La Union is a coastal area on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. With great cuisine, laid-back beach bars and easy going waves, La Union is a popular region for budget conscious travellers heading to the island nation! It also has a unique culture, showcasing the relaxed Ilocano way of life to contrast against the hustle and bustle elsewhere on the island.
The large and sprawling province is fairly spread out, so it’s important for visitors to have an idea of where they want to base themselves before arriving. Though many of the inland areas can be avoided, there are also a few coastal areas with little to interest the average tourist – so you need to make sure you have booked a good area.
That’s where we come in! We’ve figured out the five best areas in La Union, and categorised them based on who they are best for. Whether you want a laid back beach resort, a bustling party town or streets filled with cultural highlights we have you covered.
So let’s get started with the best places to stay in La Union!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in La Union
- Where to stay in La Union for the first time – San Fernando
- Where to stay in La Union on a budget – Bacnotan
- Best neighborhood in La Union for families – Bauang
- Where to stay in La Union for nightlife – San Juan
- Coolest place to stay in La Union – Agoo
Where to Stay in La Union
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in La Union.
Best Hostel in La Union: Lokal Home
Most of the hostels in La Union are based around San Juan – and as the best rated in the area, Lokal Home had to take our top spot for backpackers accommodation! Alongside dorms, they also offer traditional huts for those wanting a bit of an upgrade, and they have spacious communal areas.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in La Union: Aureo La Union
Located right on the waterfront, this hotel comes with one of the best customer ratings in La Union! There is a large outdoor area with a sun terrace and pool, and guests can enjoy direct access to the beach. They also have free parking facilities – perfect if you want to travel around the region.
Best Airbnb in La Union: Dulcé Niñera
This accommodation can house anywhere from three to ten guests – making it a great option for both large and small groups! There aren’t many Airbnb offerings in La Union, but this budget friendly apartment located between Bacnotan and San Juan is the perfect base for exploring the region from.View on Airnbnb
La Union Neighborhood Guide
Stretching along the north western coast of Luzon, La Union’s best towns are located right next to the beach! It is a popular first (and last) destination on itineraries to the Philippines as this is where you come to relax away from the larger cities. Though you should still take common sense safety measures, it is one of the safer parts of the country for foreign visitors.
San Fernando is the capital of the La Union region and a great starting point for first time visitors to the area! With bustling markets, intriguing cultural highlights and plenty of great restaurants, this is where you can get a true taste of life in La Union from the perspective of locals whilst still enjoying the abundant tourism facilities.
San Juan lies just north of San Fernando, and is easily the most popular city when it comes to tourism! La Union isn’t exactly famed for its nightlife, but most of the best restaurants and bars are located in this area. During the day, you can also enjoy great surfing opportunities and chilled out beach vibes.
Often regarded as a suburb of San Juan, Bacnotan is just north of the city. La Union is already one of the cheapest areas in a notoriously inexpensive country, but if you want to stick to as strict a budget as possible this is the place to be! It’s also a little off the beaten path, making it a great place to mingle with locals.
In the south of the region are the towns of Bauang and Agoo! These are both fairly calm towns, though Bauang takes our top pick for families thanks to the excellent beach and friendly locals. Agoo, on the other hand, is a great pick if you want to go off the beaten path and discover a completely different side of La Union.
Still undecided? Check out our extended guides to each area below!
La Union 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in La Union. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
As the capital of La Union, San Fernando is the cultural and economic hub of the region! For first time travellers, it offers a good mix of tourist attractions and local highlights that showcase the two sides of the region. It doesn’t have the same tourism numbers as other resorts in the area, but still maintains a vibrant atmosphere due to the local population.
Whether you want to head to local markets, share a drink with friends or try out some surfing on the beach, there’s a little bit of everything on offer in San Fernando! As the capital, it is also well connected with the other towns mentioned on this list via inexpensive public transport and a reasonable road network.
