Last May, my friends and I decided to embark on an adventure in La Union. Since we really enjoyed our 2013’s trip to Baler, we decided that we wanted to try and enjoy surfing again this year. Known for its beautiful waves and laid back vibe, we decided that LU (as the fans of the place call it) would be the perfect place to go. However, we did not expect that we would be faced with a barricaded beach, all the more, an extremely stressful and hassle traveling experience from Manila. It was labor day after all, what did we expect, really?
How to get there (and how we got stranded)
Going to La Union on a normal day is rather easy. But going there on a holiday, all the more a long one, is definitely something that you should be prepared for.
There are different terminals that you could go to when traveling to La Union:
- Partas Bus Lines, located at Aurora, Cubao (no, they are not along the road), and the other one located in Pasay City
- Genesis Transport, with terminals in Pasay and Cubao
- Dominion Bus Lines, located at Cubao
Their system works in a way that each stub has a thousand pieces distributed per color. We got the yellow ones, and by the time that we arrived, they were calling on those who has the blue stubs. We assumed that our color assignment would be next in line, however, when we thought it was finally our turn, we were told that the next color would be the pink ones, and much to our dismay, we might actually ride the bus in a couple more hours (more like, lunch time, or God forbid, in the afternoon). As much as we wanted to cancel the trip, we’ve already waited for hours, and this was our only time to bond, so we decided to push it against all odds.
Long story short, we gave up our chances of taking the bus, and instead rented out an FX that would take us to La Union. It took us almost the whole day to travel because of the traffic (I tell you people, long weekends are a trap!) and the heat of the summer sun was no joke. We slept the whole way through, and by the time that we’ve arrived to our destination, our butts were hurting and our skin were sticky from the humid weather. It was still worth it, though. You guys have no idea how relieved were we when we finally entered our room, and the idea of actually taking a bath after an extremely long day was just… wonderful.
If you are going on a trip to La Union on a regular day and would be taking the bus, fares are more or less around Php 300.00. Since we took a special trip, it cost us almost 3x the amount of what we could’ve paid if we took the bus. Oh, the sacrifices for a vacation. Needless to say, we ended up drinking that same night because we got really stressed out with all the hassle. Haha.
What we did in La Union
Since it was the “Labor Union” weekend (a.k.a. their attempt on coming up with their very own ‘Laboracay’), the whole stretch of beach was barricaded for the party. The event was ticketed and those who decided to not participate with the celebration were only allowed to pass through the beach during the morning. It was a disappointment, really. This was also the main reason why we ended up skipping the surfing session, and instead look for alternative activities that would let us enjoy our stay.
To compensate for the lack of beach time, my friends and I decided to embark on a journey to look for the greatest food finds in La Union. There are actually a lot of great places to eat in the area, and the food are not only delicious, they were also unbelievably affordable! I’ve written about our food adventure on a previous post. Check it out here: http://www.jhanzey.net/2015/08/la-union-good-place-to-eat.html
We also went to a nearby falls and spent our second day basking in the sun and exploring the area. We went to Tangadan Falls and enjoyed our tiring hike / adventure going there. It was pretty sad to see the falls so crowded, but I bet the crowd would’ve been less if only we (1) went there earlier, and (2) we went there during the non-peak season. You may check out my experience at Tangadan Falls here: http://www.jhanzey.net/2015/08/tangadan-falls-la-union.html
Alternatively, you can also explore other falls around the area! Apparently, there are a lot of waterfalls around San Fernando, which you can hike if you’re feeling adventurous. Here are some useful links:   
On our last day at La Union, we were able to swim at the beach since it isn’t as crowded. We took a lot of photos, stayed in the water for as long as we can remember, and just had fun. I also got stung by a jelly fish (nothing too serious though!).
Of course, it is highly recommended that you try surfing when you’re in La Union. Lessons starts from Php 400 per hour, with instructor. You may also go on a road trip and travel straight to Baguio / Sagada / Ilocos, since it’s just a couple of hours away from each other.
Where we stayed
There are a lot of affordable places to stay in La Union, with hostels welcoming each and every traveler to their comfy beds and artsy space. Since it was the long weekend, we had a hard time looking for a place that would keep the 10 of us together. We ended up staying in Sebay, which was located along the highway, and has its own beach front.
We rented out a group room that accommodated the 10 of us for a pretty reasonable price. Our room is perfect for large groups and families, with two bunk beds and a couple of single beds spread out inside the room. If you’re traveling solo, they also have rooms for two. In case you’re looking for dorm rooms, though, you can check out the two of the most popular hostels in La Union: Circle Hostel and Flotsam and Jetsam. They’re really artsy, comfy, and cheap!
How much did it cost us
Since there were 10 of us, we were able to save a lot by splitting bills on food and accommodation. If you’re going on a solo budget trip and you’re coming from Manila, having Php 3,000 – Php 5,000 would definitely be more than enough to enjoy a nice 3D2N stay in La Union.
All in all, the experience was really fun, even if there were a lot of bumps that we’ve encountered along the way. I’d definitely like to go back and experience a more hassle free experience, though!
How about you? Have you ever been to La Union? How was your experience?
Share your answers on the comment box below! If you have any questions, I answer faster on twitter. Follow me there and I’ll definitely follow you back. My handle’s @jhanzey_! 🙂