La Union Budget Travel Guide: San Juan, San Fernando and Luna

My wife and I are married for 7 years now and every year we never failed to celebrate our anniversary in a splashy manner. We do dinner, movie, share memories and sometimes travel with our kids. Each year we get to make another mark to see how much we’ve grown and it gives us a very tangible and physical reminder of just how far we have come.

In celebration of our 7th Wedding Anniversary, my wife and I agreed to travel with our kids and discover the hidden beauty of La Union. La Union is Philippine surf’s best kept secret, with clean waves reaching 8-10ft on a good swell, it is perfect from beginners to advanced surfers. It is located in the north Luzon, roughly 5 hours travel time by car from Manila. Accessible by public bus for tourists.

We left Manila at 10 am via Dominion Bus in Cubao and arrived at San Juan, La Union before 4 pm. We check-in to CT Apartelle at 4 pm. It was a tiring bus ride going to La Union so we decided to rest for a while before roaming around the beach area.

Tired and hungry from our bus ride going to La Union, we decided to fill our hungry tummy  at Surf Shack which is one of the most popular foodie destinations in San Juan. If you wanna have a good time with locals and other travelers this is the best place to be.


Bacnotan Pizza- Php258.00
Grilled Pork Liempo- Php160.00
Grilled Boneless Chicken- Php120.00

After our sumptuous dinner at Surf Shack, we head on our way to the beach to watch the sunset. Watching the beauty of sunset makes me feel connected with nature. Appreciating natural beauty may boost well-being, increase generosity and enhance life satisfaction. The key is to actively engage with the experience. To reap the rewards of that sunset, you need to stop whatever else you’re doing and really notice and appreciate the show in the sky.


We woke up at 6 am the following day to visit the Ma-Cho Temple and Halo Halo de Iloko in San Fernando, La Union. San Fernando is the financial, industrial and political center of the province, as well as the center of the official Ilocos Region, or Region I in the regions of the Philippines.

Ma-Cho Taoist Temple facing South China Sea

Our fist stop in San Fernando is Ma-Cho Taoist Temple. Adorned with Chinese motif of lions and dragons etched on camphor woods and massive stones imported directly from Taipei.It is located on a hill in downtown San Fernando La Union overlooking the South China Sea, Ma-Cho is the first Taoist temple in the country.


Halo Halo is one of the most famous Filipino desserts. Halo Halo de Iloko offers different variety of our all-time favorite dessert from ginataan, placed in coconut shell and even fried. This resto is easy to find and you can ask any tricycle to bring you there for a minimal fare. It’s a small old house turned into a resto. The food is cook with love and the taste is real authentic Ilokano.


Fiesta Halo Halo- Php99.00
Fried Halo Halo- Php150.00
Okoy Tikyosko- Php99.00
Emparedados- Php125.00
Kapeng Barako- Php80.00


It was a great dining experience for us. Cleanliness and freshness is paramount to their kitchen. Priced reasonable to the taste, quantity and quality of food served at your table.11224354_10207100063649234_8190057894406929780_o14691268_10207100064009243_719168186449539951_o14701051_10207100063529231_288830951022102791_o

After our sumptuous meal at Halo Halo de Iloko, we went back to our hotel in San Juan and enjoy the beauty of San Juan Beach. If you  feel the need to surf, San Juan is the best place for you.


Luna, our final stop for our La Union Getaway, is one of the coastal towns of La Union is named after the famous Luna brothers: Juan Luna, the Filipino realist painter who played with light and shadow, and Antonio Luna, the great general of the Philippine revolution.

We decided to visit Bahay na Bato and Pebble Beach at Luna since our friend Xavier Mercado (Owner of Halo Halo de Iloko) recommended this place to us.


Bahay na Bato is owned and designed by a Korean but he opened it in public. What is amazing in this place are the stone carvings. Each face, human statutes, fishes and the turtles are carved by Korean contractor.


This huge seashore covered with pebbles and stones is a must-see! 🙂


Bahay na bato have this so called ‘View Deck’ wherein you’ll be able to capture the wide angle view of the sea.

Pebble Beach has a never ending supply of colored stones. Locals say that they’ve been quarrying for years and the stones just keep coming their way. Even local children join in on the fun, placing tiny rocks in old water bottles to sell.


Tired and hungry from our trip to Luna, my wife and I decided to have some snacks at Olas Banditos before going back to Manila.


Olas Banditos just recently opened in San Juan, La Union finally. This Mexican place in La Union is a great find. The decor and ambiance is good too plus the scheme they have. They employ the Clean as you go rule and the rubbish is segregated.


Olas Banditos extensive menu covers pretty much Tex-Mex cravings from fish tacos to churros. With it’s quality and taste that can rival known brands in Manila but with a bit of a savings this is a steal.


My kids are not a big fan of Mexican food so I bought them Pearl Milk Tea (Php95.00) and Egg Pudding Milk Tea (Php95.00) at Moonleaf Tea Shop and Ice Cream (Php100.00) at Aloha for my kids.


A wedding anniversary is a time to rethink commitments made in years past. It is also a time to set new commitments with each other that are in keeping with the growth and development of the marriage. It is a time to give thanks to each other for services rendered, joys experienced, care given, love extended, hopes shared, comfort given in times of need, acceptances of weaknesses as well as strengths, along with feelings expressed and promises delivered. Our La Union Getaway is one of the most memorable Wedding Celebrations that we’ve ever had! 🙂

Day 1
10:00 AM Departure from Cubao (Dominion Bus)
(P387/person x 2) P774
Mister Donut (Cake Collection) P150
Snacks P250
4:00 PM Arrival at La Union
Checked into CT Apartelle P1,200
5:30 PM Dinner at Surf Shack P578
7:00 PM Rest at the hotel
Total P3,028
Day 2
7:00 AM Jeep to San Fernando
(P11/person x 2) P22
7:30 AM Arrival at Ma-Cho Taoist Temple
8:30 AM Tricycle to Halo Halo de Iloko P20
9:00 AM Breakfast at Halo Halo de Iloko P520
10:30 AM Tricycle to Jeepney Terminal P20
11:00 AM Jeep to San Juan
(P14/person x 2) P28
11:30 AM Arrival at San Juan
Walk around the beach
1:00 PM Jeep to Bacnotan P30
(P15/person x 2)
1:20 PM Jeep to Nalbo/Darigayos (Bahay na Bato)
(P30/person x 2) P60
4:45 PM Tricycle to Balaoan P50
5:00 PM Jeep to San Juan
(P38/person x2) P76
6:15 PM Checked out from the hotel
6:30 PM Olas Banditos P250
7:00 PM Moonleaf P190
7:30 PM Aloha Ice Cream P100
8:00 PM Departure from La Union (Partas Bus)
(P410/person x 2) P820
1:00 AM Arrival at Cubao
Total P2,186
Total Expense- P5,214




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