Perched on the western shore of the island of Luzon in the Philippines is La Union, a province known for its gorgeous beaches, marvelous sunsets, historic churches, bountiful grape farms, and wild weekends. It used to be a quiet province where families drove off to in the north of Manila for quick vacations, but in recent years cemented its title as a party province. College students and yuppies love to flock to La Union, fondly called “Elyu,” whenever there’s a long weekend coming up or when there’s word that the waves are great to surf on that summer.
But La Union is far more than just the surfing capital of Luzon with parties that go on all night and trendy hostels for college kids on a budget. It’s also home to many luxurious resorts, historical landmarks, enthralling waterfalls and hiking trails, and more. Most of the province is quite serene and relaxing, with a few hidden gems for every kind of traveler, whether you’re an adventure junkie or an Instagram-loving party animal.
Booking a good Airbnb is key to exploring La Union and everything it has to offer. Luckily, there are many options to choose from around the province, especially since it’s a highly developed area.
In this Airbnb guide to La Union:
- La Union Itinerary
- Where should I stay in La Union?
- Best Airbnbs in La Union
- Is Airbnb cheaper than hotels in La Union?
- FAQ about La Union
La Union Itinerary
Before packing your bags and booking that beach house accommodation you’ve been eyeing, the first thing you have to know is how to go to La Union.
Fly to the Philippines through Clark or Manila, two of the major airports in Luzon. Because La Union is in Luzon as well, traveling is mostly through land transfers, usually on a single bus ride to the vivacious and youthful surf town of your dreams.
The options you have are straightforward. You can either rent a car and drive up north to La Union yourself, or you can book a ride via bus. If you’re coming from Manila, you can take a bus bound for San Fernando, the capital of La Union. If you’re coming from Clark, take a jeepney ride to the bus terminal one town over at Dau, and hop on a bus headed to San Juan, the heart of La Union.
Once you get off in La Union, it’s pretty easy to get around. You can ride jeepneys or tricycles to travel as the locals do. But if you have a pretty penny to spend, you can rent a private charter to check out the province’s attractions in style.
Where should I stay in La Union?
La Union is quite a big province, and there are many towns and municipalities to choose from when you’re picking a place to stay. One of the no-brainers is San Juan (1), a small but lively municipality that boasts of some of the best beaches in La Union and amazing nightlife. At the heart of San Juan is a little area called Urbiztondo (2) also known as a party city. For a bustling city experience without the loud parties and crowds, you can check out San Fernando (3), the capital of La Union. And if you want to stay in quieter, lesser-known areas with fewer people, you are always welcome at the towns of Bauang (4) and Luna (5).
- Lively nightlife
- Many beaches
- Lots of affordable accommodations
- Driving distance from other attractions
- Can get too crowded in peak seasons
This area offers the classic “Elyu” experience. There are many beaches to lounge around at, many of which have amazing waves you can ride if you’re a surfer. The nightlife is insane, with exuberant parties left and right, so you’re sure to have fun nights here. San Juan is also a couple of minutes’ drive away from beautiful natural attractions, like the trek to the iconic Tangadan Falls one town over, so you don’t miss out on appreciating nature or getting your adrenaline pumping either.
- Lots of trendy restaurants and bars
- Energetic nightlife
- Affordable accommodations
- Young crowd can get noisy
Urbiztondo Beach is the heart of San Juan, where Manila folk flock to over long weekends to get away from the city. This is where many of the trendiest hostels, bars, and restaurants are, like the Instagram-famous cup of joe from El Union Coffee or delicious tacos from Olas Banditos. Urbiztondo is the kind of place where you can chill with an ice-cold beer every day, and have sunset parties every evening.
- Home to luxury hotels
- Many restaurants and establishments
- Easy transportation
- Hotels can be expensive
This city is the capital of San Fernando and is the social and political center of the province too. That means there are many establishments here, like malls and restaurants in every cuisine. There are also off-beat attractions here, like the stunning Ma-Cho Temple for Taoists. San Fernando is also home to some of the most luxurious beach resorts La Union has to offer, such as the Thunderbird Resort or Aureo Hotel.
- Rich culture and history
- Many festivals and programs
- Great place to learn about provincial living
- Access to beaches
- Nightlife isn’t that spirited
Like most of La Union, there are a handful of gorgeous beaches in Bauang, but this municipality is more known for its rich culture and historic landmarks. There are festivals left and right in Bauang, so it’s always a pleasure to stay here if you like to learn about Philippine provincial culture. There are also majestic basilicas and churches for history buffs, as well as the ever-popular grape farms you can visit to pick and harvest your own grapes.
- Quieter than other areas
- Less crowded beaches
- Many unique, historic tourist attractions
- Far from the more developed towns
Luna is a municipality by the northern end of La Union, and is probably the most underrated on this list. It has gorgeous pebble beaches that are less crowded than those in San Juan. It also has plenty of unique tourist attractions, such as historic stone houses, watchtowers, centuries-old churches, Ilocano art galleries, and the scenic Occalong Falls. Luna is a great option for visitors who want a more serene beach vacation with many places to explore.
