by - 2:00 PM

The fourth stop of my solo-backpacking trip is La Union, or more fondly called eLyU. La Union is just less than two hours away from Baguio via bus. 

My first time in La Union was back in 2015, and I was with some friends back then. We stayed there for two nights and spent most of the trip on the beach area, apart from going to San Fernando every now and then for some food-tripping. This time, I promised myself that I would explore more of La Union. Which is why I made sure to read some travel blogs just so I'd know more about the attractions that it has to offer.

I left Baguio around 10am, and arrived at La Union around noon. From the terminal in Baguio City, I boarded a bus going to Vigan, which dropped me off at San Juan, La Union. When I got there, I headed straight to the Circle Hostel where I booked for one night. I freshened up a bit and got ready for the day's adventures. 

First on my itinerary is the Tangadan Falls in the neighboring town of San Gabriel. San Gabriel is just a 45-minute jeepney ride away from San Juan. The jeep dropped me off at the municipal hall, where I registered and met up with the guide, whom I contacted earlier that day. There are two trails going to Tangadan Falls. There's the short trail and the long trail. Since it was almost 2pm, the guide suggested that we do the short trail. But because I wanted to make the most of my trip, I insisted on doing the long trail and assured the guide that I'm pretty fast on the trails and that we would be able to return before nightfall.
trekking to Tangadan Falls via the long trail

According to the guide, the trek on the long trail normally takes 2-3 hours. Because I was on beast mode (LOL), we reached the falls in just an hour. We even took photos during the trek.
 Tangadan Falls - the word "tangadan" is Ilocano for "look up".
The falls were so beautiful that one photo of it is simply not enough.

Going back to the jump-off point took another hour. It was late in the afternoon when I got back to the hostel. I had a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant, and then had a couple of drinks to help me sleep.

I woke up early the following day for a morning stroll on the beach. Mornings at eLyU are so lovely. Everything is just so quiet, except for the sound of the waves crashing on the shore which was totally relaxing.

I had breakfast at a beachfront restaurant and then headed out to the town of San Fernando to get some cash. You see, there weren't any ATMs in San Juan. While I was at San Fernando, I decided to maximize my trip and check out the tourist spots there. I hired a tricycle that would take me to the Ma-Cho Temple and to Poro Point, and then back to the town proper.

First stop is the Ma-Cho Temple, which is a temple to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu. It was built by San Fernando's Chinese community back in 1975. It is open to all, worshipers and non-worshipers alike.

I took a few photos, and then headed to Poro Point in San Fernando to see the lighthouse. Poro Point, also known as Punta San Fernando, is a headland projecting northwesterly into the South China Sea. The lighthouse, standing 27-feet high, was built in 1905 during the American occupation and served as a navigational aid back then. Since it is located inside a military airfield, it is rarely inaccessible. Knowing that, I still took a chance. Upon entering the premises, there were two checkpoints with military guards. I successfully passed them simply by saying that I was a tourist and that I just wanted to see the lighthouse.
 the Poro Point Lighthouse in its entirety, with the tricycle that I took to get there
the Poro Point bay walk, which looks like it's being developed into a tourist spot

After that quick field trip, I went back to the Circle Hostel and decided to extend my stay for another night because I couldn't get enough of eLyU. The rest of my day was spent on the beach, relaxing, and catching some ocean waves and sun rays.
fan-girling celebrity surfer Luke Landrigan

Of course, a trip to La Union will never be complete without watching the beautiful La Union sunset. 

The rest of the evening was spent exchanging stories over alcohol, with new-found surfer friends, who fell in-love with eLyU just as I had. I had an awesome time there and will definitely come back.

Travel Notes:

How to get there:
  • From Manila, just take a bus heading to Laoag, Vigan or Abra. These buses will drop you off at San Juan La Union. Travel time is six to eight hours, depending on the traffic and the number of stopovers that the bus will take.
Where to stay:
  • There are lots of hotels, hostels, and resorts in San Juan. Prices range from Php550 to Php3000, depending on the type of accommodation that you will be getting. My go-to hostel there is The Circle Hostel, which is great for solo travelers or a small group of friends.
  • Bus fare - Php476 (one way coming from Pasay)
  • Accommodations - Php550 per night at The Circle Hostel
  • Jeep from San Juan to San Gabriel - Php18 (x2 for round trip)
  • Trike to Tangadan Falls - Php100 (from municipal hall to jump-off and back)
  • Guide fee to Tangadan Falls - Php500 (max of 5 persons)
  • Tricycle tour - Php200 (made a deal with the driver to take me to Ma-Cho Temple and Poro Point from San Fernando)
  • Entrance fee to Ma-Cho Temple - FREE
  • Entrance fee to Poro Point - FREE
  • Surfing - Php400 per hour with instructor and board rental
  • Food - meals range from Php99 to Php250

So that's about it for the La Union leg of my backpacking trip. Next up is Ilocos Norte followed by Ilocos Sur, which were two of my favorite provinces in the Philippines. I'm so excited to tell you more about the rest of my trip, but that's for another time. 

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