More awesome things to see and do in San Fernando
- San Fernando City Night Market is easily the most popular attraction in the area – offering street food, cheap electronics and knock off brands
- There’s a huge replica of the Christ the Redeemer Statue in San Fernando – climb up to the top for sweeping panoramas across the city
- Scuba Diving is a popular activity in the area with plenty of affordable equipment and coaching services along the beach
- La Union Botanical Garden is the perfect destination if you want a relaxed day out that involves admiring local plant life
- Occalong Falls are a bit of a trek, but well worth it if you want to discover one of La Union’s most beautiful hidden attractions
- Natalna Grille offers cheap and tasty dishes from across the Philippines as well as some international treats for fussier eaters
Best Hostel San Fernando: 3BU Hostel La Union
Though it is a relatively brand new hostel, 3BU comes with excellent facilities! As part of a Filipino hostel chain, the owners are experienced in providing excellent accommodation for backpackers in the country. There is a small outdoor hot tub, as well as a patio area with views across the city.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in San Fernando: Aureo La Union
This three star resort has some excellent additional facilities that will leave you feeling like you are living in a luxury hotel! The hotel is right on the beach, and the pool area connects to the sand. A continental breakfast is available – with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
Best Airbnb in San Fernando: Melonie’s Apartment
This two bedroom apartment is perfect for groups and families wanting to stay in San Fernando! It is only a short walk from the beach and comes fully air conditioned. The owner has superhost status – meaning they have excellent reviews and are known for their excellent levels of service.View on Airbnb
Just north of San Juan, Bacnotan is an independent town in La Union despite often being considered part of its larger neighbour. There’s no lying about it – La Union is already one of the cheapest areas in the Philippines and anywhere you stay will come with great deals! Bacnotan is, however, so far off the beaten path that you can stay here on an ultra tight budget and live well.
Whilst it might be short on major attractions when compared to the larger resorts, Bacnotan is a great place to live like a local and discover a unique side of La Union! It is also well connected to San Juan by public transport, giving you easy access to the best nightlife in the area.
More awesome things to see and do in Bacnotan
- Bacnotan Public Market is a small local shopping area where you can grab fresh ingredients, as well as cheap clothing and souvenirs
- Interested in skating? Watan Skate Camp is popular with locals from Bacnotan and San Juan, with some great facilities on offer
- Take a walk along the Santa Cruz River and admire the gorgeous natural beauty running through the area
- Take a walk up to Tammocalao – the largest beach in the area, with unspoiled sands and gorgeous views across the sea
- Close to Tammocalao are the Cabarsican Rock Formations – a true hidden gem for anyone interested in discovering the region’s natural beauty
- 3Stan’s Balulohan is a local restaurant offering delicious Filipino cuisine at budget friendly prices
Best Hotel for Backpackers Bacnotan: Genezras
Though there aren’t any hostels in Bacnotan, Genezras is a homestay – meaning you get to stay with a local! They host a number of guests, so you will also get to mingle with other travellers during your stay. It is only a short walk away from the coast, and has connections to both Bacnotan and San Juan.
Best Hotel in Bacnotan: Sea Breeze Cottages
This small resort offers private cabins and lodges to suit a variety of party sizes – from solo travellers to families! Each lodge comes with a small kitchen with adequate supplies for a short self-catering stay. There is also free WiFi throughout the site, and a complimentary Asian breakfast every morning.
Best Airbnb in Bacnotan: Dulcé Niñera
This large apartment comes with a private swimming pool – and the host has superhost certification ensuring a high quality stay! The rooms are fully air-conditioned, and the kitchen is so well equipped that even longer stays will have everything they need. There is also a roof terrace and ground floor patios.View on Airbnb
Bauang is located about halfway between San Fernando and Agoo in the heart of La Union. This peaceful area hosts regular events – making it a great place to discover local culture as well as European influences on the country! For families, Bauang has a great range of parks offering outdoor activities that all of the family can enjoy.
The picturesque town centre is designed in a colonial style, resulting in some gorgeous architecture around every corner! Accommodation and dining is somewhat cheaper in this area, and there are great transport links with San Fernando.
More awesome things to see and do in Bauang
- Marand Beach is the main coastal area in Bauang – it is much quieter than the beaches in the larger resort towns, giving you peace and quiet to enjoy the weather
- Splash Town Waterpark & Resort is a fun trip for all the family with large pools, slides and even a lazy river
- Ariev Farm Eco Resort offer some excellent outdoor activities including horse riding and river walks, as well as fresh local produce
- Speaking of local produce, Bauang Public Market is the commercial hub of the town offering food, clothing and electronics
- Take a trip inland to the Bolikewkew Rice Terraces – these are working terraces, so make sure to check public opening times before heading out
- Kwalitea Cafe is small and locally owned, offering traditional dishes from the region and an excellent kids menu!
Best Hotel for Backpackers Bauang: Tomzen Beachfront Suites
Like Bacnotan, Bauang doesn’t have any hostels – however, this basic beachfront resort is perfect for backpackers on a tight budget that want to stay close to the sea! It comes with a terrace and free parking for all guests – as well as access to basic WiFi services for staying connected with home.
Best Hotel in Bauang: Marand Resort & Spa
If you want a more typical resort experience, Marand Resort & Spa has everything you could possibly need! It might only come with three stars, but it has excellent facilities including a large pool. The pool has small water slides that will keep the kids happy, and there is a 24 hour reception desk within the hotel.