Best Airbnbs in La Union?
It can be challenging to choose the perfect Airbnb in La Union because of the wide selection of options. Here are some of the top-rated vacation rentals in La Union you can book on Airbnb depending on what kind of stay you’re looking for.
Best Airbnb Transient House
Beautiful Garden, BBQ Area, Access to Gym, Pool Table, Karaoke
The rooms in this transient house in La Union is cozy and homey. The house has a wide garden, an area to BBQ and grill food, and even access to a home gym, pool table area, and karaoke room. It’s a five-minute drive from the famous surfing areas in San Juan, so you won’t be missing out on all the action. The hosts are known to be very hospitable and accommodating, which always makes for an amazing stay.
Best Airbnb for Surf Trips
Surf Cottage by the Beach with Garden, Parking, Water Supply
This gated beachfront cottage is situated right in front of Urbiztondo Beach, where many surfers love to ride the waves. The Aki Surf Place was founded by a legendary surfer named Aki San, who left his home in Japan to surf the glorious waters of La Union. It’s the perfect Airbnb for those who love to surf! The cottage comes with garden parking for your car and its own water supply, so there will never be a shortage of it even in the dry season.
Best Airbnb Apartment
Two-Bedroom Penthouse with Sea View, Full Kitchen, Balcony
If you want a taste of luxury without spending a pretty penny at a full-fledged resort, you can stay at this penthouse apartment in Urbiztondo that’s three floors up. It comes with two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and close proximity to numerous restaurants and the best surfing spot in San Juan. There’s also a terrace balcony where you can have a moment of peace and see gorgeous views of the sea.
Best Airbnb for a Budget Stay
Shared Pad by the Beach, with Workspace and Water Well
Couchsurfers and backpackers who want access to La Union’s pretty beaches without the loud party vibe will love this shared apartment. It’s a three-minute walk from San Juan, so you have access to all the restaurants and parties but can come home to a quiet and relaxing pad with a quiet beach all to yourself. The pad has a workspace you can use to catch up on emails and a deep water well for a reliable supply of water.
Best Airbnb for Families
Four-Storey House with Roof Deck, Modern Baths, Wifi, CCTV
This spacious yet cozy house has two bedrooms that can accommodate up to ten people. Your family can cook scrumptious meals in the kitchen and serve food on the roof deck to see pretty views of the city, skies, and sea. There’s airconditioning, wifi, and modern bathrooms with bidets and hot showers for your comfort. There’s also a roving security guard and CCTV for your safety and security. Its close proximity to the beach is also sure to make the whole family happy.
Is Airbnb cheaper than hotels in La Union?
While it’s true that there are plenty of cheap resorts in La Union scattered along the coasts, most high-end beach resorts and hotels in the area are very expensive. Take Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa, for example, which is arguably the best resort in La Union if you want to be right where the action is in San Juan while indulging in more luxury than usual. It costs more than your standard Airbnb, but in return, you get top-quality service, lavish bars and restaurants, and magnificent private pools and beach areas.
But if you’re on a budget, Airbnb is the way to go. There are loads of options for hostels, transient houses, villas, and guesthouses for a more economical price tag, some only a fraction of the cost of one night at a deluxe hotel. You can’t expect the same five-star service as in Kahuna or Thunderbird Resort, but the sunset views will still be beautiful, the food still scrumptious, and the nights still unforgettable. You are in La Union, after all.
A trip to La Union is sure to be an action-packed vacay for you and your friends. You get to surf on some of the most gnarly waves you’ll ever experience, explore nature spots like waterfalls and ocean watchtowers, see majestic, centuries-old churches in old towns, lounge at beaches that are a five-minute drive away from where you’re staying, eat amazing food at Instagram-worthy establishments, and party all night with the in-crowd. So what are you waiting for? Make the seven-hour trip from the metro and brace yourself for the sandy beaches and old province charm of La Union.
FAQ about La Union
Tagaytay City is the perfect road trip destination if you want to lay back, relax, and enjoy the amazing views of the lush greenery of the mountains coupled with the refreshingly cool breeze of the famous Taal Lake. Whether you want a more luxurious stay in an exclusive Scandinavian chalet or stay in an affordable studio unit to simply enjoy the view of land and sea, there’s always a place in Tagaytay you can call home.
There are many hotspots to choose from when looking for vacation rentals in La Union, and the choice depends on what kind of traveler you are. You can opt for a lively, trendy budget stay like the famous Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel in San Juan if you’re a partier, or a cozy beach cabin or cottage in the peaceful town of Luna if you like quieter beach vacations.
There are lots of attractions to check out if you ever find yourself in La Union. Some of the most popular activities you can’t miss out on include taking some surfing lessons in Urbiztondo, munching on Ilocano delicacies in the town proper, checking out Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel, lounging with the family in a splendid hotel, and picking some grapes in Bauang’s farms.
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