
A must-see for foodies
- Enjoy a tour of a working grape farm
- Go on a grape-picking adventure
- Take home a kilo of grapes
- Sample some of the local wine
Why it’s awesome: Where do you think of when it comes to fine wines? France, Italy, Chile, New Zealand. We’re pretty sure that the Philippines doesn’t spring to mind. However, when you travel to San Juan, you’ll be surprised! An easy half-day trip from San Fernando is Gapuz Grape Farm, where you can pick your own grapes as part of their farm tour. Gapuz is not the only grape farm in La Union. There are loads more which are a great day out, including Lomboy in Bauang.
What to do there: We know what you’re thinking… A tour of a grape farm and we haven’t mentioned wine tasting yet. WORRY NOT! This is one of the best places in La Union to try a local product and get a little tipsy in the process – wine tasting is all part of the fun. If you really like it, why not buy some in the shop to take back to your accommodation? Even though you can buy a kilo of grapes for less than $10, we reckon it’d be a bit of a pain to try and make your own from that!
#6 – Pindangan Ruins
One of La Union’s coolest historical sites
- Remnants of an old church and monastery
- Home of spooky local ghost stories
- Go at night if you’re feeling really brave!
- Recommended to go with a tour guide
Why it’s awesome: Now for one of the more unusual landmarks in La Union. Pindangan Ruins are the remnants of an old church and monastery which are definitely worth a visit. Their home to spooky local ghost stories! One of the most famous is that a headless priest prowls the ruins each night, either searching for his head or carrying his severed one under his arm. His head even calls for his body to find it! Maybe it’s not the best place to visit if you’re of a nervous disposition!
What to do there: Spooky stories aside, Pindangan Ruins are a fascinating place to visit nonetheless. If you dismiss the stories as a load of old rubbish, or would rather spend the night making the most of the area’s epic bars and clubs, come here during the day instead. It’s really cheap to visit, and you can hire a guide to learn more about the area! Pindangan Ruins are a La Union must see, especially if you want a break from sun, sea, and surfing. And, they’re less than an hour on foot from San Fernando!
#7 – La Union Botanical Garden
A nice quiet place to see in La Union
- See thousands of different species of plants
- Relax in the Japanese Park
- Enjoy the views from the garden’s mountaintop location
- Take your kids to the Mini zoo and children’s park
Why it’s awesome: If you’ve been indulging in surf lessons during the day and the legendary La Union nightlife after dark, you’re gonna have an epic holiday. However, you’re also going to burn out! So, take some time away from anything too strenuous for an afternoon at the Botanical Garden. It’s made up of a number of themed gardens, which are sure to leave you feeling peaceful and at one with nature! Enjoy the aromas of the fragrance garden, get out of the sun in the shade garden, or imagine you’re in the desert with the Arid Garden!
What to do there: The La Union Botanical Garden is a great place to visit, especially if you’re travelling with kids! As well as all the lovely themed gardens, there is a park especially dedicated to children, and even a mini-zoo where you can meet local wildlife. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the views here rival those of Pagoda Park and Ma-Cho Temple. Despite easily having enough to keep you entertained for half a day, entry is super cheap. So, if you’re wondering how to see La Union on a budget, you could do a lot worse than here!
Quick Note – Staying Safe in La Union
If you’re thinking about travelling to La Union, you’ll be please to know that it’s one of the safest places in the Philippines. San Fernando and San Juan are the places you’ll have to be most vigilant, but that’s because they’re the busiest tourist centres. Here, you should be on your guard for petty crime. However, most travellers find travel to La Union without any incident at all!
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#8 – Christ the Redeemer Statue
One of the most incredible free places to go in La Union
- Another amazing viewpoint in La Union
- Just a short walk from the centre of San Fernando
- Watch out for the Good Friday procession if you’re here
- Go in the afternoon so you don’t get sunburn
Why it’s awesome: One of the easiest walks you can do to get an awesome view in San Fernando is to head to the Christ the Redeemer Statue. It’s not as tall as the one in Rio de Janeiro, and it’s certainly not as high up, but it’ll still give you impressive views of the town and San Fernando Bay! Each Good Friday, there’s a procession called Mary’s Way. It starts at St William’s Cathedral, with walkers going barefoot and recreating the stations of the cross.
What to do there: Obviously, it would be great to see the Good Friday Procession. But since that only happens once a year, your chances of doing that are pretty slim. At any other time of the year though, it’s an awesome place to walk. And you can get up and down in under an hour – including time spent to take photos and enjoy the view! It’s best to go either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as you’ll be less exposed to the sun!
#9 – Poro Point and its Lighthouse
One of the most underrated places to see in La Union
- Get photos of the Poro Point lighthouse!
- Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk
- Check out the Thunderbird Resort!
- A popular San Fernando jogging spot
Why it’s awesome: Located at the headland of San Fernando, Poro Point is a lovely place for an evening stroll. The wide boardwalk goes all the way along the coastline and is popular with walkers, joggers, and cyclist alike. Poro Point is one of the best places to eat in La Union – there are lots of different restaurants and stalls to choose from, and shaded tables and benches where you can enjoy your meal. A lovely way to end a day! It’s home to a unique lighthouse too – it was built in 1905 and stands on the Military Base, so it’s not accessible to visitors. You can take photos though!
What to do there: Take a slow walk along the Poro Point boardwalk and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells! Feeling energetic? You could even join the locals in jogging or cycling! If you’re not travelling on a budget, you could look at staying at the Thunderbird Resort, known as the Santorini of Asia. Even if you’re not staying, you can get a day pass and take advantage of the facilities!
#10 – San Fernando Night Market
A great place in La Union if you love to shop
- Sample the best Filipino street food
- Pick up souvenirs for friends and family
- Affordable and inexpensive
- Be brave and try Balut!
Why it’s awesome: Another of the best places to eat in La Union is the San Fernando night market. This is where to come for tasty and inexpensive Filipino street food. Adventurous and brave foodies may even want to sample Balut… a fertilised duck egg. Of course, there are less outrageous Filipino foods on offer too! As well as buying food, why not check out the souvenir stalls. You might pick up something really cool for your loved ones back home. And they won’t know it only cost you pennies!
What to do there: The number one reason to visit San Fernando night market is the food. Fish balls, grilled meats, and tropical fruit are all ready to be washed down with an icy cold beer! Just find somewhere to sit, then dine under the stars! The night market is open from 6pm every night and is situated between the Round Market and Mart One Mall!
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Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in La Union
So, that’s everything from our list of the best things to do in La Union. We hope you’ve found it helpful! La Union is not only an awesome place to begin (or continue) surfing, but it’s also full of places to eat, welcoming local people, and some unique sites. It’s a perfect mix of chilling out on the beach and seeing the most laidback side of Filipino culture!
Whether you want to ride the waves, go swimming in waterfalls, or hunt for a ghost priest at ruins… not often you get to say that… You’ll find something fun to do in La Union!
Now that we’ve helped you plan your La Union itinerary, our work here is done! All that’s left for us is to wish you a fun and safe trip. We hope you have a great vacation in the Philippines!
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