Best Airbnb in Bauang: Cozy Beach Cabin
Located right on the beach, this traditional house is perfect for a relaxing getaway in Bauang! All four beds are in one room, so it is a little cosy – but still an excellent option for families and groups wanting an inexpensive accommodation. There is a small garden, as well as a parking space.
La Union isn’t the most popular region in the Philippines for nightlife, but San Juan has a good offering – although it can be very laid back. This is perfect if you want the kind of night out where you can chat to friends and mingle with locals. It also has a multicultural food scene, giving you plenty of options for beating your hangover from Filipino to Mexican to Greek!
Though not the capital, San Juan is the most touristy part of La Union – meaning there are plenty of facilities and opportunities to meet with other travellers! This makes it another great option for first time guests, as well as those who are only in the area for a short time.
More awesome things to see and do in San Juan
- Le Point Bar PH is one of the most popular nightlife venues with locals, operating into the early hours
- Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel have a bar attached that is open to the public – making it a great place to mingle with other travellers
- San Juan Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Philippines to learn how to surf – the waves are easy, making it ideal for complete beginners
- Grab a bite to eat at Angel and Marie’s Place – they offer wholesome Filipino food at budget friendly prices
- Need to beat a hangover? El Union Coffee offers some excellent speciality coffee alongside a great brunch menu
- Unwind with Aquaniumous Yoga – they offer beginner stand up paddleboard yoga sessions as well as groups for more experienced yogis!
Best Hostel San Juan: Lokal Home
The highest rated hostel in San Juan, Lokal Home is only a short walk from the beach and is also fairly close to neighbouring Bacnotan – perfect for experiencing both areas at once! As well as the private kubo hut, the dorm is also housed within this traditional building.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in San Juan: Awesome Hotel
This four star hotel gives you a little touch of luxury for less right on San Juan beach! There is a large outdoor pool, and the on-site restaurant offers both Filipino and American cuisine. Rooms come equipped with luxury toiletries and all the facilities you need for a comfortable stay in La Union.
Best Airbnb in San Juan: Dad’s Studio
If you’re visiting San Juan to try your hand at surfing, this Airbnb is only a short walk away from the most popular surf school! Sleeping up to four people, it is ideal for both couples and small families – and even solo travellers that want a local experience. WiFi and parking facilities are included.View on Airbnb
Like Bauang, Agoo is a much more easy-going town than the larger resorts in the north! This makes it a great place to unwind and enjoy the calm coastal atmosphere. It also comes with some more cultural highlights, making it our coolest place to stay in La Union.
Aside from the cultural attractions, Agoo is also home to large parks and gorgeous colonial architecture making it one of the most scenic cities in the region! Both families and couples will enjoy this gorgeous town, as well as those looking to head further out into the rural areas of La Union.
More awesome things to see and do in Agoo
- Basilica of Our Lady of Charity might seem like an unassuming colonial era church – but head inside to discover ornate furnishings and detailed architecture
- Museo de Iloko is a small exhibit dedicated to the Iloko Region, including cultural and historic artefacts from across the area
- Hop on board a Banka Boat – this traditional method of travel is a great way to explore the stunning nature and river area
- Head to the town square in the evening and grab some food from the hawker stands – a great way to sample some local delicacies
- Agoo Eco-Fun World offers some great outdoor activities including horse riding, cycling and fishing amongst others
Best Hotel for Backpackers Agoo: RedDoorz Plus
For backpackers looking for a typical hotel experience, RedDoorz Plus is an affordable three star option in the heart of Agoo! Rooms are fairly basic, but well equipped for a short stay in the area. Air conditioning is provided throughout, as well as cable television.
Best Hotel in Agoo: Breezy Point Baguio
This is another great three star hotel – however, they have a wider range of rooms that can accommodate solo travellers, couples and families! Rooms are large, with private balconies and small seating areas. There is a restaurant on-site offering typical Filipino cuisine.
Best Airbnb in Agoo: Rural Place
Though there aren’t any Airbnbs in Agoo itself, this rural retreat is only a short drive away and perfect if you want a countryside getaway! It comes with a private pool and can sleep up to 14 people – perfect for large groups and family reunions. There are three separate villas, so smaller groups can be accommodated.View on Airbnb
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in La Union
La Union is a beautiful coastal region in Luzon that offers a more authentic experience for those interested in discovering rural Filipino life! As one of the safest parts of the country, it is a great option for first time visitors to the Philippines – as well as families and couples looking for an easy-going retreat.
In terms of the best area, we are going to go with San Juan! It has the widest range of facilities, and is well connected with most other areas mentioned on this list.
That being said, wherever is personally good for you depends on your needs. We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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